The Burger Stand – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“If you need good hot grillin’, Try my burger stand. If you need a slice of thrillin’, I’m the baddest in the land. Any way you want it baby, I am your burger man.” ~Burger Man by ZZ Top Those of us invited on occasion to judge competitive food events try to follow a few very sensical but ironclad rules to ensure our evaluations are fair, balanced and accurate—or at least as accurate as any largely subjective matter can be.…

Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown 2018 – Santa Fe, New Mexico

New Mexico’s storied history will recall that 2009 was the year of the green chile cheeseburger.  It all started in May when Bobby Olguin, the gregarious owner of San Antonio’s Buckhorn Tavern bested Food Network celebrity chef Bobby Flay in a “green chile cheeseburger throwdown.”  Capitalizing on the momentum, Governor Bill Richardson called for a statewide green chile cheeseburger challenge to be held at the New Mexico State Fair in September.  Two months later, four-time James Beard award-winning author, the…

Terra – Tesuque, New Mexico

Several years ago, I asked my grandmother if she might consider aromatherapy as a treatment for the nagging aches and pains she suffered daily.  Aromatherapy, I explained was being hailed by New Age devotees in Santa Fe and Taos as a holistic healing treatment used to promote health and well-being. “Mi hijito,” she said gently, “In Northern New Mexico we are always surrounded by aromatherapy. We experience it when we bake bread in our hornos and roast chile in our…

Tortilla Flats – Santa Fe, New Mexico

“Beans are a warm cloak against economic cold.” ~John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat In his 1935 novel Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck introduced the literary world to the downtrodden denizens of Tortilla Flat, an impoverished barrio on the shabby hillside just outside the respectable city of Monterey, California. The quirky inhabitants of the ramshackle community were a dichotomous lot–hedonistic drunks, adulterers and thieves on one hand; on the other, paisanos with surprisingly kind-hearts who asked nothing more from life than loyal friends…

Casa Chimayo – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Chimayó is one of the most mythologized, misunderstood— and, some would say, maligned—places in New Mexico. On one hand, it holds a place in popular imagination as the Lourdes of America, a reference to the annual Good Friday pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayó, a nineteenth-century church. New Mexicans and visitors from afar also celebrate Chimayó’s weaving tradition, the potently flavorful chile grown there, and the local restaurant, where margaritas compete with the church’s holy dirt as a tourist draw.…

El Farol – Santa Fe, New Mexico

For over a quarter century, the most popular section in New Mexico Magazine (the nation’s oldest state magazine, by the way) has been a humorous column entitled “One of Our Fifty is Missing.” The column features anecdotes submitted by readers worldwide recounting their experiences with fellow American citizens and ill-informed bureaucrats who don’t realize that New Mexico is part of the United States. Some travelers from other states actually believe they’re leaving their nation’s borders when they cross into New…

Counter Culture Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Counterculture. Growing up in rural Taos County four decades ago, I don’t know how many of us understood that the cultural and political upheaval of the big cities had moved into our isolated corner of the world. All we knew was that these unkempt and unwashed interlopers preaching free love and practicing it in communes had invaded our idyllic agrarian communities and shocked our quiet, small town sensibilities. They rode around in psychedelic school buses and wore multi-colored smocks. The…

Taco Fundación – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Consider it sacrilege if you will, but some pundits believe the taco is poised to become the most ubiquitous and popular dish in the fruited plain. One such heretic is eater.com’s Nick Solares who made the audacious prediction that the taco will replace the hamburger as the American national dish within fifty years. He makes a great case for his conjecture, citing such factors as the rising Hispanic immigrant population, America’s hipster culture, and people in general embracing the taco…

Gabriel’s – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Located fifteen miles north of Santa Fe, just south of Pojoaque and within minutes of two garish native American casinos, Gabriel’s is a culinary oasis back-dropped by nearby cedar, cottonwood and pine tree-laden hills and the Santa Fe mountains further to the southeast. Gabriel’s entrance is flanked by unpeeled latillas, a “coyote fence” precursor to one of the best restaurant settings in the Santa Fe area. In the early spring and fall, weather permitting, the sprawling dining room and its…

La Lecheria New Mexico Craft Ice Cream – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Joey: What are you talking about? “One woman. That’s like saying there’s only one flavor of ice cream for you. Let me tell you something, Ross. There’s lots of flavors out there. There’s Rocky Road, and Cookie Dough, and Bing Cherry Vanilla. You could get ’em with Jimmies, or nuts, or whipped cream! This is the best thing that ever happened to you! You got married, you were, like, what, eight? Welcome back to the world! Grab a spoon! Ross:…

TerraCotta Wine Bistro – Santa Fe, New Mexico

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” ~Benjamin Franklin In the 1960s, denizens of the fruited plain weren’t nearly as savvy about the fruit of the vin as they are today. Impressionable youth who tuned in every Sunday for Championship Wrestling from Albuquerque’s Civic Auditorium, for example, had the impression from Roma Wine commercials that all wine was served in large jugs. It really wasn’t far from the truth. Back then, a significant…

The Teahouse – Santa Fe, New Mexico

When I suggested to my Kim that our next al-fresco culinary adventure with our dachshund Dude (he abides) should be at the Teahouse in Santa Fe, she shot a glance at me that seemed to suggest advanced mental deterioration had caught up with me. She reminded me that every time we had tea and scones on the banks of the River Windrush in Bourton on the Water (England), I guzzled my tea and tossed bits of my scones at hungry…

Rowley Farmhouse Ales – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Only in John Denver’s hit song “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” is life on the farm “kinda laid back.” In actuality, farm life can be downright arduous, requiring back-breaking work in climatic extremes for low wages. It was much worse in colonial days when life on a farm generally meant very few luxuries outside of a warm fire and a tankard (or ten) of house-brewed ale. Beer was brewed not only to refresh, sustain and comfort hard-working farmers, but…

Chocolate Maven Bakery & Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico

In the polytheistic world of the Mesoamerican cultures (which include the Aztecs and Mayans), Quetzalcoatl was revered as the creator deity and patron of priests, merchants and rulers. Known as the “feathered serpent,” Quetzalcoatl was also associated with the cocoa bean and with chocolate. Great temples were erected in his honor and chocolate was offered to him. Montezuma, the 16th century Aztec ruler revered him. In Montezuma’s great city of Tenochtitlan (which the Spaniards later renamed Mexico City), chocolate was…

Shake Foundation – Santa Fe, New Mexico

If it seems there’s a glut of restaurants brandishing a much-hyped and often self-glossed as “best” version of New Mexico’s fabled green chile cheeseburger, it won’t surprise you to read that yet another purveyor of the Land of Enchantment’s sacrosanct sandwich entered the fray in January, 2014. What might surprise you is its most worthy motto and raison d’etre: “Dedicated to the preservation of the original green chile cheeseburger.” Just what exactly does that mean? If, like me, your initial…