Gil's Thrilling (And Filling) Blog

Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico's Sesquipedalian Sybarite. 887 Restaurant Reviews, More Than 7200 Visitor Comments…And Counting!

Mad Max’s BBQ – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Mad Max BBQ - the best in New Mexico

Mad Max BBQ - the best in New Mexico

NOTE:  In March, 2010, Max and Fran Montano entered into a lease to buy agreement with an enthusiastic owner who continued to use the recipes which made Mad Max’s the very best barbecue in the Albuquerque area.  By September, 2010 the restaurant was closed.  Max and Fran will continue competing in competitions throughout the region and will also cater events.  They will be missed as much for their warmth and great humor as for their outstanding barbecue.

Since the discovery of fire, man has viewed his domain as the great outdoors. The outdoors is from where man brought home the day’s victuals for early woman to prepare.  As the centuries progressed, descendents of troglodytic man (many of whom haven’t evolved much) have perceived cooking as a feminine affectation, taunting any other man who deigned to acquire culinary skills.

In 1952, George Stephen invented the original Weber kettle grill and with his innovative design, sparked a backyard revolution that transformed man. As a result of the Weber grill, the XY chromosome complement was no longer a handicap (or more accurately, an excuse) for men throughout the world when it came to preparing meals for their families. With Stephen’s invention, grilling outdoors was seen by man as an extension of his manly domain. Not surprisingly, man didn’t consider cooking outdoors as a liberating way to explore a “feminine side” he long denied.

Mad Max (at left) and his smoker. Brother-in-law Joe at right.

Today, backyard grilling is an year-round phenomenon plied by men attired with aprons emblazoned with the words “Kiss the Chef” and wielding the tools (which, in the kitchen would be called utensils) of their backyard domain. “Real” men still see cooking as woman’s work. Grilling is another matter. Man rationalizes that since the dawn of time, only he has had domain over fire while outdoors. The Weber grill made it possible for men lacking in any culinary skill (unless you consider eating a culinary skill) whatsoever to prepare edible–even tasty grilled food.

By nature competitive, man needed an arena in which he can display his mastery of the flame. That’s how competitive barbecue came about. Today, there are more than 130 sanctioned barbecue competitions across the fruited plain.

In competition barbecue, contestants (and not necessarily all testosterone-laden) vie for prize money sometimes reaching into thousands of dollars. Competitors prepare one or more item–beef brisket, pork ribs, chicken, sausage and sauces–to be judged on a variety of criteria.

Some of the many trophies and ribbons earned by Mad Max's barbecue

Some of the many trophies and ribbons earned by Mad Max's barbecue

Barbecue competition usually includes entertainment and sometimes fireworks, midway carnivals, beverage tents and a host of other family-friendly events. Competitions are generally a Chamber of Commerce dream, bringing barbecue fanatics, competitors and their money from miles around.

Since 2004, Rio Rancho has hosted the New Mexico Pork & Brew barbecue state championship, an event sanctioned by the prestigious Kansas City Barbecue Society whose mission it is to “celebrate, teach, preserve and promote barbecue as a culinary technique, sport and art form.”

The Pork & Brew event has truly brought outstanding barbecue to New Mexico. I know what you’re thinking–outstanding barbecue in New Mexico is an oxymoron. It’s almost as rare as say, green chile stew in Maine and clam bakes in Montana.

Mad Max's BBQ is portable

Mad Max's BBQ is portable

With but a handful of exceptions (Sugar’s, Josh’s and Powdrell’s) I thought so, too, until partaking of the sensational smoky meats at the Pork & Brew competition. Now I’m an unabashed shill for this annual event where, at least once a year, it’s possible to partake of porcine perfection, lip-smacking beef, mouth-watering chicken, delectable sausage–all imbued with flavors generated by low and slow smoke under the watchful eyes of fire masters.

Maybe it’s the combination of hot sun, long queues and the olfactory-arousing aromas with their irresistible siren’s call, but I truly believe the barbecue served during competition is unrivaled. No barbecue restaurant can hope to approach the outdoors experience and none can match the quality of outstanding competition barbecue.

Like most of the weekend warrior competitors at barbecue competitions, Corrales resident Max Montano “cut his teeth” in his back yard with his very own Weber grill. Family and guests fortunate enough to be invited to one of his backyard barbecues encouraged him to enter the competitive barbecue circuit, so proficient is his prowess at the pit.

