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Jan 31, 2013 09:23 PM

Feb. 2013 Dish of the Month - CHILE RELLENO

Just by a stem, chile rellenos are the Feb. dish of the month.

Poppers, burritos and casserole, not included. It pretty much the purists chile relleno.

So go forth and eat your way around SD trying different chile rellenos and then report back

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  1. Dagney stuffed the ballot box. Results void.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Fake Name

      Not quite :-). Even without her extra vote, the chile rellenos had it.

      I, personally, was rooting for chocolate because I think chile relleno is a tough dish in San Diego.

      1. Very excited for this topic, let's hear some chow-worthy suggestions!

        19 Replies
        1. re: MrKrispy

          No, no, no.

          Not "suggestions" but actual *live* reports.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Agree, but CRs aren't something I usually choose or look for on a menu so I'm open to suggestions of places to try that others have been to in the past or heard of, but may not be going to this time and if I go there I'll report back.

            Don't want to hear long winded reports from past experiences or the best CRs are in a non SD restaurant, but if you've had decent to great CRs at ____ they just name the joint and maybe others will try it.

            Jan wasn't exactly overflowing with soup reports so lets not get too restrictive before this quest begins.

            1. re: Island

              That's one of the reasons I think chile relleno is a tough dish. There don't seem to be that many versions in SD.

              Super Cocina does a pretty good cheese stuffed one. You might start there.

              I think this is, however, a great opportunity for people to explore this menu item if they so chose. Unfortunately, I don't think many *will* chose to explore the world of chiles rellenos.

              I want a nice, plump poblano chile stuffed with a flavorful picadillo, then dipped in a light and airy capeado and fried. The whole thing should be served up in a shallow soup plate with a thin tomato broth with hints of onion and cilantro. That is my quest this month. I've got a couple ideas as to where to start (hello, Chula Vista) but let's just say I'm not going to hold my breath ;-).

              Island, start at Super Cocina and work out from there. I think the best bets are going to be in City Heights, National City or Chula Vista.

              1. re: DiningDiva

                So that's the Holy Grail, eh? Sounds delish. Thanks for the tips. Let the quest begin...

                1. re: Island

                  I think there are some other "usual suspects" that might be worth checking out as well.

                  * Ranas in Casa de Oro has it on their menu. I have a love hate relationship with them. Sometimes I go and they're really good and sometimes they are really terrible. I do think the chances go up that the chile relleno is made from scratch here and not a frozen, pre-fab one from Sysco, Smart & Final or Restaurant Depot

                  * Barrio Star has it on their menu and I'm pretty sure this is going to be made from scratch and filled with something other than cheese. I really like Barrio Star so this will probably be my first stop.

                  * Carmen's used to be in Linda Vista, they've relocated to Clairmont in what I think is the old Ba Ren spot. I've heard their chile relleno are good, so I think that might be a good, centrally located, option

                  * Maritz's is also in Clairmont and I know people have a love/hate relationship with it and they've got it on their menu as well.

                  * El Comal serves it as does El Agave, and Rancho's will be a totally vegetarian version.

                  * Escondido has a pretty diverse Mexican population, so I think our North County contingent should have quite a few options, especially if they want to try some fo the smaller, hole-in-the-wall places. Where is Kari Rasu when we need him...

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    I work in Escondido,and my fav meal is the chile relleno burrito from El Charro's on Valley Pkwy..

                    1. re: ChrisG

                      Is this the place that looks like an old Pizza hut....if so, Los Charros rocks it.
                      Always packed and the food is excellent.
                      I'll have to try the Chile relleno.

                  2. re: Island

                    Actually, my favorite chile rellenos are made from chile anchos that have been rehydrated in piloncillo and water and then stuffed (and the stuffing doesn't matter because it's all about the chile). No coating, and generally not cooked much after stuffing if at all.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      Prove it.

                      Partida a la casa de Diva!

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        YES. . . Stuffed Chili Anchos are not my favorite but an equal contender. First had this dish in Austin, and it's now a home recipe of frequency. A beautiful and unusual dish with outstanding flavors.

                    2. re: DiningDiva

                      You might find some good ones in Escondido and other inland North County locations, where there is a large Latino population. I'm also thinking about City Heights and perhaps Sherman Heights, Logan Heights, and Golden Hill.

                      1. re: NorthEncantoGirl

                        Ummm...didn't I already mention those upthread? But I second the locations.

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          I only noticed your post after I posted my own. Sorry.

                          1. re: NorthEncantoGirl

                            No need to apologize, you were only trying to be helpful and I think we're going to need all yhe help we ca get on this onw :-).

                      2. re: DiningDiva

                        El Rodeo (A former Taco Bell) on El Cajon Blvd just West of 70th, makes their CR from scratch. When you order to eat there, you get a real plate and silverware, even though all the tables are almost on the street.

                        El Titanic (closed in El Cajon/Lakeside, but has a location on Fairmont in SD) makes a CR filled with smoked marlin, which I crave.

                        I probably won't have time to go to either location this month based on this weekend, but if anyone is passing by, I do think you'd like those versions.

                        1. re: Cathy

                          Cathy, thanks for the suggestions. I know where both of those places are. I would have guessed that El Titanic made their chile relleno from scratch, but not that El Rodeo.

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            It's not at all a typical 'Taco Shop', DD. I used to pick up the carnitas special they always advertise on weekends and then decided to try other menu items. Everything seems to be made from scratch, especially the sauces (maybe not the tortillas...)

