Pete’s in the Press

BURRITO Illegal Pete’s 1447 Pearl St., 303-440-3955 1124 13th St., 303-440-3055 Silver: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina Bronze: Santiago’s Write-in: Nopalitos

There’s been a lot of national talk this year of raising the federal minimum wage to provide a sustainable living for essential workers in the food service industry. But $15 is so 2019, at least if you talk to Pete Turner, who has been paying his employees at Illegal Pete’s $15 an hour (plus benefits) since then. Oh yeah, and Illegal Pete’s has our readers’ favorite burritos in town: huge tortillas are filled with your choice of innards — from meat and veggies to rice, beans and even green chilli — as you move through the line.

Is there any greater joy in the world than sinking your teeth into a mouthwatering, juicy, overstuffed burrito? These decadent logs of deliciousness are easily one of the most cherished comfort foods in the world; jam-packed with savory meats, gooey cheeses, heaps of beans, rice, and all the delicious fixings. Although burritos are nearly universally adored in the United States, their cousins from across the border are slightly different. Authentic burritos are much smaller than our oversized American ones. Also, they're regionally diverse with local meats, cheeses, and fillings instead of our everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink-don't-skimp-on-the-guac varieties.

Although you'll have trouble finding traditional fillings like grilled cactus or regional cheeses in American burritos, you can still enjoy a fantastically fine meal if you know where to go. These absolute best burritos in the United States range from the more traditional to the wildly whimsical with one common thread; they're all tasty enough to have you begging for seconds.... Illegal Pete's Shredded Beef Burrito - Various locations Although you can make your very own giant burrito from the comfort of your own home, Illegal Pete's in Colorado and Arizona is there to fill the ginormous burrito-sized hole in your life if you need them. With a security blanket-sized tortilla full of beans, vegetables, rice, and toppings, you really can't go wrong with any meaty filling, but their Shredded Beef Burrito kicks things out of the park. The beef is seasoned to perfection and has just the right consistency. You'll get a homey taste of meat and veggies in every bite, plus your choice of guacamole or sour cream.

Illegal Pete's tried-and-true formula might just be pandemic proof. According to The Denver Post, the fan-favorite Mexican restaurant is opening three more locations so you can get your fix from just about anywhere. So, next time you need a burrito-shaped hug, head on over to Illegal Pete's.

Illegal Pete's, a Colorado-based fast casual, has launched a mobile loyalty program — V.I. Pete's — powered by Paytronix, a digital guest experience platform.

"The launch of Illegal Pete's V.I. Pete's loyalty program is an opportunity to thank our customers, to get closer to them, and to give them more of what they love about our brand," Pete Turner, founder and CEO, Illegal Pete's, said in a company press release. "With 30% of our business due to digital sales, Illegal Pete's is offering the app as a way to streamline and accelerate the ordering process for our customers."

The mobile app gives Illegal Pete's control over the online ordering channel, as digital sales make up 30% of revenue and continue to grow. It also provides a single engagement point for customers to:

Check into their favorite location to earn points toward free food and drinks. Order food for pick-up, curbside, or delivery. Read about upcoming deals and offerings.

Pete Turner made international news a few years back when he refused to submit to outside pressure and change the name of his chain of burrito-and-beverage joints, Illegal Pete’s.

The name was borrowed from a book Turner read as an English major at University of Colorado Boulder, and paid homage to his father, also named Pete, who helped him launch the first Illegal Pete’s, and who died of cancer only two years later.

Amid the hullaballoo of negative press, Turner was working on something radically positive at Illegal Pete’s, something that could change the way communities support criminally underpaid restaurant workers around the world: providing health care and a living wage for every employee.

It was a lesson he learned from his father.

“It was put into my head by my father,” Turner says. “He was terminally ill with cancer and he always made sure I had health care.”

Illegal Pete's named Best of Denver // Readers' Choice 2017 Best Fast-Casual Concept.

This September, to celebrate the blending of Mexican and American cultures in our city, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock declared October 14 Breakfast Burrito Day. From this year forward, Breakfast Burrito Day will be celebrated on the second Saturday of October.

While there are a lot of places to get a great breakfast burrito in Denver — in fact, The Know has a whole bracket for them — today we’re only covering the places doing specials. In particular, Illegal Pete’s is going all out with free breakfast burritos. But that’s not all Santiago’s is practically giving them away at $1.25 whereas Resolute is pairing them with a beer.

Burrito ILLEGAL PETE’S 1447 Pearl St., 303-440-3955 1124 13th St., 303-444-3055

  • Second Place: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

  • Third Place: Santiago’s

  • Fourth Place: Chipotle Mexican Grill

  • Fifth Place: Pica’s Mexican Taqueria

  • Write In: Wapos Mexican Cocin

What’s better than a great big tasty burrito the size of your head? The answer is a great big tasty burrito filled with meat that contains no hormones or antibiotics. Illegal Pete’s ingredients also include fresh veggies and preservative-free tortillas. That’s why our readers love these burritos. We’ve all been to an assembly-line burrito joint and been disappointed to find that every bite is different. But that doesn’t happen here because Illegal Pete’s stirs your ingredients to ensure that you enjoy rice, beans, meat, cheese, guac, salsa or whatever else you had them put in this behemoth burrito with every bite. Illegal Pete’s also serves up a great gluten-free version.

