Up until today, I'd never met a chile challenge that blistered me into submission. Hell, I can pop habanero chiles in my mouth like they're Skittles. But the lobito agua chiles challenge at Colorado Steakhouse & Mexican Grill, which opened on Friday, April 16 at 11961 Bradburn Boulevard in Westminster, came so close to making me cry a river that I nearly asked for a watershed.
The dish of citrus-marinated shrimp in a murderously torrid sauce of dried chiles, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers, is a bargain at $12.99, and if you can eat it in 20 minutes or less without touching your lips to liquid -- a tall glass of housemade horchata, for example -- then it's free. But by the time your 1,200 seconds are up, you'll be far more interested in the loss of sensation in your limbs than the prospect of shelling out thirteen bucks and change.
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The idea for the challenge originated with chef Adrian Saravia, the former exec of the Isle of Capri Hotel & Casino in Blackhawk, says Colorado Steakhouse co-owner Antonio Bracamontes. "Adrian makes the same dish all the time at home, but it's sort of a game to see who can finish it," reveals Bracamontes. "We thought it would be fun to put it on the menu here, too, but we also wanted to make sure that it wasn't just hot, but that it had a really good flavor, too. It's a dish that we want people to order again," says Bracamontes, who was nice enough not to snort when I pushed the plate away in defeat.
Bracamontes and his partner, Michael Oboley, opened the steakhouse and Mexican grill after talking to neighbors, scouring the area and recognizing the dearth of good Mexican restaurants and inexpensive steakhouses, a combination, says Bracamontes, that came from tossing out ideas. "We wanted to do something different from everyone else, and while we initially planned to do just a steakhouse, we realized that the area doesn't have a really good sit-down Mexican restaurant," explains Bracamontes.
The next step, says Bracamontes, is to start making fresh corn and flour tortillas, expand the aguas frescas list, secure a liquor license and add a fast-casual element to the space. "We want to settle in and get good at what we're doing now, and then soon, we'll compliment the dining room with a to-go line for customers who need to get in and out in ten minutes," notes Bracamontes.
They're going to tinker a bit with them menu, too, he says, but the chile challenge is here to stay. "Four have tried, but only one has finished it," admits Bracamontes.