Mexican Independence Day is only a few days away, so what better way to celebrate than with one of Denver's most unique Mexican dishes: chiles en nogada. Created in Puebla, Mexico, the dish captures the colors of the Mexican flag in green Poblano chiles, creamy white walnut sauce (the nogada in the name), and vibrant red from pomegranate seeds. Chili Verde keeps the traditional dish on its menu year round, but the dried fruits, nuts and other seasonal ingredients make it a perfect dish to usher in a cool September.
See also: 100 Favorite Dishes of 2014
Chili Verde started out in a tiny joint on a quiet street in LoHi (blocks from the trendy central strip of 32nd Avenue), but moved to posher digs on Federal snug up against the up-and-coming Jefferson Park neighborhood. The white tablecloths and dark woods suit the restaurant's top-notch service and elevated Pueblan-style cuisine touched with French influences. The kitchen's version of the dish hews close to tradition: a whole roasted Poblano chile is stuffed with picadillo -- ground beef cooked with a touch of cinnamon, chopped raisins and other dried fruits, and just a hint of heat.
The chile is robed in a smooth walnut sauce that balances the warming spices of the picadillo with smooth but not cloying creaminess. Bright bursts of pomegranate add just enough juicy sweetness to the seasonal combination.
If you're in the mood to salute El Tricolor (as the flag is known in Mexico), head to Chili Verde for a taste of history. But It's a good thing for Denver that you don't have to wait until next year to try it again.
In advance of the Best of Denver 2015, we're already loading our plates with contenders for the best dishes in the city. And over the next nine months, we'll be sharing many of them with you, counting down (in no particular order) one hundred of our favorite dishes before the the Best of Denver 2015 hits the streets on March 26. 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 email@example.com.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch No 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's No 94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co. No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie