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Bang Bite Filling Station – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Bang Bite Filling Station in Santa Fe

“When people pile seven things onto one burger, it drives me nuts!”
~Bobby Flay

Seven ingredients? That’s not a burger! It’s a hodgepodge, a medley, a potpourri! It’s everything including the kitchen sink. Perhaps other regions in America need the Iron Chef’s sage advice, but New Mexicans certainly don’t. For us, a burger with minimal ingredients is just common sense. That’s because we’ve got green chile and when you’ve got green chile, who needs anything else? In the Land of Enchantment, our green chile cheeseburger is sacrosanct, a celebrated cultural tradition and an iconic food. The very best green chile cheeseburgers are made with no more than three to five ingredients (including the green chile and cheese) and those ingredients are intended to complement the green chile, not mask it.

In the Land of Enchantment, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that almost every restaurant, drive-in, diner, dive, joint, cafe, roadside stand, eatery, greasy spoon, lunch counter and bowling alley slinging burgers is going to brag about its green chile cheeseburger being the best to be found anywhere. That is everyone but Santa Fe’s Bang Bite Filling Station which gregarious owner-chef Enrique Guerrero contends doesn’t even offer a green chile cheeseburger. Instead, he defers to the number two, the “Bite Burger,” a mix of jalapeno, poblano, green chile, Serrano and chipotle peppers blended right into the meat.

Bite Burger with French Fries

In a fit of delicious irony that can happen only in New Mexico (or an early episode of MASH), that “not a green chile cheeseburger” earned the distinction of being selected Santa Fe’s very best green chile cheeseburger during the third annual Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown in 2015. Aside from five different chiles, the number two that earned number one honors is constructed with bacon, avocado, pepper Jack and jalapeno aioli. Not including the chiles and the cheese, that’s three ingredients. Bobby Flay would be proud.

So is Chef Guerrero, perhaps Santa Fe’s most accomplished vagabond chef, an impresario with very impressive culinary pedigree that includes presiding over the kitchens of some of most highly acclaimed restaurants during their halcyon periods. That includes the now defunct La Mancha at Galisteo Inn when it garnered recognition from Bon Appetit as among “ten of our favorite dining spots in vacation destinations around the country.” Under his watch, La Mancha was also named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the nation’s 26 “Hot Tables.” More recently, Chef Guerrero was the founding executive chef for the O Eating House in Pojoaque, Mangiamo Pronto in Santa Fe and Ancient Spirits in Bernalillo.

Oyster Po’ Boy with French Fries

A food truck isn’t a step down for the uber-talented chef. It’s a change in direction and in the fashion of his celebrated culinary career, that direction is up, up and up. In 2014, Bang Bite was selected by readers of Edible for a “Local Hero Award,” an honor which celebrates the region’s best loved food leaders, proving leadership isn’t always exercised in fine-dining kitchens. Santa Fe’s 10Best expert, the fabulous Billie Frank likened Chef Guerrero’s efforts to “right out of Jon Favreau’s hit film Chef,” citing him as “a man with an impressive culinary CV” who “traded his chef’s coat for a tee-shirt.” It’s the proverbial “toque to baseball cap” story and it’s playing out just as Chef Guerrero likes it.

Situated on an otherwise nearly vacant graveled lot off Old Santa Fe Trail (directly across the street from Kaune’s Market), the bright orange Bang Bite might be mistaken for one of the New Mexico Highway Department’s storage bins were it not for the pervasive bouquet emanating from its gleaming stainless interior. That bouquet wafts onto your motorized conveyance like a smoky, appetite-arousing siren beckoning you to stop and uncover its source. That source is an ambitious menu belying the relative Lilliputian size of the food truck. The menu lists ten burgers, eight “sammies,” six “things with cheese” and a number of sides.  Specials round out one of the most interesting menus in town (and that’s saying something). 

