Dining New Mexico

The A&W Burger Family in Lemitar, New Mexico
The A&W Burger Family in Lemitar, New Mexico

For nearly a quarter century, the most popular section in New Mexico Magazine (the nation’s oldest state magazine, by the way) has been a humorous column entitled “One of Our Fifty is Missing.”  The column features anecdotes submitted by readers worldwide recounting their experiences with fellow American citizens and ill-informed bureaucrats who don’t realize that New Mexico is part of the United States.

Some travelers from other states actually believe they’re leaving their nation’s borders when they cross into New Mexico.  Others think they need a passport to visit (not that they’d visit considering they’re wary of drinking our water.)  Merchants and banks throughout America have been known to reject as “foreign credit cards” American Express and Visa cards issued by New Mexico banking institutions.

The realization that it’s New Mexico, U.S.A. isn’t lost solely on ordinary citizens and bureaucrats.  Even modern pop culture has gotten into the act.

During one episode of The Simpsons, the iconic Homer Simpson didn’t know New Mexico existed until looking at a Krusty Burger map and exclaiming with surprise “Hey, there’s a New Mexico.”  Homer’s despotic boss, the Yale educated Mr. Burns wasn’t much better: “Whoa! Whoa! Slow down there mistro.  There’s a New Mexico?”

The green chile cheeseburger at the Bobcat Bite is perhaps the very best in New Mexico.
The green chile cheeseburger at the Bobcat Bite is perhaps the very best in New Mexico.

Not only is there a New Mexico, it’s being increasingly “discovered” by thousands of viewers who tune in to various shows on the Food Network.  Hardly a week goes by without one of the network’s gastronomic glitterati visiting the Land of Enchantment and salivating effusively at some culinary creation or another.

It’s not only the Food Network which has uncovered New Mexico’s gustatory gems.  It’s the Wall Street Journal, GQ magazine, Gourmet magazine and dozens of other traditional media publications.  Online, New Mexico’s cuisine is frequently feted on the popular Roadfood Web site as well as on salon.com, epicurious.com and a wealth of other Web sites.

New Mexico’s cuisine has also achieved the pinnacle of achievement in the culinary world, garnering numerous awards from the prestigious James Beard Foundation.  In recent years, the “Oscars of food” have been awarded to chefs, restaurants and cookbooks all from New Mexico.

Not every mention of New Mexico’s cuisine is “peppered” with references to chile, the capsaicin blessed staple of New Mexico home and restaurant fare.

It may surprise you to learn that an Italian restaurant (Trattoria Nostrani) in Santa Fe was lauded by Gourmet magazine as one of the 50 best restaurants in America or that the Food Network and epicurious.com selected as the best burger in the entire fruited plain, a burger crafted in a humble New Mexico café (Bobcat Bite) with seating for only 26.

The Bobcat Bite's hamburger steak with green chile.
The Bobcat Bite's hamburger steak with green chile.

Several other New Mexico restaurants have earned prestigious national accolades.  A surprising number of them are nondescript mom and pop diners with little to offer in terms of ambience but which serve outstanding food (most of it not sophisticated enough to be called cuisine).

Understandably many of New Mexico’s best restaurants are concentrated in its most populous cities, but to limit your culinary exploration to those cities is to miss out on some of the very best restaurants anywhere—many just off the “well eaten path.”

Stay on the teeming tourist traversed areas, and you won’t discover that some of the state’s best New Mexican (El Bruno) food can be found in Cuba (New Mexico)  or that its best Cuban food (Tocororo Cafe) might just be found in Madrid (also in New Mexico).  You’ll miss out on conceivably New Mexico’s best Cajun food (Callie’s), which is served from a dilapidated mobile kitchen that looks like a rejected hippie bus (or a rusty roach coach on steroids).

Within miles of one of the ten natural wonders of the world you’ll find what is arguably the state’s best barbecue and (gasp) until just a few years ago it was served at a Carlsbad Dairy Queen by an owner who took the term “independently owned” to heart.  Even though it’s on a tourist trodden path, neither the Food Network nor the guidebooks have found this one.

New Mexicans like me are a discerning and demanding lot when it comes to our disposable income and one of our favorite ways to spend our hard-earned money is by dining out.

The fictional Maggie's from the movie Wild Hogs
The fictional Maggie's from the movie Wild Hogs filmed in Madrid, New Mexico

In fiscal 2003, New Mexicans spent $1.6 billion in eating and dining establishments.  Considering the state’s median household income is just over $30,000 a year, the Land of Enchantment’s restaurants—and not just those anointed “best of” by the culinary cognoscenti—have got to be pretty good to inspire such enthusiastic patronage.

Before you check out my restaurant reviews, please review my rating system which explains how I arrive at my ratings.  It’s not exactly scientific and I don’t take into account anyone else’s opinion of the restaurants in which we dine, not even the opinion of my faithful dining companion and wife Kim whose palate has matured tremendously over the years.

Your opinions may certainly differ as there are no rights and wrongs in my ratings, just opinions–mine.

Bobcat Bite photos courtesy of my friend and colleague Andrea Lin.

