Chile vs. Chile: Fortuna Strong


The Fortuna contingent brought it hard this week, forcing us to revise our standards. Two different restaurants produced three very different rellenos, with a spectrum of chiles, sauces and batters. All were delicious, and as such we’ve decided to be more inclusive. There is no black and white when it comes to pepper, cheese, batter and salsa: the world deserves a relleno rainbow.
When we put the call for regional nominations out on Facebook, we were bombarded with recommendations for La Costa (664 S. Fortuna Blvd), including at least one cryptic message: “Try both kinds.” Both kinds? What witchery was this? So we called to inquire and the nice lady assured that they did, in fact, have two different types of chile rellenos to choose from. We got them both: a yellow, omelette-y envelope swaddling a pale Anaheim pepper, and its dark, stout masa-battered counterpoint with the traditional Poblano within. Both yielded to our forks with a gush of cheese, and both were swimming in a savory reddish sauce so thick it could pass for gravy. After sampling (and sampling, and sampling) both, we chose the thick-battered Poblano version as an in-house favorite, pitting it against….

Taco Loco (955 Main Street), is another Friendly City favorite that came highly recommended. We gave a deep sigh of appreciation when we opened the takeaway box and saw the plump, brown-battered chile smothered in green tomatillo sauce. A tinfoil-wrapped package of warm tortillas sat waiting for us to tear, scoop and savor. Lovers of all things green will not be disappointed by Taco Loco’s dish: you get a lot of pepper per forkful, the tomatillo sauce is delightful, and the chef definitely knows their way around a spice cabinet. The only off-note was a slightly strange aftertaste, leading us to think their grease traps might need cleaning.

So, ultimately, Fortuna’s best chile relleno is also the fan favorite: La Costa! Felicidades to the Friendly City, and welcome to the big time! In a few weeks we’ll pit your winner against Eureka, Arcata and McKinleyville, for the final determination of who makes #humboldtsbestchilerelleno!

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