“Bob.” Advertisers (as well as television and movie producers) realize there probably isn’t a better example of an “every man” name, typically portraying Bob as the average wage-earning man about town. Few would argue that Bob, a diminutive of Robert, isn’t a very vanilla and common name. In fact, it ranked 266th (from among 1,220 first names) in the 1990 U.S. Census of the most popular names for males. Despite that popularity, advertisers seem to prefer naming the metrosexual males they portray something like Brad or Troy.
While advertisers may not think there’s anything memorable about the name Bob, New Mexico diners have known for generations that Bob’s Burgers stands out among its brethren as a unique franchise which doesn’t shy away from proffering hot chile. That chili (sic), or more precisely chili sauce (a pureed blend of green chili, tomatoes, onions) provides a potently pungent and heady sensation with every bite of the Ranchero burger, the restaurant’s specialty. The meat patty is thin and there’s nothing especially noteworthy about the bun, but chili chile sauce is certainly memorable (at least to your singed taste buds).
Locals can handle the degree of heat in Bob’s featured fare pretty easily, but out-of-towners might consider it cruel and unusual punishment to consume the Ranchero burger or any of the other chili laden items on the menu. Unlike the green chile used on many green chile cheeseburgers throughout the Land of Enchantment, Bob’s chili warrants a sweaty brow, scalded tongue salute (despite the fact that it’s spelled like the stuff they serve in Texas). There are two Ranchero Burgers on the menu, a Supreme (green chili, lettuce, tomato, cheese) and the standard Ranchero (green chili only) and they’re available in small or large sizes.
Bob’s menu offers a couple of variations on the Ranchero burger, including a tortilla burger in which a tortilla is substituted for the Ranchero burger’s buns and a taco burger in which a hard-shelled taco shell replaces the buns. If you’ve never seen a hamburger patty nested in a taco shell, you might be surprised the first time you see this. The fact that it doesn’t take like a taco even though the meat component is essentially the same. Bob’s is one of few restaurants to also offer a red chili burger (which Alibi voters selected as the second best in the city behind only the Little Red Hamburger Hut.)
Bob’s Frito pie is a perennial Reader’s Choice award winner during the Alibi’s annual restaurant poll. By no accounts is it as wonderful as the Woolworth’s version that started it all in Santa Fe more than fifty years ago, but as cheap Frito pies go, it’s pretty good. A small cardboard container overflows with crispy Fritos, piquant chili, cheese and a salad’s bounty of lettuce and tomatoes.
Bob’s menu of New Mexican foods includes red or green chili cheese fries (which has also earned an Alibi Reader’s Choice on several occasions). The red chili has a pretty heavy dousing in cumin (which I consider cruel and unusual punishment) and the fries are pretty standard out-of-the-bag fries. Shredded cheese blankets the Frito pie. Given my druthers, I’d opt for the green chili as the cumin isn’t quite as overwhelming.
I’ve always contended that Española restaurants make the very best rolled tacos (sometimes called taquitos) in New Mexico. In fact, not many restaurants outside of Española even seem to offer rolled tacos. Bob’s does and while they’re not quite as wonderful as their northern counterpart, they’re better than the warehouse store version.
In its September, 2012 edition, Albuquerque The Magazine named the salsa at Bob’s Burgers the eleventh best in Albuquerque from among 130 salsas sampled throughout the city. The magazine’s synopsis: “This may be a burger joint, but watch out for the hot salsa and some of the best chips (which are actual taco shells broken up) then twice-fried as you order them.”
This prominent local chain now has seven Albuquerque locations as well as one in Las Cruces, one in Rio Rancho and one in Los Lunas, all of which are poised to give your taste buds something uniquely New Mexico, something that is certainly not “every restaurant” worthy.
6628 Caminito Coors, N.W.
LATEST VISIT: 20 April 2011
# OF VISITS: 8
BEST BET: Tortilla Burger; Frito Pie; Rolled Tacos, The Ranchero