Green or red, that is the question.
Don’t pass Alyssa’s Chile House and think they neglected to take down their Christmas lights. It’s all part of the theme.
Customers will notice the wait staff wearing T-shirts that read “Green or Red?” Take a look at the menu and there’s the question again.
Green and red chile peppers are key ingredients in Alyssa’s Southwestern cuisine. Originating in New Mexico, the dishes have roots in Spanish, Native American and Mexican heritage. But it’s not your typical Mexican fare.
For instance, diners won’t see enchiladas on the menu, but will see beef or chicken enchilada casserole (beef, $11.99; chicken, $12.99). When I ordered the beef our waitress, Chelsie, made sure I understood that it was a casserole, and not the usual rolled tortillas. She also said the green chile version offers a milder flavor than the more fiery red chiles. The “green” dish featured three layers of soft corn tortilla separated by a generous amount of well-seasoned and coarsely-ground beef and Cheddar cheese. More cheese covered the casserole’s top, while chopped tomato and lettuce were available on the side for additional topping. Don’t look for the meat to be tinged red from Mexican seasonings; this beef is seasoned well but differently, and retains its brown color. I enjoyed all the flavors here and in the side dishes, spicy rice and beans. The rice was cooked in a tangy red sauce, while the beans veered away from the standard refried variety. These were pinto beans, most still whole, in a thin, flavorful brown sauce, and also covered with cheese.
Returning another night for a to-go order, we found the red chicken enchilada casserole just as enjoyable and only slightly spicier than the green. There was lots of juicy, shredded chicken stuffed between the tortillas, and beans and rice also accompanied this dish.
Alyssa’s also boasts to be the home of the awesome burrito ($11.99), and impressive it was. A large flour tortilla stretched across most of the plate. Inside was more of that robust, coarsely-ground beef and cheese, with more beef and cheese topping the rolled tortilla. Beans, rice, tomato and lettuce filled out the plate.
We also enjoyed the beef taco plate ($8.99). Three slightly crunchy corn tortillas tasted as if they had just been made in-house and were filled with beef and cheese, with sour cream, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and a kickin’ hot salsa on the side. Beans and rice again were included.
By all means, save room for banana pudding cake ($4). A moist yellow cake was slathered with a layer of banana pudding, followed by a layer of whipped cream, with slices of banana dotting the top. A sweet, creamy, sinful delight.
Not big on decor or ambience, Alyssa’s nonetheless is worth a visit if you’re craving something a little different.
So what will it be, green or red?