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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.

                      1. STOP THE PRESSES! Stuffed sopappaillas. No other state has 'em, unless they stoie 'em.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          I agree with sopapillas, stuffed or nada.

                          1. I am a native New Mexican, but was regrettably born in Portales (so far from heaven, so close to Texas...) Fortunately, the last five generations of my family comes from places like San Geronimo, Belen, Socorro, Estancia, Las Vegas and 'Burque.

                            Green chile cheeseburgers are truly a culinary delight, but they're a recent invention. Posole in its many variations can be found all around the border regions. Tamales? Um, no. And chile rellenos only count as New Mexican if you're stuffing a NuMex pepper (no, I won't call them "Hatch" chiles.)

                            Stacked enchiladas have a legitimate claim, although they still can be found outside New Mexico. (I didn't know any other kind of enchilada existed until around puberty.) And sopapillas - a favorite food that very few folks outside of NM have heard of, but still gets mentioned in places like Denver.

                            But "Christmas" - AFAIK it's purely local. Enchiladas, tacos, eggs, pancakes, whatever - red chile on one side, green chile on the other. Yeah, anything "Christmas" is the national dish of New Mexico.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              One can't fault New Mexico for inventing something so delicious that it spreads beyond its borders. Therefore I wouldn't exclude stuffed sopapillas and stacked enchiladas on that score. By the by, both of those items are still exceedingly rare a scant 80 miles east of The Land of Entrapment.

                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                Ya know, I'd rather eat a red stacked enchie, than lobster (But maybe not this summer.).

                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  As odd as it sounds there is a New Mexico restaurant in S. Hadley, Ma. Finlero turned me on to it when I was living in Maine and #5 son was going to Amhurst. I had a green stacked enchie w/ fried egg on top and a bowl of red pork posole.
                                  My Hispanic, native born New Mexico Vice-Principal agrees w/ the stuffed sopappailla.

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    Was the resto any good? Pretty doggone strange when you can get New Mexican food in S. Hadley, Mass. but not in Lubbock, Texas. There is no posole to be had here. Nor stacked enchiladas and green chile stew. And there's only one spot I know of that serves a GCCB. Sounds like there could be a market opening for you, Pdk. I, for one, would be a regular customer, but hopefully not an onry one.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      Not too bad. The owner drove a big truck down to Hatch each year for his year's supply of green chiles. He is, of course, a New Mexican. You ought to hear those "damn Yankees" howling that it is not authentic Mexican food! they need to read the menu.

                                      Wen have 5 quite good New Mexican restos. in the Grants/Milan area.

                              2. Based on my only visit (a week) to this great state about 15 years ago, I'd have to pick....

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: grampart

                                  That's a nice-looking relleno, Grampart. Where's it from?

                                  1. re: juster

                                    Not really sure. I just looked through Google images until I found one that looked "right".


                                    1. re: grampart

                                      Do you remember where it was that you had the one that looked like the one in the photo?

                                      It definitely looks fatter than many of the chiles rellenos served at assorted New Mexico restaurants. Like, oh say, Chope's, for starters.

                                      1. re: Jaymes

                                        looks more like a poblano relleno

                                        1. re: andrewtree

                                          I thought a poblano was the preferred chile pepper for this dish.

                                          1. re: grampart

                                            Outside New Mexico it is. But New Mexican green chile is the standout ingredient in New Mexico and the only one I've seen used for relleno. And having said that, too often the chiles in the rellenos I've been served have been fleshy and bland, more like Anaheims.

                                          1. re: grampart

                                            Well, Farmington is pretty far north. Having lived there, I can tell you that there can be some considerable Colorado influence up there.

                                    2. re: grampart

                                      I have never seen such a nice looking chile relleno in NM. I suspect foreign influences. ;-)

                                    3. Moved to where I intended it to appear

                                      1. Weighing in on the original question - I'd have to say that, in my view anyway, whatever is the "State Dish of New Mexico," should have something to do with green chile sauce.

                                        I've had lots of "green enchiladas," and "green chilaquiles" and other Mexican dishes with green sauces. But they invariably are green because of tomatillos.

                                        If it's a Southwestern chile sauce of some sort, and it's green, and no tomatillos, it's most likely New Mexican in origin.

                                        1. There's no official state dish of NM, but there is an official state cookie -- the biscochito, and an official state question: "Red or Green?", which refers to chile preference on a dish. You'll be asked this at every New Mexican restaurant.

                                          The official state answer is: "Christmas".

                                          They actually spent time in the state legislature voting all this in.