I have a confession to make. It will surprise a few of my friends, but not Jeff, who has insisted in the truth of this statement for quite some time, to my disbelief:I am a chilehead.
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Ages ago, someone who didn’t know me very well asked me what my favorite restaurant was. (Anyone who knows me well would inherently recognize the dangers and long-windedness inherent in such a topic, and would steer clear. It’s almost as bad as asking me about my cats.) My response was typically obtuse, yet truthful:
I wish I could remember the gist of my response, but I told the truth. If I want to go to a Japanese steakhouse, I have to go to Tuscaloosa, to have Ben-Kei’s shrimp sauce. If I want sushi, it’s Vancouver. Blue crab? The little shack that Andy took me to a few years ago. Cheesesteaks? Philadelphia. Indian? Little Rock.
Along with that list would be “Mexican? Rosie’s, in Huntsville.” Not necessarily for the food, which I thought was pretty decent, but not spectacular, but because the margaritas were the best I’d ever found.
Mexican food? Margaritas? Los Dos Molinos has it.
I wasn’t aware that there was a subspecialty of Mexican food called “New Mexican,” and I must confess that I don’t know if it’s referring to something new or just to the state of New Mexico in general. However, I’ve discovered that I don’t care.
Many articles describing LDM describe the food as “lethally” hot; so much so, in fact, that Kara told me that she planned on only having a salad, because she didn’t think there was anything on the menu she could eat.
Sign #1 that you are a chilehead: statements such as that one make you run to, not from, a restaurant.
Like most Mexican-style restaurants, diners are presented with bowls of salsa and chips upon being seated. I was amused to watch one of my dinner companions grab a chip then timidly dip it into the salsa. As she ate the chip, Kara and Matt stared at her, waiting for a verdict.
“Uh… Ow. It’s pretty dang hot.”
Sign #2 that you are a chilehead: statements such as that one make you think, “Bah, can’t be that bad!” instead of “Perhaps I should proceed with caution.”
I grabbed a chip and dug it into the salsa. And chewed. And swallowed. And the fire came, roaring over my tongue and up into my nose, and oh dear God was it tasty. I realized that in my left hand, I held one of the world’s most perfect heat-quenchers: a frozen strawberry margarita.
Slug. Oooh, pass the salsa. You don’t want any more? Darn. More for me. Chew.
Food? Oh, I’ll have the carnitas. Just after I have another sip of the margarita.
Slug. Maybe I’ll have just one more bit of salsa. Chew.
Slug. Hmm. These are extraordinarily good margaritas. Good thing we got a pitcher. Perhaps I shouldn’t drink so much of this. Oh, we’re going to watch Pirates of the Caribbean afterwards?
Two hours and several full margaritas later, I’m curled up on the couch of someone I barely know, petting a cat whose name I can’t remember, and floating on a chile/alcohol buzz while watching Pirates. Mmmm. Why is the rum gone? I don’t care. Orlando Bloom is pretty. Pity we don’t have any more salsa.
I might have to come back to Phoenix, just for the food.
I have a photo of the restaurant. I just can’t offload it yet. I’ll make mention of it when I’m able to.