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May 19, 2005 06:45 PM

I found the Best Green Chile in Santa Fe !!

  • j

I had heard a lot about this place called "Horseman's Haven" but never checked it out until today. It is on Lower Cerillos Rd (closer to Hwy 25 than Downtown) , here in Santa what looks like a coffee shop setting.
What a surprise !! Great service, Clean atmosphere "Truck stop, Road House with a New Mexican Twist. Real New Mexican cuisine at it's finest at unbelievable reasonable prices. The best green chile I've had in Santa Fe, HOT, HOT, HOT!! Like it should be , unlike all of the tourist traps downtown that say "Be careful ,we are not responsible for our hot chile", theirs is not hot, Horseman's Haven is and it's incredible!!
Lots of other good things on the menu, I had the 3D burrito, with Green and Red Chile (Christmas style) it was great to taste both chiles....The red has punch too. I can't wait to go back. My lunch partner had the Thursday Rib Special with thick red chile sauce marinated ribs....They were very good but loved my Burrito more !!

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  1. I beg to disagree. You found the hottest green chile in Santa Fe restaurants, for sure. But IMHO, it is far from the best. I have been eating New Mexican food for 30 years, and have been eating and cooking and growing green chile for 30 years (ok - 29...) - all my grown up life - and find Horseman's Haven green chile to be inedible. It is very hot, which is fine if you like hot, but it has no flavor and it tastes like sugar has been added to the sauce. I find it so hot that it overpowers any flavor it might have and you can't taste the "green" in the chile. You can't taste anything. I also found the cheese in the enchiladas to be inadequately melted, too many onions and tough, over-cooked tortilla. Over the years, I have had plenty of very hot green chile with flavor that is properly and carefully served. Some was homemade by me and others, some was from Sadie's in ABQ, Tomasita's in Santa Fe, the El Camino in ABQ, and more. I do not equate heat, per se, with great green chile. A lot of people don't. I am of the school that does not recommend Horseman's Haven.

    8 Replies
    1. re: desert rat

      While I certainly enjoy Horseman's green chile from time to time, I agree with Desert Rat's assessment that "hottest" does not equal "the best." I don't actually find Horseman's to have the tastiest green, and I do feel that what flavor it has is mostly overwhelmed by the heat.

      In my opinion, the tastiness of green chile is absolutely dependent on the quality of of the chile used - something that will vary from week to week in a given restaurant (as the restaurant uses different bags of chile). It is certainly true that some restaurants' sauce recipes are better than those of others, but I feel that - given a competent sauce (which is NOT really a given in reality) - the quality of the chile used is the most important thing in determining whether a given batch of sauce is top of the line. (I feel the same is true for red chile as well, although with red chile I feel it is much less likely that a given restaurant will have a competent base sauce recipe to showcase the taste of the chile.)

      Accordingly, I always look askance at questions regarding "the best chile." Every fall I network like crazy with my friends to learn who's selling the tastiest chile. There are a few folks who have never steered me wrong. I sample it, and when I find a good batch, I try to buy enough to last us through the year.

      The quality of the chile served in restaurants, though, always seems hit or miss. Some places have good sauce recipes/chefs, and these are generally better than the places without decent sauce recipes/chefs. When folks ask me where to get good chile out, I will send them to the restaurants with the more reliable product. But, you can have fabulous chile one day at a place and mediocre chile at the same place the next - prepared by the same chef. What's changed? The base ingredient - drawn from a different sack or bought from a different farm. I just don't think one can name any particular place as having "the best chile" in SF or anywhere else.

      It's nice to hear your enthusiasm, though, Jeff! :-)

      1. re: Erich
        Miss Tenacity

        Well..... don't leave us hanging, Erich! What is the most "reliable product" available in the SF (or ABQ) area?

        FWIW, I will weigh in on HH as one of my favorite places for green chile. My tastebuds are well adapted, so I CAN taste the flavor through the heat, and I like both.


        1. re: Miss Tenacity

          Thanks Andrea for supporting my new find "Horseman's Haven" !! I suppose I could go on and on like the 2 previous posters regarding the scientific (or whatever it ws they rambled on and on about.) approach to green chile that they seem to be taking on....but, I won't....all I can say is that, I thought it was good and also hot, I could taste the flavor through the heat...just goes to show you, as they mentiioned in the previous posts, that flavor varies from batch to batch. I have tried Tomasita's and found their food mediocre and it comes out so fast that it appears to be premade for which they just pop their metal plates under their broiler to get it out fast. I still would like to know where Erich goes for Green Chile too!!!

