For nearly a decade, television viewers have been subjected to a very successful advertising campaign depicting contented cows talking and singing about the pleasures of life in sunny and warm California. The slogan for the “happy cows” campaign’ is “Great cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California.” The campaign would have you believe the cows are happy because they feast and frolic on a diet of delicious grass from verdant hillsides and not on troughs full of grains which don’t taste quite as good. I don’t know about cows being happier because they graze on grass, but can certainly attest to being a happier diner when enjoying a diet of grass-fed beef.
Generations of New Mexicans, particularly from the more verdurous northern villages, find the notion of grain-fed cattle heretical. All our cows are grass-fed thanks to open-range grazing laws which allow carefree cows to traipse up and down the streets in search of unfenced (or poorly fenced) yards in which the grass does appear to be greener. In the late spring when mountain snows have started to melt, many ranchers herd their cattle into the mountains where meadowlands near the timberline are abundant. In fall when the cows are returned, they’re more corpulent, their fatted frames more ready for winter’s angry bite.
For the first nineteen years of my life, virtually all the beef my family consumed was grass-fed. I was well into my teenage years before the first burger from the legendary McDonald’s crossed my lips. Despite the enthusiastic build-up on commercials aired by the three stations (KOB, KGGM, KOAT) picked up by our rooftop antenna back in the dark ages, the burger—especially the beef—was a huge disappointment. It was obvious the “beef” on my inaugural Big Mac wasn’t raised on high mountain pastureland. It didn’t have the rich, earthy-grassy flavor of grass-fed beef to which we were accustomed and it wasn’t nearly as lean and juicy. The difference was more than just discernible, it was significant.
Alas, most of the beef we’ve had since leaving Peñasco has been of the grain-fed supermarket variety. Though we’ve become accustomed to it, it’s always a treat to partake of grass-fed beef. When we heard a new Durango-based hamburger restaurant by the name “Grassburger” had launched in Albuquerque’s Far Northeast Heights, my Kim thought she’d read my snarky little mind. She bet me a burger my review would center on another meaning for the word “grass,” a meaning our neighbors in the great state of Colorado use synonymously with a very popular, recently-made-legal cash crop that’s not fed to cattle. She even suggested I incorporate one of Colorado’s nicknames on my review—the “highest state.”
Though my Kim lost our bet, we both won. Grassburger is the real deal, a proud purveyor of 100-percent grass-fed beef procured from Rain Crow Ranch in Missouri, a haven for happy, humanely-raised, healthy cows. Grass-fed beef has all the qualities health-conscious diners value and the flavor burger aficionados crave. Not only does grass-fed beef have a lower fat content than its more heavily marbled grain-fed bovine brethren, it’s got a greater nutritional value and is replete with healthy Omega-3s, antioxidants and vitamins. Unlike grain-fed cattle which are confined to pens and fed a diet rich in corn (much of which is genetically modified), grass-fed cattle spend their lives feasting on hay in winter and fresh grass in the summer before heading to market.
There are eight burgers on the Grassburger menu including a black bean burger sure to please vegans and a green chile Jack cheeseburger New Mexicans will love. At the risk of being accused of snarkiness, the green chile is certified New Mexican true and through. It’s not that stuff Coloradoans call green chile. All burgers are served with lettuce, tomato, pickles, raw onion and Grassburger’s signature chipotle mayo on a potato bun. There are several add-ons for diners who wish to build their own burgers. Burgers are available in single- or double-beef sizes and are formed into four-ounce patties with an 80/20 mix of meat and fat.
Also on the menu is a farm-fresh farm salad constructed from seasonal greens and fresh vegetables and served with your choice of house-made, gluten-free dressings (lemon vinaigrette, tahini, buttermilk ranch, green chile ranch and balsamic vinegar). Four “bowls” offer an alternative way to enjoy beef, turkey or the vegan black bean offering. Vanilla, chocolate and chocolate non-dairy ice cream shakes are available as are fountain sodas in several handcrafted flavors (the black cherry and root beer are fantastic). Naturally you can’t have burgers without fries. Grassburger offers hand-cut sweet potato or russet potato fries made from potatoes grown in the region.
