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Chomp! Pinto Bean sparks memories of New Mexico

By by jessica rodrigo/
Aug. 16, 2012 at 3:16 a.m.

The Pinto Bean on Main Street serves piping hot eats in almost record time. We ordered the chimichanga with beef fajita and a enchiladas with red and green chile - a special request that brought me back to New Mexico.

When I go out to a Mexican-style restaurant, I can't help but think about the spicy red and mild chunky green chile served over enchiladas in New Mexico.

For New Mexicans, the most common question we get asked is, red or green chile? It will be forever embedded in my head. Not to mention the usual accoutrements that come with said enchiladas. Typically sour cream, fresh diced onions, guacamole, and the one that makes people here look at me weird, an egg. I always get my egg over easy so the golden-yellow yolk spreads over the enchilada as if a levy let loose too much water into a recently sowed crop.

Luke and I went to the Pinto Bean during one of my dinner breaks, and I found myself hankering red chile enchiladas. With sour cream, onions and an egg over easy. After glancing through the menu, I saw them. A plate of enchiladas verde and enchiladas rojo. I thought to myself, "Maybe I can can get them to split it. Half red and half green. I'll ask."

So, ask I did.

Our waitress ventured to ask the cooks if it was possible to split the two, and she came back asking if I meant the red sauce or the salsa. I told her I meant the red sauce and she was off to the kitchen again. She returned with a smile, and said they could do it for a dollar extra.

Luke joked about me raising the bill another dollar and the waitress quipped that as a lady, I should get what I want. We laughed about it, and I was happy to get my red and green chicken enchiladas with sour cream (I didn't ask for the onions since I had hassled them about the sauce. One step at a time, right)? Luke pleaded for a fried egg, but she wasn't budging there. "Only during breakfast," she said. He ordered the chimichanga with beef fajita meat, so I am sure she thought he was crazy.

Our chips came with the red salsa and a side of chile con queso, which had a good balance between the chile and cheese. It was so good, we finished it and asked for another bowl. After getting through maybe half the basket of chips, our food arrived.

My plate was hot around the edges and the cheese was melted throughout, a sign the plate sat in broiler or salamander just long enough to melt it, but not burn it. I scooped Luke's avocado slices off his plate and onto mine and was ready to dig in. I prepared my bite: a slice of avocado here, a smear of sour cream, some rice and beans and a few short blows to cool it off.

I'll admit, the red chile isn't the same as New Mexico-style red chile, but it did give me a swift kick in the behind. Sweat was beading on my nose and I had to use my napkin to wipe my brow once or twice. The green was good, maybe a little masked by the red but, nonetheless, I will try the enchiladas verde, with chicken, sour cream and guacamole next time.

The beans were seasoned and mixed well, so as not to have the consistency of mortar mix. The rice still held its original form rather than some forms I've seen with clumps of rice glued together with chunks of tomatoes or tomato sauce.

Luke's chimichanga was enough to feed the both of us. It was fried to a golden brown and filled with a mixture of sliced steak, onions and chile. It was paired with fresh pico de gallo, sour cream and avocado on the side.

I'm planning a trip home to New Mexico in November, and I cannot wait for my first plate of red and green enchiladas with an egg fried over easy. Meanwhile, I'll get my fix at the Pinto Bean.

Jessica Rodrigo is looking for a sauerkraut recipe. Share your favorite recipe with her at or tweet her @eatseatseats.



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