Despite all the possibilities, for aficionados of the fabled green chile cheeseburger, there’s only one choice.  That’s the Bite Burger, the number two that’s number one in the hearts of Smackdown judges.  At just south of eleven dollars, it’s a rather expensive burger you might expect would be gargantuan in size and flavor.  From a flavor standpoint, it hits the mark.  It’s a moist, juicy and delicious burger.  Alas, and I paraphrase fellow burgerphile Dr. Sheldon Cooper, its meat to bun to condiment ratio wasn’t satisfactory in that the meat did not extend across the circumference of the bun.  When you get your hands on a good burger, you don’t want to be shortchanged in any way. 

When we lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we enjoyed oyster po’ boys by the boatful.  In fact, we may have had nearly as many oyster po’ boys in New Orleans as we’ve had green chile cheeseburgers in Santa Fe.  It seemed to make sense we should have an oyster po’ boy in Santa Fe.  With a sandwich architect such as Chef Guerrero, you’re ensured of a next best to just-off-the-boat oyster po’ boy.  Bang Bite’s version is served on a burger-type bun instead of on a standard po’ boy roll, but other than that it’s as good as many a po’ boy we had–even in New Orleans.  In addition to a healthy amount of crispy fried oysters, the sandwich is overfilled with crispy applewood bacon, trailer-made pickles, avocado and a smear of spicy bayou aioli.  The oyster po’ boy isn’t on the everyday menu, but it should well be. 

Both the Bite Burger and the Oyster Po’ Boy are served with trailer fries, maybe the best fries in Santa Fe.  They’re hand-cut and texturally perfect–light and crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside.  Fries this great deserve better than those annoying packets of ketchup which my ham-sized hands can’t seem to open. 

The Bang Bite Filling Station may not have a green chile cheeseburger on its menu, but it’s got just about everything else burger, sandwich and cheese lovers will love.  It’s also got the cachet of a legendary, down-to-earth chef plying his inimitable skills of his own volition in a food truck that’s elevating dining in the City Different.

Bang Bite Filling Station
502 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico
(505) 469-2345
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 10 October 2015
COST: $$
BEST BET: Oyster Po’ Boy, French Fries, Bite Burger

Bang Bite Food Trailer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World on Southern Blvd in Rio Rancho

Nay-sayers, those nattering nabobs of negativism, have always had it in for hot dogs. First they plied us with horror stories and urban myths about what hot dogs are made of. Essentially, they decried, hot dogs are made of everything from pigs snouts and chicken feet to snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails. Then they ratcheted up our shock and awe by telling us how hot dogs are loaded with artery-clogging, cancer-causing saturated fats, not to mention those nasty nitrates and nefarious nitrites. They’ve even disparaged hot dogs as processed pink slime in a bun.

Despite all the brouhaha and rigmarole, hot dogs continue to thrive across the fruited plain as aficionados of the tantalizing tubular treats snub their noses at those who would abolish an American institution. What’s next—motherhood, apple pie, the Dallas Cowboys? Recent statistics reveal that the U.S. population consumes 20 billion hot dogs per year. That’s some 70 hot dogs per person per year (or about as many as Joey Chestnut ate in one sitting during Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest). In 2012, CNN compiled a list of America’s top fifty foods and the hot dog ranked fourth. That’s a lot of love for a beloved American icon some would deprive us of.

Nathan’s Hot Dog with Jalapeño Mustard, Onions and Relish

Unlike the humble hot dog which has been disparaged and bad-mouthed to no end, ice cream has been practically beatified. It is both loved and revered, a symbol of all that is good, wholesome and pure. Research findings from Cornell University revealed that both men and women consider ice cream one of their three favorite comfort foods (not that men will admit to it). CNN confirms this: “Think of any modern romantic comedy to come out of Hollywood; what do citizens of the United States reach for when their boyfriend leaves them for their therapist? A gun? A simple solution? Try a tub of ice cream.”

