The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
There may be nothing that screams “Colorado!” more than green chile, preferably smothered on a breakfast burrito. Except maybe fried bull testicles. Or our namesake Denver omelet. OK, so there’s debate over the Colorado-iest food of them all, but at least we’ve got options. Here, eight of the foods that best symbolize the Centennial State, ranked on a scale of one to 10.
Colorado factor: 4
We’re sure that at some point in time, someone has actually ordered a Denver omelet within city limits, but we’re not convinced that bell peppers and ham are accurate representations of our fair town. And considering it’s not even on the menu of the definitive Denver breakfast staple that is Snooze, an AM Eatery, we’re not buying it.
Spring Fling Cake
Colorado factor: 5
For 37 years, Larimer Square’s the Market was as much a Denver fixture as the Rockies. More than two years after its closing, a clear legacy of the café/bakery has emerged: the Spring Fling cake. Fans worried they’d forever lose their zucchini-flecked confection frosted in cream cheese icing and loaded up with fresh fruit. But the Spring Fling cake transcends time and place, rising, Phoenix-like, from the Market’s ashes and into area homes.
Where to get it: You can order your Spring Fling from a trio of former Market bakers via Lala’s Bakery.
Colorado factor: 6
We may be shaking our cow town reputation, but steak will always be a part of our Western lore. That’s fine, because even though our chefs and restaurants go so far beyond grilling meat these days, sometimes you crave a hunk of beef.
Where to get it: Two words: Sugar Steak. You’re going to Bastien’s.
Colorado factor: 7
We have some of the best trout-fishing around and one of the largest bison populations in the country, but did you know that Colorado is third when it comes to sheep and lambs? Just over seven percent of U.S. sheep call Colorado home…at least for a while.
Where to get it: Pair one local legend with another and eat your lamb at Elway’s.
Green Chile (Preferably smothered on a breakfast burrito)
Colorado factor: 8
It’s possible that that other state to our south could claim green chile as their food, but come on, our Pueblo peppers are meatier, thicker-skinned, and spicier, which makes for an unbeatable, slow-simmered stew. Plus, thanks to the fire-roasted tomatoes, our green chile isn’t even green, so take that, state to our south!
Colorado factor: 9
Rocky Ford melons are good and all, and Olathe sweet corn is a treat, but Colorado’s best-grown produce is definitely the Palisade peach. The Western Slope’s hot days and cool nights just make for a sweeter, juicier peach, which we think is the best we’ve ever inhaled.
Where to get it: We’ll take these guys in a cobbler, a salad, or heck, even in a curry. But they might be best eaten alone, on a summer afternoon, with juices dripping down our chins.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Colorado factor: 9
Rocky Mountain Oysters—or cowboy caviar, swinging beef, tendergroin or whatever ballsy nickname you want to call them—are so Colorado that they have their own regional food holiday (October 5!). Of course these suckers aren’t actually oysters; they’re sliced, battered, and fried bull calf testicles, and if that doesn’t sound appetizing, well, that’s why the oyster euphemism.
Where to get it: There’s no better place to get this legendary dish than at one of Denver’s most legendary restaurants, the Buckhorn Exchange.
Colorado factor: 10
In Pueblo, they pour green chile on everything. And why the heck not? The area’s chiles are incredible, and really, an open-faced cheeseburger is probably one of the least strange things they pour spicy, tangy green chile on. These sloppy patties will definitely convince you that burgers are fork and knife foods.
Where to get it: Pueblo’s Star Bar and Gray’s Coors Tavern fight over which bar birthed the beloved slopper. Stay out of it and instead hit both for a back-to-back slopper-off. In Denver, the Pueblo-themed Fuel & Iron Bar makes a great rendition.