Category Archives: Mexican and Tex-Mex

Green Chile Cheeseburger: Denver or Santa Fe?

The capitals of Colorado and New Mexico lay claim the best of this Southwestern fave.

SantaFe-logoAsk a Coloradan which city makes the best green chile cheeseburger, and the instant answer is Denver, The Mile High City. Ask a New Mexican, and the reply is Santa Fe, The City Different. There are plenty of reasons to visit beautiful, artistic San Fe, and its Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail is one of them.

Here’s what Santa Fe claims: Santa Fe, NM is a burger lover’s paradise, and ‘The City Different’ spends 365 days celebrating the Green Chile Cheeseburger. Santa Fe’s indigenous cuisine dates back to the area’s Native American roots and their staples of beans, corn and squash. With the introduction of foods brought by the Spanish like onions, tomatoes and of course, chile, the table was set for what became the distinctive New Mexican fare with its enduring emphasis on the use of chile in and on almost everything.  The green chile cheeseburger has been a staple on menus around the state of New Mexico since at least the middle of the 1900s.

Continue reading Green Chile Cheeseburger: Denver or Santa Fe?

Tortilla Chip Tasting (& Brunch) at Lola

Food Should Taste Good makes products that live up to the brand name.

018Food Should Taste Good is based in Minneapolis, but this line of tasty natural tortilla chips, crackers and other snack foods could be a Boulder area company. After all, the products are gluten-free, cholesterol-free, have zero grams of trans- fats and are even kosher, and some varieties are also certified vegan. Certified organic is the only desirable attribute that is missing, but you can’t have everything — and since it is part of giant General Mills, I’m not holding my breath for organic. What these products do have is great taste — hence the name that resonates with me, because I believe that taste is really important.

A public relations crew came out from Massachusetts on Saturday to host a tasting at Lola Mexican Fish House, a Highland eatery known as much for its brunch as its seafood. I have been wanting to go there for a long time, so I’m grateful to FSTG. Lola, part of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, is something of a melding of Jax Fish House (four metro area locations plus Kansas City) on the seafood side and Centro Latin Kitchen and Zolo Grill (both in Boulder) on the Latin side. This  chef-driven group was founded in 1994 by David Query with Jamey Fader as culinary director. Both are well-known veteran chefs in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

The tasting took place in the basement bar, a venue that along with good brunch drinks, gave the event an after-dark air. In fact, it was a bit of a shock to come upstairs into the bright light of the early afternoon. Lola’s chef de cuisine Kevin Grossi put out a selection of guacamole and assorted dips to mix and match with various Food Should Taste Good chips flavors. Blue corn chips are my favorites. I kind of liked dipping guacamole chips into Lola’s fine guac, but in truth, every combo was good.

I couldn't get the whole line of chips, plus salsas and guac for dipping into one picture.
I couldn’t get the whole line of chips, plus salsas and guac for dipping into one picture.

Continue reading Tortilla Chip Tasting (& Brunch) at Lola

Atmospheric & Inexpensive Mexican Resto in Gunnison

El Paraiso recalls the sounds and flavors of Mexico.

026 Here’s a weird story. My husband and I spent a couple of nights at the super-comfy Inn at Tomichi Village on the east end of Gunnison. We ate in the inn’s Blue Mesa Grill the first night. The next morning, as we were driving to Crested Butte — just before the right turn onto Highway 135 —  I said, “Look there’s a Mexican restaurant.” My husband, always on the hunt for south-of-the-border fare, saw it too — there on the left side of US 50. When we returned from skiing, we somehow missed it. That evening, we looked for it again, and it wasn’t there. When I later told a local friend about the vanished restaurant, she said, “There used to be one there.” Had we driven through a few yards of The Twilight Zone?

Cheerful interior of what might have once been a steak or BBQ place, considering the horseshoes on the ends of the booths.
Cheerful interior of what might have once been a steak or BBQ place, considering the horseshoes on the ends of the booths.

One way or another, we were in the mood for Mexican. I was almost deterred by the words “Family Mexican Restaurant” on El Paraiso’s sign, because “family restaurant” usually mens bland, flavor-deprived food. But we decided to give it a try. Happily, it turns out. Located just off the main drag, it looked like a former house. Inside, it is tricked out with serapes and other Mexicana. Cheerful Mexican music is piped into the dining room, and the welcome was hearty. We slipped into a booth, started munching on complimentary chips and salsa as we waited for our margaritas (a happy hour steal at $5, because we ordered before 6). The food was really good, the portions really generous and the prices really reasonable.

Huge flaming margaritas. The ends of fresh limes must have been filled with a bit of alcohol and set afire. With salt on the rim of the glass, a fresh lime wedge, this has to be the best-presented $5 marg ever. And it tasted good too.
Huge flaming margaritas. With a bit of alcohol in the ends of fresh cut limes set afire, salt on the rim of the glass and a fresh lime wedge, this has to be the best-presented $5 marg ever. And it tasted good too.

Continue reading Atmospheric & Inexpensive Mexican Resto in Gunnison

Los Cabos Hosts Big Food Fest

Sabor a Cabo coming to southern tip of Baja California.

SaborACabo-logoOne way to deliciously fill part of the gap between the Thanksgiving and Christmas-New Year’s holidays is at the ninth annual  Sabor a Cabo (Flavors of Cabo) food and wine festival in Los Cabos from November 30 through December 6. For the first time it includes a weeklong series of ticketed events highlighting the renowned regional cuisine of Baja California Sur and the wines of Mexico’s celebrated Baja wine region. And did I mention that high-season lodging rates are not yet in effect then?