294 thoughts on “Dining New Mexico

  1. Absolutely not. Wow. Frank Pepe’s legendary white clam pizza from a recipe from Napoli. I have not even been to Connecticutt let alone Pepe’s. I went to their website and: “Putting clams on pizza is nothing new at Pepe’s and we are proud of our delicious creation. Our famous white clam pizza is made with the freshest clams, grated cheese, garlic, olive oil, and oregano arranged atop a coal-fired crust that proves this combination is one for the ages.”

    How did a homegrown New Mexican like you, Gil, ever make it to a pizzeria in Connecticutt? And does anyone do a white clam pizza in NM?!

    1. Tom, believe me, it’s a transformative pie. I was very blessed to have been stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts (about 20 miles from BOTVOLR’s hometown of Lowell). During my two years there I managed to make it not only to Frank Pepe’s, but to Katz’s Deli, too. From a culinary standpoint, living in Massachusetts opened my mind and my eyes to experiences and tastes every 19 year old should have.

      To my knowledge, there is no white clam pizza in New Mexico. You’ll have to go up to Denver’s Cart Driver Cart Driverfor a New Haven–style white clam pizza (showcasing tender littlenecks, ribbons of pancetta, roasted garlic cloves, creamy panna sauce and a liberal sprinkling of fresh herbs.)

      1. I know New York, of course. Having only made visits when I was on an expense account. I’ve been to Katz’s, Carnegie, and Stage Deli. For some cinematic reason I always go back to Carnegie (see Broadway Danny Rose). Gil, do you have a favorite deli in NY?

        1. I was 21 when I last visited Katz’s Deli, but that transformative pastrami flavor will forever be imprinted on my mind. Sadly, I only made it to the Las Vegas instantiation of Carnegie. I didn’t know whether to try putting the one-pound pastrami in my mouth or to climb it. It was huge! Someday I’d love to go back and make up for lost time.

          Oh, I updated my comment about white clam pizza.

          1. Gil and Tom : Sadly – make that tragically – it’s too late for a pilgrimage to either Carnegie or Stage Deli – they’re both closed. Carnegie shut down in 2016 and Stage was closed in 2012. Their outpost locations in Vegas have also been closed. Katz’s is still open but it has never been a favorite of mine (I detest the rude countermen) and I see that Second Avenue Deli is also still in operation but I haven’t been there in years.

      2. Gil, you have influence in NM. You must issue an Executive Order (so popular these days) that a pizzeria in NM make a white clam pizza before sundown.

      3. I love the guys at M’Tucci’s. I am going to execute an executive order that they must make a white clam pizza.

  2. Another Dining MEXICO adventure. Oaxaca has some of the finest dining in Mexico. No, that’s not like saying Military music is some of the greatest music I’ve ever listened to. Mexico has some great dining like Pujol (ranked 18th best restaurant in the world), Maximo Bistrot, Lalo and many others.
    In Oaxaca there are several restaurants and chefs listed in the best of Latin America.
    First night at Origen. Had a terrific tongue dish, marinaded and served with a terrific sauce. Great mescal to accompany the dish. Terrific but wait there’s more.
    Lunch on day two at the Quinta Real Hotel, a converted convent. In an effort to broaden my culinary horizons, and at the urging of Gil who told me “if you liked ant eggs you’ll like chapolines”otherwise known as grasshoppers. Glad I tried them, but frankly ant eggs are much better. Lunch on our last day was a recommended restaurant Casa de Abulita with a 4 mole chicken dish that was outstanding, and another favorite of mine, Black bean soup.
    Then dinner at El Distilado. 9 course tasting menu, and every course a winner. My two favorites out of 9 great ones, were an outstanding take on sweetbreads, with a very, very piquante sauce, and followed up with a pulpo dish, marinaded in its own ink, honey and soy sauce. If I was in the privacy of my own home I would have literally lapped up the remaining sauce like the food dog I am.
    Our table and the others were visited by the Chef, Julio Aguilera, an American trained in San Francisco. He explained almost every one of the 9 courses and was as personable as he could be. Considering how many great choices we had we decided to go back for our last night’s dinner. Even with an ala carte menu available and our desire to have his short ribs the Chef said he would like to make the dinner a tasting menu he would put together for us including the fabulous short ribs. How could we say no, and again it was spectacular.
    Oaxaca was everything we could have asked for in terms of foodie delights. Not to be missed.
    Friendly service, excellent food and psst, BOTVOLR, the 9 course tasting menu with a very generous tip for AAA service was $140. for two.
    And a nice introduction to Mescal to boot.

  3. El Meze, one of the very, very best restaurants in NM has closed. I first saw the notice on Open Table and found it hard to believe based on eating A number of times and it always being full. Looking further there were 2 notices reporting its closure, one stating it was closed due to a fire and the second stating the Chef had decided to retire. Either way it’s our loss. It was worthy of a trip to Taos for no other reason than to dine there. We brought guests there on trips to Taos. While I’m no expert on chicharones Chef ‘s version was the best I’d ever had. I do know what I like and and I liked them a lot.
    What ever is the reason for its closing I’m sorry for any NM foodie who missed out.
    If it’s the Chef’s retirement I hope he and his wife, the front of the house chair lady enjoy their time away and hope the get bored quickly and grace the NM food scene once again.

