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New Mexican cuisine?

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My finance and I just returned from a trip to New Mexico where we were wowed by the food an especially the chiles (both red and green) that is served with everything. Does anyone know either (1) where to find that food in a restaurant in DC or (2) if there are any shops that carry the roasted red and green chiles from New Mexico? Thanks!

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  1. The Anita's restaurants (there are several in the area) serve New Mexico style food. They use the authentic chilies, though not having experience with food in New Mexico, I can't say how well they use them. The restaurant was started by a woman who moved here from New Mexico and missed the local food, and it's been going strong for over 25 years, so they can't be doing anything seriously wrong. I enjoy a meal there now and then.

    5 Replies
    1. re: MikeR

      I will second this. When I moved to NoVa in '92, Anita's was considered pretty cutting edge. That's no longer the case, but they recently expanded to Ashburn and Leesburg so I would agree that they are giving the market what it wants. I too have never been to New Mexico, but I'd say Anita's is pretty good and reasonably priced. The breakfast burritos are a steal.

      It's definitely worth a try since they do claim to feature authentic NM-style food.

      1. re: Bob W

        I first went to Anita's on 123 in Vienna in the early '70's, perhaps within weeks after it first opened. I was almost a regular customer there, driving bi weekly from Silver Spring for my "fix." I remember standing outside of the converted Donut Dinette in the rain lusting for the food of those fortunate to be seated inside at a cramped, dry formica table. I still remember the Rolls that the yellow coiffed Anita drove with steer horns above its grill. I also remembering her proficient profanity in several languages, managing and directing her ever changing Spanish speaking staff. She and her restaurant were larger than life, especially when seated at a two top in the parking lot behind it and police cars and taxis pulled in and parked literally next to our table.

        But her carne adovada, breakfast burritos, carne asada and green chili chimichangas were worth it.

        When I first started travelling on a circuit from El Paso to Albuquerque and on to Sante Fe I thought her Vienna restaurant held up well to Garduno's and M & J but paled next to mom and pop places in the tiny but ground zero Hatch which may be the real standard for this kind of food. Santa Fe's Cafe Pasqual is a different kind of thing, far superior and totally different from Anita's, perhaps more in common with Red Sage (is it still there?).

        At it's best Anita's was good/great for ONE location and only ONE location: the original Donut Dinette on 123 in Vienna. I've been to all of the others over time including the "new" one in Vienna (from 15 years ago) and they are nowhere near as good as the funky original which is now gone.

        You can still get a decent burrito, good carne adovada and a very good breakfast burrito. Some of the specials are good, too. Nothing will be better than Garduno's. For my friends who were born in and grew up in Albuquerque this is not something to be proud of.

        In her day Anita and her husband (who drove the steer horned Rolls most days) were the best our area had along with Speedy Gonzalez next to Red Top Cab on N. Hudson street in Arlington. Today, she's not as good but has many more outposts-none of which approach the original. My guess is that she and her children and grandchildren can afford an occasional new Rolls or Bentley to mount the steer horns on. But just as Garduno's is no longer Albuquerque's best her iconic outpost is no longer our best either.

        We've come a long way and Anita's has taken a huge step back.

        1. re: Joe H

          Joe-

          Enjoyed your post and MrWheatie agrees with you. He often has business in NM and finds Anita's lacking. We have tried 2 of the locations and found them meh.

          1. re: Joe H

            So is that a yes or no to the OP's question? I can't figure it out.

            1. re: JonParker

              They asked about a Washington, D. C. area restaurant that features the cuisine they found in New Mexico. Anita's, a mini chain in the Northern VA suburbs that dates to the early '70's, is usually the restaurant that comes to mind when New Mexican food is mentioned: they actively promote their New Mexican heritage.

              I have no idea which Baltimore restaurant-if any-would feature this.

      2. Mateo's Santa Fe in Montclair, just north of the Prince William Forest NP...

        http://www.mateossantafecafe.net/

        1. How is the Santa Fe Cafe in Rosslyn? I've never gone but it seems like it's been there forever.

          According to the 505 restaurant in Albuquerque, you can get their chiles at a Sam's Club in Annapolis, but I just order them online at www.505chile.com. The small green chile packets aren't bad.