Geronimo! Good "Southwestern" in New Haven!
I heard tale of this place (a few times) and had to see for myself. Some whining about how crowded it was (too popular?) or how the bartender really didn't know his tequilas. I mean, Bar is right across the street if it gets too crowded at their bar and you need a drink! So I had to see for myself what all the hubbub was about.
We arrived at 5PM on Monday night. I had somewhere to be at 6:30 so I had to stay focused and leave by 6:25. Still, I had a "smokin" margarita and a Negra Modello. The margarita was very smoky tasting from the mescal, not tequila. I liked it. The beer selection is decent, but the emphasis is on the tequilas.
They fired up the simulated adobe covered fireplace in the corner while we were there. The interior is very nice (and upscale), and really takes you back to Taos or Santa Fe. The place is a little small, which may have prompted a comment of "packed in like sardines" from one person. I would guess it could seat 70-80 people inside.
We ordered chicken verde tamales, with a pale, mild green hatch chile sauce, Oxtail Hatch Green Chile Stew (which was my favorite dish of the meal) and a roasted beet salad. Everything was quite delicious and well prepared. I didn't care for the sweetness of the jalapeno infused cornbread. It was probably some of the sweetest cornbread I have ever had. You may like it but I think it was "off". The spicy, cheese-topped chunks of white bread was a looser. Put the cheese on or in the cornbread! The bread was was too much like "Wonder Bread" or Mr's. Baird's bread (if you're from Dallas or Ft. Worth). Some soft tortillas and salsa would be nice, instead.
For main entrees we shared the chicken mole. The large breast came sliced across the grain into medallions that spread out over the plate; I initially mistook it for a pork loin! It was very flavorful and moist. The mole had an excellent deep, rich smoky flavor that something made of good anchos or pasillas should have. The black beans had a little heat, yet were not very flavorful. Lest I forget; service was good throughout the evening.
We skipped dessert and didn't linger because of my upcoming appointment. I wished I could have lingered. At one point it was working its magic and taking me back to a time in the past.
I can't get over how good this food is for a place outside of the Southwest. I can't wait to get back and try the pork tamales and chile rellenos!
And so there's no confusion, you can't compare this to Tex-Mex or some of the stuff in the area called "Mexican food". This is authentic New-Mexican (stick "fusion" in here if you wish) style food.