If you were born and raised in Denver, you are, by rights, a green-chile geek. And if you popped out elsewhere (New Mexico notwithstanding) and simply don't get why we're so besotted with suffocating our burritos, enchiladas, rellenos and french fries with verde, we can only assume you have yet to try the green stuff at Tia Maria. The affable owner treats his customers like royalty, which is reason enough to plop your butt down in a cushy booth and spend the afternoon slumped over shots, which he doles out in frequent doses. The tequila syllabus is impressive — and so are the tasting notes that accompany it — and the shots pair perfectly with the restaurant's green chile. It's a stinging, savory swamp of garlic, tomatoes, cubed pork and ambrosial chiles that weep with heat. This verde puddles plates heaped with all the usual suspects, and it also swathes a rotund, pink-fleshed ham hock that may be the best dish on the menu.
Readers' Choice: Santiago's