  4. I’m calling this Dining Mexico, for the moment dropping the “New”.
    My wife and I have dined at several restaurants ranked world wide top 50 from Europe to South America but find the culinary scene in Mexico to be among the best anywhere. Last night had the pleasure of dining at Maximo Bistrot in Mexico City.
    Chef Eduardo Garcia has taken his apprenticeships at Le Bernardin in NYC and Pujol, a top 50 in the world restaurant to his own eatery Maximo Bistrot, now ranked 39 of the top 50 Latin American restaurants. Chef Garcia was deported twice from the USA and now can never return. Our loss.
    We had his creations that ran from Tuna sashimi, burrrata and pesto stuffed squash blossoms, asparagus with a fabulous hollandaise, taliatelle with bronze fennel and caviar, rack of lamb, ravioli stuffed with short rib, and my favorite sweet breads, eaten once a year to keep my cholesterol somewhat in check. Plus a few more great, shareable dishes, including a great take on dessert, French toast with a compost of in season berries. Dinner for 4 with the gratuity came to 6000 pesos, or $80, per person, much less than at a great, big city (pick any one) restaurant.
    In a word, wow. Mexico City is just a starting point for Fine dining. Among our favorites is Nobu and Hunan Reforma.
    We are headed to Oaxaca which claims to be the epicenter of the dining fine dining explosion in Mexico for some mescal fueled food and a pre fixe 9 course dinner at Origen, another highly rated restaurant.
    If you’re traveling south of the border you can find these great eateries listed in any number of foodie sites.
    One word of caution, you need reservations far in advance like a couple, 3 months for Pujol, Enrique Olivera’s 18th best rated restaurant in the world.

    1. Thank you, 8. Tremendous report on the outstanding culinary scene in Mexico! Along with the ascent of great restaurants in England over the past decade or so, Mexican cuisine has earned its rightful place as one of the world’s best cuisines.

  5. Had a Cubano from Relish.
    Simply the best Cubano I’ve had in ABQ. One of the best I’ve had anywhere.
    Right meat, right cheese, pickle, mojo and the bread was a soft grinder roll that was toasted in the press and got flattened a bit and crisp, maybe lightly buttered before pressing.
    A very good potato salad side.
    Very happy I tried Relish, definitely not a one and out.

  6. Vanessa, thank you so much for your assessment and opinion of Gil and his food blog! I do know him as a friend and one who likes to share where he eats with all of us. I too am glad there is a space where we can excape the depressing realities of most of life and find a place where we can find where ti dine objectively and in peace in the Land if Enchantment. I challenge all bloggers to be more positive and enrich this blog to what it’s supposed to be! Happy Holidays to All!!!

  7. Yo Holiday Time means lots of gatherings for many which means laying out food spreads or having an item for pot lucks: If you have been to Japan, Hawaii, or locally to Canvas Artistry https://www.nmgastronome.com/?s=canvas+artistry where you had their “Tempura Fried SPAM Musubi” and wish to replicate it, but cannot afford the SPAM, here are 2 of my Holiday Remembrances for You (but only if you are into that sort of thing!!!!): a) Making SPAM at home http://tinyurl.com/y9m92kho ! (No, I haven’t done it, but look forward to your report! b) Sushi Making Kit http://tinyurl.com/ybnkn8d5
    Disclaimer: you might find a cheaper kit elsewhere, e.g. in ABQ at Tailen. UpFront: Do your thing, but please…. let me do mine: I prefer that SushiMaking-for-Dummies than to rolling kits. I favor Seaweed Wrapped. I prefer mixing speckles of wasabi in the Soy Sauce; topping the roll section with a sliver of Ginger vs savoring each separately. Key! Elsewise: Premier: buying Sticky Rice to begin with and have an exquisitely sharpened cutting knife. No, am not into Saki; a Plum wine is fine! RE the latter for “Cheers!: kanpai! (sounds like “gahn-pie”). You may hear banzai! shouted at some point, but leave that to later. Often voiced with enthusiasm as glasses are raised, kanpai translates to “empty cup” — the Western equivalent would be “bottoms up.”
    Tradition once dictated that people were expected to finish their cup of sake (rice wine) in one shot. That’s why the cute cups are conveniently small.​ ​Now that beer is more or less the drink of choice, you can certainly get by with just raising your glass and taking a sip each time someone offers a toast. No need to revert back to your chugging skills developed at great cost in higher education.​ ​Small sips are a good thing; there may be scores of toasts given throughout the night!​ ​Pro Tip: The correct pronunciation of sake is “sah-keh,” not “sah-key” as often heard in the West.
    ​(Lo, lest some might erroneously think otherwise: NO, I do not require being served by a Geisha!)​

  8. A meteorologist?
    Did any women vote for Ms. Currie?
    Another head scratcher.
    The world is going to hell in a handbasket and a weather forecaster who has the same forecast 330 (“sunny with a high of 71 and a low of 54”) days a years is leading the poll?
    Does the term horny old man come to mind?
    Any women vote for Ms. Currie?

    1. This is the first time I’ve commented on the website. Your condescending and mean spirited comment really set me off. I’m a woman and I voted for Ms. Currie. So did two of my women friends. Why did you want to know if any women voted for her? Is it so you can label us lesbians. You seem very adept at name-calling and it’s obvious you hate the weekly poll which my friends and I find fun (thank you BOTVOLR and Gil).

