Rex’s Hamburgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rex’s Hamburgers, An Albuquerque Institution

From 1988 through 2005, Rex’s Hamburgers stood practically alone in offering Duke City consumers an alternative to the homogeneous gobble-and-go offerings of deep-pocketed fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. Rex’s earned and retained the hearts of Albuquerque diners for nearly 20 years. During its halcyon days, it garnered the long defunct’s Abq magazine’s “Best of Albuquerque” honors for several consecutive years.

The reason Duke City patrons were so loyal to Rex’s was because Rex’s was at the diametric extreme opposite of the chain restaurants. Whether ensconced in a strip mall or housed in a single tenant edifice, Rex’s offered real sit-down service at a relaxed and reasonable pace. Moreover, it served hamburgers the way they are intended to be prepared. That means they started with real meat, never frozen, formed into a ball and flattened on the griddle with a spatula then allowed to cook slowly to retain the beef’s natural juiciness. Unlike at the Golden Arches, you never had to wonder what filler was used in Rex’s all-beef patty. It was always 85 percent lean and 15 percent fat, the time-tested optimum balance for optimum flavor. It was always served hot and with only the freshest of ingredients.

The Walls at Rex’s Celebrate UNM Lobos Sports

When Rex’s closed the last of its restaurants in 2005, the Duke City should have flown the city flag at half mast. Rex’s was one of the last of the independents, a true locally owned and operated mom-and-pop restaurant. The brainchild of Rex Thompson and his family, Rex’s had carved a niche in the burger market and a spot in the heart of discerning Duke City diners. As of the summer of 2008, our period of mourning can now cease. Rex’s is back, initially with a new moniker–Bubsters The Original Rex Burger Grill–but later to embrace its roots as Rex’s Hamburgers.

Also back are some of the recognized Rex’s touches–the golden oldies piped through the restaurant’s sound system, the familiar turquoise and mauve paint, posters of 50s icons and walls dedicated to the University of New Mexico Lobos. Rex’s is located at the former site of the 505 Southwestern which operated a chile factory and restaurant at the site for years. The space is cavernous with the front portion of the restaurant providing comfortable seating and the back part dedicated to video gaming. Even the way you order is familiar. A large menu showcasing all that Rex’s has to offer backdrops the counter at which you place your order. Take your seat and within minutes, a tray of deliciousness is bound for your table.

Double Meat Green Chile Cheeseburger, Still one of the very best in New Mexico

The menu includes all the Rex’s favorites which means not only hamburgers, but sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, burritos, green chile stew and for the Texans among us, even chili con carne. Sandwich and burger platters include an order of french fries, an onion ring and Rex’s familiar applesauce. You can substitute onion rings for the fries if you’re so inclined. The burger platters are a bit steeper in price today than they were when Rex’s cornered the sit-down burger market, but then, so is everything else. Besides, what’s a few extra cents when you’re talking freshness and burgers done right–when we’re talking Rex’s reborn!

2 October 2019: The burgers are still adulation worthy with perfectly seasoned beef served to your exacting specifications. At medium with just a hint of pink, they are absolutely delicious. The double-meat green chile cheeseburgers are still two-fisted behemoths bursting with flavor and moistness. These are still three or four napkin burgers replete with the great ingredients for which Rex’s was always known. The green chile actually registers on the piquancy scale and it’s got a nice, fresh-roasted flavor. With a more piquant chile, it might be one of the two or three best green chile cheeseburgers in the metropolitan area instead of being merely among the top five or six.

Rex’s famous onion rings

Each burger is stacked with mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and onions, all fresh, crisp and delicious.  Unless you order a double-meat burger, each Rex’s burger is a true quarter-pounders and is prepared on a grill.  A double meat burger, of course, tops the scales at a half-pound of beef.  Order a burger platter and you’ll also receive an order of fries, an onion ring and applesauce. Only the most avaricious of appetites will try the Gavster (double meat, double cheese, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, bacon, and warm green chili stacked with mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.  It’s a handful.

There is one item for which Rex’s is nonpareil and that’s chocolate milkshakes. Made with Dreyer’s premium ice cream and served bone-chilling cold, the chocolate milk is very chocolatey. It’s an adult chocolate not something which will decay your teeth on the spot. Other shake flavors include vanilla, strawberry, Oreo, cherry and we’ve even had a Caramel shake there once.