13 October 2018: The green chile Jack burger is…(drumroll please) outstanding! Order a half-pounder (two patties) to maximize your enjoyment of the grass-fed beef which is griddled to about medium-well and has a discernible exterior caramelization. Though leaner and less marbled than grain-fed beef, the Grassburger is moist, rich and absolutely delicious. We went through so many napkins, it brought to mind Wendy’s “Hot and Juicy” commercials from the 1970s. Any piquancy (and there isn’t much of it) is as much courtesy of the chipotle mayo as it is the green chile. Other ingredients (tomato, lettuce, pickles, raw onion) are fresh and crisp. The potato bun is sweet and moist, a perfect canvas for a superb, high-quality burger.
13 October 2018: Some may argue that because of its easy “melting” qualities, American cheese is the only cheese which should grace a burger. That may be a bit short-sighted. Flavor should always be the prime consideration as to what cheese to use on a burger! Grassburger obviously has flavor, not meltedness, in mind by offering two burgers with Cheddar. One is the Chedda’ Burger. The other is a Bacon Chedda’ Burger. Want another argument for Cheddar? Cheddar is real cheese, allowed to age naturally. American is artificially processed and technically doesn’t even qualify as real cheese. Okay, enough with my dour diatribe. Get the Chedda’ Burger! It’s excellent!
Grassburger is the first expansion market for the Durango-based operation. It’s located at the Heights Village on Montgomery just east of Juan Tabo. It’s a destination all grass-fed beef aficionados and burger lovers should program onto their GPS navigation systems. Now, if only they served grass-fed steak.
11225 Montgomery, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 13 October 2018
1st VISIT: 20 March 2016
# OF VISITS: 2
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Green Chile Cheeseburger, Chedda Burger, Chocolate Shake, French Fries
20 thoughts on “Grassburger – Albuquerque, New Mexico”
These grass fed burger concoctions are indeed da bomb. There is something else I can add that is a big plus for this chain. Anyone who has paid attention to my occasional posts on this blog* knows there are two things other than flavorful food I am a sucker for: great customer service and lack of HFCS. To that end, before visiting Grassburger for the first time, I sent an e-mail to their “Contact us” link inquiring about the ingredients in their buns. Not only did I receive a reply (doesn’t usually happen) but it was prompt and it was from the Co-CEO, Jessie Kileen. Holy cow! Wait…that’s a different establishment…or not, anymore… Anyway, Ms. Kileen emphasized that they are corn syrup free (not exactly the same as high fructose corn syrup, but read on) and also included the ingredient list for the buns. Safe! Based on this, I did a little more research and discovered that Grassburger sells Zuberfizz sodas, which are made with sugar. So, a grass fed burger, crispy fries AND something to drink other than water??! Say no more.
* When I think I have something worthwhile to share, I try to share it with a humorous edge. In truth, I have a big crush on The Dude since seeing the picture Gil posted recently. If I am ever lucky enough to meet him, I hope my contributions will warrant a cuddle and maybe a lick. I’m sure he’ll smell my cats from my clothes, so I need an in.
Thank you, Lynn. You’ll have to be very careful with The Dude. He’s quite a flirt, a real charmer. I hope we run into you someday soon (when it’s warmer and Dude-friendly patios begin to open up).
Soooo…I have to admit, I never read this review (and only came to this review from the Holy Cow page). Why you ask? When I saw Grassburger pop up on the ABQ scene, I assumed it was yet another of the plant-based meats that has become so popular over the last few years. I naively thought that they were a vegan burger joint. Seems like I have been missing out. Will have to keep this in mind when looking for a burger someday, as I too prefer grass fed to grain fed beef.
Wow, I feel pretty dumb right now for not even trying to figure out what was up with Grassburger…
You’re actually not too far from the second Albuquerque instantiation of Grassburger. There’s one on the west side (5600 Coors Blvd., N.W.) not too far from Tuttle Manor.
In the words of Jules Winnfield, “That *is* a tasty burger!”. I finally tried Grassburger. Wow, it is definitely a grass fed beef burger. Soooo delicious and juicy! The fries and sweet potatoes fries are great! The Serrano dipping sauce excellent with both.
Feel foolish for not trying this before, but I know where my goto burger joint is now!
Great, great, great quote! Jules Winfield is one of my favorite “critics” even though he peppers his reviews with pejoratives and might just shoot you if you don’t agree with him.
Say “What” again!
Meh. Dry & over cooked. Expensive burger.
I don’t know about the raising up of cheddar cheese as something to be desired in New Mexican cuisine. This is super Anglo and dare I say it? …. TEXAN. Please try out some of the classic white Mexican melting cheeses … much more akin to feta than that cheese of the Longhorn state.
I heartily applaud your aversion to cumin (another Tex-Mex abomination) …. you need to raise your game on cheese. (Deciding between American and Cheddar is like choosing between very bad and bad …. sorry for the frankness).
