100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes: The Tornado at the Chowder Room

No. 85: The Tornado at the Chowder Room
If you're looking for a great bowl of clam chowder, starting at a place called the Chowder Room is a good bet. The seaside-style fish house on South Broadway offers no fewer than four styles every day: a classic bacon-studded New England chowder, a spicy red, a vegan curry soup made creamy with coconut milk, and a rotating chowder of the day.

Purists will insist on New England style — and they won't be disappointed with the thick, creamy version served here, loaded with clams and potatoes and ladled out into cups, bowls or sourdough boules. But the spicy red (not a Manhattan chowder, which is also offered on occasion) has its charms, too, with a tangy base and just a touch of heat so as not to overwhelm the seafood flavor. 

For those in the know (that means you), though, the Chowder Room has a secret menu with a few treats waiting for the right person. If you're craving creamy and spicy at the same time, ask for the tornado, a 50/50 bowl of New England style with the spicy red chowder spooned into the center. The different viscosities of the two soups keep them separated so you can sample sips of each, but then it's time to hit the mixture with a few quick stirs to enjoy all of the flavors together. Tomato, bacon, cream, potato, red pepper and briny clams come together in a seriously delicious concoction.

What else is on the secret menu? If you're a fan of The Wire, ask for the Jimmy McNulty sandwich. We won't spoil the surprise, though if you've watched the whole series, you might be able to guess that crab cakes are involved. Now, clam up and eat.

Throughout this year, we'll be counting down the best dishes in the city — from longtime classics that keep us coming back to new additions that have caught our attention. If there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section, or shoot us an e-mail at [email protected]

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2016 countdown are linked below.

No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
No. 99: Bacon Shrimp and Grits at Bacon Social House
No. 98: Porchetta and Kimchi Sandwich at Brider
No. 97: Squab-and-Sunchoke Tortellini at Abejas
No. 96: Housemade Burrata at Viand
No, 95: Schweinshaxe at Rhein Haus
No. 94 Kimchi Jeon at Seoul BBQ
No. 93: Zuppa Pomodoro at Parisi Italian Market & Deli
No. 92: The Ocean Salad at Sushi-Rama
No. 91: The Signature Bowl from Churn & Burn
No. 90: Green Chorizo at Los Compadres
No. 89: The Diavola Calzone at Pino's Neighborhood Pizzeria
No. 88: Biscuits and Green Chile at the Noshery
No. 87: Chirashi at Izu Sushi
No. 86: Brisket and Ribs at GQue Championship BBQ
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation