Sam’s No. 3 diner goes through 60 gallons of green chile a day — nearly 22,000 gallons a year. That’s what Alex Armatas told us. He’s the grandson of Sam Armatas, founder of the first Sam’s in Downtown Denver back in 1927.
Now stop to think about all of the other restaurants that serve a mean bowl of the green stuff. Whoa, right? Coloradans’ hearts beat out their love with rhythmic arteries plumb full of green chile.
It isn’t a surprise then that in the first round of the Colorado Wonders iconic state food bracket, green chile walked away with it. Fast casual dining didn’t even have a chance. Gov. Jared Polis, a known green chile connoisseur, got behind it. Chile love also helped carry the Pueblo Slopper — an open-faced hamburger drowned in the sauce — to victory over the humble cheeseburger.
At Gray’s Coors Tavern in Pueblo, where the “burgers are pretty popular [and the] Mexican food is really good,” owner Dean Gray estimates that “at least 70 percent of the things made in the kitchen are green chile sloppers... probably.”
Basically, we’re at the top of every 14er wearing a Colorado flag t-shirt screaming “GREEN CHILE” all of the time. Or that’s probably how your out-of-state family sees it.
The state’s chile obsession couldn’t save every dish in our food fight. The humble Denver omelet, a breakfast staple of onions, peppers, ham and cheddar, easily bested the Mexican hamburger — despite the fact that the Denver-invented, tortilla-wrapped gutbuster is usually smothered and covered in green.
Then there was the upset.
It was neck and neck, but in the end, microbrew knocked off Rocky Mountain Oysters. A western classic, or something just for the tourists? Either way, it wasn't enough to overcome Colorado's famous love of beer (both worlds collide though with Wynkoop Brewing's Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout). Bulls everywhere might not want to sigh in relief though, over at Denver's Buckhorn Exchange they're still frying up between 300 and 500 pounds of oysters a week.
Let the second round voting begin...
Voting in the second round closes Dec. 13. Want to learn more about the remaining contenders, or see the original starting bracket? Check it out here.
Freelance reporter Shanna Lewis and CPR News fellow Claire Cleveland contributed to this story.
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