      1. OMG…Bienvenidos to the Blog Vanessa…a refreshing splash of cold water indeed! Alas, BLUSH RE the “fun” acknowledgement”, i.e. I only suggested doing Polls and just a few topics and have tried to suggest to “One n All”, to pitch in your topic/items for a Poll!
        Be that as it may, I must admit I have not voted in this one, albeit I kind of find positives RE all choices…well, except one. Personally, I think a LOCAL Celeb who is missing and who is due “some” acknowledgement, is Nancy Laflin of KOAT. Now that Anderson, Joles, Aragon, Johnny, and the venerable Dick (sorry whoelse I missed!) have taken their leave…and MaryLynn sorta speak… I’m thinking Laflin is the “Matron” (surely that is going to win me points!) of Local TV.
        While some might be ‘suspect’ that she niched out the ‘crime scene’ for personal career “gain”, one must admit, IMHO, her persistence over the last “how many years?” suggests a deeper commitment to bringing us, keeping us in tune with, the dark side of Albuquerque, lest we engender risks to our civility as a society, e.g. by sticking our heads in the sand…being a desert of course! What the heck makes this woman tick to not just “read” this news, but delve deeper into stuff and always be out (impeccably) in the “field/arroyo/culvert” getting the nitty-gritty that I…we…might not rather see? And yet over the 10 or is it 15 or whatever years its been, she has warded off developing a “crustiness” to the humaness of the victims involved. (Pardon…saying that makes me also think of the Journal’s Joline Gutierrez-Krueger and her doggedness and concern RE e.g. Mary Han’s “death” as “they” were so quick to label!) Yo, I would give my “eye teeth”, to listen to Laflin’s ‘confessions of a compulsively diligent Criminalist Reporter/Journalist’ over….let’s say our Henry IVths at Antiquity….in contrast to even the most Celebed (unnamed) Cable-News BobbleHead. Ok Ok…Megyn Kelly, in her old role being a tough second, given she brought to her glasstopped table, the most antithical of viewpoints, to go eyeball-to-eyeball with! LOL

      2. Wow. Lesbians?
        And what name calling did you cull from my comment, and whom did I name call?
        Did you vote for Ms. Currie because her spot on forecasts are spectacular?
        What question would you ask her, green or red?
        Do you like your eggs runny or hard?
        What’s you fave GCCB?
        Fun, maybe.
        Objectifying women by looks, certainly.
        Informative, no.

        1. I’ve never met Gil. I don’t know that I want to. It might destroy the illusion. To many of his readers Gil represents the joy of dining. It’s a joy many of us feel but can’t express nearly as well. This website is an escape from the meanness of politics and crime. It’s our place of joy.

          Kristen Currie expresses that same type of joy in her forecasts and when she samples the dishes prepared by the guest chefs who visit the KRQE morning news program and in New Mexico Living when she subs for one of the hosts. She knows her way around the kitchen and has been a celebrity judge at many food events around town.

          It’s unfortunate that not everyone can keep the dialogue on this website positive and build up one another instead of tearing others down whose opinions they don’t agree with.

          1. The poll meister did not offer any opinions, just look at his comment and you’ll see just that if you have the time to go through it.
            I have expressed my opinions of some of the polls and made a suggestion or two that I think would improve them but I usually don’t vote for any number of reasons.
            One in particular more input from other commenters or perhaps a none of the above or a space for commentersto add their own choice.
            I have asked the poll meister for some analysis of the results from their perspective but it’s never forth coming.
            And the lesbian comment was the most absurd I’ve read. Period.

          2. Wow! Thank you so very much. I’m certainly not worthy of your kind words.

            There are always reciprocal expectations about meeting someone you know only from their writing. In every single case, the readers whom I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting have exceeded my expectations and many of them have become treasured friends. I would hope that if we ever do meet, you’re not disappointed. I’m a pretty ordinary guy.

            I voted for Kristen for exactly the same reasons you did. During my convalescence from surgery last year, I had the great pleasure of watching the entirety of the KRQE morning news program and got to see Kristen not only deliver a reliably accurate forecast, but interact with chefs and restaurateurs during food segments. She asked very good questions and was adventurous in sampling dishes with which she was not familiar. You can’t help but love her enthusiasm for her chosen craft…and for food.

            This blog welcomes a diversity of opinion, but like you, I’d prefer that it be constructive and kind.

          3. I am afraid that I, a male, voted for Kristen for very strange reasons, not because she is a hottie, not because of her weather forecasts nor her interviews with restaurateurs, but two basic irrelevant reasons.

            1. The fashion show. We swear that we have seen a dress twice 2-3 times. It appears (to me) that she has 4 basic patterns 3 of which are very close, a form fitting sleeved & sleeveless and either with a fringe on the side. Variations are the fabrics. The Fourth (and I can understand why somebody would get upset with this) is by far Omar the Tentmakers most attractive dress. I amuse myself by trying to guess what her clothing budget is (which is none of my business but solely for my entertainment).

            2. The fantastic (and entertaining) hand, arm & finger movement as she stands in front of the green screen.

            All of this sounds very childish but I long ago gave up on local news as informative but just entertainment. I also amuse myself trying to see how many times the “anchor’ can remind me to get the KRQE news app.

            Everybody else on the list is boring.