The very best barbecue pork sandwich in New Mexico

The very best barbecue pork sandwich in New Mexico

Two years of competitive barbecue has validated the opinion of everyone familiar with Max’s culinary skills. He’s placed at every competition he’s entered, in most cases in several categories. Some seasoned veterans go years without ever placing while Max totes trophies and ribbons home every time, including from Rio Rancho’s Pork & Brew.

With the sobriquet “Mad Max” on his portable competition smoker, he took it a step beyond competition barbecue in February, 2008 when he launched Mad Max’s BBQ in Rio Rancho.

Because of requisite city inspections Max had to wait more than a month before taking his business indoors into the tiny, time-worn building that previously housed Cazuela’s Mexican Grill. He moved indoors on March 20th, 2008 after passing the white-glove going-over from the fire marshal’s office.

Barbecue brisket sandwich with baked beans

Two orders of baked beans and a barbecue sandwich

In the interim, he plied his business outdoors using a concession trailer which he parked in front of the building destined to be his restaurant. His portable competition smoker was stationed next to the trailer.

My inaugural visit to Mad Max’s came on the day before he got the fire marshal’s blessing to open. I was blown away. It was immediately obvious why he is earning awards in barbecue competitions. Mad Max knows barbecue!

Now, it’s one thing to prepare out-of-this-world barbecue outdoors. It’s another to bring that smoke-imbued greatness indoors. Several winners of the world barbecue championships in Memphis, Tennessee have launched restaurants in which their barbecue just isn’t as good as the ‘cue they prepare during competition when they baby-sit their smoke all night long.

Mad Max's plate with two meats (brisket and hot link)

A two meat platter with two sides of baked beans

My second visit to Mad Max’s transpired a day after my first, the result of not being able to get the great taste of his barbecue out of my mind. This visit was on the day the fire marshal cleared the way for Max to move his business indoors. It would be a good test as to whether or not Max’s barbecue could pass muster indoors. It does–and then some! This is the Albuquerque metropolitan area barbecue restaurant I’ve been waiting for as evidenced by four visits during its first two weeks in business.

Now that he’s finally indoors, Max will tell you that the restaurant is his wife’s domain. He’ll joke that it’s got his name on it because “Mad Fran” just doesn’t sound right. He also kids that Fran won’t share the recipe for the restaurant’s sauce, but only he knows the formula for the eight secret ingredient rub.

Max’s indoor smoker (pictured above left) is well-seasoned. It’s got the type of aroma you might want to bottle and sell to men like me who would use it in lieu of aftershave. Lucky the meats that enter this smoker!

A delicious fried appetizer at Mad Max's

Aside from making the smoke do his bidding, one of the secrets to Max’s barbecue is his eight ingredient rub. The flavors it imparts coalesce beautifully with the light and fragrant smoke generated by apple and fruit woods. The smoke is subtle and sweet, wholly unlike the astringent smoke you might find in barbecue in which mesquite or even hickory are used.

The sauce is also wonderful and you’ll applaud the fact that it’s served in small plastic containers instead of being slathered on thickly like a couple of local barbecue restaurant favorites do (perhaps to mask the flavor of inferior smoking). Max’s, or rather, Fran’s sauce, is more sweet than it is tangy and it also packs just a hint of piquancy. It’s somewhere between thick and thin and it’s terrific.

So, too, is the barbecue. Smoked sandwiches (your choice of pork, brisket, sausage or carne adovada) are served on a bolillo bread roll. Each sandwich is engorged with deliciousness, almost enough meat to make a second sandwich altogether.

Carne Adovada on a bolillo roll

Carne Adovada sandwich with coleslaw

There is no competition barbecue category specifically for smoked carne adovada, but Max’s carne adovada has earned awards in the “anything else” category. It’s a winner! The carne is moist and redolent with just a hint of smoke. It’s shredded into tender pieces and is slathered with pure, unadulterated New Mexican red chile with nary a hint of cumin. This is terrific carne adovada and it makes a great sandwich option.

Mad Max’s brisket sandwich will also imprint itself on your taste buds. It will make them very happy. This brisket isn’t sliced; it’s shredded into long, tender strands of beauteous beef. A handful of a sandwich, it serves as a wonderful canvas for Fran’s terrific barbecue sauce, but with or without sauce, it’s an excellent sandwich.

If you’re not in the mood for sandwiches, try a two-meat Mad Max’s plate with at least a couple of sides. It’s comes with about a pound of meat.

