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Meet Arlene Padilla of Arlene’s Beans in Monument

Today we’d like to introduce you to Arlene Padilla.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Arlene. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When our oldest daughter graduated from Lewis-Palmer High School, we decided to host a party. We invited 170 guests, hoping to get at least half. One hundred sixty guests RSVP’d. Our street had never seen that many cars parked in the first ten years we had lived in Monument. The next weekend, with our (frozen) party leftovers, my daughters and I prepared burritos and salsa for an annual community garage sale. I felt comfortable as I knew many of my neighbors and decided to make it a fun party with those I knew and enjoyed margaritas on our front yard that hot, beautiful summer weekend. That morning we rolled up 60 bean and cheese burritos and Mason jars with my salsa. The burritos and salsa went for $1 each in less than one hour and I was hooked. It was like wildfire after that. Shortly after that, we signed a lease at the old Palmer Lake gas station. The Palmer Lake community embraced us from day one. We cooked our beans off, literally, for 13 months. We had large catering parties of 300 people at times and knew we needed more cooking space. Our current location, in downtown Monument, became available and the rest is history.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest challenges have been the verbal attacks and cyberbullies from less than 1% of people that we have personally encountered. Although we’ve had only a handful of face to face irrational, unfriendly, human beings in three years, it has left us in disbelief and saddened for the wasted, negative time. We have learned to deal with those tough situations but they linger in our minds from time to time. We have also dealt with cyberbullying. Social platforms are unhappy people’s oasis. Dealing with fake or negative reviews are sometimes hard to not take personal but I have learned from many successful business owners and chefs. I have taken their grand advice. For every 100 people you serve and make happy, one person will not find his place of happiness.

Please tell us about Arlene’s Beans.
When we moved to Colorado from New Mexico in 1999, I knew there was a need for my NM cuisine. Bobby and I would go out to try and find authentic red and green NM Hatch chile we grew up with. We quickly found out there was a lack of. (If you notice, I spell chile like the Country. That’s a whole other article! 😅) Colorado green “chili” is usually made with a flour-based roux, tomatillos and pork. NM chile (with an “e”) is typically made vegan. The green chile I make is made with NM Hatch peppers. However, I do incorporate Pueblo peppers to support our local farmers. I prefer roasted chile peppers chopped, made into a sauce or eaten whole after cooked a tad in a corn tortilla. Although many New Mexicans add flour, at Arlene’s Beans, I do not. I prefer a healthier option and I do enjoy catering to many celiac families. My green chile does not have pork in it, it is vegan and gluten-free.

I also felt there was a need for budget-friendly family-style meals, which I cater for any occasion on a daily basis. Growing up in Albuquerque with tons of family and friends, you could bet there would be a casserole of cheesy, green chile chicken enchiladas which happen to be my absolute favorite. Eating fresh, homemade, natural, organic, vegan, gluten-free and (most) locally sourced ingredients do not have to break a family’s budget. Most importantly, we try to make people feel like they are eating at our home with our casual dining and atmosphere. As I came from a big family and having a large family of my own, we want everyone from infants to our elderly to feel comfortable when they sit to have a meal. We serve our beautiful and delicious food on echo-friendly paper plates and everyone eats with sanitized, plastic cutlery. When family and guests come over to the Padilla household, I don’t like to waste my hard-earned minutes washing dishes. This allows more family time during important gatherings. This also spares my children and we are all a big, happy family at the end is the day! We also save on water and chemicals. Four of my seven children I have with my husband Bobby, work at our restaurant. We are a casual eatery with no servers and no fancy plates, just good food. At our home, you will be respected and fed upon arrival. Nobody leaves hungry. Lastly, we try to give back to our local community as much as possible. This is very important to our family. We are here because of their support.

Being named Best of the Springs two years in a row 2019 & 2020 (Best Green Chile, Best Tamales, Experts Pick: Best Family Meal, Best Take Out, Best Casual Dining, Lunch Special, Hidden Gem, Tamales, Vegetarian, Vegan, Bobby for Bartender) is something we are very proud of. We are also very proud that we have been able to give back to our community schools, non-profits, sports programs and donating during this pandemic over $10,000 within the past few years.

I am extremely proud and thankful for my husband, Bobby and our seven children. They have stood by my side to live my dreams, under high and intense moments. I couldn’t have done this without my family and community’s support. I am proud of our daughter Maylene, who has taken over as General Manager and has done an outstanding job. And also of our son Isaiah. Isaiah made First Team All-State for football and could have played football in college, but in the end, decided to serve our Country. I can proudly announce that he is now a Private First-Class in the United States Marines Corps.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM, by two loving and hard-working Mexican parents who showed my three siblings and I how to live as hard-workers with integrity, love and respect for others. I have applied this lifestyle for my own family. The great memories that I have as a child was watching my mother serve the best, homemade food for any guest or family member who walked through our doors, at any given time. This has always been my mother’s way to communicate and show love. I am very grateful that I have inherited this amazing love. At Arlene’s, you are not just a customer, you become family. I have converted many of my mother and grandparents Mexican recipes into my own, with my New Mexican flare.


  • The first thing I suggest my customers are my smothered burritos smothered in my Christmas chile sauce ($9.75 each). This allows my customers to have both red and green chile. Red chile is hot. It is not a wimpy hot, this is NM hot chile. Green chile is mild and if you’re not a fan of either, try my queso blanco.
  • If they’re not into gluten, my chicken enchilada plates ($9.75 each) with Christmas chile are a must as well!

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