Pepper Pot
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Red and green: lunch in the chile capital
New Mexico has an official state vegetable: the chile pepper. (In case you're wondering, only 13 out of the 50 states even have such a designation.) And the self-proclaimed chile capital is the tiny agricultural village of Hatch--population 1600. But every year, on Labor Day weekend, up to thirty thousand people converge here to celebrate the hot pods during the annual Hatch Chile Festival. Climate and soil here converge for optimal pepper-growing. If you can't make it to the Rio Grande Valley in early September, don't worry about the flavor running out--roasted then frozen or canned, or dried and powdered, Hatch chiles can be had year-round. At Pepper Pot, a family-owned restaurant on what passes for the village's main drag, try them stuffed--the chile relleno--or in sauce form, over enchiladas, burritos, huevos...And when it comes to which sauce to choose, New Mexico has an official state question: "red or green?" The local (and tastiest) way to answer is "Christmas," and you'll get both. This is down-to-earth terroir... Incidentally, several years ago, Anthony Bourdain passed through here and proclaimed Pepper Pot's red enchiladas to be the best he'd ever had. Come judge for yourself. Open for breakfast and lunch, this converted home is a cash-only restaurant. The borders of both Texas and Mexico are only an hour away, and it's a favorite with local farmers and bikers passing through; if you decide to eavesdrop, you'll be hearing trilled Rs and twangy English.
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