I lived in New Mexico for only two years, although now that I’ve been visiting there for more than half my life, I consider it home. But two years or not, it was long enough to make me a food snob when it comes to the food. Ask anyone who’s put in any time in the “505”: We take our green chile VERY seriously. The first time I brought a jar home to a friend in NYC, I was horrified when I learned later that it had been poured into a bowl, mistaken for the sort of chile you eat at a football game. The New Mexican chile is an obsession put on everything from pizza at Dion’s to cheeseburgers, even at McDonald’s and Dairy Queen. But I digress. During a recent American Southwest roadtrip with my friend Diana, we received a restaurant recommendation for a good New Mexican restaurant called Quince (Jerome, Arizona( outside of Sedona, where we staying. What we didn’t know what was that the road to Jerome was a death-defying twist of asphalt heading straight up.
For New Mexican food, it was worth it.
I scoff at the salsa at about 95 percent of Mexican restaurants, often politely asking that the “tomato sauce” be removed from the table. But the trio of sauces at Quince Jerome was impressive. Each was unique, with the right amount of flavor and spice. I ate way too many chips. Not that I cared — I knew I was home.
For a starter, even though it was hot as blazes outside, there was no way I was leaving without a cup of green chile stew. They had a whopping six options, and I just didn’t know what to do about this. Diana got the green, so I tried one of the reds. I rarely order red green chiles, but here they beckoned. It was an excellent choice. It had just the right amount of kick to it, but it wasn’t hot just for the sake of being hot. That famous roasted green chile flavor seeped through every bite, and the homemade flour tortilla on the side was perfection.
For our entree, Diana and I split the fish tacos, which were more an ode to my time living in Costa Rica than New Mexico. Just look at ’em. Yum!
After I got home, I read a little bit about how the Bolivian Vlad Costa “the mad chef” made his way from Taos, NM (an amazing town, if you’ve never been) to charming Quince Jerome. But I’d love to learn more! What is clear: This guy has an enormous passion for food, and for authentic New Mexican cuisine. I couldn’t recommend it more!
If you go:
Go on down and check out what I now officially called the best New Mexican joint outside of New Mexico (and it’s better than some places IN it, too.)
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