Area code 505 was one of the original area codes established in 1947 and for nearly 60 years, that sole area code sufficed to serve all of New Mexico. With the state’s surging population, however, numbers available with the 505 prefix were eventually exhausted. The Federal Communication Commission provided area code relief in the form of a second area code (575).
A new area code for the Albuquerque area wasn’t in the makings, but it would not have had implications for 505 Southwestern which would not have changed its name even had the area code changed. 575 Southwestern Chile Factory & Cool Stuff To Eat just wouldn’t have the same poetic lilt.
In the mid 1990s, 505 Southwestern was one of our favorite dining destinations in the Albuquerque uptown area where the festive atmosphere and imaginative menu shouted “fun” while the frequently changing menu seemed to get better with each iteration. One of the first things your eyes trained on when you entered the restaurant was an ominous looking iguana in a large tank. Since iguanas are renown salmonella carriers, we were relived iguana wasn’t featured fare on the menu. The 505 featured an excellent Sunday brunch and one of the best desserts in town–the Magoo. The pasta dishes were delicious and the New Mexican entrees were good as well.
Rather than eulogizing the 505 Southwestern restaurant, let me expound on just how good the 505 Southwestern in its new iteration is. First of all, it is a chile factory with an industrious production line churning out salsa and chile products for distribution throughout hundreds of retail stores. In fact, the restaurant is open only from 6:30AM to 2:00PM Monday through Saturday and accounts for only one percent of the 505’s business.
Featuring a variety of sandwiches (on buns or as tortilla wraps), tacos, burritos, pastas, salads, soups and even pot pie, this reincarnated restaurant includes some of the best items featured at its predecessor. A tortilla wrap called the “Chilly Philly” featuring marinated (in a wonderfully sweet sauce that includes hoisin and ginger) thin sliced beef with grilled onions, Monterey Jack cheese and green chile is my early favorite. That marinade (available for sale) is also used on the fajita wrap and other entrees.
An order of salsa includes a cold red salsa and a heated (in every way) green chile salsa whose genesis is the green chile grown in Hatch, New Mexico. Chile con queso is also excellent and the blue and yellow corn chips are unfailingly crisp, relatively low in salt and delicious.
The menu offers two burgers which you can request on a flour tortilla or on a bun. The green chile cheeseburger is a charbroiled beef patty decorated with piquant green chile, cheese, lettuce and tomato, but not sloppily thrown together as in many restaurants. The lettuce and tomatoes are finely chopped and the chile is dolloped generously on the bun. It’s a very good burger.
The 505 Chile Bowl should not be missed and best of all, it’s tailored to your tastes. You start with your choice of chicken, carne adovada, beef or turkey which is then mixed with Spanish rice, beans and cheese and smothered in a red or green chile sauce. The carne adovada is especially good–tender shredded pork bathed in a savory red chile.
Oh, and the 505 Chile Factory still has its mascot, albeit a plastic iguana posed by an indoor waterfall as if vigilantly looking out after its digs.
500 Broadway Blvd SE
LATEST VISIT: 10 July 2006
# OF VISITS: 10
BEST BET: Chilly Philly, Fajitas, Salsa