Get baked, wander the city and let the spirit of the munchies guide you to one of these highly-regarded eateries.

Since legalization of cannabis in Denver, Colorado, the urban landscape has experienced a surge of marijuana enthusiasts and medical refugees alike looking to make a home in the Mile High City. Abandoned properties once stuck motionless in a state of decay have been revived by grow operations and newly legal businesses. What was once derelict has been brought back to life, breathing energy into the city streets.

Taking part in a cultural revolution can cause one to work up an appetite, so as one of those marijuana enthusiasts new to Denver, you might be asking yourself, “Where are the best places to eat while stoned?”

Well, we’re here to help you find the best munchie fixes in the city with expert recommendations from a top cannabis chef, complete with pairing tips for primo pot strains—so get ready to blaze before stepping foot into one of these fine establishments!

A good burrito means different things to different people. Some want a feast bigger than their forearms. Others want to load up as many sauces, guacs, and creams as possible. Still more crave flour tortillas fluffier than their overpriced pillow (it's from Brookstone!). But no matter your personal philosophy, there's no denying the quality of these 33 beauties. Although they come from different walks of life, the sight of any one of them would make your coworker instantly regret his sad salad lunch. We compiled this list using trusted friends, editors, publications, and our own damn bellies, and we're pretty proud of it, but if you think we missed something major, we know you'll tell us in the comments.

Illegal Pete's, a Colorado burrito chain that originated in Boulder back in 1995, has largely been successful because it wraps some quality cheap eats, but also because president Pete Turner supports Colorado's music scene. Any band rolling through town can get on the Illegal Pete's website and sign-up for food on the house. Turner, who was once a burrito-loving college kid himself back in the day, has built Illegal Pete's with a solid formula — catering to student neighborhoods, staying open late, pouring good beer and embracing creative types — which is exactly why his Starving Artist program has taken off.

"It's really cool -- we give them a home and hospitality, we get some exposure to their fans and it even gives their fans a chance to catch them at the restaurants. We are all big music fans at Illegal Pete's so this is important to us. We had historically fed national bands touring through Denver/Boulder, but it was very informal -- kind of like "oh, hey aren't you guys so and so playing tonight at the...” and then we'd give them free food." All that Turner asks in exchange for free grub is a social media shout-out. Not a bad trade.

1. The Full Bar

There’s really nothing better than pairing your giant burrito with a cold brew or icy margarita. Illegal Pete’s knows that, so it has a fully stocked bar complete with specialty beverages and a rotating selection of Colorado craft beers. Or, come for just the bar and enjoy free chips and salsa while you drink. And have you checked out their killer happy hour? It’s available 3 p.m.-8 p.m. every day and features specials like $4 margaritas.

2. Green Chili

If there’s one food item that’s synonymous with Mexican fare in Colorado, it’s green chili. And what’s missing at those other popular burrito joints? Green chili! But worry not, Illegal Pete’s has you covered with its flavorful pork-filled or vegetarian versions. Get it inside your burrito, smothered on top, or on its own in a piping hot bowl – because a burrito joint without green chili will never be able to truly satisfy your Mile High cravings.

Colorado Mexican restaurant chain Illegal Pete’s, founded by Pete Turner, focuses on community building. Erin Barnes, communications specialist, explains, “President Pete Turner has many passions, burritos just being one of them. He started with his employees, with the belief that “charity” starts at home; we still have our first employee ever hired at Illegal Pete’s 17 years ago because of this. Illegal Pete’s is committed to meeting the gold standard for our industry in wage benchmarking. Only 15% of employees at quick service restaurants make a living wage; it is our goal to raise our wages to be above the Colorado standard, so that our employees can call their service industry job a career. Unique to the industry, we offer paid time off, a competitive medical/dental insurance package for hourly workers, free meals, and employee discounts.”

Barnes adds, “For community outreach, a decision was made to forgo the traditional print advertising, and use the marketing budget to sponsor local musicians, sports teams and charities. In this vein, Illegal Pete’s could find people with mutual interests and help people at the same time. Illegal Pete’s created the Starving Artist program in September of 2010, which offers road weary bands/musicians/artists free food at Illegal Pete’s whenever they come through Denver or Boulder.”

As you can see, corporate philanthropy, community building and social responsibility programs are as diverse as the companies who execute them.

Illegal Pete’s does more than serve delicious burritos. Through their Starving Artists program and Greater Than Collective record label, they demonstrate a commitment to philanthropy, local music and community partnerships.

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