    2. While I am a red blooded All-American Boy, and Kristen is very attractive, that is not the reason I voted for her. It’s just that she seems to be the person on the list whom I’d most want to dine with. The others on the list just don’t appeal to me. I can think of 10 other local celebrities I’d rather eat with, but she is the one that works for me.

      Otherwise, Holly would be right behind her as well, right?

      Besides, I think you put more thought into these polls than do most people who vote :-)…just like the way our elections turn out usually! 😉

  9. The poll, boss, the poll!
    How about a poll regarding the poll?
    The poll seems to have gone the way of the Edsel. Or has the pollmeister gone on vacation?
    Perhaps the poll could be a collaborative effort with potential pollmeisters submitting questions of interest.
    My poll would require a bit more input by commenters:
    For instance, in order of preference name three people with who you’d like to break bread with?
    Here are mine:
    Jackie Robinson, to make amends for chickening out when I had the chance to tell him he was the most exciting baseball player I have ever seen, instead of standing dumbfounded and silent.
    Marilyn Monroe, still the most blonde bombshell of them all (man can’t live by great food alone).
    Marlon Brando, Don Corleone, my favorite movie character, in my favorite movie, Godfather Part 2.

  10. Just to try to get a decent argument going I will comment on the “Mexican” (generic) restaurants we visited last week while in San Antonio & Austin.
    Acenar is quite upscale on the Riverwalk and claims to be modern TexMex. More than half of the customers seemed to be local & the food was excellent. The menu however refers to “Chile.”

    Viva Villa Taqueria is in Market Square which would seem aimed at tourist business. At lunch everybody but us appeared to be local. The tacos were in fact excellent and the staff was one of the best I have ever run across. The menu refers to “Chile.”

    Iron Cactus is a 4-restaurant chain on the Riverwalk definitely aimed at tourists and most customers met that description. The food was mediocre. The menu refers to “Chile.”

    I congratulated all on finally adopting the New Mexico spelling for “chile.” They all responded like I was nuts. The manager at Iron Cactus was offended, making it clear that chili is that stuff which comes in a bowl and I was pronouncing it correctly (chilly). Chile is completely different as it refers to the chile pepper and we New Mexicans had better learn to pronounce it correctly (Cheelay). All of this was very different from anything I had been lead to believe in my present youthful ignorance.

    1. The Texas State Library and Archives commission which lists official Texas state symbols tells us the official state dish of Texas is “chili.” Houston chef Randy Evans insists “chili has cumin, chili powder, onions, garlic, a little bit of tomato paste…but never beans.” That’s pretty much the consensus in the Lone Star state.

      Paul Bosland, director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University and the school’s chief chile breeder, has been trying for years to get everyone to spell chile–the hot peppers or the plant from which the peppers come–with an “e.” He says chili–the spicy dish of meat and sometimes beans–should be spelled with an “i.”

      Similar to the farolitos or luminarias debate, there will be advocates for both “chile” and “chili.” My spell-checker throws a fit when it sees the spelling “chili.”

      1. I am sure that everything you are saying is true but the restaurants in San Antonio don’t seem to know anything about it except that they seem to agree with Paul Bosland and Randy Evans about what chile and chili are. The Texas State Library and Archives official state dish appears to be referring to the same thing.

        I have not messed with my spell-checker though and it “suggested” that chili is correct. BBC seems to think it should be chilly in merry old England.

        By the way, I didn’t taste a hint of cumin in anything.

        1. Yo Jim RE Cumin etc.: Oh my! quite awhile ago, for one of our initial and enjoyable FOG Gatherings (that hopefully we might prevail Shawne to set up in Dec. or January!!!!), I happened to sit down at Budai to find myself in the midst of Cumin-istas. Lo, I felt embarrassed as my taste buds were unfamiliar/insensitive to(?) this, much abhorred, “spice/herb/flavoring/whatever”. Several weeks ago, all that changed at El Payaso http://tinyurl.com/y9ukjgub on north 4th ala their Serve-Yourself bar of Flavorings. Whoa! you ain’t, IMHO, had Cumin till you’ve had theirs…Caveat: don’t wear socks and guaranteed to grow Jim hair!
          – Elsewise, and not to be argumentative: I don’t often “cook” at home, e.g. using a recipe. As such, occasionally I’ll succumb to buying a can of (please don’t cringe) Wolf Brand Chili-Authentic Texas Recipe- by Conagra of Fort Worth. Alas, NO cumin is listed, albeit “spices” is/are. If it is any saving grace, I will top the bowl with multi-named, grated cheeses and I’ll dice up a fresh onion (versus the prepackaged ones!). I accompany them with Saltines dolloped with butter as well as e.g. a Carlsberg! One of these days I may buy some Crème fraîche or sour cream.

          1. I am shocked-Wolf brand Chili is now made by Con-Agra? That is awful. It went through many years of ownership by Quaker Oats which ruined it much like interbred has cheapened up & ruined every beer it has boughT (except Bud & Corona which can’t be made worse). I am sure Con-Agra will continue the destruction.

            Since I couldn’t find a bowl of chili in Texas, only chile. I immediately made up a batch on my return. Of course I really wasn’t looking for any.

            1. When we moved to Texas we did our darnedest to find a good bowl of Texas chili, but found most of it inedible. Then Gil sent me Shawne’s recipe which we made without cumin. It was outstanding!

