During a 1996 episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza, a self-proclaimed “short, balding, unattractive man” made the mistake of telling his fiancee he wanted to name his child “Seven” after his idol Mickey Mantle. To George’s chagrin, his fiancee’s cousins liked the idea so much they decided to name their own child Seven. Even as the female cousin was being wheeled by an orderly into the delivery room, George tried in vain to convince them to name the child something else. Six, Thirteen, Fourteen, even…Soda. “it’s bubbly, it’s refreshing!,” he cried.
Driving by the familiar yellow roofed building that previously housed the now defunct Mad Max’s BBQ, I couldn’t help but laugh while recalling that hilarious episode. There on that yellow roof was new signage for a cafe named Sevyn’s Cafe–George Costanza’s coveted baby name only spelled differently. Sevyn’s Cafe opened for business on Wednesday, November 5th, 2010, the retirement dream of Pamela and Ralph Hartsock. Pamela, a nurse, and Ralph, who’s in the construction clean-up business, haven’t retired yet, but it’s never too early to start planning.
Pamela explained that the cafe is named for her granddaughter, jokingly adding that her son picked the name in recognition of the seven top reasons to get a tattoo. Her son, a noted tattoo artist, created the artwork hanging on the walls at the cafe. It’s good stuff. One depicts a skeletal bride and groom in the style of El Dia De Los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead in which a profusion of skeletons of all sizes perform day-to-day activities signifying the return to this world of the dead who remain what they were when they lived, doing what they did. Another depicts Saint Sebastian, a Christian saint and martyr, tied to a post and shot with arrows.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sevyn’s menu showcases New Mexican food with single- or double-meat burgers , a chicken sandwich (grilled or breaded), chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwich, a hot dog and a chili dog thrown in for good measure. The breakfast menu features an assortment of plates or burritos. You can, for example, have a plate with eggs, hash browns, cheese, bacon or sausage, and red or green chili (sic) or the whole lot can be piled in a tortilla and served as a burrito.
In the 12th edition of Frommer’s Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque Travel Guide, author Lesley King listed “Northern New Mexico Enchiladas” as among “the most unforgettable Northern New Mexico Experiences,” indicating that there are few things more New Mexican than the enchilada. I couldn’t agree more with my friend and tend to consider enchiladas a good benchmark for restaurants which serve New Mexican food. If a restaurant can’t make a good enchilada, chances are the rest of its New Mexican food won’t be good either.
Sevyn’s Cafe serves a good enchilada. Make that three. Three enchiladas engorged with your choice of beef or chicken and served with your choice of red or green chile (or Christmas style) made for a good introduction to the cafe. Instead of one measly egg, my enchiladas were topped with two eggs, completely blanketing the entree. The chili (my spellchecker is going crazy with this spelling, but it’s how it’s spelled on the menu) is rich, dark red and tasty though it lacks much of a discernible bite. The ground beef is well-seasoned and doesn’t have a reheated flavor as you’ll find at some restaurants. The accompanying rice is fluffy and delicious as are the beans.
My buddy Bill “Roastmaster” Resnik had a cheeseburger which he praised for its hand-formed, fresh beef patty though the overly toasted bun detracted from his overall enjoyment. The beef patty appears to be about six ounces. It is joined on sesame seed buns by red onion, crisp lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mustard and mayo. French fries seasoned with salt and pepper are also available as a side.
I don’t know if George Costanza would get upset over the use of the name Sevyn for this charming little cafe, but it’s a good bet Seinfeld’s portly friend would enjoy the food.
1600 Sara Road
Rio Rancho, NM
LATEST VISIT: 4 November 2010
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Enchiladas