Two tacos

10 October 2015: Should you ever succeed in prying yourself from ordering one of Rex’s addictive green chile cheeseburgers, a phalanx of alternatives are available. The “Southwestern” menu, for example, includes such New Mexican favorites as tacos, burritos, chile cheese fries, Frito pie, green chile stew and red chile with beans. Burritos are engorged with your choice of beans, beef or both and topped with your choice of red or green chile. As is often the case, many diners opt for “Christmas” style with both red and green adorning the burrito. A combination burrito platter includes French fries, lettuce and tomato. The seasoned fries are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The shredded cheese blanketed burrito is quite good with both red and green shining.

2 October 2019: In a 2013 episode of his CNN series Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain described the Frito pie at Santa Fe’s Five & Dime General Store as “warm crap in a bag.”  That comment certainly didn’t endear him to New Mexicans who consider the Frito pie a guilty pleasure invented in our enchanted state.  We love Frito pie so much we  might even forgive Rex’s for describing its Frito pie as “Frito chips with chili con carne with your choice of lettuce, tomato and Onions.”  Is the “chili con carne” Rex’s concession that the Frito pie was actually invented in Texas?  Never mind the spelling.  The chili con carne didn’t taste like it came from Texas.  Nor did it taste like Wolf brand chili or Hormel’s.  It’s not top tier stuff, but it’ll do in a pinch.

Frito Pie

On Sunday, February 6, 2017, The Travel Channel aired a program showcasing some of the best fair foods in the nation for its Food Paradise series. The Land of Enchantment has hosted a fair since 1881–32 years before becoming a state. A mainstay for nearly five decades has been Rex’s Hamburgers. Rex Thompson demonstrated for Food Paradise how to construct a bacon-wrapped deep-fried green chile cheeseburger (fresh, handmade burger, topped with green chile and American cheese, wrapped in bacon and deep-fried to a crispy, brown perfection). Rex explained that his burgers are prepared “low and slow” seasoned with only salt and pepper. Rex’s bacon-topped green chile nachos were also showcased. If you haven’t been to the New Mexico State Fair in a while, maybe it’s time to make your way back.

Whether it’s known as Rex’s or Bubsters, there’s no mistaking the quality and freshness of a great meal at an Albuquerque favorite. There’s just something better about the world with Rex’s back in town.

Rex’s Hamburgers
5555 Montgomery, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
505-837-2827
Website | Facebook Page

LATEST VISIT: 3 October 2019
1st VISIT: 28 July 2008
# OF VISITS: 10
RATING: 21
COST: $$
BEST BET: Green Chile Cheeseburger, Double Hamburger, Onion Rings, Tacos, French Fries, Apple Sauce, Chocolate Milkshake, Burrito

About Gil Garduno

Since 2008, the tagline on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has invited you to “Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.” To date, nearly 1 million visitors have trusted (or at least visited) my recommendations on nearly 1,100 restaurant reviews. Please take a few minutes to tell me what you think. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd love to hear about it.

View all posts by Gil Garduno →

18 Comments on “Rex’s Hamburgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico”

  1. Yummy food, but forgettable place. Rex’s needs to consider investing in a little remodel which would make it more inviting and appealing.

  2. Nice to hear a burger virtuoso such as Rex is back playing again. I must try his double-meat GCCB soon now that I have adopted our roving gourmand’s holy trinity framework for evaluating green chile: piquancy, fire-roasted flavor, and ripe fruity finish.

    Gil, you say the 85/15 fat ratio is the benchmark for a juicy three-to-four napkin delicious burger experience. I agree. Although sometimes, if I can get it from a supplier, I go with the 80/20 ratio at home which requires two more napkins and a painter’s drop cloth beneath the dining table.

  3. If you are looking for an overpriced tasty burger with horrible customer service based on your Race, than Rec is the place for you. Upon receiving our food a worker continuously passed by our table without inquiring about our meal or experience yet all other customers were showered with such pleasantries. And as I got up to grab a refill on my drink which is not part of the platter price, the unfriendly, concerning employee removed my tray and food and then asked if I was finished.

    So if the restaurant motto is to keep African-American customers out, they have fulfilled their goal.

