About halfway between Truth or Consequences and Hatch on I-25, you may have espied a billboard audaciously proclaiming “world’s finest green chile cheeseburger.” That billboard has always piqued my curiosity and prompted such questions as “where the heck is Arrey?” Though signage directs motorists to Exit 59, all there is to see beyond the exit are verdant fields to the right and more high desert expanse to the left. Then, of course, there’s the obvious question “if it’s so darn good, why isn’t it on the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail?”
As one of the quadrumvirate–along with the scintillating James Beard award-winning author Cheryl Jamison; Kate Manchester, founder of Edible Santa Fe; and former New Mexico Tourism Department Advertising manager Martin Leger–who came up with the hallowed list of restaurants, drive-ins, diners, dives, joints, cafes, roadside stands and bowling alleys who serve up the very best green chile cheeseburgers in the world, we should have known about the Arrey Cafe. Shouldn’t we have? It didn’t come up during any of our lengthy discussion as to what burgers were “trail worthy.”
Gustavo Arellano, the brilliant and hilarious author of Ask a Mexican and currently columnist for the Los Angeles Times, visits Hatch every summer and he, too, has seen the billboard that screams, “World’s Finest Green Chile Cheeseburger.” Unlike me, he actually put the brassy claim to the test. In an Eater article entitled “A Chile Road Trip on the I-25″, Arellano took the exit less traveled and after enjoying the burger, declared “Its roadside ad is almost correct. Arrey makes a great burger.” If the Arrey Cafe’s green chile cheeseburger was good enough for Gustavo Arellano, it’s got to be good enough for Gil Garduño!
We trekked to the Arrey Cafe, some three miles from Exit 59, and got there ten minutes before closing time, but the friendly and accommodating staff didn’t rush us. Not that they had to. There was only one thing we were going to have and that was the semi-famous world’s finest green chile cheeseburger. Burgers are available in quarter- and half-pound sizes, with or without cheese, chile and bacon. There are plenty of other options on the menu: sandwiches (including tortas), pizza, salads and several New Mexican food items.
The half-pound green chile cheeseburger is a behemoth between five-inch buns with two beef patties sandwiching American cheese and green chile. Lettuce, onions, pickles and a tomato also find space within the buns. We weren’t asked how we wanted our burger cooked, only whether we wanted mustard or ketchup. Burgers are prepared at medium-well, leaning toward well-done, but the beef patties appear to be hand-formed. Unlike Gustavo Arellano who found the green chile “fleshy and piquant,” your volcano-eating blogger would have wanted his burger “mas ardiente” (with more burn). Still, it’s a very good burger, well worthy of a place on the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail…which will hopefully be refreshed someday soon.
The next time you find yourself headed to southern New Mexico, take Exit 59 toward the “world’s finest green chile cheeseburger” and find out for yourself why Arrey can make such an audacious claim.
Arrey, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 10 September 2020
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Half-Pound Green Chile Cheeseburger