My friend and former Intel colleague Steve Caine will forever rue the day he asked me to help him with an expense report for a business trip he made to Portland, Oregon. His itemized expense report indicated he had dined twice at Chevy’s, a middling quality Americanized Mexican restaurant which wouldn’t survive in the tough Albuquerque market. I teased him mercilessly. Worse, when my boss saw what the commotion was all about, he immediately put Steve on double-secret probation. Steve has never lived down visiting a Chevy’s in Portland where he could have had some of the country’s freshest and best seafood.
When the din died down, Steve admitted somewhat sheepishly that after two days in Portland, he was missing New Mexican food so desperately that he visited the closed facsimile he could find. It was either Chevy’s or a restaurant named Machissimo Mouse (seriously). In truth, I’ve been there, too…well, not to Chevy’s and definitely not to Machissimo Mouse, but at a point in my business travels where the craving for New Mexico’s inimitable cuisine strikes like an addict’s need for a fix.
My Kim and I had been away from New Mexico for eleven days during our June, 2023 trip through the Mountain states. The most piquant item I’d had in that entire time was a Mexican cafe mocha. It certainly didn’t sate my lust for piquancy. Like Steve Cain, I was jonesing for New Mexico’s sacrosanct chile–or at least a facsimile thereof. We found that at Cafe Genevieve in Jackson, Wyoming whose menu includes huevos con chile verde y chorizo (house made green chile, refried beans, fried eggs, flour and corn tortilla, jack cheese). Dare I risk trying that? Dare I say anything nice about it should the chile verde prove muy sabroso? The last time I complimented chile from beyond New Mexico’s sacrosanct borders, I was excoriated. But I digress…
Purporting to serve “inspired home cooking” in a circa 1910 renovated cabin space, Cafe Genevieve was featured in a 2014 Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode titled “Seriously Saucy Highlights.” Fieri didn’t have the green chile item on the menu, but he’s not from New Mexico. It’s not in his blood. Still, the spiked blond coiffed Food Network host did call the cafe “the Bo Jackson of restaurants.” If you’re not a sports fan, Bo Jackson was a versatile athlete who excelled in football and baseball. Cafe Genevieve’s menu is certainly versatile with a number of interesting items.
Undoubtedly the most interesting item on that menu is the Pig Candy made famous on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Thick applewood-smoked bacon is cooked fresh daily and covered in a blend of sugars and spices (including some with a real kick). It’s then baked “low and slow,” resulting in in the ultimate caramelized coating. Pig Candy became so popular that Cafe Genevieve now sells it by the box on-site and at select shops around town. At brunch, you can even step up your salad game with the aptly named Pig Candy Salad, which features the chopped candy sprinkled on top like bacon bits.
We couldn’t resist the temptation to try the Pig Candy if only to compare it to a similar bacon item proffered by the still missed Gold Street Cafe. Our verdict–just as good though twice as messy. Pig Candy is a guilty pleasure, an indulgence you could get hooked on. Ingredients include white sugar, brown sugar, black pepper, mustard and molasses. It’s an alchemic masterpiece. Served in a Mason type jar, the bacon itself is sliced thick and is at least twice as tall as the vessel in which it’s served. Each piece is crunchy and crumbly, a satisfying mess.
Drumroll, please. The huevos con chile verde were quite good. Maybe not New Mexico good though we have visited restaurants in the Land of Enchantment that didn’t prepare their chile quite as well. Though cumin wasn’t used on the chile, it was part and parcel of the refried beans, a minor disappointment. The chile registered a little hotter than mild on any New Mexican’s piquancy scale, but it rates high on a deliciousness scale–especially when paired with a cinnamon kissed chorizo. A molten blanket of Jack cheese atop the fried eggs was more than a binder. Jack is the perfect queso for huevos con chile verde. A fried corn tortilla was the foundation on which this dish was made. It provided a textural difference i very much appreciated. Thank you, Cafe Genevieve for giving me a much-needed taste of home in between other wonderful cuisines.
My Kim’s comfort food is more along the lines of steak, meatloaf and fried chicken. Cafe Genevieve pairs two of her favorite comfort foods on one entree: mac and cheese and fried chicken. Although my Kim complained about the hummingbird-sized pieces of chicken, she couldn’t complain about the flavor. Lightly breaded and perfectly seasoned, this is very good chicken. It’s no wonder we spotted chicken (either with waffles or mac and cheese) on so many tables. The mac and cheese is of the no-frills variety. There’s nothing added, just rich, creamy cheeses melted over perfectly prepared macaroni.
Cafe Genevieve is a culinary fixture in Jackson. Whether for breakfast, brunch or dinner, it’s a welcome respite for weary travelers as well as locals. Every town, city and village should have such a restaurant.
135 E. Broadway
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LATEST VISIT: 11 June 2023
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Meat Candy, Huevos Con Chile Verde, Fried Chicken With Macaroni and Cheese, Coffee