Best of Denver

The Best Green Chile in Denver in 2018...and Through the Decade

Recognize the green chile on these burritos? You should: It's from El Taco de Mexico.
Recognize the green chile on these burritos? You should: It's from El Taco de Mexico. Danielle Lirette
Green chile is always one of our most heated categories in the annual Best of Denver edition. So many restaurants and cantinas make great versions, and so many chile heads have their own notions of what constitutes a good green that the award rarely goes to the same place twice. In fact, over the past ten years, only El Taco de Mexico has been a repeat winner for Best Green Chile — a testament to the taqueria's quality and consistency. Readers have been a little more faithful to their true love, Santiago's, which has earned the Readers' Choice nod the past six years in a row. And, yes, it's winning that category again this year.

Who did our food and drink writers honor with their award for Best Green Chile in the Best of Denver 2018? We'll spill that sauce at the end of this post. But first, a refresher course on our picks for the Best Green Chile in Denver over the past ten years, along with the reasons that we chose them at the time.

Green in the back, red in the front: a Christmas burrito at Jack-n-Grill. - MARK ANTONATION
Green in the back, red in the front: a Christmas burrito at Jack-n-Grill.
Mark Antonation
2524 Federal Boulevard

Until everyone gets it through their heads that real green chile means roasted, chopped green chiles, a little liquid and nothing else, Jack-n-Grill is going to keep winning this award, because it remains the only place in Denver where you can get authentic New Mexican-style green chile — along with killer vaquero tacos, giant breakfast burritos and cups full of roasted, cheesy corn. What's more, during chile season, owner Jack Martinez (who began his career as a green-chile importer) and members of his family are standing right out there in the parking lot, tending to the jet-fuel tumblers, roasting bushel after bushel of the good stuff for anyone wise enough to stop by and pick up a bag.

571 Santa Fe Drive (and multiple other locations)

It took us a year to make this decision. Seriously, a year. We spooned our way through bowl after bowl around the city, through green chiles thick and thin, sweet and sour, dull and devilishly hot. And we kept coming back to Santiago's. Fortunately, it was easy to do, because this homegrown chain keeps opening up more stores all around the city, and all of them serve the same great green. With its moderated heat and perfect balance of the chile's vegetable sweetness to the savor of pork fat, this elixir goes with everything from eggs to tacos to midnight snacks — and is also just splendid on its own. In our hearts, we knew Santiago's green chile was the winner from the start. All that testing and experimentation? Just an excuse to eat the leftovers, really.

El Taco de Mexico
714 Santa Fe Drive

The clean-kitchen-obsessed women with permanent frowns on their faces who bust their asses at El Taco de México? They understand a lot more English than you think, and if you're stupid enough to malign their green chile — which we've heard a hell of a lot of bullying gringos do — then you deserve whatever bad karma creeps into your tortilla. El Taco's green chile is in a class by itself, an incredible food high that's full of invigorating spices, deposits of pork and a slew of hot chiles for maximum twang. It embodies everything that you expect from a killer green chile, and a whole lot more.

Los Farolitos (closed)
1593 Peoria Street, Aurora

This is a city that loves its green chile in all forms, but the verde at Los Farolitos, a sincere Mexican joint shoehorned into a featureless Aurora mini-mall, is the most lovable of all. Tart with tomatillos, specked with oregano and unleashing an unrepentant hot flash of blistering heat, it's the perfect cloak for everything it drapes, including the equally unassailable barbacoa burrito, filled with robust, long-stewed lamb. Everything here, including the Mexican buffet, is worthy of praise, but the green chile consistently delivers. The only bummer is the absence of alcohol to subdue the five-alarm fire, but you can waste away in Margaritaville elsewhere.

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