100 Favorite Dishes: Beef cheek enchiladas from El Diablo

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No. 86: Beef cheek enchiladas from El Diablo

Sean Yontz is, arguably, the face of Mexican food in Denver, and when El Diablo, the restaurant that he co-owns with Jesse Morreale, opened last August, it did so with an ambitious menu that stretched far and above the conventional Mexican fray.

From his open kitchen overlooking the devilish dining room, illuminated with bordello-red lanterns, Yontz and his crew discharge a fantasy of plates shocked with full-throttled salsas, chiles and sauces, tacos in myriad manifestations, a molcajete plunged with chicken, squash, green knob onions and queso Oaxaca, sopas, moles, carnitas and enchiladas.

And while enchiladas aren't exactly groundbreaking or the favored dish of Mexican-food purists, Yontz, who's renowned for his gutsy flavor profiles, dislodges a rocket with his barbacoa de cabeza enchiladas. The cheek meat, long-braised, smoky and more tender than a broken heart, are wrapped and rolled in corn tortillas topped with spinach, wreathed with browned potatoes, sauced with salsa pipian rojo, permeated with the scents of cinnamon, garlic and chiles, and drizzled with Mexican crema. Diabolically rich and devilishly good.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Italian wedding soup from the Squeaky Bean No. 99: American Classic Burger (and fries) from Tarbell's No. 98: E's clam linguini from Mangiamo Pronto No. 97: Queso a la plancha taco from the Pinche Tacos wagon No. 96: Prosciutto-wrapped jalapeño poppers from Tony's Market No. 95: Fried chicken from the Pinyon No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro No. 93: Posole from The Porker No. 92: Breakfast Burrito from the Taco Wagon in Lafayette No. 91: Hummus from Shish Kabob Grill No. 90: Albondigas meatballs from Solera No. 89: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa No. 88: Döner kabob from Shondiz No. 87: Roasted cauliflower salad from Euclid Hall

In late 2009, we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- one hundred, to be exact -- as a precursor to the Best of Denver issue. Now we're back with round two, counting down (in no particular order) a hundred more of our favorite Denver dishes in a list that, by our imperfect calculations, should be wrapped up by the time the Best of Denver 2011 hits the streets on March 31. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at lori.midson@westword.com.

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