Hail the chile: During Labor Day weekend, the air is thick with the smoky scent of roasting chiles at the Hatch Chile Festival. The down-home bonanza draws 20,000 heat seekers and includes mariachi performances, chile-eating contests, and the crowning of the Chile Queen. Sep 3–4; $10/vehicle; hatchchilefest.com
Taste the real deal: For the best chiles rellenos in town, look no further than the Pepper Pot. The restaurant’s secret: Sisters Melba Aguirre and Rosario Varela use an old family recipe that calls for coating the chiles in regular white flour mixed with garlic salt and an egg white, then lightly frying them on a griddle. $; 207 W. Hall St.; 575/267-3822.
Shake things up: A local institution, Sparky’s dishes up incredible burgers with—what else?—roasted chiles, and BBQ pulled-pork sammies, but it’s the whipped cream–topped Heath Bar soft-serve milkshake that keeps us coming back. $; 115 Franklin St.; 575/267-4222.
Make it a weekend: A 17-room adobe built on an old Apache campground, Historic Pelham House makes the outside feel a world away. Weekend highlights may include a candlelit dinner in the center atrium or an in-house spa treatment. Book the quietest room in the house—the former maid’s quarters turned casita. From $250, includes 5-course meal for 2; historicpelhamhouse.com