It’s a dish full of flavor, texture, and symbolism. Toasted, peeled poblano chili peppers stuffed with picadillo, a filling of shredded meat, dried fruits and spices, and topped with a creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. Chile en Nogada.
The name comes from the word nogal, walnut tree in Spanish, and the dish itself dates back more than 200 years. The green chilies, white sauce, and red pomegranate seeds are the colors of Mexico’s flag. With its history and colors, Chile en Nogada is a must-have dish for marking Día de la Independencia or Mexican Independence Day on September 16.
In Mexico, the sound of music, boom of fireworks, and smell of chilies en nogada will fill neighborhoods as people around the country celebrate the holiday. But where can you get the patriotic dish if you're not in Mexico? Read on for some of the best Chiles en Nogada served at restaurants across the United States.
Hugo's, Houston, Texas
We expect great Mexican food in Texas, and the food at Hugo's in Houston, Texas doesn’t disappoint. Chef Hugo Ortega grew up in the Mexican state of Puebla where Chiles en Nogada is said to originate from. You won’t always find Chiles en Nogada on the menu at Hugo’s - it’s a seasonal item available on Mexican Independence Day - but it's always worth ordering when available. Ortega makes his Chiles en Nogada the traditional way, by stuffing the poblano pepper with shredded pork, fruits, spices, and sliced almonds. He then covers the dish with the walnut cream sauce it’s named for and sprinkles pomegranate seeds on top.
Mercadito at Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada
Chef Patricio Sandoval’s Mercadito at Red Rock Resort is a cantina-inspired haven for the flavors of Mexico in the middle of Sin City. Sandoval's take on Chiles en Nogada starts with the classic green poblano pepper which is then stuffed with a picadillo of ground pork, pieces of green apple, plantains, and raisins. The traditional creamy walnut sauce gets a touch of sweet with the addition of cinnamon.
Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro, San Diego, California
At San Diego’s Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro, Chiles en Nogada isn’t a dish that just pops up on the specials menu once a year. The traditional dish is almost always on their dinner menu, $21.95, and made as close to the classic Puebla, Mexican way executive chef Javier Plascencia can do in California. He stuffs the poblano pepper with picadillo of pork tenderloin and beef filet, dried fruit, and apple and then tops it with that creamy walnut sauce.
Mesa Coyoacan, Williamsburg, New York
When in Brooklyn head to Mesa Coyoacan for authentic Mexican fare with a twist. You’ll find Chile en Nogada on the Williamsburg eatery’s platos fuertes dinner menu, $18. Chef Ivan Garcia’s take on the traditional dish is a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with pork, organic chicken, peaches, pears, apples and almonds. The chicken and pork picadillo adds a lighter taste to the dish, and the pears and peaches a sweet juiciness.
Orale Mexican Kitchen, Jersey City, New Jersey
Consulting chef James Muir created one of the more traditional Chile en Nogada recipes you’ll find north of the Mason-Dixon line for Orale Mexican Kitchen in Jersey City. On their dinner menu, the dish is $26 a la carte, but for Mexican Independence Day it will also make an appearance on their prix-fixe menu. This dish is a traditional roasted poblano pepper stuffed with a shredded pork stuffing but topped with an almond sauce (instead of traditional walnuts), pomegranate seeds, and a garnish of parsley.