Mad Max's tacos

Mad Max's tacos

The shredded pork is reminiscent of the pork once proffered at the long defunct Johnny Ray’s which I consider the very best barbecue I’ve had in New Mexico. The brisket is sliced thin. It is tender and has the discernable smoke ring aficionados salute.

Other meat options include smoky adovada, beef sausage, hot link or chicken thighs. The sausage and hot link are long and thick with the hot link packing much more punch and flavor.

Unlike some barbecue restaurants, Max actually serves worthy accompaniment to his meat offerings. He offers several sides–baked beans, a German potato salad and coleslaw–and all are wonderful.

Flat enchiladas with smoked carne adovada

Flat enchiladas with smoked carne adovada

The baked beans are without a doubt the best in the Duke City area. They’re the type of beans you could eat by the plateful with just the right amount of sweetness ameliorated with brisket and a hint of chile. They’re the type of beans I order two portions of.

Lest I forget, Mad Max’s menu also includes several New Mexican entrees including flat enchiladas, tacos and quesadillas.  Country-fried steak and country-fried chicken are also available.  The enchiladas are served Northern New Mexican style which means flat and stacked (pictured above).  Stacked means engorged with layers of smoked carne adovada and topped with an excellent, rich red chile.  If Mad Max’s focused solely on New Mexican food, it would be one of the very best New Mexican restaurants in the Albuquerque area.

The handheld burrito with smoked carne adovada, hash browns, eggs and cheese could well be the very best in the metropolitan area. It’s a wonder the tortilla can hold all the ingredients, so generously are they stuffed. Breakfast is served from 6:30AM through 11AM. These burritos make it worth getting up.

Three rib dinner at Max's

Three rib dinner at Max's

No ordinary tacos are Max’s tacos which smart diners will order by the twelve pack. Though I would prefer soft tortillas to the crispy hard-shells, when those shells are engorged with carne adovada, beef brisket and shredded pork topped with lettuce and shredded cheese, you’ve got some of the best tacos around. Either or both salsa and barbecue sauce work equally well. An order of tacos includes a bowl of green chile invigorated beans and rice.

Two dessert options will provide you with a day’s worth of calories. Grandma Bea’s world famous deep fried cheesecake isn’t accompanied by an angioplasty, but maybe it should be.

Caloric overachievers might also opt for the curiously named Fran’s pickled piggy cake, a decadent masterpiece almost as tall as a cake plate is wide. It is a rich and delicious three-layer beauty replete with Mandarin oranges, pineapple and other mouth-watering ingredients. It will make a piggy out of you.

Fran's Pickled Piggy Cake

Fran's Pickled Piggy Cake

Barbecue skeptics who question why I would rate Mad Max’s above other well-established and very popular barbecue restaurants might be assuaged somewhat by a review published on the Alibi by Maren Tarro, a virtuoso of vocabulary. Maren spent many a year in Kansas City, one of America’s bastions of barbecue. She knows her stuff and she really liked Mad Max’s. Her credibility, when it comes to barbecue, is impeccable. So there…

If it’s true that there’s a fine line between madness and genius, Mad Max straddles toward the genius side. His barbecue is phenomenal! Now that he’s moved indoors, he’s able to expand his menu to offer St. Louis style ribs and other entrees. You might not even miss the outdoor dining experience because in Mad Max’s BBQ, there’s outdoor-quality, competition-certified barbecue indoors.

Mad Max’s BBQ
1600 Sara Road
Rio Rancho, NM
LATEST VISIT: 27 August 2009
BEST BET: Handheld Burrito (Carne Adovada, Hash Browns, Cheese); Smoked Carne Adovada Sandwich; Smoked Brisket Sandwich; Combination Platter (Pork, Brisket, Sausage); Baked Beans; Coleslaw; Fran’s Pickled Piggy Cake

Mad Max’s BBQ on Urbanspoon

Pho #1 – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Pho #1 where beef is number one seven times over!

Pho #1 Vietnamese Grill, home of the seven courses of beef

Beef.  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my pho spoon can reach. Okay, I’m no Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but if I were to count the ways I love beef, the count might stop at seven–as in the special seven courses of beef offered at Pho #1, yet another outstanding Vietnamese restaurant in the Duke City.

Launched in 2004, Pho #1 may well be on its way to earning its name. The seven courses of beef is one–make that seven–reasons why.  Other reasons include a stellar rendition of the name on the marquee; the restaurant’s pho has earned a reputation as among the city’s very best in a city that has embraced pho.

