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New Mexico Beef Jerky Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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New Mexico Beef Jerky Company on Fourth

The internet is replete with compilations abounding in truth and humor entitled “You know you’re from New Mexico when…”  Perhaps most resonating in factuality are the items which depict just how much New Mexicans value their culinary traditions.  For example, you know you’re from New Mexico when: your favorite breakfast meat is sliced fried bologna; you buy green chile by the bushel and red chile by the gallon; most restaurants you go to begin with ‘El’ or ‘Los’; you have an extra freezer just for green chile; you think Sadie’s was better when it was in a bowling alley; and you can order your Big Mac with green chile.

Even if you’ve lived in the Land of Enchantment for only a short time, several items on that short list will ring with veracity for you. If you’re a lifelong resident, however, the list may get your dander up a bit because, conspicuous by their absence, are sacrosanct New Mexican foods and culinary traditions we treasure. We would add to the list, you know you’re from New Mexico when: your trail mix consists of pinon and carne seca and instead of popcorn, your home movie nights consist of eating chicharrones in front of the television.

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The comfy, cozy interior of NM Beef Jerky Company

You also know you’re from New Mexico if you can drive down the street and pass several stores selling carne seca. New Mexicans have always had an affinity for carne seca whose literal translation is “dried beef” but for which a more accurate description would be “dehydrated beef.” Spanish conquistadores and settlers learned the process for making carne seca from indigenous peoples, quickly discerning the value of preserving and ease of transporting dehydrated meats as they set off on their conquests. When they settled down and raised cattle for their families, they retained their carne seca preparation traditions. Years of preparing it had taught them that beyond its practicality, carne seca is an addictively delicious meat treat.

Frank Chavez and his family have been provisioning New Mexicans with high-quality, delicious carne seca for three decades, proffering some thirteen flavors. The carne seca is hung and dried in a controlled environment until the desired texture is achieved. The thin strips of dehydrated beef are then marinated in such ingredients as Hatch red and green chile with no additives or preservatives. Any triskaidekaphobia you might have will dissipate when you feast your eyes and wrap your lips around any of the thirteen flavors: original (salt only), peppered (salt and pepper), green chile, red chile, tangy teriyaki, extra hot teriyaki, lemon peppered, old-fashioned, garlic, extra hot Habanero, hot chile con limon and Christmas (red and green chile).

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Taco Burgers

27 November 2013: Texturally, the carne seca is absolutely perfect.  That means it snaps when you bite into it or break apart a piece.  It isn’t stringy in the least and is lean and super delicious.  The chile con limon is not to be missed.  Chile con limon is a very popular Mexican spice mix combining chile spices, salt, lemon and lime to impart an addictive piquant-tangy-citrusy flavor.  The heat is real.  So is the citrusy flavor.  Other early favorites include the extra hot teriyaki and the garlic, but that’s likely to change with future visits and more sampling.

Chavez, an Albuquerque native who grew up in the area around Central and Atrisco, realizes that New Mexican’s can’t live on carne seca alone. When he launched his second instantiation of the New Mexico Beef Jerky Company, he diversified its offerings by selling chicharrones, too…and if there’s anything New Mexicans love as much as carne seca, it’s chicharrones. We also love hot and spicy New Mexico Quality (the store brand) red chile chips so Chavez makes the very best, created with the same high standards as other products in the store.

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Carne Adovada Burrito

Several months after launching his second store (1900 Fourth Street, N.W.), Chavez once again listened to his customers (a novel concept more restaurateurs should embrace) who were clamoring for more. He expanded the menu beyond carne seca, chicharonnes and red chile chips, restructuring the store to include several tables for eat-in dining. One of the first to visit after the menu expansion was Rudy Vigil, the Sandia savant who’s led me to some great restaurants. Rudy endorsed the burritos at the New Mexico Beef Jerky Company with the same enthusiasm he has for the University of New Mexico Lobos.

The limited menu befits the store’s diminutive digs.  Four breakfast burritos (served all day long), five lunch burritos, burgers (tortilla or bun) and taco burgers make up the standard menu, but savvy diners will quickly pick up on the fact that they can also order chicharrones in half or full-pound sizes.  Even better, they can indulge in a chicharrones plate which comes with two tortillas and four ounces of chile for a half-pound portion.  Order a full pound of chicharrones and you’ll double the number of tortillas and chile portion size if you order the full pound.  You’ll also double your enjoyment.

