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Murphy’s Mule Barn – Albuquerque, New Mexico

A mule is an animal with long funny ears
he kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
he’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
and by the way if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule.
- Bing Crosby

Murphy's Mule Barn in the far North Valley.

Murphy's Mule Barn in the far North Valley.

Murphy’s law, a popular adage in Western culture is commonly formulated as “if anything can go wrong, it will.”  Murphy’s Mule Barn, a popular North Valley restaurant, hasn’t posited any law that I know of, but if it did, the law might read something like “friendly folks, great food, huge portions, small check.”

Named for Murphy’s Mule Barn in Salina, Kansas, the restaurant celebrates all things mule in a cutesy sort of way with an ambience that includes barn implements such as stirrups, harnesses and other mule driving tools, many of the antique variety.

Pictures of mules and ceramic statues of burros add rustic charm while posters by prominent New Mexico artist B.C. Nowlin give no indication that Nowlin, one of the restaurant’s most famous “local” patrons starts many a day with breakfast at Murphy’s before heading to his studio (and it’s a good bet he gets there full).

Breakfast burrito Christmas style

Breakfast burrito Christmas style

BC Nowlin not withstanding, the most famous diner to visit Murphy’s Mule Barn was Kirk Douglas whose 1962 movie Lonely Are The Brave was partially filmed at the restaurant.

Murphy’s was once a truck stop called Big Chief and still has somewhat of a truck stop feel to it.  Many of its patrons dine in their most comfortable ranch work clothes complete with well-worn and dusty baseball caps.

In days past, some of Murphy’s patrons filled up the smoking section until New Mexico passed a law prohibiting smoking in restaurants.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner have improved vastly since then.

At Murphy’s, the typical portion size would feed a developing third world nation.  Fortunately the level of quality is nearly equal to the portion size.

The near foot-long, three-egg breakfast burrito, for example, is overfilled with crispy hash browns and your choice of ham, bacon or sausage (or all three if you’d like) then topped with a green or red chile sauce.

The green chile sauce is wonderful.  It has very little bite, but has plenty of the requisite roasted green chile taste aficionados love.  The red chile is also low on the piquancy scale, but also has a nice flavor.  Together the red and green chile combine to make this breakfast burrito among the tastiest breakfast burritos in town.

Cinnamon Rolls to die for

Cinnamon Rolls to die for

Murphy’s homemade cinnamon rolls are immense six inch (irregular) squares, inch-deep masses of baked dough, raisins, sugar, cinnamon and lots of butter.  They’re easily big enough for a small family to share, but could use a bit more cinnamon (I say that about all cinnamon rolls).

The breakfast combo is also family sized with two eggs any way you want them, two pieces of crispy smoked bacon, two sausage links and two fluffy pancakes with hot syrup.

The bacon is the type only restaurants seem to be able to find and serve.  Each strip is long, thick and crispy–the type of bacon you don’t want to share with your dining companions.

Show me an old-fashioned Americana diner and I’ll guarantee excellent pancakes.  Murphy’s pancakes are easily nine inches in circumference and are among the very best in the metropolitan area.  Slather on some butter and syrup and you’re in carbohydrate heaven.

Murphy's pancakes are the size of an Olympic discus

Murphy's pancakes are the size of an Olympic discus

Murphy’s lunch and dinner menu includes truck stop standards such as chicken fried steak, but it also includes New Mexican entrees.

My chain worshipping friends might dismiss Murphy’s as a dining option without ever trying it.  That’s entirely their loss and fortunately an opinion not shared by the throngs who frequent this North Valley institution.

My own lasting impression is that Murphy’s is a throw-back to an era in which waitresses were friendly, breakfast was served anytime and menus included ads for neighboring businesses.”  Murphy’s is a delicious bit of Americana in Albuquerque’s North Valley.

Murphy’s Mule Barn
9700 2nd St, NW
Albuquerque, NM
898-7660
LATEST VISIT: 6 January 2007
# OF VISITS: 3
RATING: 18
COST: $
BEST BET: Pancakes, Breakfast Burrito, Cinnamon Rolls

Murphy's Mule Barn on Urbanspoon

  • Marcia Feldkamp says:

    I love Murphy’s. It reminds me of my grandpa! I eat there almost every week! There Breakfast burritos are fabulous!! Their Waiters and Waitresses are good at what they do!

    June 28, 2009 at 11:36 AM
  • Steven says:

    are there any restaurants you DONT like. Ive read a fair amount of your reviews (via Urbanspoon) and Ive yet to find one you dont like…

    October 8, 2009 at 12:29 PM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Only about twenty percent of the restaurants reviewed on my blog are linked to from Urbanspoon. Of course there are restaurants I don’t like, but there are ways of saying so without resorting to name-calling and insults. There’s already enough of that on the blogosphere.

      October 8, 2009 at 8:12 PM
  • Jarod says:

    Don’t forget the amazingly huge Chicken Fried Steak. Not only is it gargantuan, but it’s also one of the best tasting I’ve ever had.

    December 4, 2009 at 5:47 PM
  • Michael says:

    I’ve eaten at Murphy’s many times and have never had a bad meal. I mostly eat breakfast there and its always good.

    February 3, 2010 at 10:42 AM
  • Levity Balloon Team says:

    THE place for breakfast when the weather grounds us! Great food, huge servings, the perfect atmosphere for large groups of scruffy early-uppers, bottomless coffee cups, and very affordable.

    October 25, 2010 at 3:00 PM
  • Michael says:

    The omelettes are good and the egg plates with bacon and or the sausage which is made by them. I really like good biscuits and gravy, but theirs isnt it, the biscuits are average and the gravy needs help. I dont eat pancakes often but I like theirs, large and flavorful. Most of the chile sauces they serve are mild and that’s my only complaint. Good value and good food overall.

    April 18, 2011 at 10:56 AM
  • Adelino says:

    Regarding, Gil’s reply to Steven’s criticism of Gil’s review style, this is exactly why I love Gil Garduno’s website. Gil finds what is great about a restaurant and through some subtle hints lets the reader know if this is a must eat at or maybe just a good alternative to the same old stuff. Thanks Gil, You are the BEST restaurant reviewer I have ever read! Oh and I do love Mule Barn too! Not the very best food in Alb but just a good fun friendly place with classic food and crazy huge portions.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:05 PM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Hi Adelino

      Thank you very much for your kind words. I try to approach every restaurant review from a position of respect. The mom and pop restaurant owners really “put themselves out there” in presenting their creativity and product to the general public. Most of them do their very best to please their guests. Far be it for me to be overly critical and mean-spirited about their efforts when doing so might affect their livelihood.

      Your assessment of Murphy’s is spot on.

      Thanks again

      Gil

      April 10, 2012 at 7:41 PM
  • Michael says:

    Ate breakfast with six family members recently. The bacon is really good and the biscuits have gotten better but the same gravy. Went for lunch with four different family members one had fish, said it was good, one had green chile cheeseburger said it was average., one had chicken fried steak which was over cooked and too much batter and the gravy is the same gravy they offer at breakfast for the biscuits. I ordered the patty melt,patty was half the size of the bread, a light rye and it was barely toasted, not grilled and the cheese wasn’t melted and the onions were not grilled, just limp. Very disappointing at best. I’ll be back but will stick to breakfast.

    February 5, 2014 at 9:23 PM

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