Warming Up to Red Chile

Published on: October 31st, 2013

Have you ever had a food that you desperately wanted to like, but didn’t? My best childhood friend always wanted to like shrimp. For some reason, she was hung up on being the kind of person who likes shrimp; so she would try them periodically—and hate them every time.

For me, it was red chile. I spent four years in Santa Fe, and my answer to New Mexico’s ubiquitous question, “Red or green?” was always green. Always. Red chile seemed to me to be bitter and hot in a way that wasn’t at all pleasant the way a good green chile could be. It took 10 years and a trip to Longmont to change all that.

Antonio’s took up residence in the spot vacated by Terroir earlier this year, and I’ll be the first to admit, that’s a tough act to follow. But the owners are not newbies to tough restaurant scenes, as the original Antonio’s is based in Taos, New Mexico. Looking for a place to open a second location that wasn’t as seasonal as Taos, the owners decided on Longmont mostly based upon space.

On my first visit, I started with the tableside guacamole, fixed to your specifications—whether you like lots of goodies like tomatoes and onions, or just a little lime juice. The guacamole is good, but the revelation for me was the red chile.

Oh, the red chile…

I ordered the classic New Mexico-style cheese enchiladas at Antonio’s and it was like a heavenly choir of red chiles burst onto my taste buds.  This, I thought, is what red chile should taste like—or, at least, it’s what I always dreamed it should taste like, with the rich complex flavors of the dried, red New Mexico chiles coming through, but without the bitterness or the overpowering heat that had driven me away in the past.

I scraped up every last drop of it from my plate.  Forget everything else.  This was the real deal.

So much so that when I hauled my husband and daughter back up there (it’s nearly an hour’s drive from our house), I ordered red chile again—this time over chiles rellenos (dipped in a light batter and fried, not wrapped in an egg roll wrapper as you often find in Colorado) with astonishingly tender carne asada on the side. The menu specializes in New Mexican cuisine as well as more authentic Mexican dishes.

My husband ordered a pork chimichanga with green chile, which was also authentic and not the “greasy gravy” you sometimes find.  The wait staff said the green chile was milder, but they were about the same for my money.

Other points in Antonio’s favor: real crispy tacos, i.e. corn tortillas stuffed with meat and lightly fried; pinto beans with actual flavor; and a nicely smoky
chipotle salsa.

My only problem with Antonio’s is that it’s not right around the corner from my house. To the owners: if you’re looking for a third location, how about Westminster?

 

246 Main St.,Longmont 303.772.9923

antoniosoflongmont.com

Bottom line: Authentic Mexican and New Mexican dishes with flavor and flair.

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