D' Corazon Mexican Restaurant
Mark Antonation

There are two sure bets at this downtown Mexican eatery: The joint will always be packed, and the green chile will always be rich, hearty and satisfying. D'Corazon makes its chile the way God intended, at least here in Colorado: brownish-orange, thick like gravy, and hot enough to grab your attention. Newcomers to Denver are likely to be confused and New Mexicans will be outraged, but after a spoonful or two, all will be converted. The pork-laden original gets top billing, but vegetarians won't be disappointed by the meatless version. Not only do ravenous lunch-goers queue up daily for a taste of this green chile, but burritos and rellenos await the privilege of being anointed in the delicious sauce, as well.

Readers' Choice: Santiago's

Beltran's Meat Market & Grill

Great tacos start with the meat, and you know you're getting great meat at Beltran's because the butcher counter is right next to the grill. Whether quick-grilled specialties like carne asada, beef fajitas or alambres (beef with bacon and vegetables) or slow-roasted pastor and barbacoa, the tacos come out with the perfect flavor and texture. Several house salsas add a blast of chile heat, and corn tortillas come from a nearby tortilleria run by a family friend. Beltran's kitchen cooks up a wide range of Mexican specialties, so you can explore the menu of burritos, tortas and soups at breakfast, lunch and dinner; just make sure any meal includes an order of tacos.

Readers' Choice: Tacos Tequila Whiskey

Laura Shunk

Rather than rely on pork in his green chile, New Mexico native Hosea Rosenberg builds layers of flavor by oven-roasting all of his vegetables before they go in the pot. Still, Hatch green chiles — which the chef brings up from New Mexico every fall — are the star of the sauce at this Boulder cantina devoted to all things Southwestern. You can get a bowl of Santo's green chile on its own, try it in a stew augmented with pork and potatoes or have it slathered over stacked blue-corn enchiladas. Better yet, swing by in the morning for a weighty breakfast burrito charged with chile: It's guaranteed to awaken both you and your tastebuds.

Readers' Choice: Adelitas Cocina y Cantina

Best Smothered Burrito With a Surprise

Cafe Chihuahua

Cafe Chihuahua
Mark Antonation

Federal Boulevard is a taco hunter's dreamscape, but it's rare to find a good, old-fashioned smothered burrito made in true Den-Mex style. Cafe Chihuahua knows what this city wants, though, and it delivers a beast on a platter: the pregnant burrito, which is really two meals in one. On the outside, there's a fluffy flour tortilla drenched in the house green chile, which comes in mild, hot or half-and-half (trust us and get it hot for extra green-chile flavor). Studded with plenty of pork, the chile could be a meal in itself, but what makes this burrito pregnant is a beef enchilada soaked in red sauce and surrounded by a layer of refried beans — all hidden inside the flour-tortilla blanket. Each component is worthy of praise on its own, but taken together, this is one delicious burrito, baby.

Best Tacos Served From a Shipping Container


Mark Antonation

Tacos are first and foremost street food, so carts, trucks and trailers are obvious candidates for where to seek out the amazing antojitos. But in the Athmar Park neighborhood, people are beginning to figure out that a brightly painted shipping container festooned with sparkling lights is home to some of the best tacos around. TacoBlock sits solidly in a warehouse parking lot, where owners Brenda and Adrian Bonilla cook up beef, pork and chicken tacos along with Mexican burgers and — surprisingly — Brazilian fare courtesy of a new chef/partner. When you go, be sure to ask for your tacos "mamalones style," which will land you a mountain of grilled onions, nopales, pineapple and corn.

Que Bueno Suerte!

At the massive Que Bueno Suerte!, tamales don't come by the dozen — and they don't come wrapped in corn husks. Instead, the tender pillows of corn masa are served Yucatán-style, swaddled and steamed in a banana leaf, which adds a unique vegetal flavor. Stuffed with shredded pork in warming adobo sauce and served with chile verde and epazote-infused black beans, this dish captures a more tropical side of tamales, making them worthy of starring on an entree-priced platter.

Readers' Choice: Tamale Kitchen

Danielle Lirette

Entering this bi-level restaurant in the Ballpark neighborhood, you feel a little like you've stumbled upon a hip ramen joint in Japan, one that caters to younger people who like to drink booze as much as they like to slurp ramen. That's part of its charm. But if you want to avoid the crowd and simply enjoy a quiet Japanese meal of sushi, grilled meats and veggies and bowls of tasty ramen, come here early. No matter your preference, in time you'll want to get ramen: the spicy and creamy diablo ramen, a clean and hearty shio broth ramen, a broth-less ramen laden with cha syu pork and vegetables, or one of many more options.

Readers' Choice: Uncle

Sushi Cup
Lauren Monitz

Bright, fun and super-colorful, the poke bowls at this Capitol Hill spot not only look good, they taste good, too. Unlike the suddenly trendy spots that are all poke, all the time, Sushi Cup offers not just Hawaiian cuisine, but Japanese and Korean, too; the various influences prove a perfect match for poke. Sit at one of the tall wooden tables and dive into Off the Shore, a dish filled with tuna, pineapple, mango, Fuji apple, nori and a bright splash of ponzu. The shrimp tempura is an unusual but winning combination of shrimp tempura, crab salad, cream cheese and sweet-spicy sauce. And if you feel like eating your poke with one hand, any of the bowls can also be made into a sushi burrito.

Readers' Choice: Ohana Island Kitchen

Golden Pho & Grill
Summer Powell

The light broth filling the bowls at Golden Pho doesn't look like it could hold much flavor, but delicate and subtle tops strong and bold when it comes to Denver's best pho. The meats are always fresh-tasting and plentiful, and the springy meatballs are especially worthy of a detour into one of Federal Boulevard's most bustling Vietnamese shopping centers. Noodle soups are the house specialty, so if you're in the mood for something more potent, the pork-rich bun bo Hue is second to none.

Readers' Choice: Pho 95

Combination banh mi from New Saigon Bakery & Deli.
Linnea Covington
Combination banh mi from New Saigon Bakery & Deli.

Some Vietnamese restaurants offer phonebook-sized menus with every possible combo of protein, noodle, rice and sauce, while others are specialists. New Saigon Bakery, an offshoot of longtime favorite New Saigon, draws in the crowds with super-sized banh mi on house-baked French baguettes. Salty-sweet barbecued pork, luscious pâté and generous stacks of deli meats make for stellar sandwiches, but once you've eaten your way through the banh mi roster, there's plenty more to explore. Try the tightly wrapped spring rolls, fresh salads topped with grilled meats, refreshing beverages (our favorite is the pressed sugar-cane juice) and pandan waffles. And if you haven't had dessert here, you haven't experienced the bakery at its best. Multi-layered crepe cakes come in flavors like mocha and matcha green tea, both just the right sweetness. At this bakery, there's always a line and seldom an empty seat...with good reason.

Readers' Choice: New Saigon

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