Tropic of Capsaicin
An Exploration of the Hot Dishes in a Hot City, Or Where to Go When You're Not at Waterloo Park
Ancho Chocolate Fudge Pie and Smoked-Chicken Chile Relleno at Z Tejas1110 W. Sixth, 478-5355
Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday, 11am-11pm; Saturday, 9am-11pm; Sunday, 9am-10pm
The Aztecs had the right idea when they began combining chocolate and chiles to make their decadent sauces. Naturally complementary, the two ingredients form a bond that deepens both flavors. Five hundred years later, we Americans are only just discovering how delicious the sweet-spicy combination can be. At Z Tejas, Austin's pioneering Southwestern restaurant, the kitchen has been showcasing their version since they began operations, and it remains a consistent crowd pleaser. Rich, chocolatey, and gooey like a half-cooked brownie, this heavenly confection betrays only a hint of piquancy. Ancho chiles bring out the chocolate flavor of the dessert without making it too spicy. And while you're there, don't miss Z Tejas' smoked-chicken chile relleno. Another dish that capitalizes on the sweet-spicy amalgam, this one fuses spicy ancho chiles with savory smoked chicken and dried fruit. Accented by a sparkler of a green chile sauce and a cool tomato cream, this chile relleno is one of the more vibrant renditions of the Mexican classic.