Although New Mexico is one of the oldest states in the continent United States, its cuisine is very different from the rest of the country. Influenced by Spanish and Mexican settlers, the modern day New Mexican cuisine sits in a league of its own.
Some of the dishes you will find on a New Mexican menu may sound like your typical Mexican dishes, but they are prepared quite differently. For example the enchiladas plate has flat blue corn tortillas topped with chicken, beef or veggies, a fried egg, and of course some chili. It is also served with pinto beans, rice and salad. You will also see burritos, tamales and tacos integral to New Mexican menus. They do have that Mexican inspiration but a lot more spice and diversity of flavors.
Contrary to popular belief, the state of New Mexico has lush green forests and lot of farmland where fruits and vegetables grow in abundance. The most popular crop is Chile, which comes in assortments of shapes and sizes. Chile is considered a fruit but used in practically every New Mexican dish. It is said that the curvier the Chile, the hotter it is. The red ones are smoky and hot, while the green ones have a sweet fresh taste. The red Chiles are ground into a powder and made into a sauce which is poured over entrees, while the green ones are usually roasted first. All restaurants will ask you your preference of red or green Chile but you could also order “Christmas” meaning both red and green together.
Corn is also abundant in this area. Blue and yellow corn is used to make tortillas and chips, which is served with fresh salsa and guacamole. A not to miss starter is Pozole, a hearty stew made with pork, corn and red Chile. Another popular side is, Calabacitas, roasted corn kernels cooked with onions and chilies, similar to a succotash but spicier. Many locals tend to eat vegetarian so you always have a choice of stuffing your burritos and fajitas with cheese, chicken, steak or veggies.
Perhaps you would consider a plate of Carne Adovada, which is meat rubbed with red Chile and spices, then grilled till tender. It is a popular spice used to season chicken and beef. You might have heard of Chile Rellenos, is a popular southwestern dish of a large green roasted Poblano pepper stuffed with cheese, beef, mushrooms, cheese or whatever else the chef desires.
Sopapilla is fried fluffy bread served as a side with entrees. It is flaky and melts in your mouth. The natives like to save a piece to the end of the meal and drizzle honey on it for dessert.
For dessert, Spanish style Flan is perhaps the most popular item and it is not uncommon to find its recipes passed on from three or more generations. You can also find fresh mouth watering Tres Leches Cake topped with fresh fruits or Bizcochitos, buttery New Mexican style cookies practically everywhere.
To gulp it all down, you have to have a Margarita, New Mexico favorite cocktail. Various types of Tequilas are available at bars, although New Mexican wines are also quite good.