Like the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta itself, Albuquerque's New Mexico cuisine is colorful and adventurous. From simple dishes that have been enjoyed for centuries to Southwest fusion tastes that have created their own genre, New Mexico’s distinct culinary legacy is known throughout the world. After an early morning of watching the greatest ballooning show of earth, you'll be hungry and inspired to enjoy an authentic New Mexican meal. Fortunately, there are several great restaurants that fit that bill near the Balloon Fiesta grounds. This list is 10 of our favorites that won't disappoint. Chile is the foundation for most of New Mexico’s classic dishes. Technically a fruit, this pepper has been cultivated into several varieties to vary heat and size. Green and red chile are made from the same peppers; greens are younger and reds are fully ripe. Green chile tends to be meatier; red chiles are dried, usually in colorful ristras, then crushed into a powder to make the sauce. Which one is hotter? That varies year-to-year, depending on how much water and sun the crops received, and other factors. The main difference is in texture; red tends to have a smokier flavor. A good chile dish shouldn’t set your mouth on fire; it’ll have a zip, but most importantly you should be able to savor its flavor.
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