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."
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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