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In New Mexico It’s All About the Chili Peppers

photo 12This past Saturday my posse (which consists of my wife and two kids) and I saddled up and headed into town to take on some authentic New Mexican cuisine. Flo Café & Bar located at 1434 W. Chicago Ave. (http://flochicago.com/) in the heart of Chicago’s West Town neighborhood really hit the spot. Now, I’ve spent some time in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, both for business and because my parents lived there for awhile. To understand this food you just need to know just one little mantra: it’s all about the chili peppers.  Whether is the Rojo or the Verde sauce-so much depends on the peppers. Rojo is a smoky creamy sauce made from red sun-dried peppers. It has a mild bite and leaves you craving more. The verde is a light green sauce made from green chilies that New Mexicans use in everything except ice cream-I’m not kidding-they put these things in hamburgers, on eggs, in chicken-they are in everything. http://www.chilepepperinstitute.org/

 photo 13This afternoon we ordered off of Flo’s brunch menu and I went with the soft shell corn tortilla pork tacos served over shredded fried potatoes with two fried eggs on top-“Christmas” style-more on that below ($9.00), while my wife dived in on the enchilada special (made with portabella shrooms, cheese and rojo sauce-$10,00). My oldest went with basic and eggs and whole grain toast served with perfectly made home fries ($8.00), while the youngest piled in on chocolate and bacon infused pancakes-$9.00 (he’s so predictable). Now, if you really want to be like a real New Mexican order your dish “Christmas”-that’s right-you get both the red and green chili sauces-isn’t that cool?  As far as cocktails, my wife and I acted like true cowboys and cowgirls, she with a Cholula Bloody Mary and I with the Rojo-$7.00 each.

photo 11This is truly real New Mexican food. Not only do they have a Cholula Bloody Mary, but they also serve a carne adovado burrito for their dinner fare.  Trust me, if this wasn’t authentic the adovado style burrito would not be on the menu. I don’t say this often but the adovado burrito is what I dub “food crack”. It is so good you can’t stop eating the thing. I mean you put that rojo sauce on it and you’ll inhale it. Then at Midnight-you’ll weep because you did not order one to go. Flo really makes me feel like I’m back in Albuquerque’s Old Town with its wine bottle chandeliers, artwork and minimalist interior. So throw on your duster, saddle up your Volvo (or whatever you’re driving) and mosey on over to Flo and get a taste of the real Southwest.

Anthony McMahon
24/7 City Secrets Contributor

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