Pozole (pronounced poh-SOH-lay) just might be the ideal Mexican comfort food.
Enjoyed nearly everywhere in Mexico and throughout the American Southwest, the hearty meat broth, laced with chile and enhanced with hominy (essentially dried maize kernels soaked in lime) boasts several variations. Most feature pork garnished with shredded lettuce, onion, radishes, oregano, and sometimes chicarron (fried pork skin), chile, and tostadas.
And the soup's color -- red, white, or green (pozole rojo, pozole blanco, o pozole verde) -- depends upon the color of the ingredients used. Namely, the color of the corn and peppers.
But the best part of pozole may be the many ways in which it can be prepared. From the traditional, to the more modern, to all-out gourmet, no two places prepare it exactly the same way.
Now get those spoons ready. Here are 10 of our favorites.
The contemporary, downtown vibe may be one reason to visit this new urban gathering place on the second floor of the Hotel Palomar at CityScape, but chef Stephen Jones serves up another: his version of pozole. What may be the best dish on the menu, this heady, sweet-and-smoky concoction features tender Ancho chile braised pork neck, cabbage, hominy, avocado, and pickled red onion topped with a fried egg and toasted bread for soppin' nestled in a jet-black iron pan.
The Ochoa sisters, who own these two cheerful Mexican diners (one in Phoenix and one in Ahwatukee), use family recipes and fresh ingredients for their delicious dishes -- like their red pozole. With a flavorful broth and tender pork, this good-size portion satisfies, especially with fresh accompaniments and tasty tortillas on the side.
Chef Matt Carter's sophisticated spot of modern Latin cuisine in Scottsdale might mean shaking the piggy bank for some extra coin, but the culinary journey is worth it -- especially for his take on pozole. Carter makes his version of the popular Mexican soup with luscious smoked pork, red chile, hominy, avocado, lime, and corn tortillas for a highly flavorful start to an exceptional meal.
This neighborhood hangout in Central Phoenix, named for the historic Sierra Bonita Ranch in Southeastern Arizona, invites guests to sip a bowl of their green chile pozole by the fire. And why not? Thanks to wonderfully tender pieces of pork and hominy bobbing about in a mild green chile broth topped with shredded cabbage, onions, and cilantro, the taste is comfort food fantastic. And with two sizes available, the amount of indulgence is up to you.
This unassuming little breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot in Mesa offers two ways to enjoy their rich red pork pozole: a big, single bowl for $6.50 or all-you-can-eat for a buck more. No matter which option you choose, make sure to accompany the pozole with a chilaca (roasted green peppers) quesadilla for extra meal-time goodness.
Soup lovers on the west side (way west, like Tolleson west) will be glad to know there's tasty pozole to be found at this small, clean, and friendly eatery. The red pozole is served hot, flavorful, and chock-full of tender pieces of pork and hominy. But those looking to score a bowl take note, this restaurant closes at 3 p.m.
Celebrity chef Jose Garces' modern Mexican restaurant inside The Saguaro hotel in Old Town Scottsdale may have it's flaws, but the pozole isn't one of them. Garces' gourmet version features a deeply flavorful tomatillo stock with crispy pork belly, littleneck clams, smoky chorizo, and stinging discs of serrano peppers. Alongside a side dish of lime, radishes, and onions to add as you please, this soup's worthy of star status.
What makes the pozole so good at this casual eatery of Mexico City-style food inside the Clarendon Hotel in Central Phoenix? Why, you do -- kinda. A side plate of goodies (cabbage, avocado, dried oregano, diced onion, and lime) as well as a cup of black pasilla chile make for the ingredients you'll use to enhance the soup's overall flavor and turn up the heat as you desire. Already chock-full of tender, shredded pork and hominy, this soup truly eats like a meal.
Totally nondescript from the outside, this bare-bones strip-mall storefront serves up some of the best pozole in Mesa. It's flavor is deliciously bold and made with tender chunks of beef on the bone with add-as-you-like garnishes of cilantro, onions, shredded cabbage, and lime. Plus (bonus) after the meal, you can score a paleta, raspado, or other cool treat from the ice cream shop next door.
This tiny, family-run spot on the city's west side is easy to miss, but when it comes to finding top-notch pozole in all three varieties, seeking it out is worth it. There's the deep-flavored rojo filled with pork chunks, hominy, and red chiles; the blanco made with chicken and less spicy; and the tangy verde (also featuring chicken) made with tomatillos. Each is served up with fresh add-ins and tortillas or crispy chicharrones. Delicious.
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