In a “Chow Down in Burque Town” forum entitled “Best Vietnamese Restaurant in Town” on the omnibus Duke City Fix, Albuquerque’s pho-fanatics weighed in on their favorites.  One of the most frequently mentioned was Pho #1.  Common reasons given were the large number of local Vietnamese families who eat there, the “to die for”soups and the genuinely nice family who owns and runs the restaurant.

Malodorous but delicious--a Durian Shake

Malodorous but delicious--a Durian Shake

With more than one-hundred items on the menu, not including the seven courses of beef, Pho #1 offers a veritable compendium of Vietnamese food favorites including a large selection of pho bo (beef noodle soup).  Pho is the classic Vietnamese fast food, served in a large soup bowl with fresh rice noodles topped with your choice of beef slices (rare steak, well-done flank, brisket, tendon, tripe, skirt flank and beef ball) then sprinkled with chopped green onion, cilantro leaves and sliced onion.  Each bowl is accompanied by a plate of bean sprouts, sliced jalapenos, lime and basil.

Pho #1 specializes in beef noodle soup, the menu referring to it as “the adventurer’s choice” because of the near limitless flavor combinations in which it is available.  A small bowl of pho is the size of a wading pool, a large bowl the size of a swimming pool.  For a pittance, you can even upsize to an “extra large” bowl which is virtually the size of a pond.  It’s common at Pho #1 to enjoy an asynchronous symphony of slurping, the audible inhalation of noodles being heartily enjoyed by entire families, each member partaking of a different size bowl of pho (similar to the A&W restaurant of old concept of Papa, Mama, Teen and Child burgers).

Pho is believed to have salubrious qualities, but as a cold and flu remedy, nature’s very best soup is chicken noodle soup.  A prominent pulmonary specialist at the UCLA School for Medicine and his team of researchers have concluded that chicken soup contains drug-like agents similar to those in modern cold medicines.  Healthful to be sure, but you can’t discount the sheer pleasure of the deliciousness of a good chicken noodle soup.  Pho #1’s rendition is among the very best in the city; it’s no wonder Pho #1 is such a popular dining destination during cold and flu season.

Sate Beef Noodle Soup

Sate Beef Noodle Soup

One of the more popular phos is the #38, the saté beef noodle soup which originates in the Mekong Delta in the extreme Southwest part of Vietnam.  Saté is a roasted chili paste made with garlic, shrimp paste, shallots and other sundry ingredients.  Saté imparts a heartiness and spiciness to the broth and a fragrance that titillates the olfactory senses.  Floating atop the broth are cucumber and tomato slices which are softened by the heat of the broth and impregnated with its rich flavors.  The noodles are thin rice noodles almost too long to wrap your fork around so you’ll be well practiced in the art of slurping by meal’s end.  This is an excellent pho.

Lest I leave you with the impression that sensational soups and the aforementioned seven courses of beef are Pho #1’s sole claim to excellence, fewer than a quarter of the more than one hundred items on the menu are soup.  The menu includes a nice selection of rice dishes served with Jasmine rice, vermicelli bowls and chicken and beef entrees as well as several chef’s specials.  One thing I’ve discovered about Vietnamese menus is that they don’t aptly describe the deliciousness of the item you order.  That’s best left to gourmet high-end restaurants whose colorful descriptions don’t always measure up.

The menu doesn’t so much describe each entree as it does name it.  For example, #78 on the menu is listed simply as “stir-fried soft or crispy egg noodles with beef, chicken or seafood.”  That’s hardly inspirational, but one bite and you will be inspired.  My Kim has a passion for crispy egg noodles which are reconstituted in a sweet and savory brown sauce and topped with vegetables.  She’s had this entree at every Vietnamese restaurant in town which offers it and considers Pho #1’s rendition the very best in Albuquerque.  I’m inclined to agree.  The flat egg noodles are delicious in both their crispy or reconstituted versions and the sauce is simply fabulous.  It’s more sweet than savory, but with a pronounced hint of garlic.  The vegetables are perfectly prepared, just beyond the al dente stage so that they have a fresh and crispy texture and flavor.

Stir-fried crispy egg noodle with beef and onion

Stir-fried crispy egg noodle with beef and onion

Several years ago, the Beef Council hired deep-voiced actor Robert Mitchum, a paragon of manliness, to voice over its commercials with its slogan “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner.”  In Vietnam, seven courses of beef are what’s for wedding feasts.  Not so in Albuquerque where two Vietnamese restaurants–Pho #1 and Pho Linh–make seven a lucky number every day of the week by offering seven delicious courses of beef.

