Thursday, March 05, 2009

?Que es "Mountain Mex"?

So, dinner tonight. Kevin was wanting Indian food, but I was really wanting Mexican, so we decided to try out Hacienda Colorado, which I've heard good things about. We show up, and I order what I almost always order: a cheese enchilada and chile relleno. I guess we've had a lot of Mexican food over the years so I've ordered this many a time, at various places. We're from California, after all.

Well the waitress proceeded to ask me what sauce I wanted: green sauce, queso (which I had literally never heard of until moving to Colorado), ranchero sauce, red chile sauce...and I'm thinking...I want whatever red sauce comes on enchiladas and chile rellenos, I have no clue what it's called, but you can't put queso on them!

When the food showed up, my chile rellenos looked like egg rolls, and tasted that way too. The batter they used and the way they made it was precisely how you'd make an egg roll...huh?

At the end of the meal when we were paying our bill, we noticed on the receipt that underneath "Hacienda Colorado" it said "Mountain Mex." Huh??? Here all along I thought it would be Mexican food, but turns out it's Mountain Mex. What IS Mountain Mex?

SOOOOOO, my question for all you Denver readers is...where can we get good, authentic Mexican food in this city??? This was the second "Mexican" restaurant we've tried in Denver and both times I was disappointed. Am I just a "California-Mexican food-snob"? Are we too close to the midwest to get authentic Mexican food?

!Dicen que no es así, Joe!

We had a blast though. The kids were great and Kevin and I had fun being together at a restaurant. Yay for surprise dates with the fam!!!


Mike and Rachel said...

In my kitchen. I haven't even attempted Mexican here. My mom makes great chili reianos (sp)Maybe I can get her to teach me when they are out and then have you guys over for real Mexican food.

Angela said...

rincon del sol in boulder is really good. authentic.

adventures north said...

OK, you've finally pulled me out of 3 years of lurkdom with this one. I'm a displaced 6-generation front range Coloradan, and without a doubt, Santiagos is the best. The one we used to hit was in Lafayette, but I think they have them in Longmont, possibly Firestone, Brighton or Ft. Lupton, & Longmont.

I have no idea what the Mountain Mex is - must be something a Californian started (-:

I referred your blog to someone on our new agency list the other day, and turns out she knows you IRL. I'm "Teeny's Mom" if you remember him from around the time you adopted.

andy gibson said...

Brianna, really? It can't happen!!!

Santa Maria, Mexifornia, to Denver Colorado.

Mexican food may be out of your diet for good. I can mail you some?

Anonymous said...

Try Jose's, in old Littleton, on Littleton Blvd.; or (if it's still there) Blue Bonnet (near 6th and Santa Fe).


JaneeNoel said...

After living there for over 4 years, we decided there really wasn't any good Mexican food and we'd just have to gorge ourselves on our visits to CA. I'd heard Hacienda Colorado was good but we never went there . . . glad we didn't waste our time. And like you, I never heard of queso until I moved out of California!

The best Mexican we found was at a place on Broadway just south of the Goodwill in Englewood(?) I think. Not fantastic, but pretty cheap and the closest thing to authentic we could find.
Now if you want Thai food, there are some really yummy places nearby!

geetabean said...

I don't believe that you are a snob, but Mexican food pretty much anywhere but California is lacking. When I moved to North Carolina I kept trying different restaurants hoping to find some good Mexican and have yet to find anything that even comes close (its now been 4 years) They have some obsession with ground beef because they use it in everything. Your chile relleno and enchilada would have had ground beef in them here and who knows what sauce!!

My husband actually asked the waitress one time if she would eat the Mexican food the restaurant served and she sheepishly told us no. lol Good luck finding an authentic place!!

song said...

Oh my goodness, please do not go to Blue Bonnet, sorry Kate. There are tons of good Mexican joints in Denver you just need to know where to look (aka Federal or anywhere there is a Hispanic population which is not Littleton or the yuppie areas of town).

My all time favorite (and has won numerous awards for best mexican in denver) is Tacos Jalisco on 38th Ave which also has other restaurant goodies like Los Carboncitos. Taqueria Patzcuaro is good and I think El Sarape which is on your side of town is Jacos Jalisco's sister restaurant, but I can't vouch for the food.