              In New Mexico I found that any restaurant which spelled it ‘chili’ was usually terrible. Unless they’re serving Texas chili, it should be illegal to use that spelling.

  11. I have had burgers, GCCBs, in all but 3 of the nominees, Rockin Bz, el Farolito, and Rex’s.
    For me Sparky’s, then Laguna Burger, then Blades Bistro are 1-2-3.
    It was interesting to see the votes spread out more evenly than some of the more lopsided poll results.
    I would really be curious to know who voted for each establishment and why, plus additions and subtractions. And no Fuddruckers or Blake’s Lotaburger, perennials on the Best lists.
    My subtractions? The Owl. Living on past reputation and memories. Likewise the Buckhorn, to me hit or miss.
    Addition? Jennifer James’s version at ”frenchish”. In a word, outstanding.
    Also the Placitas Cafe. Excellent, with the perfect drip factor. Very important.
    One of the better polls, just want more input. And no, I didn’t vote.

    1. Per “I would really be curious to know who voted for each establishment and why…”
      I chose the GCCB at the Monte Carlo. Unfortunately for this poll, it has been quite some time since I’ve been to several and never to others which “exposes” one of the difficulties in creating polls as well as having confidence in what the answers actually reflect. (Regarding the Poll being a collaborative effort: I believe I (or meant to) suggested/encouraged all herein to submit topics/items. While I suggested the idea of a Poll, I have not been the creator of most of them.) Nevertheless, to me the results are interesting to confirm, in a way, the status of places. Hopefully, participating in the Poll, might lure some Folks to Comment as well.

      Why Monte Carlo’s? a) Recency. b) The patty was formed in a way that its size could accommodate a center pinkishness, but not be such that when accompanied by the bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, and Chile, it is not such a behemoth that it required a jaw-opening/stretching that challenged my Fix-o-dent. While I do not ketchup my burgers, MC accommodated my request for Mayo…LOL. In addition, as I asked it be cut in half, I cannot comment on the integrity of the bun being maintained throughout eating it. Aah the Chile: A+: was tasty and had a good kick…2 primaries of great Chile. c) The last reason I gave it the nod, was the Thumbs Up given by my teen G-Daughter.

      – Had the Toro Burger been amongst the choices, that could have challenged the MC choice.
      – Lest some might not know, the latest Laguna Burger that opened is across from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center on 12th NW, ABQ.
      – When I worked a burger place, it used a grilled grill which was gas fired instead of a ‘hot plate’/griddle. In ordering a Gift Card from a restaurant in MA today, I saw a gizmo like this http://tinyurl.com/ycabvhuo that they have in their kitchen to do their grilling etc. Has anyone seen or know of a place around town where this has reached the desert?
      – “The best burgers” I had years ago, were on Jefferson Blvd in LA in the shadow of Shriner’s Auditorium and USC. While Green Chile was unheard of at the time and it was the thick- or thinness of a Lota Burger, it was delicious per what I presume is the “drip factor”, i.e. being the greasiest of greasy along with same for the firm fries. It was in an Orange Julius’ and could probably be only found “underground” today!

      – RE Jackie Robinson: The 1950 movie, which features Jackie playing himself, can be found http://tinyurl.com/y7rrmyvs The “current” ’13 version titled “42”, can be found on Netflix.

      1. Thanks for the reply.
        A couple of things.
        The drip factor has nothing to do with a burger being greasy but more to do with the juices from properly cooked meat. It’s like sopping up marinara sauce or gravy, not the grease.
        This burger poll points out that more than any other food item burgers are of the moment. That means that today’s champ is but one bad burger from being dropped from the poll. Two bad ones in a row mean the burger is headed to Potter’s Field. burial terminal for the unknown.
        I believe that Orange Julius lives in full view of the public on Broadway in NYC, a landmark.
        Jackie Robinson was much more than a very talented athlete,
        He was a civil right giant. As a LT in the USArmy in WW2 he was Court marshaled for refusal to move to the back of a bus on a military installation in the south. He fought the charge and was acquitted of the charges.
        He was an outstanding football player at UCLA along with being a track and field star.
        What stands out in his resume was his loyalty to organization that asked him to break the color line in Major League Baseball, the Brooklyn Dodgers.
        When, at the end of his career, they traded him to the NYGiants, the mortal enemy and cross town rivals, he decided to retire rather than join the hated rivals.
        Legend has it that the split screen TV shot was developed and used to cover his famous dancing off first base, arms dangling and swinging to make sure the pitcher was more occupied with keeping him there than pitching to the next batter. No movie can capture the essence of Jackie Robinson.
        One thing I don’t understand is the term grilled grill.
        I like griddled burgers that create an all over crust not just grill lines.
        While I thought the meat used by Bobcat Bite was very good I thought the patty was too round and a bit too fat, not fatty, but plumped and too firmly packed. I use a griddle at home for my burgers. I grind my own combo of ground beef, ground pork belly, and ground short ribs, minus the rib, of course. American cheese for sure and some grilled shallots. I’d put my house made burger up head to head with any out there. No fancy bun, usually a large size Sara Lee work for me.
        Went to Toro burger based on glowing comments by the readers of GTAF. It was closed for lunch. Never would have thought a burger joint would be closed for lunch. I’ll get there one day.

