(Colorado) In the food world, few ingredients ignite passion like the versatile and fiery chile. Chile makes everything better.
The fruit's bold and distinctive flavor has a heat level that ranges from mild to extra hot, awakening the palate and adding depth to most meals. Chile is also a rich source of Vitamin C and it is a nutritious addition to the diet.
The best chile in the United States is grown in the southwest, thanks to warm, dry weather that provides the ideal growing conditions. But which southwestern state has the honor of producing the finest chile?
It is a spicy debate between fans of New Mexico's Hatch chile and Colorado's Pueblo chile.
The Hatch chile has a long and established reputation, but the Pueblo chile has become a worthy competitor since entering the pepper scene in the 1990s.
The Pueblo variety tends to be hotter than its southern neighbor and grows up towards the sun rather than hanging down. The thick outer skin makes it ideal for roasting, enhancing the flavor of the spicy fruit. The roasting chile's aromatic scent is irresistible and draws people from all over the country.
Both chiles are delicious, but my vote goes to the home-grown favorite and they are being harvested now in the Pueblo area. Go here for a list of chili-selling farm stands.
The Steel City is also known for the "slopper," a burger smothered in home-grown green chile on a toasted bun and topped with cheese, raw onions, and sometimes french fries. The local dish originated in Pueblo and has worldwide fans.
Every year, residents and food connoisseurs vote for their favorite chili-smothered burger, and the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce tallies the votes to create an official self-guided culinary tour.
The 2023 Pueblo Slopper Tour stops are:
- Gray's Coors Tavern
- Sunset Inn
- Heart & Soul at Star Bar
- Riverside Bar & Grill
- Cactus Flower Mexican Restaurant
- The Lunch Box (food truck)
- Gold Dust Saloon
- Café Murillo (food truck)
- Milberger Farms
- Three Sisters Tavern
The unique Pueblo burgers received national attention in 2010 when Gray's Coors Tavern and Sunset Inn were on the Travel Channel's "Food Wars" (Season 1, Episode 11). The two local restaurants competed for "best slopper."
Sunset Inn was victorious in 2010, and this year, Gray's Coors Tavern moves into the first place position, earning the traveling chili trophy and bragging rights.
Try them both and decide for yourself. Better yet, embark on a delicious quest to sample a burger from every establishment on the top ten list. It is a challenge worth accepting!
I'll see you in Pueblo, the spiciest city in Colorado!