A self-proclaimed idiot chile-head seeking (and eating) Denver's hottest and spiciest food. Mexican, Thai, Chicken Wings, you name it.
I’m typically lukewarm on Chili Beer (no pun intended)—I’ve had a few that are OK but few that I can drink more than a pint before I get over the novelty.
My favorite has to be Billy’s Chilies from Twisted Pine Brewing in Boulder. It has a decent heat, but an even better flavor. Many chili beers simply use one type of chili, typically a mild green of some sort.
Billy’s on the other hand has no fewer than five types: Anaheim, Fresno, Serrano, Jalapeno and Habanero. The result is a chili beer with a tremendous depth of flavor, as well as a legitimate heat. The stuff is awesome, especially with a splash of V8 to make a red beer.
Twisted Pine also makes a hotter chili beer called “Ghost Face Killah”, which takes the recipe up a notch with dried smoked ghost peppers. I absolutely love GFK’s smokiness and intense burn, but Billy’s Chilies is definitely a more approachable, drinkable beer, especially if you’re not a chili-head-idiot like me.
I am a big fan of green chili—When done correctly I believe it is one of the most beautiful foods in the world. When done poorly, which is disappointingly common in Colorado, I am an extremely vocal critic
My favorites in Denver? Jack and Grill used to be hands-down my favorite, though I think their quality has suffered as of late (and their service never has been very good). Honestly my current favorite is Chef Ernesto’s Spicy Green Chili at Blake Street Tavern. Yes, I just asserted that Denver’s best green chili may actually come from it’s biggest and most raucous sports bar. But trust me, it’s very, very good, and has a great heat.
On Saturday I found myself at Brakes Plus in Stapleton, with some time to kill. I pulled up Yelp and realized I was walking distance from Rocky Mountain Chili Bowl, purveyors of 5280 Magazine’s Top Green Chili for 2012. I had been wanting to give them a shot, so I set off across Quebec Street in search of spicy green goodness.
So how was Rocky Mountain Chili Bowl’s Green? Very good, and right up there with the best I’ve ever had.
Being a chili-head idiot, I just had to try their “Fire Bowl”, which took their hot green chili and infused it with house-made habanero and ghost pepper sauce, and served it up with a fried jalapeno. To me a good green chili can stand up on its own, not needing a burrito or to be served ON TOP of something.
And Rocky Mountain’s didn’t disappoint on that front. Spoonful after spoonful went down rapidly, warming my soul with spicy, creamy goodness. The creaminess was unexpected yet very pleasant. Some greens are on the brothy (watery) side, like Jack and Grill’s, which I actually enjoy, but not this one. However, it didn’t fall into the over-floured, artificially-induced thickness of many other Colorado greens. This was fabulous, with a creamy, rich mouth-feel that made it seem as if it had been slow-simmering for hours and hours and hours.
As for the heat level? Pleasantly warm, but not “extremely hot” as their menu board suggested. I got a decent warmness in my belly and a slightly runny nose, but it stopped short of the sweaty forehead which I seek at a minimum. But again, the stuff was delicious, and it may be plenty hot for you. And finally, the nice guy behind the counter confirmed he could double-up the habanero-ghost sauce next time to give it a little extra kick.
After RMCB, I may need to pay a visit to some of my other favorite chili joints. They’re legit for sure, and may even eventually get my vote for best green in town. But regardless, next time I’m over in Suburbia… er…. Stapleton and want to get my spice on, I’ll be back to Rocky Mountain Chili Bowl.
Upon launching my Spicy Food Denver blog today, and deciding my first real post would document my picks for some of the spiciest food in town, I was surprised to find a recent article from CBS4 Denver on the same topic.
Interesting. I had a couple questions about the article— First, the author writes “The Scoville Heat Scale (a measure of hotness) ranks capsaicin chili peppers a tongue-lashing 16 million”.
I’ve never heard of a “Capsaicin chili pepper” (capsaicin is the substance in chili peppers that makes them hot). I’m assuming she was referring to capsaicin extract, which is the only form of chili peppers that reaches that heat level.
Second, how did she measure the heat of these restaurants? Now any of these restaurants could potentially use capsaicin extract in their preparation, though the finished product wouldn’t be anywhere near the heat levels she mentions (every restaurant scores over 10 million scoville units), or it would be inedible.
Those questions aside I’m thrilled that some restaurants offering a walk on the wild side are getting some press for their efforts. While I haven’t had the chance to try Vesta, Georgia Brothers or Phat Thai, I have been to the other two places listed and so I thought I’d start with my takes on each…
Well, after several months, I have finally carved out time to create the Spicy Food Denver blog.
The purpose is simple, I guess: To share my strange love of spicy food with other chile heads, and give some love to the local Denver establishments that aren’t afraid to step out on a limb and offer some legitimately spicy food.
So sit back and enjoy seeing me sweat, burn and suffer. And if you know of a Denver restaurant that has some seriously spicy food, please let me know.
Next (First) up, the top 5 spiciest dishes I’ve found thus far in Denver.