Just think hole in the wall and you should be good.

From one mexican fan to another.
(aka friend of curlyjo)

Emily B. said...

That's so sad! I'm from Arizona and a TOTAL Mexican food snob. I'm always disappointed when we go back to the Midwest to visit family. I can't imagine a life without yummy Mx. food, though. You've GOTTA find an authentic place. Good luck!

Jenna said...

Um, ya, good Mexican food in CO is pretty hard to find. I do like Hacienda BUT I do not consider it authentic Mexican. The best we've found so far is actually a Mexican market called Rancho Liborio (in Aurora) where you can buy your own stuff and make it at home! I made a great Mexican night for our monthly bunko here with marinated carne asada and chicken from their meat dept. They do also have an eat-in area where you can order cooked food and eat it there.

Jenna said...

oh ya, I wanted to add that I've got some friends moving to Castle Rock from San Diego and they are going to be royally BUMMED when they discover no good Mexican food!

Brianna Heldt said...

Thanks for all the suggestions!!! We'll be trying them for sure!

Rachel YES hook me up with some of your mom's food, YUM!

Janee what was your fave Thai place? We've tried one so far which was good but again I don't know that it was particularly authentic.

I'll clarify that Hacienda Colorado wasn't BAD, just not what we were expecting. If you've been, what do you like to get there???

Brianna Heldt said...

Oh and Andy YES, by all means PLEASE mail me some. Get it from Jalisco's on Blosser. Yummy!

Brianna Heldt said...

adventures north, who did you meet that knows me??? now i'm all curious. :) and you adopted around the time i did??? i'm trying to figure out who "teeny" is...i might need a hint!

jenna thanks for the info! i'll have to check that place out. i guess i took for granted the fact that we lived in a town comprised mostly of Mexican immigrants!!! but denver has a sizable population as well so they've gotta have the food SOMEwhere!!!

Kristen said...

...and reason number ONE why i cannot move to colorado.

i seriously wouldn't survive without real mexican food. i'm am truly sad for you. i say whenever you want mexican food, go to rachel's house. sounds like that's the place to go!

Angela said...

just for the record...i do like Hacienda Colorado (they have a gluten free menu! yay!) but, i don't consider it authentic at all. We lived in New Mexico for 4 years...just 45 minutes from the border, and yes. I AM a Mexican food snob, too. I still miss the green chile in NM like no body's business. It was amazing. SIGH.
But. HC is still yummy, in its unauthentic way. I like the beef fajitas... but, I did like the rellenos, (before I was GF) so...take it for what its worth. ;) Seriously, come up to Boulder and eat at Rincon del Sol with us. Its the best (most authentic) we've found, so far.

Brianna Heldt said...

kristen if i find a yummy authentic mexican restaurant will you reconsider moving here???? pretty please????????? :) i can hardly fault anyone for that being a deal breaker though. we get ethiopian food now however so maybe it's a tradeoff. :)

angela i didn't know you lived in new mexico!!! and yes let's try out that boulder restaurant sometime!!!

JaneeNoel said...

We liked the Thai food at Wild Ginger on Littleton Boulevard. Their massaman curry is to die for, IMO.

Still tasty but not quite as good is Little Basil at Broadway and Mineral. They give you a ton of food for the money, though (portions at Wild Ginger are much smaller and more $$$). We liked Little Basil a lot for takeout because they give such generous servings.

Sugar Momma said...

Try La Loma off of I-25 and 23rd. Very authentic. And in my opinion, very good.


erica said...

That's funny b/c i was just going to comment on Jalisco's in Santa Maria! That place is so awesome...but i realize it doesn't help much to remind you of that, ha ha. :) We just went last week & i had the cheese enchilada & guacamole tostada combo. Mmmmmmm! Their salsa is so good too.

Brianna Heldt said...

ha erica that IS funny. our pediatrician in santa maria was mexican and i asked him for a recommendation and he said jalisco's, "because it's real and not white-people-mexican-food." :) we loved it, and took it as a good sign that pretty much everyone eating there was hispanic!

Alicia said...

Try La Fiesta in Denver, 24th & Champa. Check their hours, though ~ I don't think they are open for dinner ~ seriously, just lunch. They are always packed. Also, I love spicey food and can eat spicey with the best of them, but the green chili sauce and salsa at La Fiesta is super, super spicey...hope you like spicey!

