Denver is a city that runs mostly under the radar for most people from the northeast. What most of us don't realize is that the mile high city is a bustling, lively community, and home to a surprising number of technology companies and big businesses of all types. This is most apparent in the area callen the "Denver Tech Center" about 30 minutes south of downtown. The area is filled with office buildings, industrial and commercial parks, and all manner of smaller supporting businesses, includinga surprising number of restaurants of all sizes- Las Brisas is one of them.
Las Brisas is one of several mexican eateries in the area. It is tucked away in the corner of a shopping center, and is not all that visible from the road. At a glance it appears to be a little hole-in-the-wall place, but it si remarkably larger inside than you'd suspect. The menu features a fairly broad variety of mexican favorites, and a few dishes that are little outside of the usual to help keep things interesting.
My lunch started with a basket of fresh tortilla chips and a cup of fresh salsa. The chips were freshly made, and were fried just right- crispy and warm wihtout being greasy or overcooked- mistakes common to most attempts to make fresh tortilla chips. The chips were given a dose of coarse salt at just the right time- so the salt was able to cling to the chips without dissolving in a slick of grease like you'll find at a place where they just don't have the knack down- so kudos for getting the details right on an item that frequently gets less attention than it deserves.
The salsa was also done just right. Instead of being a mix of little chunks of tomato, pepper,and onion, this salsa was pureed into a slurry, almost like an uncooked, spicy tomato sauce rather than the salsas we're used to on the east coast. Later in my time in the Denver area, I quickly realized that this style of salsa was the norm for the area. This particular salsa had the tanginess of fresh tomato balanced with enough heat to be assertive, but not overbearing.
For my main course, I chose an item that the menu indicated was one of the house specialties- a dish named "Verde" - probably after the reen chili sauce it featured. This dish was a stack of blue corn tortillas filled with slow cooked, shredded chicken, topped with a layer of jack cheese and the aforementioned green chili sauce, served with a side of black beans and yellow rice. The chicken was very tender and moist. The tortillas soaked up the juices from the chicken and the chili sauce and became somewhat softwhile still maintaining integrity, so you could easily eat the whole dish with a fork. The chicken appeared to have been cooked in some kind of spicy marinade that had a little kick to it. The green sauce had a little heat to it as well, but also had a nice fresh tangy quality that acted as a balance to all the heat. Overall, it was just right for lunch- filling, without being so heavy that it slows you down, and enough heat to be fun, but again not so overbearing- a well balanced dish.
Of course, if you plan on having a lunch at an interesting restaurant,in an interesting city you've never been to before- it's hard to go wrong if you choose to emulate the most interesting man in the world, and wash down your meal with a Dos Equis Amber. Like many Mexican beers, it is light and crisp, a good foil for a spicy meal- and has a high froamy head that seems to last forever. I don't always drink beer with Mexican food, but when I do... well, you get the idea.
So thank you, Las Brisas, for being my intorduction to the local restaurant scene in the south side of Denver, and for making me feel for a brief time like I belonged in the most interesting beer commercial and the world. Stay thirsty my friends!