If you were to ask any Denver native where to get the best green chile in their city, they most would likely respond with their mom’s house. Or their grandma’s house. Or their tia’s (auntie’s) house. But since you are likely less inclined to invite yourself over to a stranger’s house to try their mom’s chile, allow The Travel to provide some insight into where to get the best green chile in Denver.
Hatch green chile (often also spelled “chili”) is a near-sacred soup/stew-hybrid, held in high regard amongst families across the Denver metro area. Regardless of how mild or spicy it is, to be considered as the best, green chile needs to hit on two factors. First, the chile should be simple and delicious enough to be eaten as a bowl of soup, lopping up any excess with a warm tortilla. Second (and most importantly), the chile should act as the perfect pour-over compliment to any egg and potato-laden breakfast or Mexican lunch plate; an act synonymous with the word “smothered” - one of North Denver’s most endearing food terms. Whether indulging during a weekend family brunch with a smothered breakfast burrito deluxe, or chowing down on a plate of green chile cheese fries at 2am after a night of libations and questionable decisions, a good green chile will make a memorable impression, generally leaving you wanting more.
There are countless restaurants in Denver that serve amazing chile, but Tamales by La Casita is one of the best spots for green chile and is a must-try for out-of-towners and Denver residents.
Located in the heart of North Denver, Tamales by La Casita serves up some of the best green chile that Denver has to offer. The surrounding neighborhood may have changed throughout the years, but Tamales by La Casita has remained a staple within the community since it first opened in 1975. Tamales by La Casita prides itself in serving “traditional New Mexican cuisine that has reflections from Mexico, the Native American Indian, and Spanish influences that date back centuries.”
Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll be met with a friendly atmosphere and a vibe that makes you feel like when you’re there, you’re family. Yesteryear’s smooth sounds of Motown, light rock, and funk fill the space, accompanied by multiple pieces of Denver Broncos memorabilia adorning the walls, showcasing the restaurant's proud Denver roots.
Handmade tamales are the restaurant’s specialty, but if those aren’t your thing, you’ll have no problem selecting something else from their breakfast, lunch, or dinner menu. Whatever you get, smothering your plate with their green chile is definitely the way to go.
Tamales by La Casita’s green chile maintains a perfect soup consistency, while still having enough texture to cling onto each bite of tamale, burrito, or any other dish you may have had smothered with the green goodness. The chile is incredibly flavorful, with just enough heat to linger on your tongue after scraping your plate clean, which you are no doubt likely to do.
Nick's Garden Center
If you’re looking for a place to get amazing green chile in a less-conventional setting, look no further than Nick’s Garden Center. You’ll likely need to take an Uber or Lyft to the expansive garden center residing just outside of Denver proper, but the green chile (and menu overall) is well-worth the quick, 20-minute ride. While the café is only open on weekends, their green chile cheese fries are arguably the best in the greater metro area. You’ll need a fork for the mound of fries underneath the hearty helping of green chile with its large, tender chunks of pork.
Nick’s Garden Center opened in 1987, and has grown into an immersive gardening destination, hosting seasonal events for families, friends, and the Denver community. Taking place every September, Nick’s Chili Festival is one of the yearly highlights, with the distinct smell of freshly fire-roasted chile filling the air, amidst a landscape of colors from the autumn foliage available for purchase. The seasonal green chile menu available in the fall is also one that can’t be beat. The smothered Mexican hamburger pairs perfectly with the fries.
Phil’s Place and La Loma are two other great options for green chile, both located in downtown Denver. It is easy to get green chile wrong, but the city of Denver has taken on the challenge and come out on top, mastering its simplicity and maximizing its flavors.
Have you found another great spot for green chile in Denver? Let us know!