The Six Best Stands for Buying Roasted Green Chiles Before They're Gone
How do you find the best fire-roasted chile stands in Denver? Short of driving up and down Federal Boulevard, sampling chiles 'til your mouth burns, trying to guess if they're fresh, there isn't an easy answer.
So we've taken the heat for you and hunted down the top places to buy roasted green chiles this season. Last week we told you how to avoid getting roasted by scams from unscrupulous vendors, but these six businesses get high marks for the freshness of their chiles, refrigeration, cleanliness, excellent roasting and good customer service. With the first frosts hitting Hatch, New Mexico and Pueblo, Colorado, stands will be gone by November. Hurry and check 'em out to stock up on fire-roasted green chile for use throughout the winter.
The Chile Guys is Denver's premier chile retailer.
Photo Courtesy of The Chile Guys
1. The Chili Guys
5501 Federal Boulevard
With more than 25 varieties of fresh chiles and twenty years of experience, owner Aeron Caulkins is Denver's go-to chile guy. In addition to owning The Chili Guys and Lulu's Farm in Brighton, Caulkins supplies many vendors on Denver's street corners with fresh chiles. The Chili Guys use a streamlined process to work with farmers in Pueblo and Hatch to pick, wash, refrigerate and ship fresh chiles to Denver on demand. They're refrigerated two hours after they're picked — which is how he can get the "freshest chile you can possibly buy" in Denver.
The Chile Guys is open year-round, but Caulkins warns customers to only buy fresh roasted Pueblo and Hatch chiles between August and the end of October, when they're in season. Any other time and you're getting roasted by a scam.
These chile guys love to match the perfect heat level for each customer. Making chiles rellenos? Go with a Big Jim. Want the best pork green chile? Try Hatch. Need to accurately predict how much your mouth will flame? Anaheim comes in mild, medium, hot and extra-hot. But, the Mosco chile's addicting, tangy heat is always cranked up. These chile guys say there's no such thing as "Mosco mild."
D&D Produce's medium variety of Hatch green chile.
2. D&D Produce
3421 South Federal Boulevard
Look for the big yellow and white striped tent on South Federal Boulevard, adorned with pumpkins and baskets of chiles, and you'll find D&D Produce, owned by Dennis Deden for thirty years.
So what's the difference between the various heat levels of Hatch Valley chiles? "Mild is no heat whatsoever; it's just for flavor," explains D&D's Sheree Samora. "Medium is family-friendly and not too warm to make you uncomfortable. Hot, you will feel that kick when you take a bite. Extra-hot you have to be daring to try."
All chiles are stored in refrigeration, even at night, and checked for freshness. Compared to some vendors that store chiles in metal containers or on palates at night, D&D has the gold standard in chile freshness.
Since the City and County of Denver does not conduct inspections for roasting and retailing vendors, it's important to check for cleanliness, like at D&D Produce — where there's a hand-washing station for chile handlers.
Jessy Moreno brings chile from his family's farm in New Mexico and sells on Federal Boulevard.
3. Hatch New Mexico Roasted Chili
8th Avenue and Federal Boulevard
Jessy Moreno knows Denverites love their green chile. Every week, he hauls 800 forty-pound sacks of chiles from his family's farm in Hatch to Denver for distribution and sale. He can sell 3,200 pounds of chile in a week on Federal Boulevard and to other stands at wholesale prices.
With a shirt that says "Chile Fanatic," Moreno knows this business is a way of life. He lives in Denver for three months every year to operate with his brother, Joel, who runs a stand on 47th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.
"Customers come to me for big chiles. We don't like them if they are too small. They are more work for peeling," says Moreno, who sells Anaheim, Mirasol, Big Jim and Sandia chiles.
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