Green Chile Lemonade - Gastro Obscura


Green Chile Lemonade

A roadside diner in Hatch, New Mexico, makes the most of the town's fiery crop.

The chile-growing town of Hatch, New Mexico, is well-known for its namesake chile pepper. The town is also known for one glaringly obvious roadside attraction: Sparky’s. The restaurant, and all of its surroundings, are crammed with Americana. Statuary—including Ronald McDonald, a giant bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and a 30-foot-tall Uncle Sam—beckon from both sides of the street. Collectibles and retro signage (from defunct and operational businesses alike) decorate every surface in faded glory.

Diners visit Sparky’s for novelty, but the restaurant’s juicy, messy, and spicy green chile cheeseburgers have amassed a die-hard fanbase. Some patrons quell the fire from their lunch with a cold, refreshing iced tea or creamy milkshake. But Sparky’s doesn’t stop at burgers when it comes to bringing the heat. Those who can’t get enough of the burn wash down their fiery fare with a sip of refreshing lemonade, which is also full of Hatch chiles.

Tasters say the first sip tastes a lot like any other tangy, cool lemonade. However, the sizable chunks of green chile floating in between ice cubes give away the drink’s surprise finish. As sugar and citric acid fade from the palate, a familiar warmth floods the mouth. Gluttons for punishment can continue to increase the spice factor by eating raw Hatch chiles (which are available in abundance next to the condiments) between bites of anything they like.

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