In the entirety of mankind’s history, there is only one ice cream that’s beyond contempt, a turn-off even to the most ardent aficionados. For some inexplicable reason, an ice cream brand in India bears the stern, mustachioed countenance and name of the Führer of Germany.  Sure, branding an ice cream Adolf Hitler is an exercise in the freedom of speech, but moreover, it’s a demonstration of extremely poor taste and insensitivity (and I need a shower just for mentioning it here).


Somehow nature decreed that ice cream and hot dogs become inextricably associated with one another, a sort of “saint and sinner” pairing of foods that just seem to go so well together. That’s especially true in sweltering spring and summer days when the outdoors beckon. Fortunately New Mexico averages nearly 400 days of sunshine a year so ice cream and hot dogs are a good idea any time of the year and in any season. The preternaturally delicious pairing of this dynamic duo wasn’t lost on Abrahan Montaño, an entrepreneur who in March, 2015 launched the Ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World in Rio Rancho.

Though he may be a first-time restaurant owner, Abrahan is passionate about ice cream, blending unique ingredients into rich, creamy ice cream flavors you don’t often see.  The paleterias (Mexican Popsicle and ice cream shops) he frequented during his youth were one of the inspirations for his restaurant.  The other inspiration was his grandfather Fred Reade, a familiar name in the restaurant community.  Reade owned and operated Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant on Fourth Street for more than two decades before closing shop in 1996.  Reade has become a fixture at the ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World.

Frito Pie

Although not on the menu, a visit to this Southern Boulevard gem is guaranteed fun as might be expected from a shop offering ice cream and hot dogs.  One corner of the shop is dedicated to kids and includes a number of toys which might make the geriatrically advanced among us wish we were kids, too.  The menu also bespeaks of fun.  A number of aguas frescas are at the ready to quench your thirst while Italian ice and fresh fruit paletas (Popsicles) will quell the heat.  Ice cream flavors include two sure-to-become New Mexican favorites: red chile-chocolate and green chile pistachio.

Nathan’s hot dogs are featured fare and you’ll find all your favorite toppings, too, but if you really want to live a little, try “Grama Faviola’s Fabulous Homemade Jalapeno Mustard.” It’s got almost as much personality as Grama Faviola herself. Faviola and her brother Eddie are friends of the owners and serve as the shop’s unofficial ambassadors.  Much as we love them, we can’t live on hot dogs alone.  Fortunately the shop also offers tamales and Frito pies as well as corn-on-the-cob or in a cup.

Sonoran Hot Dog

The tamales are made for the shop in Santa Fe.  Even when not blanketed by chile, they pack a pleasant piquancy and are packed with shredded, tender tendrils of pork marinated in a very flavorful chile.  These are the type of tamales you would want two (or six) per serving.  The Frito pie is also quite good, a mound of Fritos corn chips topped with ground beef, red chile, lettuce, onions, and onions.  The vegetables offer a cool contrast to the hot chile and ground beef.  The chile won’t water your eyes with heat, but it’ll make you happy.

Among the specialty hot dogs are one you couldn’t find in Albuquerque five years ago.  The Sonoran Hot Dog has made its way into New Mexico and it’s been embraced by the masses.  The Ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World offers an interesting and delicious version: a thick Nathan’s hot dog, meat candy (er…bacon), chopped tomatoes and an incendiary jalapeño mayo you can respect.  Had this hot dog been served in the traditional Sonoran bolillo style Mexican bread (resembling) a hot dog bun that hasn’t been completely split length-wise), it would have been even better.

Left: Red Chile Chocolate Ice Cream; Right: Chocolate and Vanilla

Our verdict on the red chile chocolate ice cream–if you’re not revving up your engine to head to Rio Rancho for a scoop or two, you probably didn’t read this far.  Surprisingly, this may be the most piquant dish we enjoyed during our visit.  The combination of chile and chocolate has been wowing diners since before Montezuma’s reign.  This one will definitely wow you.  So will the regular (if such a pedestrian word is appropriate) chocolate ice cream.  Then there’s the pumpkin ice cream, a true taste of autumn that’s wonderful all year long. 

The Ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World pairs two of America’s very favorite foods in a fun, friendly shop that promises to be a haven for the hungry and solace for all who need soothing comfort.

Ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World
2003 Southern Blvd., Suite 118
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
(505) 514-4598
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 3 October 2015
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Sonoran Hot Dog, Tamale, Nathan’s Hot Dog, Red Chile Chocolate Ice Cream, Frito Pie

Ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats

The sense of smell, more than any of our other senses, influences our ability to recall past events and experience. From among the five senses, fragrance is considered the most potent medium for conjuring up memories. True enough, some of the most enduring sensory memories of my years in the Boston area are reawakened thanks to the amazing aromas that greet me each time I visit Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats on San Mateo. It is with increased rarity that you find an authentic Italian deli which greets you at the door with the incomparable aroma of pastas, meatballs or sausages simmering in a perfect marriage of tomato sauce, garlic, basil and oregano.  It’s also rare to find an Italian kitchen equally practiced at preparing outstanding pasta dishes and Italian meats.

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats is then indeed an anachronism because it does capture you before the door with wafting odoriferous emanations that bid you welcome and which have a Pavlovian effect on your taste buds.  The Camuglia family–John, Jerry and Johnny–has owned and operated this memory triggering deli since 1970, in the process creating new and wonderful memories for the legions of patrons who frequent their deli.

Tully’s “dining room”

Tully’s is ensconced in a time-worn strip mall on San Mateo, but could easily pass for an Italian deli in Soprano country, upstate New Jersey or my former home outside of Boston.  Shelves are stocked with large and small cans and jars of various Italian groceries as well as domestic and imported olive oils and specialty pastas.  Prominent on those shelves are jars of Tully’s house-made marinara sauces, source of those oh-so-enticing memory enticing aromas.

A freezer showcases some of Tully’s frozen entrees such as meatballs, chicken marsala, chicken parmesan, chicken picatta and some of the city’s very best lasagna. The freezer also displays such tantalizing treasures as veal, lamb and even rabbit. It’s hard to believe that when the Camuglias assumed ownership of Tully’s, it was solely a meat market.  In its annual food and wine issue for 2011, Albuquerque The Magazine awarded Tully’s a “Hot Plate Award” as the “Hot Take Home” deli Albuquerque can’t live without.

The Italian Sausage Sub

The Italian Sausage Sub

In the spirit and tradition of many East Coast Italian delis, Tully’s also features imported and domestic meats and cheeses, showcasing Boar’s Head brand products.  Boar’s Head prides itself in artisanal meats and cheeses produced in time-honored old-world methods.  Tully’s honors those methods by making their own hot and sweet Italian sausages, all ground from 100-percent pork enhanced with traditional spices and herbs.  Sausages range from the simple to the sublime–real gourmet sausages that will enhance any meal.

Tully’s take-out business is robust and the heart of the operation, but many savvy patrons also have a filling and delicious lunch at their favorite deli before heading home with their treasures.  At the counter, they encounter a menu which just might be the envy of every sandwich shop in town, a menu featuring an array of sensational sandwiches, some named for glitterati of Italian heritage.  Who can refuse an Al Pacino (capocollo ham, Genoa salami, provolone and Italian dressing) or a Sinatra, sure to hit the right note with imported Parma prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, lettuce and tomato on a homemade roll?

Meat Ball Subs

There are eighteen sandwiches on the menu, more than half of which are available at half-sub size.  The subs which require heating are generally not available at half-sub size.  Available toppers include sliced black olives, sliced pickles, sliced banana peppers, tapenade, guacamole and bacon.  Sandwiches are about a dollar south of ten dollars and are accompanied by a cup of potato salad or a bag of potato chips.

