Word of Mouth

Ask the Mexican: Did Denver invent the Mexican hamburger?

Gustavo Arellano, author of Ask a Mexican and a former food critic in Orange County, California, is in town this week for a visiting professorship at Metro and his debate tonight with Tom Tancredo.

But really, he's here to eat -- a mission that has so far taken him to Bubba Chinos, the original Chubby's and Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe. On previous visits, Arellano has dug into green chile, that quintessential Colorado dish. His discovery this time? The Mexican hamburger.

Turns out that even though the Mexican, as he bills himself, is writing a book about Mexican restaurants across the United States, he's never before encountered a Mexican hamburger.

We're not talking a green chile cheeseburger, of course, or any other burger smothered with guac and other allegedly Mexican accessories. We're talking a Mexican hamburger that takes a grilled patty of ground beef -- that most American of food items -- and tucks it into a tortilla with some refried beans, then smothers the whole thing in green chile.

Is Colorado truly the only place where you find a Mexican hamburger? And where did it get its start? Legend points to Joe's Buffet, a long-gone dive at 753 Santa Fe that used to serve up hundreds of these plates a day.

If you have the real story, post it below.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun