Even when the weather cools down for the winter months in Arizona, Phoenicians still like it hot. Green Chile Pork is a traditional Southwestern dish we crave during “colder” months – a comfort food combining many of our favorite regional flavors.
The anchor of any green chile pork concoction is, of course, the chile pepper. The chile is actually a fruit, and the sweet flavor it adds is just as important as the heat. Chile harvest season hits its peak in late Summer and Fall, which is another reason we begin to think about this dish as the weather starts to cool down. The aroma of roasting Hatch, Anaheim, and Poblano chile peppers at farmers markets and supermarkets throughout the Phoenix area is always one of the first signs of summer finally coming to an end.
Variations on Green Chile Pork can be found at numerous regionally-focused restaurants throughout the Valley of the Sun. Following are some of the more popular versions of this dish in Phoenix.
1. The Green Chile Pork Burrito at Rito’s Mexican Food
For those who know about this “hole in the wall” Mexican restaurant in the Garfield historic neighborhood of downtown Phoenix, there’s no question this is the place to go for the best green chile pork in town. The basic preparation comes in the form of a burrito that can be upgraded to enchilada-style or chimichanga-style with your choice of red or green sauce.
Enchilada-style with green sauce is owner Rito’s favorite, and I have to say I agree. The tender chunks of pork floating in a spicy, creamy green sauce wrapped with a fresh tortilla make this the ultimate comfort food, regardless of style. In a city packed with Mexican restaurants it’s difficult to stand out, but Rito’s is the real deal.
Rito’s caters mainly to the lunch crowd, and the lines can get long, so don’t go if you’re in a rush. There is usually plenty of parking on the street, but finding a place to sit and eat can be a challenge because the restaurant only has a few patio tables. There are city parks nearby if you can’t wait until you get home or back to the office for your first bite (or you can do it my way and scarf it down in the front seat of your car – no shame in that game).
907 N 14th Street
2. Green Chile Mac and Cheese at Ticoz Resto-Bar
Looking for a segue into a food coma? The Green Chile Mac and Cheese at Ticoz can help with that. That warm and fuzzy feeling you get from a hearty bowl of macaroni and cheese is amped up with jack cheese and small bits of pork mixed with spicy green salsa, and this creamy tower of goodness is topped with cilantro and chopped tomatoes.
The full serving is intensely large and I only recommend it if you’ll be sharing with at least one other person; the half portion is perfect for an individual entrée that will allow you to make it home before you doze off. Green chile pork can also be found in other dishes at Ticoz including enchiladas and huevos rancheros.
Ticoz is located in Midtown Phoenix and has ample parking – getting in and out of this casual 7th Street eatery is a breeze. If the weather is nice, check out the patio. They also have great happy hour specials making this a hot spot for late afternoon cocktails. Reservations are not necessary.
5114 N 7th Street
3. The Green Chile Pork at St. Francis
Housed in an architecturally intriguing mid-century style building near the busy intersection of Central and Camelback Roads, St. Francis is an urban restaurant with a direct connection to farmers and local food suppliers in the Phoenix metro area, placing an emphasis on locally sourced and seasonal food.
Prepared in a wood-fired oven, pork chile verde is served in a cast iron skillet with a side of cornbread for dipping. Flavored with cilantro, lime and jack cheese, you can also add a sunny side up egg for $2. And really, you can never go wrong adding an egg to pretty much anything. The pork chile verde at St. Francis is different from other variations around town in that most of the spiciness is not baked directly into the dish but rather served as a charred pepper on top of the dish, allowing you to personalize the heat experience depending on your tolerance level.
St. Francis also bakes amazing loaves of bread – order a baguette for soaking up the remaining contents of the skillet (much classier than licking it, which you’ll be tempted to do). Sister restaurant, Phoenix Public Market Café in Downtown Phoenix, also has a popular pork chile verde pot pie that’s worth hunting down next time you find yourself in the heart of the city.
The restaurant parking is usually valet-only (complimentary), particularly during peak meal times. St. Francis is also very bike friendly and located only a couple blocks away from light rail. Lunch and dinner is served 7 days per week, with an exceptional brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are recommended, particularly for dinner and weekend brunch.
111 E Camelback Road
4. Green Chile Pork at Beckett’s Table
As Phoenix’s most pork-loving chef,
Justin Beckett always serves a crowd-pleasing green chile pork dish. The combination of sweet and smoky flavors is pronounced in the Beckett’s Table version, with the fire roasted chiles truly being the prominent flavor. Corn is an addition that also distinguishes this dish. The stew is topped with cotija cheese and served in a cast iron skillet with a side of corn bread.
Located at the end of a strip mall in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, Beckett’s Table has plenty of parking both directly in front of the restaurant and nearby in front of other stores. The restaurant is open for diner only, Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations are highly recommended at this popular culinary destination, although you can often get a seat at the bar or community table by walking in. Attire is casual, but patrons also dress up for special dining occasions.
Hear our podcast episode about Beckett’s Table.
3717 E Indian School Road
5. Green Chile Pork Soup at Gertrude’s Restaurant
Green chile pork is served as a warm bowl of soup at Gertrude’s Restaurant at the
Desert Botanical Garden. Tender chunks of pork and a strong but not overwhelmingly spicy flavor will get your attention. Warm tortillas allow you to wipe the bowl clean and savor every last drop. The soup is topped with locally made cotija cheese.
A highlight of the Gertrude’s experience is the ability to wander around the garden after your meal to work off calories while enjoying this acclaimed and regionally significant attraction. The Desert Botanical Garden is one of the premiere public gardens in the Southwestern United States. There is a fee to enter the garden which is not required if you only plan to eat at the restaurant, but it’s always difficult to resist taking a stroll whether you’re a veteran or first-time visitor.
The attire for the restaurant is casual and the public lot for the garden has ample parking available. Gertrude’s is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, 7 days per week. Reservations are recommended for brunch and dinner or if there is a special event happening at the garden, although you can usually get a seat pretty quickly as a walk-in.
1201 N Galvin Parkway
Heather Lauer is the author of the Bacon Unwrapped blog and the book Bacon: A Love Story: A Salty Survey of Everybody’s Favorite Meat.