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Yes, size matters: That's a Colorado chile, from Pueblo.
Yes, size matters: That's a Colorado chile, from Pueblo.
Mark Antonation

Reader: Pueblo Is the Napa Valley of Green Chiles (and Weed)

Governor Jared Polis took on some hot topics this week, addressing the Western Conservative Summit and wading into the border issue. Not just the immigration border issue, but another hot one: Which state has the better green chile, New Mexico or Colorado? Does Hatch trump Pueblo?

And, for that matter, which state makes the best green chile stew? While New Mexico's green chile is often a spicy, flavorful sauce, Colorado's adds pork and more for a hearty gravy...or complete meal.

While Polis stood by his state, the response of readers got heated. Says JP: 

New Mexico chiles are far more superior and I’m not even from New Mexico.

Responds Jonny:

 Pueblo is king of chiles, no contest. Hatch is good in a pinch if that's all you can find, but I would never willingly eat Hatch over Pueblo.

Adds Ray: 

Pueblo County is the Napa Valley of chiles (and weed). It's that simple.

Replies Brann: 

I would say that Hatch is to Napa as Pueblo is to Sonoma ... I do love Pueblo Mirasol chiles, but they vary a lot more in heat from year to year. New Mexico does green chile best overall, though.

Asserts Michelle: 

Hatch New Mexico chile is best!!! The flavor is VERY different. I buy Mirasol for chiles relleno because they are meatier...but the flavor does not compare when making straight green Chile...not the gravy shit Coloradans are a custom to making. I think you buy accordingly to what you plan on making; I can tell the difference. Colorado chile is tasteless: hot, but does not have the flavor of Hatch.

Adds Ken: 

Hatch for me. We recently got back from a trip to Santa Fe and it was wonderful to get a taste of great green chile. Now back in Denver, the struggle to find a restaurant that comes close to Santa Fe seems never-ending. I keep trying, however.

Counters Joe: 

Have you tried El Taco de Mexico? That's just one of the Denver joints that leave Santa Fe in the shade.

Israel suggests:  

Mix medium Pueblo with hot Hatch and roast with whole garlic cloves. You get the complexity of fresh, earthy and straight-up heat. New Mexico-born, Colorado-raised.

And Marcelino concludes: 

I can almost guarantee that every fool who says New Mexico chile is better couldn't tell the difference in a blind taste test. Guarantee.

The border war started when Polis noted that regional Whole Foods will now stock Pueblo chile, "widely acknowledged as the best chile in the world." Meanwhile, he said, "New Mexico stores will unfortunately not be offering the best chile and will instead keep offering inferior New Mexico chile."

Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico's governor, responded: "If Pueblo chile were any good, it would have been on national shelves before now. If Colorado wants to go chile to chile, no question that New Mexico can bring the heat — Hatch chile is, has always been and will always be the greatest in the world."

But as Mark Antonation notes in his story on the green gabfest, the main reason for the widespread popularity of Hatch chiles is the sheer acreage involved: more than ten times the space than that given over to Pueblo chiles. "The total production is so small in this state because Colorado has far fewer areas where the plant thrives than does New Mexico," he writes, "but Pueblo has the right combination of soil, sun and water to produce a standout chile."

Polis has suggested that the two governors meet for a chile throwdown in Trinidad — equidistant between Denver and Santa Fe. Sounds like a hot time!

What's your take on the green chile issue? Post a comment or email cafe@westword.com. 

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