Tuesday, April 17, 2012
El Farolito - El Rito, NM
Off of US Highway 84 about 12 miles down NM554 is a charming little place – emphasis on little – called El Farolito. It’s on the right, and don’t blink as you drive through El Rito because you’ll miss it. Park where you can, and enter this little hole in the wall place, with room enough for only six tables. It boasts of being the four time Chili Champion of the Santa Fe Chili Championship and displays the ribbons to prove it.
Andrea, our waitress and daughter-in-law to the owners, greeted us as we entered, delivered menus and had our drink order before we were seated. The menu was much more extensive than one would imagine. Rob ordered #4 Combination Plate with a beef enchilada, taco, rice and beans, and two sopapillas. I ordered the Chili Relleno which also comes with rice and beans and two sopapillas. Andrea informed me that it is the best Chili Relleno anywhere. We mentioned to Andrea that we were from South Texas and were familiar with the cuisine. Having once had some amazing Chile Relleno in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I doubted her, but reserved judgement . As we each ordered, we got the classic question: “Red, green or Christmas?” Now, for those who don’t know,” Red” and “Green” are your sauce choices with “Christmas” being some of each. We both went with “Christmas.”
As we were about halfway through our meals, a couple of gentlemen were leaving and ask where in South Texas we were from. As we chatted, they bragged on all of the food served at El Farolito. According to them the best burgers were also found there, and the tamales were amazing. As one who makes tamales, I had to know just how amazing, so I asked Andrea to bring me one “green.” I was almost through my meal when it arrived covered in cheese and green sauce. I slipped the edge of my fork through the masa and found that the filling was not as I expected. It was not ground up with various fillers, but filled with shredded pork, seasoned to perfection. The masa, only a thin encasement, melted in my mouth. I think I may be moving soon!If ever you find yourself in New Mexico, in or northwest of Santa Fe (about an hour drive), make it a point to find El Farolito. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside is some of the best cuisine we’ve ever had, and this is just the first meal we’ve had on our New Mexico vacation. I may be ruined for any other Southwest or Mexican food restaurant.