I’ve never been to the Hatch Green Chile Festival, and this year was gonna be the year. People told me it was an okay event that’s more like a county fair, but one that you should attend at least once. I did a little research to see what people were saying about it online and what the news outlets were saying to expect this year. The more I read, the less I wanted to go. People spoke of traffic, a beer garden that restricts you from walking the festival grounds with your beer, and fair food that had no mention of green chile specialty items. Maybe you can convince me to go next year in the comments.
Instead, I decided to create my own green chile fest tour of Las Cruces. No traffic, no time constraints. Hit it up on a weekend after Labor Day, but do it before the season is over or you might miss out on specialty items. The season is brief and a special time of year. There’s nothing like green chile from Hatch, NM. Be sure to roast it and freeze it so that it lasts throughout the year. That said, I’m still planning on going to the legendary Sparky’s sometime this year.
Here’s my random day trip. I’m sure Las Crucens can chime in with more suggestions. Sadly, I did not take any fresh chile home with me, but you can always grab some from Albertson’s, Sprouts, Walmart, and Whole Foods, which all roast on premises, but why pay more when you can fire up the grill and do it yourself?
First stop: Spotted Dog Brewery. This green chile stop only applies to this past Saturday, as they had a special chile roasting event. They even made a giant burger, cut it up, and handed it out to everyone. It’s still worth a stop if you haven’t been.
Detour/Second Stop: We were in Mesilla, so it was only right that we stop at another old Mesilla landmark. Today, we chose El Patio.
Third Stop: High Desert Brewing Co. I can’t get behind most of their beer as it has a harsh aftertaste, but the one-size-fits-all nachos make it all worth it. Extra small is enough for 1-2 people, small is enough for 2-4, medium is giant, and I have no idea how large the large is. A mound of tostadas is piled with black beans (they’re really stingy with them) cheese, queso, salsa, jalapenos, tomatoes, and sour cream. The salsa has a nice kick. The rest of the menu has plenty of vegetarian options.
Fourth Stop: Caliche’s Frozen Custard. Just down the road from High Desert is where you can grab a green chile milkshake or sundae. To think we used to have these in El Paso, and I never even went once. In my defense, I don’t fancy sweets, but I had to try this green chile dessert. I wasn’t too weirded out by the notion since Mexican candies were a staple for me growing up. The cashier recommended the milkshake because she said the syrup blended better, and I probably should’ve listened, because the green chile syrup concoction seized up and was a big, cloying clump in the sundae. The green chile syrup had chunks of roasted chile with a citrusy taste, later confirmed by a piece of orange rind. I added salted pecans and it really competed it, but you can also opt for unsalted. I had a bit of sticker shock after paying for two (Crys got a sundae with pistachios and chocolate syrup), but it was worth it.
Fifth Stop: Dion’s. My go-to pizza spot in Las Cruces is Zeffiro’s, but after hearing that this Albuquerque original decided to test market their new green chile ranch dressing in Las Cruces and not ABQ, I was sold. A couple of weeks ago, we tried a slice along with both dressings (they’re famous for their ranch). The pizza is solid and we immediately noted and liked the pizza sauce. Their ranch was pretty solid as well, but the green chile ranch was incredible. The generous pieces of green chile really infused their flavor into the ranch. You can purchase a small side for $0.37 or a whole 16 oz. bottle for $3.50. Don’t forget your ice cooler if you’re heading in from out of town.
Bonus green chile items:
- Pecan Grill & Brewery: Stuffed Hatch Green Chile Rellenos. Basically NM in an appetizer. Green chiles are stuffed with white cheddar, breaded with panko and pecans, and fried to crispy, greaseless perfection. They also have a green chile lager, but that’s where I draw the line. Green chile infused beer is good to take a sip of and cook with, but weird to drink a whole pint of.
- Bosque Brewing: Green Chile Falafel. The newly expanded Bosque taproom features a kitchen with some good vegetarian options. The falafel was good, but I couldn’t really detect the green chile.
- Double Eagle: Have a drink in the beautiful historic bar, and order the green chile cheese wontons with jalapeno pineapple salsa. Remember Jaxon’s in El Paso? I almost cried because they reminded me of the relleno egg rolls.