Cafe Society

Chili Verde serves nearly perfect Pueblan food

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I ordered flautas with Mexican crema to go. On my way out the door, one of the brothers told me he hoped I liked it. That if I wasn't happy, I should bring it back and he would cook something else for me. This didn't strike me as odd until I was halfway to my car, and then I thought, bring it back? Really?

I have no doubt that he meant it. I have no doubt that, had I expressed any little distaste, he would've whipped the kitchen into a frenzy, cooking me ten courses, off menu. I knew beyond any doubt that he wanted nothing more than to make sure every single customer got precisely what he wanted and left Chili Verde with nothing but good memories. A man who honestly cared about expressing his love of a culture and a place and his family through the perfect representation of its food.

I don't know if the flautas were good; Laura ate the entire order before I had a chance to taste one.

But when I returned to Chili Verde on Monday night — sitting in the dining room, alone among the white-clothed tables, amid the polished silver and fluffed napkins — I ordered what I knew would be beyond good. Ceviche, again, and another plate of the poblano crepes. The ceviche was brilliant, as illuminating as that first bite. And the crepes were amazing, with a depth of flavor and balance of savory and sweet that was just as moving and affecting as before, the plate just as ugly.

In the space between courses, in the moments between ordering and receiving, I wished that I was surrounded by fifty customers, all having the same dinner, all tasting for themselves what can come from such care in the kitchen and attention to authenticity. But in a way, I was also glad that I was alone — in a restaurant right on the verge of greatness, in its last moments of quiet, with the kitchen cooking only for me.

See more of Chili Verde at westword.com/slideshow.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan