Written by Marina Gonzalez
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “chili?” Is it ground beef with seasonings and beans, fresh out of a crock pot, topped with yellow, shredded cheese that melts as soon as you sprinkle it on top, and crisp, fresh, diced purple onion, accompanied by a packet of saltines or bread roll? Or is it roasted hatch peppers, with tomato and garlic, blended and cooked to perfection mixed with tiny chunks of pork? In Colorado, one would typically have the option of red or green chili. However, this wasn’t an option when my family first dined at Santiago’s restaurant in Brighton, Colorado. Santiago’s is a very well known restaurant in the community. One of the things that makes this restaurant such a popular go-to spot, is their pork green chili that can be added to practically any dish on their menu.
Carmen Morales founded the very first Santiago’s restaurant in 1990, in her home town of Brighton. With their recent renovation, and much needed expansion, the Santiago’s in Brighton seats approximately 75 people. With 28 Santiago’s restaurants surrounding the Denver metro area, the cozy home-like atmosphere that welcomes you as soon as you walk in the door is one of the reasons why many of its patrons return to this family-owned restaurant. From serving delicious food for such low prices to providing great customer service, Santiago’s is sure to intrigue you with something on their menu that will keep you coming back for more. Using more than half a million gallons of green chili per year, there is no doubt that the chili is what made this restaurant so popular to begin with.
Santiago’s might be one of the oldest restaurants in Brighton, and although the town keeps growing and growing, their prices stay reasonably low. Every morning they have breakfast burritos with a meat of the day, such as sausage, bacon, chorizo, and their chili sauce with the option of mild, half and half, or hot for only $2.25 + tax. Their burritos alone are a pretty good deal, especially in that early morning rush to work. Over the years, the Santiago’s breakfast burrito has gained so much popularity that, in 2017, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock proclaimed that the second Saturday in October would be Breakfast Burrito Day, when you can purchase a breakfast burrito for only $1.25.
Though it might seem that the popular food item is the breakfast burrito, Santiago’s offers a variety of full entrees for both lunch and dinner. A majority of their dishes are priced below the $10 mark, perfect for those who are on a budget but have a little wiggle room to treat themselves to these green chili-infused entrees. A dish like the tostada and crunchy taco with a side of beans and rice, runs for $8.75. An order of chili cheese fries is also priced at $7, plus $1 for extra cheese, my definite go-to dish since my first visit in 2003.
Santiago’s might not be the restaurant of choice if you are trying to be healthy. Though they do offer some dishes that you can modify to your liking, you will find that the chili alone contains many carbohydrates since it’s made with flour. If you are trying to avoid carbs, but still need a quick breakfast, you can start your day with a Santiago’s Burrito Bowl, a burrito without the tortilla. Or you might be a vegetarian and choose to go with the chiles rellenos with a side of beans and rice to avoid the unwanted pork meat in the chili. If you are vegan, you wouldn’t have very many options at this restaurant, if any at all.
Being a family-oriented restaurant, you can expect some great service at Santiago’s; some of their employees have been working at this restaurant for years, with some working there since the inauguration of the restaurant. The servers will make you feel welcomed from the very start and will treat you like family. Although the Santiago’s in Brighton was recently renovated and has an all new kitchen and seating, the service continues to be the same. The service, amazing food and welcoming atmosphere is what keeps people coming back for more and more.
Overall, I give this restaurant chain an A, because of the awesome experience I get whenever I visit and the food that always tastes amazing. Business people, students, young and old alike, you will find yourself coming back to this wonderful restaurant for more of its delicious dishes. Just follow your nose to the roasted hatch-chili smell.
|Address: 1150 E Bridge St, Brighton, CO 80601
Hours: Monday – Sunday 6AM – 8PM
Food Type: Mexican-American
Average Prices: $10.00
Contact Info: (303)659-6393