You’re on the I-25 in New Mexico craving good Mexican. And you have neither the time or money to waste on a meal that’s mere “okay.”
If you’re ANYWHERE between Las Cruces and Socorro, set your GPS for Hatch, the world’s “Green Chile Capital.” There’s a guaranteed to please Mexican restaurant in that village of 1600. And they serve a green chile dish that’s worth the trip.
How Far Are You Willing To Drive for Good Mexican Food?
Where do you guys disappear to so fast?
Every other week or so right after the Sunday worship service, this couple we’d come to know in my local church would disappear.
Too many Sunday afternoons ~ when we DID catch up with them after service ~ our conversation after service went something like this: Good to see ya, we gotta go!
So finally one day I asked and they told me.
The wife was from Hatch and they had to hightail it as fast as they could to her hometown to get to The Pepper Pot where they served the “greatest Mexican food” ever.
The Pepper Pot closes at 3.
So since service typically ended around 12:20 and Hatch was a minimum 45 minutes drive away, so that meant high-tailing it out of Las Cruces as soon as possible.
Now Las Cruces is no slouch when it comes to good Mexican food. Restaurants such as Ándele’s and Habanero’s come to mind right away.
That’s why a place with food fab enough to make this couple regularly travel 40 miles out of the way intrigued me.
Who knew it would take a long walk in a city TWICE as far away from Hatch to get me there?
Happens that the small city of Socorro is about an hour and a half hour north of Hatch on the I-25.
But it was where I was on a recent Saturday, walking with other New Mexicans in a Walk for Freedom around the Socorro Town Center.
Have you heard of the Walk for Freedom?
The #WalkforFreedom is a Worthwhile Way to Work Up an Appetite.
It’s an annual GLOBAL walk to raise awareness about human trafficking, sponsored by an organization by the name of A21.
Anyway, this year, since a Walk for Freedom was taking place in New Mexico (in both Albuquerque and Socorro) for the first time, I made it up in Socorro for the first time.
Was super happy to be participating in this walk with other abolitionists from New Mexico, raising funds to free at least one person from the nightmare of being another person’s slave.
The crowds in Socorro lined the sidewalks from beginning to end and cheered us on as we delivered our message. More than anything, I enjoyed spending time with others who hate slavery as much as I do.
Walking under the Socorro sun can make you mighty hungry, so yes, for sure, the burgers the folks at New Mexico Tech threw on the grill for all of us after the walk looked great. Smelled just as good.
But I had my mind set on experiencing, at last, the Hatch restaurant that was worth risking a speeding ticket to get to.
My friend, Suzy, who had driven up from Las Cruces with me would be going as well. She had never been to the Pepper Pot either and wanted to try something new.
So we headed back down the I-25, destination: The Pepper Pot in Hatch.
Enticing Bumps on the Road to Good Mexican, from Socorro to Hatch
All kinds of other attractive mealtime options rose up to distract us along the way.
For instance, about ten minutes south of Socorro, we passed San Antonio, the hometown of the Owl Bar and Cafe and Buckhorn Tavern, both makers of outstanding green chile cheeseburgers.
Passing Truth or Consequences nearly an hour later, the conversation turned to Los Arcos, a steakhouse in that city. Seemed Suzy and I had nothing but good things to say about our experiences there.
Nevertheless, with stomachs growling, we pressed on.
Twenty-five minutes later we exited the I-25 South at Hatch and continued down Franklin Street toward The Pepper Pot.
Getting there would mean passing right by Sparky’s and ITS bodacious green chile cheeseburgers ~ still another test!
But we passed by Sparky’s, too.
That’s how it is when you’ve got a taste for something and nothing else will do.
So we made a right onto West Hall ~ the street after Sparky’s ~ and within minutes landed in The Pepper Pot’s parking lot.
The lot is behind the restaurant, which looks like a house. An unassuming peach-colored ranch with a side porch, to be specific, something you ought to know so that you can avoid driving right by it the first time like we did.
But inside is a VERY LONG dining room.
Reds and yellows made the place feel homey even though it was empty.
This was within an hour of closing, after all.
After our long drive, I was just grateful to have arrived inside the doors in time.
Though the menu was extensive, it took me ten hot seconds to find what I wanted and order: green enchiladas. It’s a favorite dish AND my friends had told me The Pepper Pot made them phenomenal.
Okay, let’s see.
These enchiladas typically come with cheese, but I opted to pay a dollar extra to add chicken. Suzy chose the same.
Good Mexican at The Pepper Pot Begins with Chips & Salsa ~ and Cash!
The Pepper Pot doesn’t accept credit or debit cards for payment, only cash or check. But no worries, there is an ATM on the premises.
Since everything is made from scratch, we used some of our wait time to get the cash to pay for our meals.
Then we filled the rest of the time by focusing on the house chips and salsa. The chips were nowhere near as light as those at Paisano Cafe. Few are. But these are good enough.
Now as for The Pepper Pot’s cilantro-seasoned salsa, THAT fell on the spicier side of “just right.”
Suzy didn’t eat any chips at all, said if she started she wouldn’t stop. So I did my best to take up the slack because that’s what friends are for.
Still, I didn’t eat so many as to spoil my appetite. ‘Cause when those green enchiladas hit the table I paused long enough to take this photo.
Then dug in.
These tasted a lot like the first enchiladas I’d ever had ~ and then they didn’t.
In other words, they were like the enchiladas suizas I’d had so long ago in Mexico City, these too were freshly homemade chicken enchiladas filled with cheese and covered with green sauce. That meal came at the start of a stay that would make me luv Mexico forever.
But the sauce on THESE enchiladas suizas had Hatch green chile and, inside and out, LOTS and LOTS of CHEESE.
Good Mexican made New Mexican-style.
Pause to savor these enchiladas between bites, you’ll taste a sweet hint of cream of chicken soup in that green chile concoction.
A green sauce can’t get much creamier.
How was the rest of the meal?
Both the beans and yellow rice were firm and nicely seasoned. And the lettuce and tomato that too many other places throw on as an afterthought with no consideration to freshness or taste were delicious and FRESH.
Ate them all up.
Both Suzy and I rolled out of our chairs with big smiles on our faces when the meal was done. Especially me.
Even after the paying for our meals with a good tip, we each had money left over from our ATM $20 dollar bills.
Plus, I had a small doggie bag of leftovers that would make the next day’s breakfast prep a breeze.
I also learned the secret sauce that made The Pepper Pot a restaurant worth going a 45 or 90-minute trip out of the way. In regards to those green enchiladas, that “secret sauce” is literally its super green sauce.
As to the rest, I’m sure it’s the assurance you’re going to get good Mexican food there and the great memories that come with it.