Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems).
There are a lot of great breakfast burritos in Denver, and they come in plenty of varieties: smothered or bare; on a plate or wrapped in foil; big or small; and filled with everything from chorizo and egg to bacon and potato, with cheese and a blast of green chile.
But for my $2.76 per, there is one truly perfect spot to get a paper bag full of breakfast burritos to go: the Santiago’s location at the corner of 6th Avenue and Santa Fe Drive in Denver.
And I’m not the only one who thinks that way, because from 6 a.m. throughout the morning, you can watch a non-stop dance of customers who pull their cars into the small and treacherous parking lot, walk through the door and politely line up along the counter. There are women in suits, men in hospital scrubs, construction workers in orange vests, teenagers with shorts and hoodies and many others.
Sometimes that line stretches, 10 people deep, into the restaurant’s dining area. But it moves fast. Faster than you might be ready for, in fact, so it’s best to have your order ready when you get to the front. Then throw your change in the tip jar.
The best breakfast burritos come wrapped in foil.
While Santiago’s offers a full menu of tacos and enchiladas, tostadas, chile rellenos and huevos rancheros, the stars of the morning show are the breakfast burritos. Long, skinny and swaddled in foil, they come filled with eggs cracked fresh that morning, potatoes, cheese and either ham, bacon, chorizo or sausage, depending on the day.
But the most addictive part is the green chile, which you can get mild, hot or half and half. (I’ll take mine half and half, please.)
It seems like it would take forever, but your burritos — steaming hot to the touch and silky smooth with each bite — come out quickly from a window to the side, called out by number. Most of the time, despite the constant stream of people, you’ll have your order within a few minutes. About 50 percent of the customers say “thank you”; the other half say “gracias.”
A great number of those burritos are taken to work, sometimes by thoughtful co-workers who buy them by the bagful. I’m guessing just as many, if not more, are eaten in cars on the road, with drivers pulling the foil down as they go.
But you will likely have to wait a bit to tear into yours, because getting out of the parking lot takes both hands and some patience. Small, poorly aligned and with entrances and exits on both 6th and Santa Fe, the lot is the definition of a cluster. Cars are coming and going at both ends, backing in, waiting to park, pulling out. Somehow it works.
Santiago’s was founded in 1990 by Carmen Morales and, at last count, there were 28 locations up and down the Front Range, some run by her family members. But this particular one, with its cast of characters, its careful chaos, is my favorite. In fact, there’s a burrito in my belly right now.
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