These schedule features Country Side Taste, November 30; Sunset Gourmet Gala prepared by Michelin Star Chefs and served aboard a luxurious yacht, December 2;  Oktobeer Fest showcasing artisanal beer, local cuisine and music,December 3; Wine & Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo (my favorite town in Los Cabos), December 4, and a Star Chef Dine-Around, December 5.  The main event on December 6 from 5 to 11 p.m. in the Sculpture Garden in Puerto Los Cabos features 50 participating restaurants putting out what organizers call the “best-of-the-best” of international cuisine and wine beneath the stars.

Confirmed are such world-renowned chefs as Federico Zanellato, chef and partner of Copenhagen’s NOMA Restaurant (ranked No. 1 in the world), and Richard Sandoval, whose 35+ restaurants world-wide include Zengo, Tamayo and two La Sandias in the Denver area and Venga Venga in Snownass. Also, Dieter Koshina, owner of Portugal’s Vilajoya Restaurant (ranked No. 22 in the world); Roberto Alcocer, chef/owner of Malva Restaurant in Ensenada, Mexico; Najat Kaanache, chef/owner of Souk Restaurant, Dallas and former chef of Spain’s sadly shuttered El Bulli Restaurant; Thierry Blouet, chef/owner of Restaurant de Los Artistas, Puerto Vallarta, and Eduardo Osuna, founder of non-profit organization Chef to the Rescue in Mexico.

Festival tickets, which are available online, are $100 for general admission tickets prior to September 30 and $125 thereafter. Special lounge area access tickets are $150, and seats at VIP tables are $1,000 per person.  All the money raised during the Saturday, December 6 gala are to l be donated to the Fire Department, the Red Cross and Children’s Foundation of Los Cabos.

Cross-posted to www.travel-babel.com.

 

La Choza Gets a Brick-and-Mortar Home

After a couple of moves, Mexican hut set for “lucky” space.

LaChoze-logoAs we’ve discovered through two locations in dirt parking lots (first on the west end of the Diagonal Highway and currently behind the ReBay pawn shop on North Broadway), La Choza has aced the preparation of down-to-earth Mexican food at down-to-earth prices. When we stopped there a few days to refuel after a hike, we saw an encouraging sign that La Choza was moving around the corner.

The sign of things to come.
The sign of things to come.
Meanwhile, customers are always waiting around the hut for their orders.
Meanwhile, customers are always waiting around the hut for their orders.
The food is cheap and good. Here is a puffy quesadilla.
The food is cheap and good. Here is a puffy quesadilla.
Burrito wrapped in foil and ready. Customers select their red or green chile sauce.
Burrito wrapped in foil and ready. Customers select their red or green chile sauce.
The space that launched Pupusa's and Julia's will next house La Choza.
The space tucked in next to ReBay at 4457 Broadway that launched Pupusa’s and Julia’s will next house La Choza.

My hopes that La Choza would alight at 4457 Broadway are coming to pass. Both Pupusas Sabor Hispano and Julia’s Kitchen started simply there and moved onto to bigger, better spaces. I think of his little storefront as “lucky.” I hope the luck continues for the hard-working owner of La Choza.

Top Taco’s Winning Tacos & Margs

New competition crowned champions in Mexican categories.

TopTaco-logoI had a prior commitment and unfortunately could not attend yesterday’s first-ever Top Taco competition in Denver, but Eater Denver (or is it Denver Eater? — I never know) was there and posted a report. Here’s the site’s list of winners:

Traditional Tacos (judges’ selections)

1. Comida for its Stella pork carnita taco.
2 Pinche Tacos for its own version of the carnita taco.
3. Billy’s Inn for its fish taco.

Creative Tacos (judges’ selections)

1. Machete for its cricket taco on a house made hibiscus tortilla.
2. Los Chingones for its mini lengua taco.
3. The Squeaky Bean for its steak and shrimp taco.

Traditional Tacos (people’s choice) 

1. Pinche Tacos
2. Billys Inn
3. Highland Tap

Creative Tacos (people’s choice)
1. Moontower
2. Comida
3. Zengo

Margarita (judges’ selections)
1. La Biblioteca
2. Comida
3. Adelitas

Margarita (people’s choice)

1. La Biblioteca
2. Machete
3. Adelitas

Presumably, a good time was had by all.

 

New Santa Fe Hotel Plans Fusion Restaurant

John Rivera Sedlar returning to his hometown with a fusion restaurant.

John Rivera Sedlar
John Rivera Sedlar

Who says you can’t go home again? Award-winning Santa Fe-bred, Los Angeles-based chef John Rivera Sedlar has been tapped  to open restaurant in the new Drury Plaza Hotel in the heart of Santa Fe. Sedlar  owns Rivera, a sleek, Los Angeles area pan-Latin fusion restaurant bearing his middle name.

He returns to his hometown of Santa Fe after four decades of pleasing diners in Los Angeles to open Eloisa, specializing in modern Latin cuisine. “Santa Fe has long been, and still is, the epicenter of the most flavorful, vibrant Southwestern foods found anywhere in the United States,” says Chef Sedlar.

“I’m so looking forward to returning to the Santa Fe cocina to cook once again my own contemporary versions of the wonderful foods I first ate as a child in my grandmother’s kitchen on Alto Street.” Sedlar’s father moved to New Mexico to work for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  His middle name, Rivera, comes from his mother’s family, an old Spanish family that has lived in northern New Mexico for centuries.

Sedlar was raised on bizcochitos, empanadita and tamales in the New Mexican kitchens of his mother, aunts and his grandma Eloisa, who was a professional chef. He spent three years in the Spanish cities of Sevilla and Zaragoza. Continue reading New Santa Fe Hotel Plans Fusion Restaurant