There are chiles rellenos, and then there are chiles rellenos en nogada, a classic variation with a sweet, luxuriant walnut cream sauce. The city’s best relleno is the nogada version served at Manuel’s, both the limestone-walled dining room downtown and the flamboyant place up north; the rich sauce has a dash of brandy, and the shredded-pork filling in the unbattered poblano is rife with raisins and almonds. On Wednesdays after five-thirty, head to busy Güero’s for a vegetarian special of two unbattered roasted poblanos stuffed with crunchy sautéed corn and zucchini and topped with sour cream and Jack cheese. A wonderful mix of ground beef, walnuts, and raisins fills the batter-fried chiles rellenos served in Garibaldi’s gold-and-apricot dining room; the ranchero sauce is nice and tomatoey, but a lava flow of Jack cheese overwhelms everything. An innovative sweet, warm pecan cream sauce (think of it as Texas-style nogada) tops an unbattered poblano at rustic, informal Polvo’s; the ground beef tucked inside provides a savory counterpoint. In the elegant hacienda that is Fonda San Miguel, a smoky-sweet ancho chile encases a tantalizing mix of chicken, olives, and almonds, welcome relief from the battered, deep-fried poblano that is the norm.
The signature baked chiles