After last week’s stroll down Tennyson Street in the Berkeley neighborhood, I couldn’t help but notice all the folks enjoying themselves at Hops & Pie’s next-door neighbor, Tres Chiles Mexican Grill. The eatery sits above the street at the corner of West 39th Avenue and Tennyson with wide open windows that give the place an open, airy feel. And, importantly, Tres Chiles offers happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. every Monday through Friday and from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, plus daily specials including $3 margaritas all day for your Sunday fun.

Since this was my first visit, I couldn’t be sure that Tres Chiles’ tables hadn’t been thinned out, but the space between my party and the folks next to us — combined with the air flow — make it feel quite COVID-safe. TVs on all sides beckoned my easily distracted brain and also added to the family-friendly vibe, while the bar’s beautiful tile work and metal cups were nice cantina touches for those more drinks-oriented. While thumbing through the menu for the hidden happy hour page, we got going with a couple of margaritas and a sangria for five bucks each. Upon learning the day’s special, my curiosity was sparked enough to order the $10 michelada.

The dining room and patios at Tres Chiles get plenty of fresh air.EXPAND

The dining room and patios at Tres Chiles get plenty of fresh air.

Leigh Chavez Bush

When the drinks arrived, I was encouraged by the not-too-sweet house margarita served in a chalice, but the real pièce de résistance was the michelada. Ordinarily I’d balk at paying double digits for a cheap Mexican lager mixed with Clamato, and if I wanted to “upgrade,” I’d have a Bloody Mary and a beer back. But this stein was a sight to behold: enormous, spice-rimmed and accompanied by a straw that had been encased in some sort of magical chile exoskeleton of seasoned tamarind paste. The fruitless (but crushable) sangria paled in comparison.

Food-wise, Tres Chiles offers the normal, but appreciated, Mexican grill favorites: nachos, quesadillas, stuffed jalapeños and — a personal favorite — chicharrones. The server recommended that we include a free side of tortillas with our chicharrones, and when they arrived I understood why. Unlike the crunchy, bubble-punctuated puffy pork skins you may expect, Tres Chiles makes a denser, meatier version. These nuggets require a tortilla to eat with ease, and they also benefit from a dowsing of salsa (included on the plate) to make them a little saucier. The nachos were coated in the very same pale drizzle of liquid cheese that came in our queso dip, which my companions refused to fault, instead wordlessly shoveling chips into their mouths as I pondered appropriate nacho cheese viscosity.

Happy hour nachos at Tres Chiles.EXPAND

Happy hour nachos at Tres Chiles.

Leigh Chavez Bush

With three happy hour snacks and several drinks under our belts, our group of four almost ruined our dinner by overindulging. Much like many a European cafe, Tres Chiles servers don’t bug you unless you appear in need, so although it took a while to get our check, once requested we receive it promptly.

As the weather cools, this elevated indoor-outdoor patio may be exactly what you need to extend the fall season.

Tres Chiles is located at 3900 Tennyson Street; call 303-477-2555 or visit the restaurant’s website or Facebook page for the most current hours.

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