Rustic On The Green & Rustic Star – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Pop culture’s most famous exemplar of teenage angst may have been Napoleon Dynamite, a socially awkward daydreamer constantly tormented by bullies. Napoleon frequently lamented his ineptitude: “I don’t even have any good skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.” Napoleon’s best friend Pedro, on the other hand, possessed skills Napoleon coveted: “Well, you have a sweet ride. And you’re really good at hooking up with chicks. Plus…

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…

Bosque Burger – Albuquerque, New Mexico

As much a social commentary as a realist novel, Grapes of Wrath by author John Steinbeck immortalized Route 66 as “The Mother Road”  and “the road to flight.”  The latter and lesser known sobriquet recalls the epic odyssey of nearly a quarter of a million people migrating to California to escape the despair of the Dust Bowl.  Route 66 not only succored Americans, it symbolized a renewed spirit of optimism and beginning anew just as the nation was coming off…

The Safari Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“The wild dogs cry out in the night As they grow restless longing for some solitary company I know that I must do what’s right Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become.” ~ Africa by Toto Shrouded in mist and steeped in myth and mystery, Mount Kilimanjaro attracts visitors from all over the world. Often called “the roof of Africa,” the towering, snow-capped, conically-shaped…

Toltec Brewing Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Vincent: And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris? Jules: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese? Vincent: No, they got the metric system there, they wouldn’t know what the #%*&! a Quarter Pounder is. Jules: What’d they call it? Vincent: They call it Royale with cheese. Jules: Royale with Cheese. What’d they call a Big Mac? Vincent: Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac. ~Pulp Fiction 265…

Dave’s Valley Grill – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico

Several years ago, Major Larry Abraham (God rest his soul) of the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque called me out, reminding me that such restaurants as Sadie’s of New Mexico, Casa de Benavidez and Vernon’s Speakeasy were located not in Albuquerque as credited on Gil’s Thrilling…, but in the village he capably served for four terms. He politely asked me to correct my oversight. Ever since Mayor Abraham’s gentle prodding, your humble blogger has been much more diligent about…

Bob’s Burgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“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, according to Social Security Administration data it was the fourth most common name in the United States with 9.5 instances per 1,000 people as of 2013. Despite that popularity, advertisers seem…

Black Bird Saloon – Los Cerrillos, New Mexico

On a journey by train to San Francisco, New Mexico’s legendary award-winning author Tony Hillerman shared an observation car with businessmen from the East. As the spectacular Zuni Buttes, majestic Mount Taylor, breathtaking mesas and skies resplendent with monsoon thunderclouds passed in review, his heart was lifted and his worries dissipated. He then overheard one of the Easterners remark to the other, “My God, why would anybody live out here?” Hillerman’s immediate (though unspoken) thought was, “My God, why wouldn’t…

Big D’s Downtown Dive – Roswell, New Mexico

During a March, 2012 trip to Roswell, New Mexico President Barack Obama made the following opening remarks to his speech. “We had landed in Roswell. I announced to people when I landed that I had come in peace. (Laughter) Let me tell you – there are more nine and ten year old boys around the country when I meet them – they ask me, “Have you been to Roswell and is it true what they say? And I tell them,…

Groundstone – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Kids say the darnedest things. That was the premise of popular radio and television shows hosted by Art Linkletter from the mid 1940s through 1969. Linkletter would engage children (usually aged three to eight) in casual conversation. Humor–often laced with double entendre–would often ensue out of the children’s naive and silly responses. Once, for example, he asked a little girl to spell Art, his name. She proceeded to spell the host’s name R-A-T. Most parents can relate to the unpredictable…

66 Diner – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Known as “America’s Highway” and celebrated by author John Steinbeck as the “Mother Road,” the legendary Route 66 meandered across 2,448 miles of the fruited plain, crossing three time zones and eight states as it traversed from Chicago to Los Angeles. For many—especially destitute sharecroppers fleeing Oklahoma’s devastating Dust Bowl—Route 66 held the promise of a better life. For others, Route 66 brought a sense of connectedness with parts of America previously considered difficult to reach. For them, Route 66…

Brixens – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Though he may not have received any votes in the recent Gil’s Thrilling…. poll asking “with whom you would most like to break bread or tortillas or pita or hearts from among the cast of characters with whom Gil has shared his journey of (then) 999 reviews,” my friend Bill Resnik has and will always be one of my favorite dining companions. He’s a brilliant conversationalist and one of the very funniest people you could ever hope to meet (two…

Papaburgers – Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, New Mexico

Back in the 1960s, A&W’s Papa Burger was a rite of passage for me. By age nine, I had surmounted the phased progression through A&Ws burger family–Baby Burger, Mama Burger and Teen Burger–and was ready to prove my mettle with the largest of A&Ws burger family, one beefy behemoth only my dad, a paragon of masculinity, had ever ordered. Earning the right to order one was acknowledgement that I was growing into a man. Polishing one off brought newfound respect…

Fork & Fig – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Listen to Billy Joel’s 1983 doo wop hit Uptown Girl and you’ll probably get the impression that uptown is synonymous with uppity or at least upscale. The lyrics describe a working-class downtown man (ostensibly Joel himself who’s originally from blue-collar Long Island) trying to win the heart of a wealthy, white bred uptown girl (Joel’s future wife Christie Brinkley). The perception of uptown’s haughtiness were reenforced in “The Contest” episode of Seinfeld in which John F. Kennedy, Jr. lived in…