At their best, made from roasted chilies that still have muscular vegetable walls, stuffed with cream-rich molten cheese and haloed in a coat of featherweight batter fried to a fragile crisp, chile rellenos are food of the gods. Nearly all of those encountered in the Southwest are made from mild pods – Anaheims, Big Jims or Poblanos – so the chile experience is far more about their sunshiny flavor than about any kind of ferocious heat. Rellenos usually are served decorated with sauce or salsa cruda, and while cheese is the classic filling, some are stuffed also with brisket, picadillo, or shredded chicken.
El Paso's H&H Cafe is also a car wash, providing travelers the opportunity to savor excellent Tex-Mex food then get on the road in a sparkling clean car.
In the heart of New Mexico chile growing country, Chope's is the locals' favorite place to go for chilies rellenos, enchiladas, tamales, and tacos.
Little Diner of Canutillo, Texas, just outside El Paso, offers the best true Tex-Mex food: superb chili con carne, flautas, gorditas, and made-here tortillas.
Maria's is a Santa Fe institution which has been serving classic northern New Mexican fare since 1950. The margaritas are legendary.
An inconspicuous Douglas, Arizona, taqueria, Border Taco serves good food beyond tacos, from breakfast burritos to chimichangas and weekend menudo.
In this festively decorated Mexican restaurant, quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, and carne asada are wonderful. Las Fuentes chile rellenos are not to be missed.
Chimichangas at Mi Nidito are the size of yule logs. Don't miss the Tucson specialty Topopo Salad -- a tower of Mexican-accented ingredients.