Not all New Mexico chiles are created equal.
Chuy's, Blue Mesa Grill and Pappasito's are selling very different "Hatch [N.M.] Green Chile Festival" chile specials this month, and none is similar to our day-in, day-out green chile haven, La Choza restaurant near Lakeside.
"Hatch chile has become a big deal because it's a great New Mexico tourist draw," said La Choza's Anthony Aguillon, who serves Santa Fe-style red and green chile dishes year-round.
"Our chiles come out of Albuquerque. There's a lot of variety. But if it's from New Mexico, you're getting good chile."
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The Hatch harvest comes along in late summer, just when southern New Mexico needs vacationers and when restaurants need a promotion.
As a chef in Santa Fe, Aguillon would take these weeks off to harvest and roast chiles nearby in Chimayó.
"It's popular because it goes on everything," he said.
"Burgers, enchiladas, breakfast -- anything is good with green chiles."
La Choza is open for lunch and dinner daily except Mondays at 7001 Confederate Park Road, west of Lakeside next door to LightCatcher Winery; 817-751-9060.
Ranking the Hatch chile specials:
1. Austin's Chuy's, the trailblazer, is celebrating for the 24th year, featuring chicken enchiladas with a new Hatch chile-cream sauce.
Chuy's serves stacked enchiladas year-round with Hatch sauce; open daily for lunch and dinner at 2401 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-332-2489, or 4001 Bagpiper Way, Arlington, 817-557-2489; chuys.com.
(Not related to the small, local Chuy's cafes of the Adame family.)
2. Blue Mesa Grill, a milder and more New Mexico-themed chile haven, offers a kickoff buffet Wednesday night for $14.95 (pineapple Hatch margaritas, $6) and a daily menu featuring enchiladas, rellenos and posole.
Skip the Hatch-manchego slider burgers. 1600 S. University Drive, Fort Worth, 817-332-6372, or 1586 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake, 817-416-0055; bluemesagrill.com.
3. Pappasito's Cantina is a second-year sophomore at Hatch chile, and it shows in the ill-conceived pork enchilada plate with sour cream sauce and Hatch chile strips.
Stick to the quesadillas and chicken-chile tamales. 2704 West Freeway, Fort Worth, 817-877-5546, or 321 W. Road to Six Flags, Arlington, 817-795-3535; pappasitos.com.
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