        1. (Hope you enjoy, lest ya hadn’t seen it, the ’50 version featuring Jackie himself.)

          “One thing I don’t understand is the term grilled grill.”
          I used that for lack of a better term at the moment of composing for http://tinyurl.com/ycuwrt9s to differentiate from a (solid cooking surface) griddle http://tinyurl.com/yctuefq9 .The Grilled Grill, or possibly “Grated Grill”, allowed the GrillMan where I worked eons ago, to spatula-smash the patty in order to casue juices to hit the fire to cause a flame flare-up e.g. http://tinyurl.com/y6wcdswc to impress/get the attention of the Gals who had to pass by the glass partition, albeit it tended to dry the burger.
          – Say, have read that some enthusiasts put a dimple or indentation or “punt” (as in the bottom of a wine bottle) in the center of their patties into which they put an ice cube to maintain moisture. However, I’m presuming you are being proactive with your melange of meats to obviate the need for that.
          – Not to challenge your Sara Lee bun, but your noting that, reminds me we used Kaiser Rolls at the place I worked to create what were known as Smorgasburgers.
          – Say, for those of Y’all into Grassfed burgers as Gil reviewed and was commented upon here https://www.nmgastronome.com/?p=39293#comments, just happened to catch this ‘pay $5 for $10 of food’ http://tinyurl.com/y76skxy9
          – Ya, sorry about your timing. Only opens at 5PM


          1. Additionally, many counter chefs first spray water around their cooking burgers and then cover with the top of a cooking vessel to accomplish the same.
            Booby Flay presses the indentation in with his thumb to prevent plumping.
            I’m guessing the flare up caused by the pressing of the meat, a technique frowned upon by meat experts, is for the pyrotechnics effect, much like an experienced chef in an open kitchen does with a sauté pan and not necessarily to impress women in particular but for anyone who’s close by.
            Lastly, any bio-pic from the fifties is a highly whitewashed version of the truth and not of any particular historical value.
            Wasted time, simply, and frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn

  12. Another poll that may be the ultimate “so what”.
    Deming as the best food town after Santa Fe and ABQ? 1 vote and no name of the eatery?
    San Antonio? A couple of votes and just 2 restaurants, burger joints? Will this result make San Antonio the new Napa with the French Laundry? Doubtful.
    Will folks be so curious about Deming they’ll make the drive without knowing where to go or even why?
    Why wasn’t Hatch listed, after all Sparky’s has been called the best GCCB in the state and it’s only 1 burger place smaller that San Antonio?
    How about a spot for either “none of the above” or a blank spot for other opinions.
    What is going to be the upshot of being named 3rd best after SF and ABQ?
    I hope the poll meister can glean some important info from this poll. I’ll be interested in what that info is.
    I understand that it’s not easy to come up with a poll question every week, obviously.
    I still would like to hear from commenters concerning the good, the bad and the ugly of personal dining experiences here in the Land of Enchantment and many other destinations. I trust folks personal remembrances for inspiration.

    1. Your comment about Deming brings back ancient memories.

      About ’78 or ’79 I had to drive down to Lordsburg for a council meeting which ended at about 9pm. This was shortly after a political disagreement had resulted in the blowing up go the water tower & shots being fired at the mayors plane as it was taking off. I asked the city administrator where I should eat.

      He asked “Do you like Mexican?”

      Of course I said “Yes.”

      He started to make a recommendation then stopped. “It is Saturday night and you are from out of town and would have to park 2-3 blocks away. You would be mugged before you got there. You had better go to Deming.”
      The only thing I could find in Deming which appeared open was the Holiday Inn dining room. However I was told that the kitchen had just closed so I asked the desk for a recommendation. She thought of a second then said, “I have lived here all my life and there isn’t anyplace. Try T or C.”

      Of course nothing there was open. I drive back to Albuquerque in the wee hours and made my own meal.

  13. Yo… many of us in New Mexico are addicted to avocados, especially for whipping up some Guac dip at a moment’s notice. At my WallyMart, avocados are always rock hard. I just saw this http://tinyurl.com/yd6auoq2
    for 15 Bucks as a wool sock that promises to ripen your avocado in 24 hours. Alas, being frugal, I tried using my Wallymart sock of unknown fibers, and lo and behold, it softened my avocado too! Let me know your experience!
    (Say to repeat: Expensive Artichoke? “Water”/Shake/Wrap in “saran” wrap/Refrigerate!)

  14. So many of you have written me privately in a frantic quandary the last few weeks….. about Asparagus. I.e. for several years now, you have seen it beside everything from your Filet to your Green Chile Cheeseburger that you now feel embarrassed to have Folks over to your house cuz you don’t know how to serve it with your plate of Boston Baked Beans, Pierogi, & Pasta! Hopefully Y’all can find an answer herein!!!! http://tinyurl.com/ks4g9q8 Yo! Click “View Gallery”! Alas, I’ll be particularly interested to read how Y’all are serving it with Enchiladas, Stuffed Sopapillas, etc. Personally, I can not imagine…and I can be wrong…an Asparagus Taco.

