Friday, March 23, 2012

#6 Sam's No. 3 - Denver, Colorado

Wednesday March 21st after a long day of meetings at the Double Tree in Denver, I asked AJ if he was up for driving me to another Triple D spot for dinner. He and his colleague Lynn were both up for it, and we also recruited Jim from Fresno to join us on the road trip into downtown Denver.  By this time I think I have convinced them of the fun that can be had on the quest to eat at as many Triple D spots as possible. We drove into downtown Denver, parked the car and walked a couple of blocks to Sam’s No. 3. We arrived around 6:30 and the place was not overly crowded. We were seated right away in a section around a small table. It seemed a little cramped for the 4 of us, so Jim took it upon himself to find us a spot in a booth right by the window overlooking 15th street. Nice move!

Our server Sammy (not the owner of Sam’s) was a colorful and friendly person – with a blue faux-hawk hairdo. He took our orders and was duly impressed when I told him I was on a Triple D tour and he wanted to know where else I had been in Denver. It was a pretty basic setup inside, and obviously a fun place reminiscent of old diners. Like with most traditional diners, the menu was huge and had a little something for everyone. There were probably at least 6 or 8 items that had a Triple D logo next to it, indicating that I had been featured (or mentioned) on the show. Guy said the place is known for it’s “kickin’ green pork chili.”

AJ ordered chili cheese fries for us all to share as an appetizer and Sammy asked if we wanted green chili or red chili on it.  I told AJ to ask for “Christmas” (which in New Mexico is widely known for meaning “both”) but that seemed to stump poor Sammy. He said, “Oh, we call that ‘Tex-Mex’.” (“Really?” I thought to myself, that’s a lesson learned.)  Apparently the lingo is different in Denver than it is in New Mexico, where “Green or Red?” is generally considered to be “the state question.” But I digress… because the chili cheese fries were delicious on both red AND green sides.  As the picture shows, we started devouring them before I had a chance to snap a picture of them as they were presented.

For the entrĂ©e, AJ, Lynn and Jim all ordered the chili rellenos plate. That had a Triple D logo by it on the menu, and it looked interesting to me, but I thought the Mexi-Burger sounded good, so I ordered one. Sammy asked me how I’d like it cooked and I ordered it medium-well. We sat around the table and had some good conversation (including Jim giving AJ and Lynn a hard time for not authentically rolling their “r” when pronouncing “chili rellenos”). The food arrived and we still had not finished the chili cheese fries, so you can say the service was quick. I started to dig into my Mexi-Burger, which is a hamburger patty cut in half, then placed inside a flour tortilla, folded over, then covered with melted cheddar cheese and the “kickin’ green chili”. I had a choice of potato on the side, and decided to walk on the wild side and order “tots”. Let’s start with the burger itself… not to be cruel, but it was overcooked (well done) and dry. Thankfully the flavor of the green chili that smothered the dish made up for the poorly executed burger cooking. Overall, I would honestly have to rate the Mexi-burger was fairly good, not great. I try not to be too critical, but I was disappointed and really rooting for this to be a great dish…it wasn’t. Thankfully, the tots were light and crispy and not greasy at all.  The other 3 seemed to enjoy their chili rellenos (which were huge!), but later admitted that they were really only “pretty good”, not “great”.

All in all, Sam’s #3 seems to be a typical diner. I guess the thing that sets it apart and why it was featured on the show that they are family owned and they have great homemade green chili. I will give them credit that the green chili sauce was very flavorful and quite a nice little surprise.  As far as recommendations go, the atmosphere was pretty cool, the staff was having fun, the prices are reasonable for the amount of food you get and it is a Triple D spot.  It was a fun adventure and I would not take it back...

As a side note, I was looking to take a picture of the "Guy Ate Here" logo/stencil, but it was nowhere to be found. I asked Sammy about that and he was stumped so went to go ask someone else. He came back saying he was told that Guy only puts his stamp on places where he actually visits and that he did not appear there at Sam's No. 3. Instead, the place was only "featured on the show". After further review of the YouTube video of the segment, he's right. You can hear Guy's voice over, but never see him in the restaurant.  Hmmm.

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