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Dec 12, 2010 06:16 AM

What Is the National Dish of New Mexico?

New Mexico is one of the great food states. It has a plethora of wonderful dishes that are more or less indigenous, and the cuisine scene in general is just marvelous. All of which got me wondering just what dish is the one New Mexicans take greatest pride in. Is it the green chile cheeseburger? Posole? Green chile stew? Stacked enchiladas with a fried egg on top? The Navajo taco? The stuffed sopaipilla? Tamales? Chile rellenos? Something else altogether?

Seeing as how I'm not a New Mexican but a mere Texan who likes to toss the mountain lion among the sheep, I'll not cast a vote but simply wait for the wool to fly.

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  1. I am not a NM resident either [I am a regular visitor], but there are three dishes that I think of as the most iconic where New Mexico is concerned, so I would select any one of them: Green Chile Stew, Carne Adovada, or Frito Pie.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Fydeaux

      Just for the record, the Frito Pie was invented in Texas.

      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        Ah hem, Sante Fe. Here we go again, PK. Texans and Russians invented everything. Next thing you'll be telling us is that red chile has cumin in it. Heh, heh, heh.
        Feliz Navidad y un Prosperio Ano Nuevo, compadre.

        1. re: Passadumkeg

          More specifically, the Woolworth's drugstore counter on the square in Santa Fe. NEW MEXICO. Texas can lay claim to plenty of dishes, Bob Armstrong dip among them, but the Frito pie ain't one of them.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            Which is where I had it the first time, and why it will always be a New Mexico dish to me.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              That's the New Mexico origin tale. The other is that Frito Pie was invented by the mother of the founder of Frito-Lay in San Antone in the 1930s. I do know that Frito Pies have been served at Little League baseball games in Texas for decades. Personally, I think Frito Pie is a much better invention than baseball.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                Hard for me to believe that anybody still believes that Frito Pie was invented at the Woolworth's in Santa Fe in the 1960's.


                You do know that it is an UNDISPUTED FACT that Fritos were first sold in San Antonio in the 1930's. In SAN ANTONIO. A city already world-famous for chili - as in "The San Antonio Chili Queens." How could anyone believe that nobody in San Antonio thought about ladling a spoonful of said chili over some Fritos for THIRTY YEARS??!! That absolutely defies logic.

                I certainly could never believe such a ridiculously improbable thing, even if I had not been eating Frito Pies, topped with cheese and onions, at the drive-in across from my junior high school in San Angelo, Texas in 1950 - which I was - TEN YEARS before Miss Santa Fe Woolworth supposedly "invented" it.

                Seriously, some people will believe anything.

                But believing this stretches credulity.

                1. re: Jaymes

                  No doubt you're right, Jaymes. I'm pretty sure I've seen Frito pie and Frito casserole recipes in women's magazines dating from the late 1940's. I think the "innovation" in Santa Fe was to pour the chili straight into the bag. That's Santa Fe-style Frito pie.

                  1. re: ninrn

                    I'm sorry, but no. I remember very well eating Frito Pies IN the small bags in Texas back in the 50's. I was a kid of about twelve and remember how fun that was.

                    Look, I lived in New Mexico for years. Have friends, family, relatives literally in every corner of the state. Love it and love the food. Love New Mex/Mex far more than TexMex. It's my very favorite, as I've said often on Chowhound. There is so much for New Mexico to be proud of.

                    And, although something so obvious as ladling chili over Fritos in that handy small bag, was undoubtedly "invented" many times over, I just don't see how anyone can imagine that, when Fritos were first sold in the early 1930's in the smack-dab middle of Texas, nobody there thought of doing that for thirty years. Like I said, that simply defies logic. It doesn't make sense.

                    New Mexico has more than enough stuff to be proud of - stacked green chile enchiladas come immediately to my mind.

                    But Frito Pies ain't one of them.

                    1. re: Jaymes

                      Well, you've set the record straight now, Compadre. ;-)

                      1. re: ninrn

                        And I'll bet that settles it. Don't you reckon? :)

                  2. re: Jaymes

                    Hardly undisputed, since there are so many willing to dispute it.

                    And honestly, it doesnt matter, at least not to me. It will always be a New Mexico thing to me. Just like bratwurst will always be a Milwaukee thing, even though I know full well that they werent invented here.

                    1. re: Fydeaux

                      Which, of course, is just fine. Especially since you point out that, although you consider bratwurst to be a "Milwaukee thing," you wouldn't decide to argue with a German about where it was invented.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    Some do put cumin in red chile. I like it better w/o, but El Portrero, one of the main suppliers of chile in Chimayo, has it in their recipe.

              2. According to the Blue Book, there is no official state dish. The bizcochito is the state cookie, chile and frijoles are the state vegetables.

                To answer your question from a personal point of view- I would vote for chile rellenos. Heaven.
                There are so many great dishes here, you just have to keep sampling them to try and find one to vote on!


                1. Despite my moniker, I'm not from NM either. Talking about iconic, I'd say stacked blue corn enchiladas. If I were just voting on what I like to eat most, I'd probably say carne adovada, and I'm sure my wife's vote would go to chile rellenos.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chimayo Joe

                    Perhaps I'm wrong, but it seems that blue corn is used much more in the ABQ-SF-Taos corridor than the rest of the state. In southern New Mexico one rarely encounters the stuff.

                  2. Anything that requires you to answer red or green.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Red chile pork stacked enchilada con un huevo frito.
                      I'll pole my Hispanic, Acoma, Laguna, Zuni and Mormon students tomorrow.