Sep 012004
 
Authors: Anna Welle

Some chilies have it better than others.

The lucky ones travel all the way from farms in New Mexico into Nanita’s Finest, a coveted sauce made right here in Fort Collins.

The green chile, perfected at Consuelo’s New Mexican Restaurant, 1401 W. Elizabeth St., has been smothered over everything from Navajo tacos to flauta dinners for 11 years. Over time, those chilies have been appreciated.

“(The sauce) has been brought back to India, Chicago, Philadelphia,” said Consuelo Trujillo, the restaurant’s co-founder. “This chile has been everywhere.”

Sometimes college students and visitors become so enthusiastic about the mouth-watering New Mexican specialty, they request the chef to freeze the green treat for travel, Trujillo said. Those appreciated vegetables have been sent as gifts, brought home by visitors, taken on hunting trips, and even made it to dinner at the Vatican.

A year and a half ago, the family-operated restaurant decided to jar the popular green chile as “Nanita’s Finest.” The name is dedicated to the creator’s grandchildren.

“It’s just the way I made it at home,” said Trujillo, who developed many of her recipes while cooking for a family of seven.

Self-proclaimed “The hottest green chile in town,” Nanita’s Finest is available in mild, medium, hot and XXX hot.

Trujillo has challenged her customers to take the heat from the XXX chile.

“If you can eat this with a spoon, no ice cream, no tortilla, no nothing, I’ll buy you lunch,” she said. “I haven’t bought a single lunch yet.”

The sauce is currently sold for $3.50 for 16 ounces at more than 15 stores in Fort Collins and will be available nationwide in a couple of months.

Green chile is not the only specialty of Consuelo’s New Mexican Restaurant.

For the last six years, the restaurant has made fresh burritos every day and delivered them to more than 32 stores in Fort Collins, Loveland, Wellington and Windsor.

“The breakfast burritos are killer,” said Sarah Hamilton, a frequent customer.

Each week offers a different vegetarian variety, and the compact meals are served everywhere from Sandy’s Convenience Stores to six area high schools.

A larger selection of pre-wrapped burritos is also available at Consuelo’s New Mexican Restaurant from 6 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Trujillo began her restaurant experience at the age of 8, when she started washing dishes in New Mexico. A laundry list of kitchens and 37 years later, the colorful cook completed her goal and opened a restaurant with her husband, Sam.

“Dignitaries, movie stars, mayors, you name it and I’ve cooked for them,” said

Trujillo.

The family restaurant started out with two booths and six stools. Eleven years later, the affordable eatery reaches the maximum capacity of 142 seats on a regular basis.

“A lot of people have seen us grow from small to big and the consistency of the food has been the same,” said Roberta Alvarado, Consuelo’s manager.

Thursday nights feature two free margaritas for each dinner purchase, and Mexican dancers create a cultural atmosphere from 7 to 8 p.m. Mariachis play every Saturday night.

“It’s a fiesta at Consuelo’s every day,” said Krista Cagney, a Consuelo’s bartender.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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