Anonymous said...

Uuh, well, yeah - i can see where Blue Bonnet might be more of a trendy kind of a place. Jose's is a family run restaraunt (sp?) - that has been run by the Martinez family and Uncle Joe for years (20+) - so I wouldn't lump it in with some of the other stuff located in old Littleton. The area west of Windemere off of Littleton Blvd./Main street is full of all kinds of unusual places.

(just one mama's opinion)

curlyjo said...

I adore Mexican food, but I have a theory. My husband, who grew up in NM, scoffs at CA Mexican food, and TexMex , for that matter. "Totally inauthentic", he says. I think it's a regional thing. Even in Mexico Mexican food varies by region. But in my husband book the only real Mexican features Hatch Green Chili.

I did have a suggestion, but now I can't remember it

Angela said...

yay for Hatch Green Chile!

Green chile is the state vegetable of NM. Who knew states even had a 'state vegetable'? I didn't. Before I lived in Las Cruces.

Yep. We were there 4 LONG years. But the food was amazing! :)

Ginger said...

Being married to a Hispanic man, I'll tell you that in general the best/most authentic Mexican food is usually (as others have mentioned) sold out of hole in the wall joints in predominantly Hispanic areas of town rather than nice sit down places (like you order the food at a counter, then find a table where they will bring it out to you)...and of course those taco trucks you see here in CA are often good too. I've found if they have tacos de lengua (tongue) or cabeza (head) on the menu, then you know its going to taste authentic. Think of it this way, a huge percentage of Hispanics are working class people who are usually making the authentic stuff at home without a lot of disposable income to eat out, but when they do go out they want it to taste like home and they want it cheap, because otherwise they'd just stay home and make it. The fancier the restaurant, the more the menu is going to cater towards anglo masses or in many cases what are presumed to be anglo tastes (because many of us anglo's can attest to liking it as authentic as possible)...that is how I believe these mountain-mex, tex-mex, etc. creations come about.
I've got a yummy recipe for chile rellenos if you want, just pm me.
Oh, and you can find queso here in CA...usually called Chile Con Queso...its yummy as a chip dip.

Jeannett Gibson said...

Okay, so that settles it. The next time you come to California, you WILL drive "all the way down" to Santa Maria...where we will take our whole passle of kids to Jalisco, stop by Trader Joe's on the way home, and then lay around on my couches in utter exhaustion...not sure what the 7 kids will be doing at that point, but maybe we'll luck out and they'll be napping???

(By the way, was cleaning out my computer and found a bunch of old pictures of your kids...I'll burn em to a CD and mail them to you...they are SO little!)

Brianna Heldt said...

ginger yeah that makes sense. the best places we'd found in CA were holes in the wall too, though even some of the bigger places were good too. definitely wanting that recipe so i'll email you for it!

jeannett YES we will do that!!!!! that sounds positively FABULOUS. in fact i'm rather tempted to go check out airfares right now...:)

shell said...

reading all these comments cracked me up! since i have only ever lived in the midwest, i am starting to wonder if i have ever even had 'REAL" mexican food!!!

Samantha said...

All u california people are so come to our state and drive like idiots, then insult our mexican food?! You've got to be kidding me!! Everyone on earth knows you dont go to a snobby restaurant to get good mexican food, you go to the neighborhoods...which is not LITTLETON!! Get off your high horse and quit thinking that if it isnt from california it isnt good.

Brianna Heldt said...

Samantha you crack me up. I cannot FATHOM why you are reading this blog if I'm such a despicable person because of where I was born (!)

For the record I don't live in Littleton, nor have I ever gone to a restaurant there. I'd heard Hacienda Colorado was good, so we tried it out in Denver. I don't think it's a snobby restaurant, I think it's a chain selling overpriced food they call Mountain Mex. We lived in a small-ish farming community in California that had amazing Mexican food. It's harder to find that here. End of story.

I live in Denver. In the city. Where there is surely a lot of good Mexican food, I just hadn't found it yet.

Your comment was mean, and I have no clue why you chose to lash out, but I'm probably going to have to remove it because I don't like people calling other people idiots on my blog.


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