14 of 42Photo by Iain Bagwell; written by Elaine Johnson
Mexican Tropical Chile Roast Chicken
We took the flavors of a Western classic, Mexican rotisserie chicken, and put them in a brine to produce a succulent texture and meat infused with complex seasonings in addition to salt. Serve with corn or flour tortillas, cilantro sprigs, lime wedges, and chopped white onion.
18 of 42Photo, Annabelle Breakey; food styling, Randy Mon
Lamb Shanks Adobo
Jeff Smedstad, chef-owner of Elote Cafe ($$; closed Sun;elotecafe.com) in Sedona, Arizona, learned the secrets to great adobos (a type of chile-rich sauce) in the markets of central Mexico. This lamb dish is adapted from one in his book, Elote Cafe Cookbook (Elote Cafe Publishing; $30).
20 of 42Photo, Annabelle Breakey; food styling, Randy Mon
Shot-and-a-Beer Pork Stew
San Francisco's Tacolicious ($$;tacolicioussf.com) serves this braised pork in tacos, but owner Joe Hargrave also makes it at home as a fall stew. The chiles fall apart as the dish cooks, giving the meat a mellow, earthy spiciness.
This tortilla tower is a show-stopper: dramatic, delicious, and oozing with melty cheese. Though the sauce tastes complex, it's made with canned chile sauce embellished with sweet spices, raisins, pine nuts, and smoky chipotle chiles.
Look no further for the ultimate fish taco: This is the one you’ve been looking for. These fast and fresh SoCal classics are served with a crisp cabbage-cilantro slaw and an an addictive chipotle tartar sauce.
Full of tender chunks of roasted chicken, these spicy enchiladas are the real deal, topped with a green-chile sauce that’s got some kick. (For a milder salsa, use Anaheim chiles.) And don’t forget the luscious coat of melty jack cheese.
Skirt steak cooks up super-quickly over high heat to produce a nicely browned crust ― slices of steak are especially good when marinated overnight in a tangy sauce. Serve these fajita-style with all your favorite condiments.
Garlicky Shrimp-Cilantro Tacos (Tacos de Camarones al Mojo de Ajo)
Buttery shrimp and melt-in-your-mouth onions are all these simple tacos need. Cook the veggies ahead of time, and you’ll need less than 10 minutes to cook the shrimp, tortillas, and put the tacos together.
At Ceviche House, located about 7 miles from San Diego's Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, chef Juan Carlos Récamier serves a dozen different ceviches, many of them with fish from the market. This one uses lime juice to “cook” the fish and give it a lively, fresh flavor.