Growing up in New Mexico I’m used to being asked: do you speak Spanish? Do you go to the beach every day? And is it, like, so hot there all the time? While the answer to each of these questions is no, the one thing we have going for us is New Mexican food.
As a kid, I ate green and red chiles on everything. Literally, everything. I could never eat my mom’s cooking because it was always so spicy I would actually tear up. I know that sounds like my childhood was miserable but when I was 9, I totally came to love it. Now, going to school out-of-state has heightened my craving for New Mexican.
Don’t get me wrong, most of my Freshman 15 was wasted on Tex-Mex. But I knew nothing Texas or anywhere else could offer would resemble the food I grew up with and nothing could ever beat authentic New Mexican food.
1. Guac, Queso and Salsa
First of all, I would argue that the dips are pretty much the same for New Mexican food and Tex-Mex. However, New Mexican food has green chile. If you ever make it to NM, go to Santa Fe and try La Choza queso because that’s the business. Also, the guac from Gabriel’s is amazing and they make it fresh at your table.
What Tex-Mex is seriously missing is green chile. Yes, I know Torchey’s has green chile in their queso but they don’t smother it over everything. Also, green chile is nowhere near comparable to green sauce.
2. Green Chile
Green sauce is normally made out of tomatillo; green chile is basically a baby red chile that is grown and turned into this heavenly sauce that is put on legit everything or made into stew. And let’s be real, the thing I miss most is my mom’s green chile stew because no one makes it like she does.
3. Red Chile
Red chile is the old lady of green chile. Literally. Red chiles are ripened and harvested after they mature past the green color. It’s spicy, delicious and much smoother than green chile. It’s blended instead of chopped and once again, is put on everything. But tell me that doesn’t look absolutely delicious.
For the times when you don’t feel like deciding, you just go Christmas and get the best of both worlds. Half red and half green reminds you of when you were like 5 years old and woke up at the crack of dawn to open your Christmas presents since it’s just so darn festive. Plus, it’s great if you can never make any decisions.
5. Breakfast burritos
While Tex-Mex offers a great variety of burritos, they’re smothered in weird, boring sauces. On the other hand, New Mexican food covers them with chile or stacks them. Last Christmas I legit had heartburn from them because they were so hot…but damn, they were good.
Sopapillas, or soapy-pillows as my dad likes to call them, are probably the best part of any meal. Covered in honey for dessert or stuffed with chicken, cheese, and beans for dinner, there’s no wrong way to eat a sopapilla. My faves are the ones from Tomasita’s with honey butter because nothing says obesity and deliciousness like fried dough.
7. Chile Rellenos
Chile rellenos are basically a green chile stuffed with cheese and fried. Yeah, I know, New Mexican food is super healthy. But it’s the best item on the menu since its fried, cheesy, and spicy. There’s no other version of a chile relleno in terms of Tex-Mex food, making it a totally unique, delicious, solely New Mexican food staple and different than other rellenos as they’re made with New Mexican grown, spicy chiles.
I recommend you try at least one of each of the items on this list while you simultaneously hope all of the grease doesn’t lead to heart failure. But whatever, the risk is totally worth it so get your booty to the 505 and try every food in sight.