31 December 2008: While the cold meat sandwiches entice with a siren-like call, my Boston-based beckoning is often for sub sandwiches engorged with tomato sauce and seasoning adorned meatballs or sausage, the type of sub of which I consumed by the boatload in Boston. The Italian Sausage Sub and the Meat Ball Sub call loudest.  The Sausage Sub features homemade Italian sausage “cooked in mom’s marinara sauce with melted mozzarella on a homemade roll.”  This is a humongous sandwich, easily big enough for two to share (not that you’d want to).  It’s also a messy sandwich which will redden your fingers and drip onto your clothing if you’re not careful.  Ditto for the Meat Ball Sub, six homemade meatballs nestled in a homemade sandwich roll and slathered with marinara sauce with melted mozzarella.  The meat balls are an amalgam of beef and pork with just enough filler to bind them.  They’re seasoned with garlic and oregano in just the right amount.

The Sicilian (For All You Good Sicilian Boys): Mortadella, Capocolla Ham, Domestic Prosciutto, Provolone and Italian Dressing on a homemade roll

31 December 2008: When the menu at an Italian deli reads “sausage,” you don’t always know what to expect.  In some cases, a sausage sandwich features sliced links and in others, the sausage is ground almost like hamburger.  At Tully’s, the sausage (at least on the sub) is reminiscent of breaded chicken Parmesan.  It’s semi-flat and lightly breaded, but beneath that breading and under that marinara is a well-seasoned sausage that’s flavorful, filling and fabulous.  The potato salad is flecked with red peppers and pickles and isn’t dripping in salad cream as some potato salad seems to be.  Alas, cup-size amounts to about three or four spoons full.  You’ll want more.

13 October 2012: From among the cold subs listed on both the “house specialties” and “traditional favorites” sections of the menu, one of the best is The Sicilian (for all you good Sicilian Boys).  That, by the way, is a Tully’s caption.  All sandwiches have clever captions.  The Sicilian is made with mortadella (an Italian cured sausage seasoned with pepper and garlic), capacolla ham (a pork-derived cured ham), domestic prosciutto, provolone and Italian dressing on a homemade roll.  The Italian dressing is applied generously, rendering the sandwich moist on a bread roll which absorbs it well.

The “Joe DiMaggio”

23 September 2015: In Simon & Garfunkle’s 1968 number one hit Mrs Robinson, the American folk rock duo asked the puissant question “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?”  The lyrics both perplexed and bothered The Yankee Clipper until a chance meeting with Paul Simon.  Simon explained the lyrics were sincerely intended as flattery and essentially were intended to ask “where have all the heroes gone.”  A better answer to the question might be “Joe DiMaggio is alive, well and delicious at Tully’s.” 

The Joe DiMaggio is an Italian sub described by my friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate, as “the absolute best Italian Sub I have ever had.”  A spry septuagenarian with the youthful vigor of a twenty-something, Larry knows a thing or a million about subs.  So do I.  This is an outstanding mountain of a sandwich (pastrami, ham, Genoa salami, Provolone, black olives, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and Italian dressing stacked on a whole or half sub roll).  The designer of this delicious deli sandwich deserves a raise.  It’s not enough that the Joe DiMaggio is packed with ingredients.  Those ingredients go together as well as milk and cookies or chocolate and…chocolate.

31 December 2008: On lazy days when you don’t want to cook or perhaps when you want to spoil yourself, let pasta pamper you.  Pick up a lasagna from Tully’s freezer.  It’s layers and layers of pasta sandwiching pork and beef all slathered with marinara sauce and topped with two melted cheeses and several complementary spices.  This is lasagna the way it’s made in some Boston area restaurants, those specializing in red meat sauces.  It’s lasagna which imbues your kitchen with those memory inducing aromas you’ll treasure. 

There are few things in life more satisfying than a sandwich at Tully’s, but it’s possible to improve on your Tully’s experience by walking a few feet south to Saratori’s Di Tully, an Italian pastry shop that will remind East Coast transplants of Italian pastry shops in New York.

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats
1425-A San Mateo, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 255-5370
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 23 September 2015
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Lasagna, Sausage Sub, Potato Salad, The Sicilian, Meat Ball Sub, The Joe DiMaggio

Tully's Italian Deli & Meats on Urbanspoon