The Ten Best Places for Green Chile in Denver - 2016 Edition

Colorado love green chile.EXPAND
Colorado love green chile.
Mark Antonation

If you want to heat up any discussion, just mention green chile and Denver in the same sentence. We all have our own platonic ideal of the regional stew-slash-sauce-slash-gravy, whether you're a purist in pursuit of Hatch, an aficionado of the flour-thickened or an adventurer questing for the biggest burn. Nearly every bar, tavern, cantina and chef's kitchen in town features a variation on the green, ladled onto burritos, fries, burgers — or just served straight up with a tortilla chaser. Here's our list of the ten finest in town, in alphabetical order — with last year's Best Green Chile in the top spot.

Will one of these superb soups make it to the top in this year's Best of Denver? Cast your vote to nominate your favorite in our 2016 Best of Denver Readers' Poll.

This is Blackbelly's posole, but it starts with great green chile.EXPAND
This is Blackbelly's posole, but it starts with great green chile.
Mark Antonation

10. Blackbelly Market
1606 Conestoga Street, Boulder

For a New Mexico kid, Blackbelly Market chef-owner Hosea Rosenberg serves up a pretty mean Colorado-style smothered breakfast burrito. The green chile doing the actual smothering is a thick, chunky, pinkish-orange blend based on Hatch chiles that Rosenberg insists on trucking up from the Land of Enchantment each fall. His is a vegetarian chile, but that doesn't mean it's any less flavorful. Bright notes of tomato and onion shine through, while those Hatch heaters provide extra punch. If you insist on pork, opt for the posole, which uses the same green chile as a base but adds chewy hominy and shreds of smoked shoulder for camp-cookout appeal.

Every combo look like this.
Every combo look like this.
Mark Antonation

9. Brewery Bar II
150 Kalamath Street

The stewy mix at this Denver classic can be a little frustrating. On any given day, the flavors may be subdued or overwhelmed by tomato, but folks keep coming back for those occasions when the green chile is dead on — and deadly hot. Not even a mound of shredded yellow cheese or a dollop of sour cream will save your skin from the sear that'll stick with you for hours. Better to side your smothered burrito with a "Tiny" — the old-school bar's biggest pour of suds.

Belly up to the pregnant burrito at Cafe Chihuahua on South Federal.EXPAND
Belly up to the pregnant burrito at Cafe Chihuahua on South Federal.
Mark Antonation

8. Cafe Chihuahua
2250 South Federal Boulevard

Cafe Chihuahua is somewhat of a secret outside of its South Federal neighborhood, but that's just fine with the regulars, who guzzle the cantina's red-orange sauce by the bowlful or let it soak into a massive "pregnant burrito" — a loaf-sized construction of beans, beef and a whole tamale tucked into a flour-tortilla blanket. Choose from mild or hot or somewhere in between (the medium's just a blend of the other two), but be warned: Even the mild is a wild child.

Efrain's green chile is perfect for homesick New Mexicans.
Efrain's green chile is perfect for homesick New Mexicans.

7. Efrain's Mexican Restaurant
Three Boulder County locations

If you're pining for a taste of chile verde from our neighbor to the south, head north to one of the three Efrain's in Boulder County. Whether you pick the north Boulder, Lafayette or Longmont outpost, expect pure chile flavor — and pure, sweat-inducing heat that builds and builds. You'll find pork in the mix, too, but this isn't an overly meaty stew: You wouldn't want too many distractions from the blazing beauty of the chiles themselves. 

El Chingon welcomes you into its homey bungalow.
El Chingon welcomes you into its homey bungalow.
Danielle Lirette

6. El Chingon Mexican Bistro
4326 Tennyson Street

Like the chile verde at El Taco de Mexico, El Chingon's version appears pureed and pure, but it's a more vivid green than the other taqueria's cooked-down stew. The flavor, too, is brighter and sharper, with a tang that belies the presence of tomatillos or a little lime. It's certainly not typical Den-Mex dry-wall paste, but instead makes a thrilling little sauce to perk up the kitchen's carefully plated entrees.

Keep reading for the rest of our list of the best green chiles in Denver...

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