          1. re: jeffinsantafe
            Sylvester Newel

            Tomasitas IS mediocre! Sometimes, just poor.

            Horeseman's Haven is o.k. if too hot to matter. As an exercise for ego, I understand the I-survived-it mentality. Everything else (after the chile) is just ordinary. Just don't tell me it's great. It isn't.

            Erich is right at the end of the day.

          2. re: Miss Tenacity

            What a bunch of hooey...your tastebuds are "adapted" so you "CAN" taste the flavor through the heat. Plenty of us have "adapted" tastebuds, as you put it. Many of us have eaten super hot food all over the world for years, and we know when there's flavor and when there's not. Bah humbug on that statement.
            I've eaten Thai food that blew off the roof of my mouth and sent smoke out my ears, but the flavor was incredible and the heat was enjoyable.

            As for HH, the "heat" of the chile wasn't even enjoyable. IMHO, at least on that night, the chile wasn't flavorful and the heat wasn't enjoyable. In addition, the enchiladas were poorly prepared - the tortillas were tough, the cheese unmelted...all in all, very unsatisfactory.

            BTW - there are a lot of us in town who don't think Tomasita's is mediocre. I worked in a New Mexican restaurant for a couple of years, and it doesn't take long to make a plate of enchiladas or a burrito or a stuffed sopa. They don't have to "pre-make" the dish. All the ingredients are made already (the beans, the cooked chicken, carne adovada, the chile, the grated cheese, etc.) There's a little bit of prep time for some dishes, assembly and heating. So your suspicions are unfounded.

            My own homemade hot green chile is usually better than anything we find in restaurants, so we rarely make a New Mexican cuisine restaurant a "destination" for dining out. As Jeff points out, if you've got good chile, making a great tasting sauce is pretty easy.

            Some restaurants have contracts with a particular grower or they are at the mercy of the quality of that grower's crop that season. That can explain the variations in one restaurant.

          3. re: Erich

            Thanks Erich for commenting on my enthusiasm !! Don't get me wrong, I also appreciate you explanation to know that chiles and sauces vary from batch to batch. I would love to be "In the Loop" in finding a good chile source when it's the season !! I would reward you with a lunch at the restaurant of your choice here in Santa Fe to reward you for sharing !! Jeff

            1. re: jeffinsantafe

              Hi Jeff,

              You know, I believe I posted when I bought green chile this year (at the Hi-Lo Market on 4th in Albuquerque, from a farm in Lemitar (just N. of Socorro)). I'll do it again this fall.

              You know, I was thinking some more about the whole "what makes a good green chile" thing today at supper (inspired by some good green chile at the Quarters on Wyoming in ABQ). It occurs to me that proper roasting of the green chile is probably at least as important as the actual preparation of the sauce by the chef, although not as important as the quality of the fruit itself.

              I think this might be a bit scandalous to say, but oftentimes what really sets one batch of chile apart is the quality of the roasting. Proper "carmelization" makes such an enormous improvement in the flavor.

              So . . . make sure you get a guy who knows what he's doing. (The guy at the Hi-Lo Market bragged about how long he had been roasting chile there . . . it was a really great scene: an incoming customer stole a piece of someone else's chile out of the roaster to get an idea of the quality of the chile; a bunch of older roasters were leaning up against the wall out of the sun offering advice and encouragment to the kid roasting.)

              Anyway, just some more thoughts.

              Jeff, I know you're on here a lot. Look for a chile post from me in the late summer/fall.

              1. re: Erich

                Here's a link to my post on the chile last fall:


        2. Sorry to intrude into a "hot" discussion, but I would like to know a bit more about these New Mexican green chilies.

          Are they made with beef or pork? Always chunks or sometimes coarsely ground? Always the same? Any other meat?

          Are tomatillos part of the sauce?

          Over in Southwest Arizona, green chile varies incredibly, but it sounds like you have a standard over there in NM, and I'd appreciate learning what it is. Thanks for helping an inquiring mind.


          1 Reply
          1. re: e.d.

            I don't have a lot of time to be on-board, but here's a quick answer - I hope it's helpful.

            Always with a lard base, and more often with pork than beef. However, beef and chicken (and even turkey and elk) are used as well.

            Generally the base recipe is:
            Make a roux with some lard. Add garlic. Add peeled, roasted New Mexico green chiles. Bring to boil. Salt and serve.

            Different folks add meats or not, broths or not, onions or not.