Before your first course is served, a bowl of uniquely wonderful fish sauce is brought to your table, but unlike the semi-clear fish sauce served elsewhere, Pho #1’s is a brackish brown with a pronounced peanut taste and includes julienne carrots, jicama and chile. It’s the fish sauce preferred by Asians (at heart) like me.

Next to your table is a large bowl of greens which includes jalapenos, mint, thinly sliced green apples, lettuce leaves, cucumbers and vermicelli noodles. A bowl of hot water and several spring roll wrappers accompanies the greens along with a “not yet” warning from the wait staff.

Loaf Leaf Wrapped Beef

Loaf Leaf Wrapped Beef

The first two courses you can actually consume are foreplay for your taste buds: grilled Hawaiian loaf leaf beef (pictured above) and grilled beef wrapped with pickle onion. Both have the consistency and look of sausage links but with unique taste combinations of sweet, spicy and slightly tart that will heighten your anticipation for the next courses.

The next two courses–fondue-style beef and sliced beef marinated in lemongrass and spices–are prepared at your table. A nimble fingered waitress will then teach you to craft spring rolls with the aforementioned greens, spring roll wrappers and the thinly sliced beef. You might never have better spring rolls and even if they fall apart on your hands, the residual aromas will linger pleasantly on your hands and on your olfactory memories.

The fifth course features razor thin slices of raw tenderloin and onion tossed with lime, crushed peanuts and basil. It may have been my favorite of the seven courses–even without drenching it in fish sauce–and is very similar to the beef Capriccio served at the incomparable Cyclo in Chandler, Arizona.

The sixth course is a steamed beef paste/meatball mixed with glass noodle and spices. The glass noodle has the consistency and look of a white pork rind but with a far superior taste while the beef paste/meatball will blow you away. It’s not the most attractive looking beef you’ll ever see, but beyond its lack of esthetics, it is a fabulous beef mound.

The last course, beef congee, is reminiscent of a the New Mexican entree arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) both in taste and consistency. It is our least favorite of the seven courses, but was still a wonderful way to end a meal.  It’s especially warming in the winter or on a rainy day.

Naturally you’ll want to wash down a delicious meal at Pho #1 with one of the restaurant’s outstanding shakes: avocado, jackfruit, green bean (yes, that’s green bean), pineapple, strawberry and durian, my favorite.  Durian, the world’s stinkiest fruit somehow makes for an outstanding shake.

Albuquerque is blessed to have several outstanding Vietnamese restaurants.  It’s disputable which one really is number one in the hearts, minds and appetites of Duke City diners, but one thing’s for sure–trying to figure out which one reigns supreme is a delicious adventure.

Pho #1
414 San Pedro, S.E.
Albuquerque, NM

LATEST VISIT: 16 August 2009
COST: $$
BEST BET: Special Seven Courses of Beef, Durian Shake, Pineapple Shake, Stir-fried crispy egg noddle with beef and onion, Sate Beef Noodle Soup

Pho #1 on Urbanspoon

Village Grill – Moriarty, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Village Grill in Moriarty

Village Grill in Moriarty

Since the mid 1920s, New Yorker magazine has been providing insightful commentary on popular American culture in all its star-spangled idiosyncrasies.  One of its most popular features in the 1970s  was the “American Journal” written by the inimitable Calvin Trillin who traversed the continent in search of where real people ate.  The “Walt Whitman of American eats” chronicled his dining experiences with the same enthusiasm with which he ate the native cuisines most appreciated by locals.  Peppering his reviews with humor, he culled a reputation as one of America’s best food writers.

Trillin was adamant that America’s most glorious food was not the culinary fare proffered at the uppity upscale restaurants he cynically referred to generically as “La Maison de la Casa House, Continental Cuisine.”  Eschewing the trendy restaurants where “everything is served on a bed of something else,” he instead preferred the simplicity and authenticity of local specialties–posole in Santa Fe,  boudin in Louisiana, pumpernickel bagels in New York City and especially barbecue in Kansas City.

Kansas City was also home to Trillin’s favorite burger, a declaration he made in 1970 in Life magazine about Winstead’s, a burger emporium he said served the best hamburgers in the world.  A Kansas City native, he also pronounced that “anybody who doesn’t think the best hamburger in the world is in his hometown is a sissy.”  To its detractors, perhaps this is one explanation for Lota Burger’s popularity.

