Showcasing ‘The City Different’s’ novel uses of a traditional New Mexican favorite.
In Santa Fe, you will be hard pressed to find a restaurant that doesn’t offer some form of green chile on their menu. Known as New Mexico chiles, they are roasted, peeled, and chopped into a condiment-like topping or made into a sauce. Smoky, savory, and spicy, green chile is the ultimate complement to enchiladas or stuffed inside breakfast burritos. Venturing beyond the traditional applications, local restaurants have found myriad creative uses for this treasured ingredient that border on ingenious.
Green Chile Cheeseburger
WHERE: Second Street Brewery
Green chile burgers are huge in New Mexico. They are so prolific in Santa Fe that there is an annual competition called the Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown dedicated to finding the tastiest burger in town. The Original Alien Burger, from Second Street Brewery, took the top prize as “Reigning Chomp” in 2014 and remains one of the most creative representations. The burger is topped with green chile from Hatch, New Mexico, fried onions, smoked bacon, guacamole, chile-jack cheese, a house-made stout queso, and a blue corn-dusted chile relleno. The brewery also offers the Fatty Burger, winner of the Smackdown’s People’s Choice Award in 2016. Also recommended for green chile cheeseburgers: Living Room at the Inn and Spa at Loretto and Bang Bite.
Green Chile Pizza
WHERE: Rooftop Pizzeria
One of the signature pies at Rooftop Pizzeria is the green chile pizza, an homage to chicken enchiladas and New Mexican flavors. Made with a unique blue corn crust, the pizza is topped with roasted chicken, toasted piñon nuts, two types of cheese (cotija and asadero), alfredo sauce, and of course, green chile. Located in the historic downtown plaza of Santa Fe, the pizzeria goes through an impressive 100 pounds of green chile a week.
INSIDER TIPMost of the pizza shops in Santa Fe offer green chile as a build your own topping.
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Green Chile Sushi
WHERE: Shohko Café
Green chile and fish? Surprisingly, it works. At Shohko Café, they have integrated green chile into three dishes: the Santa Fe roll, a green chile tempura, and a shrimp stuffed green chile tempura. The restaurant doesn’t pre-roast the chiles, opting instead to remove the seeds, lightly batter the chiles, and flash-fry them at a very high temperature, bringing out the fruity flavors.
Green Chile Corncake
WHERE: Modern General
This stylish and updated rendition of the ubiquitous general store from restaurateur Erin Wade recently added a variety of healthy breakfast offerings known as “Modcakes.” Modcakes are Wade’s take on flapjacks, inspired by her grandfather’s preference for thin pancakes. The green chile cilantro corncakes are the standout. When topped with an egg and covered in the house-made red chile maple syrup, they make a satisfying and nutritious breakfast or lunch.
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Green Chile Mac & Cheese
WHERE: Blue Corn Café & Brewery
The ultimate in comfort food, Blue Corn Café & Brewery offers an elbow pasta mac & cheese with Bueno hot roasted green chile and bacon. The sauce is made with American extra melt cheddar, asadero, asiago, Monterey, and Jack cheeses. This decadent entrée is served with Texas Toast and a Caesar salad. While you’re there, grab a pint or two of their homemade brews.
Green Chile Ice Cream
WHERE: La Lecheria
One of the more unique applications, green chile ice cream from La Lecheria is a treat not to be missed. Owner and chef Joel Coleman sources a mild yet very flavorful strain, known as Joe Parker, from the La Cienega-based Green Tractor Farms. The chiles, less popular with other buyers because of the reduced heat, are perfect for Coleman’s product, reminding him of the “late August, early September smells” in Santa Fe. Try a scoop atop apple pie or with La Lecheria’s chocolate sea salt ice cream for an excellent pairing.
Green Chile Apple Fritter
WHERE: Whoo’s Donuts
The green chile apple fritter is a customer favorite at the artisanal Whoo’s Donuts. Made daily from scratch, the fritter starts as a green chile and apple compote that is hand chopped into the yeast dough. The lightly glazed fritter is then sprinkled with a hint of red chile powder. The result is a truly New Mexican take on the classic fritter.
INSIDER TIPThe green chile apple fritters go fast, so be sure to get to Whoo’s early or call ahead to have the staff put one aside.
Green Chile Grilled Cheese Sandwich
WHERE: Plaza Café Southside
Oozing with nostalgia, Plaza Café Southside is a locals’ hotspot on the southern end of Santa Fe that will make you feel right at home with its friendly staff and diner-style interior. The grilled cheese sandwich is stuffed with cheddar, topped with a Hatch green chile and tomato salsa, and served on house-made green chile and cheddar bread. If you have any room left for dessert, the café also offers a green chile and granny smith apple pie.
Green Chile Margaritas
Located in what was formerly an 18th-century homestead known as the Borrego House, the fine dining establishment Geronimo is one of Santa Fe’s most esteemed restaurants. The Borrego Margarita is made with a spicy strain of green chile known as Alcalde Improved, sourced from Romero Farms. Mixologist Shaun Adams purees roasted and fresh green chiles with Herradura Silver tequila. The resulting mixture is strained, combined with a fresh lime sours mix, and served on the rocks.