During my stroll down Tennyson Street last week, I couldn’t help but notice all the folks enjoying themselves at Hops & Pie’s next-door neighbor, Tres Chiles Mexican Grill. The eatery sits above the street at the corner of West 39th Avenue and Tennyson, where its wide-open windows give the place an open, airy feel. Most important, Tres Chiles offers a wide-open happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, as well as daily specials, including $3 margaritas all day for Sunday fun.
Since this was my first visit, I couldn't tell how Tres Chiles had been rearranged to comply with public-health guidelines, but the space between my party and the table next to us — combined with the air flow — make the place feel quite COVID-safe. TVs on all sides beckoned my easily distracted brain and also added to the family-friendly vibe, while the bar’s beautiful tile work and metal cups were nice cantina touches for the more drink-oriented customers in the crowd. While thumbing through the menu for the hidden happy-hour page, we got going with a couple of margaritas and a sangria for five bucks each. But upon learning the day’s special, my curiosity was sparked enough to order the $10 michelada.
When the drinks arrived, I was encouraged by the not-too-sweet house margarita served in a chalice, but the real pièce de résistance was the michelada. Ordinarily I’d balk at paying double digits for a cheap Mexican lager mixed with Clamato; if I wanted to “upgrade,” I’d have a Bloody Mary and a beer back. But this stein was a sight to behold: enormous, spice-rimmed and accompanied by a straw that had been encased in some sort of magical chile exoskeleton of seasoned tamarind paste. The fruitless (but crushable) sangria paled in comparison.
To go with those drinks, Tres Chiles offers the usual, but appreciated, Mexican grill favorites: nachos, quesadillas, stuffed jalapeños and chicharrones (a personal favorite). The server recommended that we include a free side of tortillas with our chicharrones, and when they arrived, I understood why: Unlike the crunchy, bubble-punctuated puffy pork skins you might expect, Tres Chiles makes a denser, meatier version. To eat them with ease, these nuggets require a tortilla, and they also benefit from a dousing of salsa (included on the plate). The nachos were coated in the same pale liquid cheese featured in our queso dip, which my companions refused to fault, instead wordlessly shoveling chips into their mouths as I pondered appropriate nacho cheese viscosity.
With three happy hour snacks and several drinks under our belts, our group of four almost ruined our dinners by overindulging.
As the weather cools, this elevated indoor-outdoor patio may be exactly what you need to extend the fall season.
Tres Chiles is located at 3900 Tennyson Street; call 303-477-2555 or visit the restaurant's website or Facebook page for the most current hours.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.