Ten Places to Get the Best Green Chile in Denver

Ten Places to Get the Best Green Chile in Denver

As reported by Molly Martin in Westword Magazine

Ten Places to Get the Best Green Chile in Denver

Every fall they appear: stands selling fire-roasted green chiles by the bag, scooped up by locals who freeze them to have on hand for homemade batches of green chile (the sauce or the stew) all winter long. But no matter the season, you can find green chile on menus all over town, served in piping-hot bowls with tortillas on the side or smothering a slew of dishes, from burritos and burgers to chiles rellenos.

Cue the New Mexico vs. Colorado chile debate.

Some say that good green chile can only be found in the Land of Enchantment; others swear by the Centennial State’s take on the dish. Although Coloradans are rightfully proud of the locally grown Pueblo chiles that are an important part of the economy and an essential crop for farmers in the Southern region of the state, many local restaurants still depend on the New Mexican-grown Hatch variety for its wider availability. But while that region produces more chiles each year, that doesn’t necessarily make them better.

Chiles aren’t the only component of green chile, of course. In Denver these days, you can find seemingly endless iterations of the staple, from bright-green, chile-forward varieties to those that arrive in hues of tan, brown and even orange, typically thickened with a slurry of flour and oil. Sometimes tomatoes join the party, sometimes tomatillos. Pork is commonly included, whether in large chunks or tender shreds of slow-cooked meat, but not always — though no matter where your green chile alliance lies, most would agree that chicken is an unacceptable substitute. (Better to go vegetarian.)

When searching for the best green chile in the Mile High, though, the debate comes down to one thing: Is it tasty? Does it stand on its own while also enhancing the dishes over which it’s ladled? Above all, do you crave it?

Some of our favorites lean hot and spicy, while others come out on top for their deep, rich flavor and prominent roasted notes. There are thick, gravy-like versions, and others that eat more like a stew. But each and every one provides the kind of comforting, warming bite we hunger for when the weather cools down.

Here are ten destinations for Denver’s best green chile:

El Tepehuan

3495 South Broadway
Known to regulars simply as El Tep, this Englewood staple has been serving the neighborhood since 1978. In 2015, it closed the original location with plans to reopen a few blocks farther south. Cravings grew nearly out of control as almost two years passed before El Tep finally debuted in its new home at the corner of South Broadway and West Hampden Avenue, in a large space with colorful walls and tables, wooden chairs that bear the restaurant’s name and piñatas strung from the ceiling. Its return was embraced by longtime fans who were desperate for another taste of the green chile. Served as a plate with rice and beans or smothering burritos and large, crispy chiles rellenos, the green chile here has a smooth, thick consistency with a punch of heat and a deep, roasty flavor. Instead of larger pieces of pork, there are shreds of tender meat throughout, a sure sign of a chile cooked low and slow.