                            The shrimp ceviche tostada is not only made with butterflied large shrimp, but the spicing of the marinade is not dumbed down to American tastebuds and has a good kick (of aji I think) to it

                            1. re: Cathy

                              I've driven by this place many times and know exactly where it is. I think Josh once said it was pretty good too.

                2. DD, as always you get to the core of things. One of the biggest problems with sampling CR is how ubiquitous they've become in their frozen Sysco incarnations. Deep fry anything, especially a chile, and it can be pretty good.

                  The one at Rana tasted real but it was buried in Mole, something I found disconcerting and muddy-tasting. But that was in Nov.

                  I know we're not supposed to talk about anything other than SD, but my Mexican sister-in-law once warned me about chile rellenos and tamales made by strangers. She said, they are not foods you eat casually, and you must know who made them. It's been hard to shake her advice.

                  I love CR and hope some good ones are found.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: pickypicky

                    Picky, I think your sister-in-law is on to something :-).

                    Tamales and chile relleno have both been so bastardized finding good one can be difficult. But that's the point of doing a project like this. Thankfully, it's a short month, but we should use it to try chile relleno all over SD.

                    Chiles en Nogada...and if anyone finds them at this time of year, pass. These are strictly a Fall specialty.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      OMG. Chiles en Nogada. I first had them in NYC in 1978 at El Tenampa, a tiny place where the woman who cooked and the man who waited tables fought passionately in the kitchen and then would shut the kitchen door and just as passionately make up-- while we waited for our food. I have never had them since.

                      If ever you find them in SD please let me know. Any time of year. :-)

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Hmm. Romesco's has them on the menu.

                        1. re: foodiechick

                          Thank you! Have wanted to go there and now I'll make it a point.

                        2. re: DiningDiva

                          Thanks for that report, sounds great...and grasshopprs and mugeuy worms can be delicious. ;D

                          1. re: foodiechick

                            UGH, OK....I'll take your word for it.

                            1. re: Island

                              The grasshoppers really aren't bad, the worms are NASTY

                          2. re: DiningDiva

                            I realize they are a Fall Speciality but they would sure make a nice Valentine's Day dish due to the colors. I have seen Chiles en Nogada many places in San Diego--in the fall. I learned how to make that at a cooking class at the Prado Cooking school some years ago. So, now I prefer mine (ha ha) but they are labor intensive so I do not make the dish very often, alas. One of my favorite of all time. Chilango's (the place that was in Hillcrest that closed and reopened and closed) had a good version.

                            1. re: wrldtrvl

                              Yes! I did have them at Chilango's and had forgotten. As I remember, they were quite good. And yes, to you MW, for reminding us that "seasonal" doesn't always make sense to us in CA. I'm still getting used to Basil and Tomatoes in the markets year round.

                              I hope I'll hear of some good ones to go try. . .and I'm definitely going to Romesco's now.

                            2. re: DiningDiva

                              The season for Chiles en Nogada is tied to the availability of fresh pomegranates. Like many things, the growing season for pomegranates has extended to meet demand and they're still around, so one may still find them now. The folks at La Casita Mexicana in Bell (LA County) said that they have them nearly year-round.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Pomegranates are only part of the story. Chiles en Nogada are actually tied to the season for fresh walnuts as that is the key component. There are also several fruits used in the picadillo that dictate the season, peaches being one of them.

                                Like mole, there are thousands of recipes for chiles en nogada and every family has their own favorite recipe. Families in certain parts of Mexico with expendable income have been known to commission sets of Talavera each year on which to serve the chiles.

                                The dish, however, is typcially associated with the Mexican independence day celebrations around Sept. 16th. Granadas come into season in Mexico in July, far earlier than here, and by late summer/early fall, walnuts, pine nuts, peaches, pears and other fruits needed for the picadillo filling are abundant and at their peak.

                                I have no doubt that the guys at La Casita make an excellent version. To me a picadillo with winter fruits just isn't the same.

                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                  Nice summary, DD. From Guanajuato through D.F. to Puebla, chiles en nogada are a 3 week confluence / symphony of ingredients. I was lucky to have been born on Sept. 16 - I seek them out every day for a week or so then.

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    'I was lucky to have been born on Sept.16'..
                                    Odelay Poppi...yo tambien!

                                    Virgos are the Chigones.. ; )

                                    Mi hermano de otra madre...

                            3. Some how this thread has turned into "Facebook" VS a thread about the dish of the month is beyond me.

                              and trust me I know I'm being an ass ....but Chile Rellenos anyone?

                              Wednesday is my day off ...I'll at least hit two and post.

                              1. Yesterday had a chile relleno at El Tejate in Escondido. Not a dish I typically order so don't have much to compare it to other than runny or greasy things that lose their deflated coating when cut into it, but this was none of those.

                                Large fresh chile filled with chicken, some raisins, coated in a light fluffy golden batter, a sprinkle of crumbly white cheese on top and surrounded by a little slightly spicy light tomato sauce. Piping hot, very tasty and definitely made from scratch. We were originally the only ones in the joint and I could hear her whipping up the batter while we waited.

                                Only negative is the fresh corn tortillas that accompanied the meal looked good, but inedible for me because all I could smell was the laundry detergent from the kitchen towel they were wrapped in.

                                Will be back to try some other things at this hole in the wall, maybe mole, but not the grasshoppers or mugeuy worms they also had on the menu!