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Restaurant Review — Chile reception: Tomasita’s Restaurant

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Posted: Friday, November 29, 2013 5:00 am | Updated: 12:35 pm, Fri Nov 29, 2013.

In a town that judges its regional cooking based on chile — red and green — I’ve always found the chile relleno to be a good measure of a kitchen’s competence. A stuffed chile requires technique as well as fine ingredients. The rellenos at Tomasita’s Restaurant are made of decent peppers, roasted and peeled. They’re stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese, gently battered in the Northern New Mexico style with flour and cornmeal, and then evenly and completely fried so that the color is consistent, the cheese is melted, and the batter is just a bit crisp. One of a few exceptional things the kitchen turns out — posole is another — those rellenos are among the best in town; that is, until they’re smothered in a less-than-exceptional green chile. You might say that sauce dampens our enthusiasm.

Fresh New Mexico green chile is a seasonal delicacy, brilliantly flavored during the late summer and fall, less so when it comes frozen or from a can the rest of the year. What you’ll get out of season at Tomasita’s (and at a lot of other places) carries little of the roasted flavor that brings out the chiles’ natural goodness. It has plenty of the expected warmth, but it’s a bit soupy, which is fine on top of a bowl of posole but not so good for rellenos’ chewy, slightly gritty coat. While the menu says the rellenos come with green, I recommend you request red. Not only is the red thick and better flavored, but it’s also less likely to dampen the rellenos’ contrasting textures.

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