At home we always have a number of different cheeses for topping our burgers. Among my favorites is Queso Menonita, a white cheese which comes from the Cheddar family. It’s got good melting qualities and great flavor. My Kim likes Cojita on everything even though it doesn’t melt well. We’re well acquainted with other Mexican cheeses and heartily agree they’re great on burgers, but we’d probably be kicked out of restaurants if we carried our own cheeses.
Similar to most restaurants, Grassburger offers a very limited selection of cheeses (Cheddar and American). Cheddar obviously was the better choice.
Well now, no mention of Velveeta!!!? THAT is a shame! My late Five Points Vieja was really into grating that for her version of Huevos Rancheros!
SPOILER ALERT! Actually am passing on this Cheezy Spoiler: http://tinyurl.com/y9p9ymdc which I think Birkenstockers and even Environmentalists will appreciate!
Elsewise in terms of SuperAnglo, we must pay homage to what spiced up appetizers in olden days of yore, i.e. Ritz Crackers http://tinyurl.com/ybvyekxe topped with CheezWhiz from the Jar or Spray Can….http://tinyurl.com/ycr2f55p…
Cheddar cheese is definitely Anglo, originating in beautiful downtown Cheddar England. It spite of this I don’t get the Texas connection except for the name “Longhorn” which refers to the shape and sounds Texan.
Handsome, young and modest Jimmy
During your travels to Europe did you ever visit Cheddar Gorge and the Cheddar caves which were used for maturing cheese in prehistoric times? One could argue that the only real Cheddar comes from the village of Cheddar in England.
I’m glad that you noticed my youth & my modesty.
I drove right by cheddar a couple of years ago on our way from Falmouth to Bristol but couldn’t stop anywhere because I didn’t realize what a bank holiday is. A word of warning to traveling Americans; It means that every last man woman and child in merry old England is driving to Cornwall and the normal 3-hour drive from Falmouth (the roundabout capitol of the world) becomes 8 hours. We also got into a football traffic backup in Bristol, were late returning our rental car (which was hit by a football fanatic who thought he might miss the game) and missed our train to London.
This past weekend my wife and I headed to Hatch for the Hatch chile festival and more specifically the GCCB at Sparkys.
Got to Hatch after an evening in T or C at Turner’s Sierra Grande Resort. Arrived at 10AM and drove right to Sparkys where the line had begun wait for the 19:30 opening. What a sight, like an episode of American Pickers with old signs and memorabilia of sorts.
We did about an hour at the festival and got back to Sparkys where the line had grown and we waited 1/2 hour to get inside and order. While on line an employee came out to distribute some of their BBQed sausage. It was great.
I ordered the “world famous” half pounder, medium rare, plus a side of fries and a vanilla shake.
Simply put it was the best GCCB I have ever enjoyed. My wife was in agreement.
It was cooked to perfection, the heat was perfect, the fries excellent.
Now I know first hand why Sparkys is held in such high esteem.
One interesting thing was the pricing. The “world famous” 1/2 pounder with a side dish was listed at $7..49
Below that on the menu was the ” not so famous” 1/4 pounder with side at $7.99.
Was it a marketing ploy or just a typo?
Burgers are great, but don’t eat the fries! They are cooked in GMO pro-inflammatory omega-6 Canola oil – a very unhealthy preparation choice!
Tried this place today.. Entirely consistent with your review, and turned a neighborhood foodie onto it. It was excellent, from the patty to the toppings to the buns to the fries. Service was great, too.
Friend of mine & I testing green chili cheeseburgers as a fun adventure. Had
a Laguna Burger yesterday & have to say it is going to be VERY hard to beat.
Also did Little Red Hamburger Hut earlier & ditto! Trying this place next week.
The New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail, a New Mexico Tourism Department initiative, lists many great venues for the Land of Enchantment’s most iconic burger. We’ll all be interested to read about the trail you’re blazing in your pursuit of green chile cheeseburger deliciousness.
Last week I tried Grassburger. The hamburger was superb, juicy and full of actual beef flavor. I do not favor mayonnaise of any type on hamburgers, so it was a great relief to see a bottle of mustard on each table, along with ketchup for the fries, of course. I ordered the mixture of sweet potato fries and ordinary ones. Both are the thin kind. I think they need their frying oil a little hotter as the Irish potato fries came out a little limp. For the moment I recommend the sweet potato fries, which were crisp and tasty.