Restaurant Review: The Jealous Fork

The Jealous Fork Gives You The Power To Make The Perfect Dish

Dan Pennington
5 min read
These enchiladas are the kind of love your life needs. (Eric Williams Photography)
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Life is about the unexpected. We find ourselves most engaged in those moments that catch us most off guard. Change, and by extension, growth, comes from being challenged, something we all tend to avoid. As always, I’m making a broad statement in regard to a specific bit of information, which, in this case, was two unexpected scenarios hitting my shores back-to-back during this past week. The first was my best friend, Roman, surprising me by coming into town to stay with me for his whole trip, unbeknownst to me. The second was the discovery of The Jealous Fork, also known as the build-your-own enchilada place. So like a rare cheese and a fine wine, I took my unexpected duo and paired them together to find a shift and growth spurt.

The Jealous Fork is an offshoot of the much-loved Fork & Fig, located Uptown, and the concept is simple. For $9, you will be run through the gamut of every aspect of an enchilada, picking what suits your desires best. By the end of it, you should have no complaints because, well, you designed it. Let’s get through the hard part of this review, which is the multitude of options.

For the wrap, you have corn tortillas, flour tortillas, a combination of both or a roasted poblano ($1.50 extra). For the filling, you can select from brisket, braised pork, herb chicken or wild mushrooms. Next up, you can add two sauces to it, featuring New Mexican red or green chile, pasilla chile or a tomatillo chile. They wouldn’t be proper enchiladas without an obscene helping of cheese, and thankfully you can pick from two. They’ve got a
menonita cheese, Muenster, Oaxaca and Mexican jack. Of course, you have to have your dressings, diced onion, shredded Napa cabbage, diced tomato or fresh cilantro, of which you can also choose up to two. But wait, there’s more! What about getting a little extra? Want fresh avocado on top for $1.25 more? Or maybe you’d prefer a nice drizzle of crema for $0.75? A whole extra enchilada can be yours for $3.75, but why not add a fresh egg for $1.25 more? Did I mention the sides? Oh yeah, there are sides. With elote, posole, beans and rice, plus desserts on hand, you’ve got more than enough available to complement the meal if you so choose. In this case, Roman and I decided it was enchiladas only, in every combination we could figure to get the broadest coverage.

A short history on Roman, so you understand his shared thoughts on the meal. Born in Latvia, moved to Ohio, lover of all things Russian and Jewish, drinker of herbal digestifs and father to the cutest two-and-a-half-year-old you’ve ever seen. He carries a hyper-critical eye on all things in the world and is a delightful foil to my eager, loving nature. He went with poblano-wrapped wild mushroom enchiladas, while I went with flour tortilla-wrapped herbed chicken and poblano-wrapped braised pork enchiladas. What was the verdict?

I personally loved the flour tortilla herbed chicken, which I had doused in red and tomatillo with diced tomato, an over-medium fried egg, menonita and Mexican jack. The chicken was juicy and tender with a little bit of herb flavor coming through but mostly being a nice surprise within the beautiful mess of cheese and chile. Speaking of, the cheese servings are about the greatest thing in the world here. They do not skimp when it comes to the cheese, so be prepared for an small overload of gooey, melted heaven across the top of your enchiladas, and soon after, the roof of your mouth. The chile itself has a stellar kick to it, without leaving you begging for water, plus the tomatillo sauce gives it a little bit more smoothness, rounding off the profile nicely.

The braised pork itself was absolutely amazing, with just enough saltiness to give it extra life to it in my mouth without shocking my system. Roman and I had the same thoughts on the poblano wraps, being that they were far too thick and overtook a lot of the dish itself. This isn’t to say that they were bad, but they felt a bit much and detracted from the overall joy of enchiladas, pushing them more toward chile relleno status than anything else. The poblanos were quite good in terms of taste and were well-cooked but overwhelmed everything on the plate.

Roman was (shockingly) very pleased with the wild mushrooms, commenting on their thick cut nature, which gave heft to the bite. They weren’t cooked down into nothing, but instead were done just well enough to give them real consistency. The flavor was robust, which is what you expect of correctly prepared mushrooms.

When we finished, I asked if he had any thoughts, which, of course, he always does. In this case, though, it was insight that I do feel is solid advice for The Jealous Fork. In his mind, there ought to be some set recipes to pick from, if choosing isn’t your thing. A collection of predetermined choices that accurately create a good meal, would give people the chance to have a great meal without risking one wrong choice not meshing the way they intended.

Somehow over the course of the weekend, we had both ended up shaving our beards, independently of each other. Change is caused by the unexpected, and after four years of not seeing each other, maybe we felt young again, even for the weekend. A welcome change, all things considered, from the now dramatically different adult lives we lead. The Jealous Fork is similar in its unexpected concept, and a step away from the regularity we see in other New Mexican restaurants. It feels good to have control and choice again.
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