A welcome to Hatch sign at the Hatch Chile Festival

The Village of Hatch, NM

Hatch is a village in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, with a population usually hovering around 1,500 people, but that number fluctuates greatly as many migrant workers arrive in town for the chile season! Picking chile is incredibly hard work hunched over in the hot sun, and we in the chile industry greatly appreciate the pickers who come help us get the product to market. If you go during the Hatch Chile Festival, it feels more like a small city than a village! The area surrounding Hatch in Doña Ana county is one of the main agriculture areas of New Mexico, and also includes Las Cruces, where most of the research behind New Mexico chile is done at New Mexico State University.

The Chile Capital of the World

Nestled in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, Hatch, New Mexico, has earned the moniker “Chile Capital of the World,” and for good reason. Its fertile soil, nurtured by the warm sun and mineral-rich waters of the Rio Grande, provides the perfect terroir for cultivating the world-renowned New Mexico chile. The distinct flavor profile, a harmonious blend of heat and deep flavor, sets Hatch chile apart, making them a coveted ingredient for culinary enthusiasts and spice aficionados alike.

the Hatch water-tower taken during the Hatch Chile Festival during peak chile season

History of Hatch

Hatch’s history dates back to the 19th century when settlers began cultivating crops in the fertile valley. Due to raids from native tribes, the village was settled and abandoned several times up until 1875, when the former Union brigadier general Edward Hatch served as commander of the District of New Mexico. Due to his influence, the village of Hatch was named after him. The arrival of the Santa Fe railroad extension in the 1880s further spurred the town’s development, opening up avenues for trade and commerce. Over the years, the chile pepper emerged as a staple crop, and Hatch’s reputation as a chile-growing powerhouse began to take root. Combined with work done by NMSU legends such as Fabian Garcia, Hatch began to grow its specialty crop right around the turn of the century over 100 years ago! Today, the village stands as a testament to the hard work and dedication of generations of farmers who have cultivated the land and perfected the art of chile cultivation.

Hatch chile festival sign

Hatch Chile Festival

The Hatch Chile Festival, held annually over Labor Day weekend, is a vibrant celebration of the town’s agricultural heritage. It draws thousands of visitors from around the globe, eager to experience the unique sights, sounds, and flavors of Hatch. The festival features chile roasting demonstrations, cooking competitions, live music performances, and a parade showcasing the region’s cultural diversity. For chile enthusiasts, the festival offers a chance to sample a wide variety of chile-infused delicacies, from savory stews and salsas to sweet desserts. It’s also a great place to get a chile ristra as a souvenir, and you can even learn how to make them too!

people learning to tie chile ristras at the Hatch Chile Festival
Tie a ristra together with your friends!

Visiting Hatch

For those embarking on an I-25 road trip through New Mexico, Hatch is an essential stop just 40 minutes north of Las Cruces. The village’s quaint charm, coupled with its rich agricultural history, offers a unique glimpse into the heart of the state. Visitors can explore local farms, witness chile roasting firsthand, and savor the freshest chile peppers imaginable. The scenic beauty of the Rio Grande Valley, with its vast plains and majestic mountains, provides a stunning backdrop for outdoor adventures. Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or simply seeking a memorable travel experience, Hatch, New Mexico, promises to leave a lasting impression. The best time to visit Hatch is during the chile season, as the town pulses with chile roasting the whole season. Many shops are closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so try to come between Thursday and Sunday for the best experience!

During the chile season, you will find plenty of chile roasters blasting away in Hatch. In my personal opinion, visiting a chile roaster is one of the coolest things to do when visiting New Mexico!

Restaurants in Hatch

For visitors seeking a taste of Hatch chile at its source, the village offers a delightful culinary experience. The most famous restaurant is without a doubt Sparky’s, which makes an awesome green chile cheeseburger. You might have to wait a while if you go during a busy weekend in the chile season. In case you are looking for quicker food that can be consumed on the go, make a quick stop at B & E Burritos. For those of you looking for a place to sit down, Pepper Pot is also a nice option! Valley Cafe is also nearby. These Hatch restaurants all serve up classic New Mexican dishes featuring Hatch chile as the star ingredient. From red chile enchiladas smothered in a rich, smoky sauce to green chile cheeseburgers bursting with fresh flavor, Hatch eateries showcase the versatility and deliciousness of Hatch chile. For perhaps the most chile dominant dish you can get, be sure to try out a chile relleno, which is a breaded, stuffed, and fried roasted green chile!

front of Skarky's, the most famous green chile cheeseburger place in Hatch, NM
Stop at Sparky’s for a green chile cheeseburger!

Location Of Hatch

Nestled along the banks of the Rio Grande River in southern New Mexico lies the village of Hatch, the undisputed “Chile Capital of the World.” With a rich agricultural history dating back centuries, Hatch has long been a hub for farming, its fertile soil and warm climate proving ideal for a variety of crops. It is also conveniently located alongside I-25 which makes it great for not only chile truck logistics, but also for a stop on a north-south New Mexico road trip!

A chile truck loaded with sacks of Hatch green chile and lots of chile ristras pulling into a chile store in Albuquerque
These Hatch chile trucks are a common sight during chile season

NMSU And Hatch

The village’s proximity to New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces plays a crucial role in its chile fame. NMSU’s Chile Pepper Institute has conducted extensive research on chile pepper cultivars for over a century, and Hatch serves as the perfect testing ground for these new varieties. Farmers in Hatch collaborate with the university, ensuring a constant stream of innovation and experimentation, ultimately leading to the unique and flavorful New Mexico chile varieties we know and love today.