Judy owns the Village Grill in Moriarty

Judy owns the Village Grill in Moriarty

There’s no way you can ever call someone a sissy who smokes all his own meat and makes his own rubs and sauces, but Ryan Scott affirms that he’s not a sissy by Trillin’s criteria in declaring the hamburgers at the Village Grill in his hometown of Moriarty “the best I have ever had–and yes I have eaten at Bobcat Bite and other better known places.”   Better than Bobcat Bite!  I have friends who would call that audacious claim “fighting words.”

When I asked Ryan what made these burgers so special, he informed me that they are “hand-pounded and hand-formed daily.  There is a “toppings” bar and all the toppings are made fresh daily.  The owner is named Judy and she looks and cooks like your grandmother, and she consistently makes high quality burgers.  It’s simple food cooked the best way she knows how.  I’ve had nearly everything on the menu but the burgers shine the brightest.

The Village Grill sits on historic Route 66, the Mother Road which parallels I-40 through Moriarty, a ranch and farm community which celebrates America’s highway.  While the city has its share of the spangled neon signage so prevalent on Route 66, the Village Grill is almost entirely antithetical of the inviting luminescence which characterized the Mother Road.  That doesn’t mean the Village Grill looks out-of-place.  In fact, it looks as if it’s been there since the halcyon days of Route 66, albeit with a couple of facelifts.

The burger fixings bar

The burger fixings bar

The Village Grill opened on April 5, 2001 in an edifice which previously housed Chubby’s Restaurant which was built in 1988, so it’s a relatively new restaurant by Route 66 standards.  Though a novitiate in terms of chronology, the restaurant embodies the spirit of restaurants on Route 66 which characteristically served great food to weary travelers.

Judy McDonald is the Village Grill’s third owner, who does indeed look and cook like a grandmother (albeit a very young and spry grandmother).  She’s got that thick accent–make that drawl–a lot of New Mexicans east of Albuquerque pull off so well.  That would be people like New Mexico state attorney general Gary King whom we met at the restaurant during our inaugural visit.  Gary, like his father, former governor Bruce King and like our hostess Judy, has an endearing homespun charm and easy manner that gives one pause to ponder if life 37 miles east of the Big I inspires such affability.

The restaurant is, as Ryan Scott described it, a proverbial “hole in the wall.”  From the outside, the flax-colored structure has a beckoning feel to it.  Inside the most prominent color is a powder blue shade which covers most of the restaurant’s walls.  Festooned on those walls are framed photographs taken by Judy’s husband as well as glossy photographs of Hollywood luminaries.  The former are the type of photographs us amateurs wish we had the imagination and talent to capture.

Green chile cheeseburger at the Village Grill in Moriarty

Green chile cheeseburger at the Village Grill in Moriarty

Literally the first thing you see as you walk in is a counter separated by a soft-drink dispensing apparatus into “pick up” and “order” sections.  Above the counter is the menu, not a long menu by most restaurant standards, but a menu that packs them in.  A fellow diner and Moriarty resident told us the Village Grill is the most popular place in town Monday through Friday with lines out the door.

What the locals order most are burgers,  These are big burgers in which the beef extends beyond the buns.  It’s the type of beef that makes for the best burgers–hand-formed and nicely seasoned.  The buns are lightly toasted and the fixings bar is generous: two types of dill pickles, red and white onion, tomato, ketchup, mustard, pepperonici and more.  At the Village Grill you can truly have your burger your way.

My way is a green chile cheeseburger, the most popular sandwich in the Land of Enchantment.  Melted Cheddar cheese drapes over the beef and is covered by roasted green and red chile chopped finely.  Though the green chile has a nice flavor, it lacks the piquancy appreciated by food masochists like me who believe pain is a flavor.  Still, it’s easy to understand Ryan’s hometown pride in this excellent green chile cheeseburger.

Hamburger with French fries and onion rings at the Village Grill

Hamburger with French fries and onion rings at the Village Grill

A standard hamburger (sans cheese and green chile) is a better way to gauge how good the beef is–and how good a burger can be.  A little mustard, white onions and ketchup and you’ve got burger Nirvana.

All American accompaniment for the burgers can be found in the form of onion rings, French fries, potato salad and coleslaw.  The coleslaw is sweet and light on the salad cream which allows the crisp cabbage to shine.  The onion rings are crisp and sweet.

The Village Grill has a hamburger locals undoubtedly consider the very best in the world.  Moriarty has no place in it for sissies.

The Village Grill
136 Route 66 E
Moriarty, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 15 August 2009
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Green Chile Cheeseburger, Hamburger

Village Grill on Urbanspoon