GREEN, WHITE & RED

Forget Fall—We’re Going All-In on Chiles en Nogada Season

Here’s where you can find one of Mexico’s most patriotic seasonal dishes in Houston.

By Daniel Renfrow

Over the past 200 years, chiles en nogada has become one of Mexico’s most patriotic dishes and a celebrated national treasure.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely spent the past few weeks being bombarded by incessant reminders that it is now officially fall—even if Houston’s oft-malignant weather indicates otherwise. And as much as we all enjoy sipping our iced pumpkin spice lattes, binging campy Halloween films in our homes while our windows are hermetically sealed and our ACs are cranked up to full blast, and planning which summer wardrobe essentials we’re going to wear on our annual pilgrimages to pumpkin patches and apple orchards, one important bit of seasonal news has gotten buried beneath all of the autumnal hoopla: it’s also chiles en nogada season. 

Chiles en nogada, a relatively simple dish consisting of poblano chiles, a picadillo containing meat and dried fruit, a creamy walnut sauce, and pomegranate seeds, is the star dish of most Mexican Independence Day celebrations. Although the mythology behind the celebrated dish, which patriotically sports each of the three colors of the Mexican flag, can be hard to pin down, the general consensus is that chiles en nogada was first introduced all the way back in 1821. According to legend, the dish was created from seasonal ingredients by a group of enterprising Augustinian nuns in celebration of the signing of the Treaty of Cordoba, which granted Mexico independence from Spain. 

In the 200 years since, it has become one of Mexico’s most patriotic dishes and a celebrated national treasure. Although it remains on some menus year-round, the dish, which is traditionally served at room temperature or chilled, is typically consumed from the end of August through Mexican Independence Day on September 16. If you’re wanting to get your chiles en nogada fix this year but can’t make the trek down to Mexico, you’re in luck: there are plenty of restaurants in Houston where you can eat your fill of this celebrated seasonal dish. 

Caracol

Hugo Ortega’s celebrated coastal Mexican restaurant Caracol will be serving chiles en nogada for the entire month of September. The chiles en nogada at Caracol, available for both lunch and dinner, features a poblano pepper stuffed with a filling consisting of pork, red apples, pears, peaches, plantains, almonds, and raisins. The dish is topped in the traditional way with a creamy walnut sauce and is garnished with pomegranate seeds and parsley.

Casa Nomad

In addition to having an all-new menu from culinary director Araceli Perez, Tulum-inspired patio bar and restaurant Casa Nomad (located in the Heights at M-K-T) also has chiles en nogada on its menu this week. The dish, featuring poblano chiles stuffed with picadillo, will be available exclusively on September 16 for Casa Nomad’s Mexican Independence Day celebration, which will feature plenty of tequila as well as live mariachis. 

Cuchara

Authentic, Mexico City-inspired bistro Cuchara has been a Montrose staple since its debut back in 2012, when it fittingly first opened its doors through a lively party on the eve of Mexican Independence Day. This year, the colorful restaurant is celebrating Mexican Independence Day by offering chiles en nogada for the entire month of September. The flavor-packed chiles en nogada at Cuchara features a poblano pepper stuffed with a mixture of pork and dried fruits, and it’s topped with a walnut cream sauce and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Hugo’s

Hugo Ortega’s eponymous authentic Mexican restaurant will have chiles en nogada on its menu for the entire month of September as well as for the first half of November. The chiles en nogada at Hugo’s features a walnut-crusted poblano stuffed with pork, red and green apples, pear, peach, plantains, sweet potato, almonds and raisin, topped (of course) with a walnut cream sauce, pomegranate, and parsley. 

Arnaldo Richards' Picos Restaurant

In recent months, Arnaldo Richards' Picos Restaurant, beloved for the past four decades for its authentic regional Mexican food, has undergone a conceptual metamorphosis that has seen the restaurant update its interiors as well as its lunch, dinner, and cocktail menus. What has remained the same? The fact that Picos, thankfully, offers chiles en nogada all year. The chiles en nogada at Picos features roasted poblano peppers stuffed with pork in a peanut sauce alongside green olives, almonds, raisins, and fruits—all smothered under a chilled and creamy walnut sauce and topped with juicy pomegranate seeds.

 

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