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Jul 31, 2006 01:22 AM

Looking for Real New Mexican Food

Chile season is practically upon us and we're beginning to obsess about roasted Hatch green chiles and all the wonderful things you can do with it.

We lived in Santa Fe for 5 years and got totally spoiled with all the excellent dining there. But best of all is buying a 25 lb sack of green chiles and having it fire-roasted right in front of you. The smell alone is to die for. The Chimayo red is equally awesome. We've got 90 lbs of Hatch green scheduled to arrive in 3-4 weeks. The best way to eat chile PIZZA with dry jack instead of the usual mozzarella. Hoo-Wee!! Talk about good!!

Those who know, know that New Mexican cooking bears little resemblance to what passes for Mexican cooking here in CA. We don't eat the local Mexican stuff as it generally lacks the intenseness of flavor we are looking for.

Is anyone in the Bay Area doing real deal New Mexican cooking?

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  1. Green Chile Kitchen.

    If you try it, hope you will report back. It has had positive reports on chowhound. I liked it on my visit, but I never ate in New Mexico.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I have been there a few times. Their burritos are good...but their green chile stew is AMAZING! The people are really nice there and the food is good.


      1. re: rworange

        Hi rworange!

        Thanks for the lead. I've checked out their menu but it doesn't look very New Mexican apart from various dishes containing some green chile. Looks more Cal-Mex. The menu for a "real" New Mexcan restaurant should include authenticating code words such as Chimayo, Hatch, sopapilla, and chile colorado. ;)

      2. La Ultima in Danville bills itelf as serving Southwestern food. My New Mexican food experience is limlted to several business trips to Grants and one vacation to Santa Fe a long time ago. I went to La Ultima a year ago and had their sopapillas which is one thing I loved in New Mexico and am still looking for here (meat-stuffed kind, not the dessert kind). The place was quite nice, tastefully decorated with southwestern art and with many outdoor tables, and with very friendly people working there. Their tortilla chips and salsa were maybe the best I've ever had and very addictive. The sopapillas were a "production" affair served on a plate with a sauce over the sopapillas, along with beans and rice. The stuffed sopapillas I remember from New Mexico were much more simple, a stand-alone thing, more like a very good southwestern piroshki. I suspect their food is good in general. Give it a try and tell us what you think.

        La Ultima
        455 Hartz Avenue

        3 Replies
        1. re: Mick Ruthven

          Loved La Ultima but unfortunately it closed. Now I am searching for another place in the Bay Area where I can get my green chile and sopapilla fix. Longing for those stacked chicken and green chile enchiladas with a fried egg on top. I import green chile each year but I don't do well making sopapillas. I go to New Mexico once a year or so but when you are a green chile addict nothing else even comes close.

            1. re: carolesong

              As a fellow Bay Area-NM chile lover (lived in Santa Fe for years and years)... I also loved La Ultima. Sad it's closed, and I feel a bit guilty that I didn't eat there more often. I've eaten at Green Chile Kitchen quite a few times. They satisfy my NM chile craving, but their food isn't 100% spot-on for me. The sopapillas are pretty good (stuffed or with honey - they can be fluffy with good pastry-like separation, but I've also had them when they were doughy and not quite fried right). Unfortunately, I've been repeatedly disappointed with the quality of the flat enchiladas that you mentioned. (I find that they're almost mushy, and the tortillas, although blue, are not the right texture for me). The chile stews are okay, and will do in a pinch. But, I usually end up at home, defrosting some of my coveted Hatch chiles to make my own version.

          1. I've seen good reviews of Rio Adobe Southwest Cafe in Cupertino in The San Jose Mercury News. What do people think of it?


            1. I like Rio Adobe, but their food doesn't seem particularly New Mexican. It's just a better executed, independent Baja Fresh/Chipotle type place.

              1. My late mother lived in northern New Mexico as a teenager, and she always missed the food there. My idea of "Mexican" as a child was what she was able to reconstruct given the limited ingredients available in New Jersey in the 1960s-70s.

                Anyway, I think you've identified a cuisine that is seriously under-represented in the Bay Area, unfortunately.