  4. Rex is a solid burger joint. The burgers are good and the staff are very friendly. My only complaint would be their fries which aren’t bad, just nothing special. I think the fries have changed since this review because the pictures display crinkle cut, which is not what I received.

  5. Ate their tonight for the first time and evidently they’ve changed the onion rings back to what they were before. These were thick and appeared to be homemade and not from a bag.

    Hubby’s GCCB was great he said and my BLTw/cheese was equally good, but the onion rings totally rocked! My sandwich came with fries and the rings absolutely put the fries to shame.

    Those folks complaining about the rings – give them another try, I think you’ll be pleased.

  6. Best green chile cheeseburger at the Balloon Fiesta. Large, juicy, perfectly grilled, and the green was very tasty, although not especially piquant. My out-of-town visitor, Cheryl, a southern belle, had her very first GCCB here (competion style, of course) and got hooked.

  7. I just ate at Rex’s today for lunch. It has been a long time since I had there delicious food and it really hit the spot!!! Albuquerque is lucky to have such a wonderful place to eat and they have some of the best burgers EVER!!!!! i am so happy they are back!!!!

  8. When Rex’s was on Academy we used to regularly go there for their burgers and especially their onion rings. We were disappointed to learn that the rings came out of a bag when they switched brands and the quality went down a bit though they were skill very good—I once suggested they were the best in ABQ. When the Academy store closed we made the pilgrimage to the Coors shop until that went under. When Bubsters/Rexs reopened on Montgomery we were ecstatic and gave them a try. Good, but not as good as the original. Our most recent visit could only be described as a disaster. The burgers (green chili cheese burgers of course) were OK but the buns were unequal to the task falling apart halfway through the meal. The onion rings were worse. No flavor to speak of. Threw half of the order away. RIP a good place that has fallen off the cliff. Too bad.

    1. I understand exactly what you mean… I am sorry you went through that….My experience was almost the same as yours….

      I’ve had Rex’s Burgers only 3 times, years ago….well, 2 weeks ago, I went back there, I knew their burgers were good, I had the Avocado Cheese Burger, Fries & Drink. You also get 2 Onion Rings, & a Pudding. Those 2 Onion Rings were very good, they were thinly cut (which makes the onion nice & cooked) I thoroughly enjoyed my whole meal. I went back 3 days ago to get the same exact order & an extra side of Onion Rings… I was very disappointed ..
      I had all the big, thick hoops of the Onion Rings & One thin one, they were barely cooked. The Avocado was mostly black, way too much mustard on the burger too. I ate half the burger, some fries, one onion ring & pudding…. threw everything else away…. $13.00.
      Today, I called Rex’s and asked for the Manager…explained all of this to Fred. He said, ” We don’t use black avocados, there aren’t any black ones today”. he got argumentative & a bit combative….(I WASN’T THERE TODAY) He asked what time I was there, I said, after 3pm…. he says shifts changes at 4. I told him, You’re the manager & trying to argue,
      I won’t go back to Rex’s again….& HUNG UP ON HIM.

    2. It has been several years since we darkened Rex’s doors. We went in and ordered burgers & rings at the counter then walked to a tables. The guy delivering the order was two steps behind us. The “food” had obviously been cooked an hour or more before & been sitting under a heat lamp ever since. It would have made good building materials but nobody could have eaten it without chipping a tooth. We didn’t even bother to complain as they knew exactly what they had done. They have many years of lost business with us for this stupid stunt.

  9. Yesterday as I sat in Rex’s enjoying my green chili cheeseburger platter, I realized that I had never written a comment about this “institution”. The food was very satisfying (think comfort food), but the “stars” of the platter were the onion rings. I have tried onion rings at other restaurants, including several that have been praised on this website, but to my tastebuds, absolutely none measure up to Rex’s. These are the best. I never get a platter of rings floating in grease. They are cooked fresh and served hot. The staff is always friendly and the tables are cleared and wiped quickly after the customers depart. There is an obvious pride of ownership with Rex and his concern for the quality of the experience trickles down through the staff (or “the family”). Although I usually opt for a burger and onion rings, the other food is also good and satisfying as well. It’s just that when I get there, I always seem to go back to my favorites. Keep up the good work Rex and staff. Some us go back to the first store over on Central and the fair days before that.

  10. i have tried once since it opened is pretty good need to taste again will give review ad trys once more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.