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Chicharonnes Burrito with Green Chile

1 November 2013: Order the taco burgers as an appetizer to begin your experience in New Mexico Beef Jerky Company deliciousness. The taco burgers are simple in their construction: a hard-shell corn tortilla, a hamburger-style beef patty, lettuce and your choice of red or green chile (or both). More tacos should be made with hamburger patties. Texturally, hamburgers have an advantage in that they don’t fall off the taco shell. Hamburger patties are also superior in flavor to fried ground beef. The real kicker, literally and figuratively, is the green chile which bites back with a vengeance. It’s an excellent chile, some of the best in town.

1 November 2013: The carne adovada burrito is so good, it’s easy to imagine yourself having one for breakfast and one for lunch two or seven times a week.  The breakfast version is made with carne adovada, eggs, cheese and potatoes while the lunch version omits the eggs (though as previously noted, breakfast burritos are available all day long).  The carne adovada is outstanding with tender tendrils of porcine perfection marinated in a rich, piquant red chile made from chile pods.  Burritos are generously engorged, easily twice as thick as most hand-held burritos.  They’re easily affordable and will fill you up.  My adovada adoring friend Ruben lovese these!

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Chicharonnes

1 November 2013: By most measures, the carne adovada burrito would be the best burrito at most restaurants’ burrito line-up, but it may not even be the best burrito at the New Mexico Beef Jerky Company. That honor probably belongs to the chicharrones burrito (with beans and chile), the only possible way in which chicharrones could be improved. The chicharrones are exemplars of crackling pork. They’re crispy, crunchy and redolent with porcine goodness. This burrito is tailor-made for green chile, an R-rated variety in that it may be unsuitable (too piquant) for some children, adults who don’t have an asbestos-lined mouth and Texans. This is chile the way New Mexicans have been preparing it for generations, not dumbed down for tourist tastes.

As a cautionary note, if you get there late in the day, say after 3:30, the New Mexico Beef Jerky Company may have run out of chicharrones.  Fresh batches are made daily and if you’re fortunate enough to arrive shortly after a fresh batch is ready, you’re in for a treat.  Few things are as wonderful as freshly made chicharrones hot enough to burn your tongue.  Before day’s end, the freshly ground beef from which burgers are constructed may also be gone.

Green Chile Cheeseburger with New Mexico Quality Chips

Green Chile Cheeseburger with New Mexico Quality Red Chile Chips

27 November 2013: The ground beef for the burgers comes from the same beef used to create the old-fashioned carne seca. Each beef patty is hand-formed and prepared at about medium-well then topped with mustard and onions. Green chile (a must-have) and cheese are optional. As a green chile cheeseburger, the emphasis here is on chile as in plenty of piquancy. If you’ve ever lamented not being able to discern any chile on your green chile cheeseburger, this is a burger for you. The chile is not only piquant, it’s got a nice flavor. The beef patty exceeds the circumference of the bun and is thick, probably a good eight ounces of delicious, rich beef. Burgers are served with New Mexico Quality red chile chips.

Chile con Limon Flavored Carne Seca

Chile con Limon Flavored Carne Seca

The New Mexico Beef Jerky Company may be Lilliputian compared to those impersonal mega restaurants, but when it comes to service, the big boys can learn a thing or two from Frank Chavez and his crew. By the time our taco burgers were delivered to our table Frank had already secured our unending loyalty with a generous sample of chicharrones. For “dessert” he brought us chicharrones in red chile and samples of the beef jerky.  He had us at chicharrones.  We’ll be back again and again.

New Mexico Beef Jerky Company
1900 Fourth Street, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 242-6121
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 27 November 2013
1st VISIT: 1 November 2013
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 23
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Chicharrones, Chicharrones Burrito, Carne Adovada Burrito, Taco Burger, Beef Jerky, Green Chile Cheeseburger, New Mexico Quality Red Chile Chips


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  • Ruben says:

    Great review, Gil. I’m going there for lunch today. Thank you.

