Vega, Sean Yontz's upscale Latin/New American restaurant in the old Sacre Bleu space, has a lot of good things going for it. It's a great space, done in cool earthtones with high-backed booths. It has a comfortable bar that's rarely too crowded; friendly, attentive service; and a kitchen that's turning out some of Denver's most innovative cuisine. But perhaps the best thing Vega currently has going for it is an oxtail tamal that fills a corn husk with fresh, creamy masa, then adds oxtail meat and tender white hominy, covering everything with a spicy adobo sauce. Are these tamales just like the ones abuelita used to make? Far from it -- but once you've tried Yontz's take on this Mexican classic, you'll wish more people thought about food the way he does.
The salsa's always fresca at the Chubby Burger Drive-Inn, a ramshackle takeout joint known to all Mexican-food lovers as "the original Chubby's." Over the past thirty years, Chubby's has built its reputation on the back of sloppy, big-ass burritos, solid tamales and hot, hot green chile -- but what we really love is Chubby's fresh, rough-chopped salsa, which the kitchen preps by the gallon. Although the chips are just average, the salsa gets extra credit. It's a killer combination of sweet veggies kicked up with exactly the right amount of spicy heat, so that the balance is maintained among the natural flavors of tomato, onion and chile, and a burn that sets your tongue to smoldering but never catches fire outright.
The salsa's always fresca at the Chubby Burger Drive-Inn, a ramshackle takeout joint known to all Mexican-food lovers as "the original Chubby's." Over the past thirty years, Chubby's has built its reputation on the back of sloppy, big-ass burritos, solid tamales and hot, hot green chile -- but what we really love is Chubby's fresh, rough-chopped salsa, which the kitchen preps by the gallon. Although the chips are just average, the salsa gets extra credit. It's a killer combination of sweet veggies kicked up with exactly the right amount of spicy heat, so that the balance is maintained among the natural flavors of tomato, onion and chile, and a burn that sets your tongue to smoldering but never catches fire outright.
The best chips are made in-house. And the kitchen at Luna's, a humble, friendly Highland hangout, keeps pumping out fresh, crisp, light tortilla chips. Still hot from the fryer, they're perfect for dipping into the thick, gooey, chile-spiked homemade queso or just munching alongside your Cuervo.


The best chips are made in-house. And the kitchen at Luna's, a humble, friendly Highland hangout, keeps pumping out fresh, crisp, light tortilla chips. Still hot from the fryer, they're perfect for dipping into the thick, gooey, chile-spiked homemade queso or just munching alongside your Cuervo.
Sweet Jesus, these things are addictive! Sweeter than potatoes but less sweet than you might imagine given the plaintain's close relationship with bananas, Cuba Cuba's deep-fried plátanos fritos, served with a tart garlic-citrus mojo, are the most munchable chips in town.
Cuba Cuba Cafe & Bar
Sweet Jesus, these things are addictive! Sweeter than potatoes but less sweet than you might imagine given the plaintain's close relationship with bananas, Cuba Cuba's deep-fried plátanos fritos, served with a tart garlic-citrus mojo, are the most munchable chips in town.

Best Mexican Dish in a Non-Mexican Restaurant

Parlour Bar and Grill

Now that the flavors of Old Mexico have made their indelible mark on the tastes of American gourmands, it's no surprise that south-of-the-border influences keep showing up in the darnedest places -- resulting in some pretty damned bad dishes. But the Parlour cooked up a winner with its blue-corn-tortilla shrimp enchiladas served with salsa verde, chile-lime cream, Monterey Jack cheese and chunky mango salsa.


Best Mexican Dish in a Non-Mexican Restaurant

Parlour Bar and Grill

Now that the flavors of Old Mexico have made their indelible mark on the tastes of American gourmands, it's no surprise that south-of-the-border influences keep showing up in the darnedest places -- resulting in some pretty damned bad dishes. But the Parlour cooked up a winner with its blue-corn-tortilla shrimp enchiladas served with salsa verde, chile-lime cream, Monterey Jack cheese and chunky mango salsa.
As good as any you'd find in New Mexico -- and better than most -- the green chile at Jack-n-Grill is a work of commendable simplicity. Green chiles from Socorro are melded with salt, pepper, tomatoes, garlic and cubed pork to create the perfect topper for any of the restaurant's entrees. If you've been raised on the gloppy, gravy-like chile you find at most of Denver's Mexican restaurants, New Mexico's version is a real switch. But your tastebuds will quickly adjust -- and once you've had Jack's, you'll never go back.


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