Best Colorado-Style Green Chile -- Smooth

La Fiesta

Ravenous crowds from all over town flock to La Fiesta for their mid-day meals -- and a chance to eat and party hearty. They're drawn by the convivial vibe of the huge dining room (this was once a Safeway), the friendly family that runs the joint (weekday lunches only) and the huge portions of delectably cheesy, greasy, addictive Colorado-style Mexican food. Topping it off, of course, is a quintessential Colorado-style green chile, packed with pieces of pork, tomatoes, peppers...and heat.

Little Anita's New Mexican Foods
Scott Lentz
Little Anita's is an institution in New Mexico, where its locations spread across the state and its history stretches back thirty years. In the Land of Enchantment, foodies in the know generally consider it a destination of last resort; they respect its longevity yet think of it as a place to stop if you want to kill an afternoon making fun of tourists. But in Denver, where authentic New Mexican fare is harder to find than a virgin bride in Albuquerque, Little Anita's is a must-stop for sloppy breakfast burritos slathered in either green or red chile. And there's nothing more 'Burque than this red chile, a serious, fiery, honey-sweetened red that's tough to find north of Raton Pass.

Little Anita's is an institution in New Mexico, where its locations spread across the state and its history stretches back thirty years. In the Land of Enchantment, foodies in the know generally consider it a destination of last resort; they respect its longevity yet think of it as a place to stop if you want to kill an afternoon making fun of tourists. But in Denver, where authentic New Mexican fare is harder to find than a virgin bride in Albuquerque, Little Anita's is a must-stop for sloppy breakfast burritos slathered in either green or red chile. And there's nothing more 'Burque than this red chile, a serious, fiery, honey-sweetened red that's tough to find north of Raton Pass.

Chef Jamey Fader's menu changes with the seasons at Lola, his hot coastal-Mexican eatery. You can always count on several fish entrees as well as pork and beef, all boasting top-quality ingredients presented in fresh, and refreshing, ways. And now you can count on meaty surprises -- barbecued beef! -- inside the housemade tamales that are served up on Tamale Tuesdays. Just four bucks buys you a tamale that's an entire meal, and shows the same care that Fader takes with his more involved items. He's the masa of our universe.

Chef Jamey Fader's menu changes with the seasons at Lola, his hot coastal-Mexican eatery. You can always count on several fish entrees as well as pork and beef, all boasting top-quality ingredients presented in fresh, and refreshing, ways. And now you can count on meaty surprises -- barbecued beef! -- inside the housemade tamales that are served up on Tamale Tuesdays. Just four bucks buys you a tamale that's an entire meal, and shows the same care that Fader takes with his more involved items. He's the masa of our universe.


The Bamboo Hut's had a tough year, but it's coming back strong. For more than twenty years, this oddly named Mexican joint has been one of the town's best-kept secrets (no phone number, even), serving up great chicharrón burritos and searing green chile (made from peppers grown in Commerce City) to regulars willing to put up with the odd hours and minimal ambience. Then the Hut's longtime cook left, and it looked like the joint might fall flat. But with new/old talent in the kitchen, the Hut is hot again, and enjoying new popularity with club-hoppers who frequent this end of Larimer. Those newcomers won't know that while Gina's cooking up some of the old standards, she's also made a few changes -- including the chips and hotter-than-hot salsa, both freshly made, that arrive on your table fast...and free! Ten-Hut!

The Bamboo Hut's had a tough year, but it's coming back strong. For more than twenty years, this oddly named Mexican joint has been one of the town's best-kept secrets (no phone number, even), serving up great chicharrón burritos and searing green chile (made from peppers grown in Commerce City) to regulars willing to put up with the odd hours and minimal ambience. Then the Hut's longtime cook left, and it looked like the joint might fall flat. But with new/old talent in the kitchen, the Hut is hot again, and enjoying new popularity with club-hoppers who frequent this end of Larimer. Those newcomers won't know that while Gina's cooking up some of the old standards, she's also made a few changes -- including the chips and hotter-than-hot salsa, both freshly made, that arrive on your table fast...and free! Ten-Hut!

In many cases -- okay, in every case -- the most important thing influencing our appreciation of a Mexican joint's chips and salsa is the environment in which they're served. The best-tasting chips and salsa on the planet do nothing for us if they're dished up, say, by the sample ladies at the local Sam's Club. That's why we're such fans of Juanita's. This Boulder institution is basically a chips-and-salsa kind of bar, the sort of place where you want to collapse into one of the tall-backed booths and stay for days. Making this perfect chips-and-salsa environment even better is the fact that Juanita's happens to serve an excellent order of crisp, oily chips and a fine, fresh, thin salsa that's the ideal accompaniment to a couple of cold ones.

In many cases -- okay, in every case -- the most important thing influencing our appreciation of a Mexican joint's chips and salsa is the environment in which they're served. The best-tasting chips and salsa on the planet do nothing for us if they're dished up, say, by the sample ladies at the local Sam's Club. That's why we're such fans of Juanita's. This Boulder institution is basically a chips-and-salsa kind of bar, the sort of place where you want to collapse into one of the tall-backed booths and stay for days. Making this perfect chips-and-salsa environment even better is the fact that Juanita's happens to serve an excellent order of crisp, oily chips and a fine, fresh, thin salsa that's the ideal accompaniment to a couple of cold ones.

Mezcal
Danielle Lirette
Mezcal's kitchen turns out fantastic Tijuana street-corner shrimp cocktails with big, tail-on shrimp floating in a sweet-and-spicy tomato juice with diced chiles, onions and big slices of fresh avocado, served with Saltines (the best part of any great coctel de camarones). It makes sopes with meat, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes and all that good stuff packed inside a crisp, greasy fried shell. The house also runs a late-night happy hour that's perfect for attracting the city's party monsters: $1 tacos, a deal that beats the pants off any of those fast-food drive-thru dollar menus. Done in the style of borderlands Mexican vendors, these tacos come double-wrapped in corn tortillas, stuffed with fillings and topped with shredded cabbage. A half-dozen with a couple of cold Coronas? Short of lighting out for Tijuana, there's simply no better way to end the day.

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