January 6, 2014 Zia Taqueria interviews Green Hatch Chile January 6, 2014 Zia Taqueria interviews The green Hatch chile packs a unique flavor profile, and West Asheville’s Zia Taqueria is one of only about 20 restaurants in the country where diners can find it.Founder Kevin Grant (who runs the original Zia Taqueria in Charleston, S.C.) calls the green Hatch “without a doubt the most flavorful chili pepper out there.” His partner, Robert Tipsword, maintains the Asheville location. The two were lucky enough to establish a relationship with an authentic green Hatch chile supplier in New Mexico and have been consistently using the fiery fruit in dishes since mid-November. So far, notes Tipsword, the response from customers has been great. — Sharon Bell, Mountain Xpress Photo: Mountain Xpress Right now, the green Hatch chile stew is the restaurant’s main feature. A unique blend of spices, potatoes, corn and carrots (available either with pork or vegan), the stew is just the right kind of spicy to be a seasonal favorite. “The recipe isn’t all that hard,” says Grant. “The hard part is getting the chile. It’s the only one with this kind of flavor. The stew is a way for people to understand there’s a lot more than just heat in a chili.”“It’s almost an unprecedented taste for Asheville and the Eastern Seaboard,” adds Tipsword, who’s excited about playing with new green Hatch chile recipes and flavors that will soon be featured on Zia’s menu.Tipsword is also looking forward to creating a community-driven hub of dining, with specialty cocktails and entertainment. With one successful year under his belt, he hopes to begin hosting sports events, movies, bands and more at his prime location. “We’re fortunate to be on Haywood with parking surrounded by fences. I feel like with this property comes a sense of responsibility to do something that involves the community, and that’s definitely something we’re looking forward to.”Tipsword’s passion for community involvement doesn’t end at Asheville’s city limits. New Mexico’s nearly 350 days of sunlight, he explains, have made chili peppers a primary export, and he says, “with Asheville’s growing economy, we should support and buy this world-renowned American product.” In 1992, he notes, 40,000 acres in the state were devoted to growing [chiles]; by 2010, that number had dropped to 9,500. “Unfortunately, 82 percent of chili peppers bought are from other countries now, and there’s no telling how they preserve it, package it — and what some restaurants put on it to make it look good again” — Sharon Bell, Mountain Xpress Zia Taqueria Zia is an authentic Mexican taqueria providing high-quality, moderately-priced, regional Mexican food and beverage using only natural ingredients.