    November 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM
  • Chicharone Burrito?!?! I am so there!!! says:

    I can’t wait to try this place. I have been unable to find a hand-held (i.e., not from a sit-down restaurant) chicarone burrito that gets me excited. In order to get my fix, I usually have to resort to getting a side of chicharonnes and red chile from Mary & Titos with a tortilla and make my own.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:37 PM
  • Michael says:

    I always thought that there was nothing better than a home cooked meal, but i was wrong New Mexico Beef Jerky Co. is just as good. The food is amazing, but what really makes this place what it is, is the hospitality you receive the moment you walk in. “thanks Frank for a wonderful experience”

    November 9, 2013 at 10:33 AM
  • Lucinda says:

    Best beef jerky ever! Long time customer who didn’t believe things could get any better but Frank has out done himself by serving the most delicious burritos. If you love meat, this is the place to go! I also agree with the other comments regarding the hospitality not only from Frank and his crew but from Frank’s beautiful wife and kids!

    November 9, 2013 at 3:59 PM
  • Ruben says:

    Gil, you called it correctly. I had a carne adovada burrito there on Friday. It was so good. I’m definitely heading back there soon. I also picked up some of their chile & limon beef jerky – it was also very good, but be prepared for some serious heat.

    November 10, 2013 at 11:19 PM
  • Foodie Star says:

    What a nice surprise! I had a chicharone burrito with red and taco burgers. Both were great. The perfect ratio of beans and chicharones. I also picked up some red chile beef jerky – also excellent. The gave me a taste of their carne adovada. It really melts in your mouth! Very good flavor. My only regret was that they did not offer any diet soda. This will be a regular place for me from now on – it’s close to where I work.

    November 15, 2013 at 2:25 PM
  • Had the chicharone burrito... says:

    OK, I guess I should say I had two (gotta try a red and a green, right?). Great burrito. My only “complaint” is that the green had more chicharones in it than the red, which could have used a few more. Other than that, service was great, food was great.

    Had a taste of the wife’s carne adobada, and it was pretty darn good. Got 1/2 lb of the green chile carne seca. MMM, I love carne seca that has been hung on the percha as opposed to laying flat in a dehydrator. I should have tried samples of the others (red and habanero intrigue me, but that is why you go back more times, right?).

    All in a all, a very enthusiastic thumbs up for this great little restaurant! Can’t wait to try the taco burgers…

    November 22, 2013 at 4:59 PM
  • Kelly says:

    Frank has to be one of BEST business owners Ive actually met that providers services to his customers like FAMILY! He has really shown my family what it means to have a home cooked meal that I didn’t make myself. Frank has been very loyal & his beef jerky is quite consistent. I LOVE the HOT teryaki! I was able to try the taco burgers last time I dropped by. Frank allowed my kids to be themselves, I didn’t feel that the enviroment was anything less than GREAT. Frank I appreciate YOU and your hard work… YOU’VE come so far and the food is outstanding. Thank you again…Kelly HOPE & Faith.. I know you remember US. or my kids lol

    November 26, 2013 at 7:04 AM
  • Lisa says:

    I have been buying carne seca from him since he only had the store on Central. So glad to see his success. He’s a good man and the food and prices can’t be beat! Go there! I spread the word every chance I get.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:18 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    - Have always had my Chicharonnes with Red! A few days ago, Learned yar never too old to learn: maybe it was just his Green…OMG, Muy Sabrosa…but con Chicharonnes added in, that’s a Yum Yum!
    - Need a last minute Carino to give for Christmas or the holidays or just want to indulgence yourself being without a Squeeze on New Year’s Eve? Get yourself a 1/4 pound “baggy” of Jerky to chill on!! I’ve usually shied away cuz my previous experiences have been with stuff ya gotta pull on like ya do with a playful, gnarling dog and his toy. Alas, lest it was overlooked, ask and Frank will offer you a sample of his more “tender” jerky which comes in several taste experiences, albeit I didn’t see silliness the likes of Rocky-Road, Filetto, GCCB,!
    (Yo, for O-C types only: while the address is 1900 4th, the whole building at Haines is labelled 1900…NMBeefJ is at the north end with parking on the side/back; i.e. not the liquor store! http://tinyurl.com/qxtycyf )

    December 17, 2013 at 2:51 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Yo….stopped in to pick up two baggies of Jerky for Carinos.
    Tried a sample of the “Green Chile” infused.
    Whoa….this is not your tourist grade piquancy!!! After munching and swallowing just that one and one half inch’ square sample, the heat lasted me 8.73 minutes on the way home.
    Considering the ‘Gueros’ I’m giving them to, I was best to stay with the “Original”, but I know the mix I’m getting me next time.

    December 19, 2013 at 3:27 PM

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