Green Chile Smackdown! El Taco de Mexico v. Santiago's

The green chile at Santiago's is unmistakably orange.
The green chile at Santiago's is unmistakably orange.

Since listing our top-ten green chile places last week, we've been swimming in the stuff, comparing this taste to that, defending our picks, revisiting our favorites and finally conducting a green chile smackdown.

And it kills me to admit this, but in today's side-by-side comparison of El Taco de Mexico green chile and Santiago's green chile, El Taco comes out the winner. It could be that the Santiago's at 571 Santa Fe Drive, just down the street from El Taco at 714 Santa Fe, makes a slightly different version than does the Santiago's on Leetsdale, my personal favorite of the dozen outposts of this homegrown chain. The green chile at the Leetsdale Santiago's is sweeter, not quite as hot -- but still that trademark gooey orange.

El Taco's green is dark and deeply flavored.
El Taco's green is dark and deeply flavored.

In contrast, El Taco de Mexico's green chile is really green -- like seriously pesto/chimchurri green -- and even if it doesn't fall into the commonly accepted from of green chile in either New Mexico (basically just chiles and chicken stock) or Colorado (a gravylike stew running from bright orange to a muddy green-brown), it deserves a category all its own. It is nearly a soup, with the green chile obviously pureed (or, possibly, just magically transubstantiated) and left to simmer with a fist full of earthy, savory spices that lend it a complexity more on par with an Italian stracciatella than a simple chile.

Honest to Jesus, I am just blown away. I've never had anything quite like El Taco's verde, and though I have been a long-time booster of Santiago's particular brand of Colorado green, I have got to give this one to El Taco. The stuff is addictive as hell -- as evidenced by the fact that I have been eating it with a spoon all through the writing of this post.

Victory to El Taco de Mexico.


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