  15. We are always top ranked on Lists like today’s paper noting: NM ranks 1st in births paid for by Medicaid. Elsewise, we’ve got most kids living in poverty; most teen pregnancies; most school dropouts yada yada. Am I daft or too presumptuous thinking we should at least be on this list http://tinyurl.com/hnvdkfc ?
    Would Y’all offer your choice(s) for Best Tacos in New Mexico or have we just “moved beyond” Tacos?

  16. Ya know, I’m sure that ol Gil is hip-hopping along as fast as he can, but I’m sure he’ll admit he ain’t been everywhere in NM yet. As such, let me suggest Y’all check out this Gal’s effort http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/author/jwhite/. If you don’t see several icons re NM and especially re restaurants/food, put New Mexico in the Search State box, upper right. CAVEAT: if you do one, Y’all will spend an hour here….LOL!

  17. I want to know where those wings are from that are occasionally on the front page banner of this site. Those look absolutely delicious. Are they Ryan “Break The Chain” approved? 🙂

    1. Ah, those wings…those Caribbean Mango Habañero Chicken Wings and Virgin Island Spicy Ribs come from A Taste of the Caribbean here in Albuquerque. I don’t know if Ryan has enjoyed these wings yet, but if the two of you are game, I’m up for joining you to enjoy them once again.

      The other images that show up randomly on the blog’s banner are:
      (1) Papaya Salad from An Hy Quan in Albuquerque;
      (2) Deviled Eggs from the Loyal Hound Pub in Santa Fe;
      (3) Make Your Own Pizza from Eclectic Urban Pizzeria and Tap House in Albuquerque;
      (4) Combination Plate from Pana’s Cafe in Albuquerque; and
      (5) Bulgogi Banh Mi from SweeTea Bakery Cafe in Albuquerque.

      1. I’d be up for a lunch to try those wings – and meet you of course. Tuesdays and Thursdays (except the 19th) work best, but might be able to pull off a different day given enough notice.

  18. Hmm…as we enter a New Year of serious Fogger Frivolity, I’m wondering where stalwarts such as Jim of The Child Bride has gone, as well as Bruce of Placitas? Hope all is well.

  19. Caveat…not a restaurant review,
    but may be interesting if you HomeCook.
    Ran across it while trying to figure out how to say “Blessed New Year” to Y’all!
    Błogosławionego Nowego Roku!

    Say…..What comes to mind when ya hear
    Yes, Winter Comfy Food at the Olde Homestead of our Youth
    when we were all just Po Folks and chowed down on Mom’s basic folk dishes!!!!
    Now that we all be rich and can afford finer dining ingredients, we are plagued to watch our plaque…
    Consider watching how this Gal solves that problem, which gets unveiled at the very end…nothing personal!
    Seriously? Don’t know about Y’all, but that Chica puts me to shame: http://www.jennyjones.com/bio.shtml
    Please, if ya do the recipe, let me know what ya think!!!!

  20. If truth be told, when I think of Ramen this comes to mind: http://tinyurl.com/hd2kb9l
    As I don’t recall (it’s an aging thing) that anyone has really gotten down into the weeds to explain the finer nuances of Ramen and for those of my ilk who shy away fearing you will be seen as uncouth “slurping” it up, I will defer my usual galimatias and simply refer Y’all to http://tinyurl.com/hr3udwd and related articles. Elsewise, just consider Ramen as art (enter “ramen” here http://tinyurl.com/hg69cdu ) to allay any tendency to be cibo- or neophobic-like. (Oh my, all that was a mouthful wasn’t it!)

  21. Sitting around and going off your rocker saying Been-there-Done-that! Ho hum!?
    Whoa….just ran across this off-the-wall-website http://tinyurl.com/h2qwfdz that might challenge where you’ve eaten in NM per “getting down into its weeds of several categories to drill down into” like Curious Kumquat, El Meze, etc. (as well as several sight seeing places to make it interesting along the way!)
    If you are going on vacation, click on “Select a State”, where you can find feeding places outside our Bubble lest Gil has not visited them!

  22. Eh! a tad off topic, but Beer is nurishment!!!
    Without mentioning names of people herein, it’s been implied that I am a miserly/penurious cheapskate per not dating to avoid spending money while dining a Chica. Others, who shall remain nameless, have mocked my naivete when it comes to beers. Alas, that has provided me with motivation to solve both issues. I’m happy to say that for the past couple of months I’ve been dating this Chica who has been teaching me about beers by taking me to get our beers and chow “On the BrewHouse” by showing off her skill. (I also prop side-bets @ 25 bucks minimum that she wont spill!)…pardon my sketchy cell video, but check her out http://tinyurl.com/p35ty46!!!! Surely, you can see the attraction thereof!)
    – Eh!…It’s October and thus time to celebrate the harvesting of oats/barley/hops and thus beer making ala OctoberFest! In addition, remember your own Chica and join/take her for a check-up as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Elsewise, please join us to register (and free-will donate) Saturday Oct. 22nd at the Big Tent in the parking lot near Cottonwood Mall theater (kitty korner from where California Pastrami is renovating this former Lumpy’s http://tinyurl.com/grv3bx3) at 7:30 AM for the 15th Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K walk…Love Y’all!!!!

  23. Yo, Thank you ATTL, for chewing on that delicate issue to the point of even expanding on it, i.e. open vs closed mouth. RE your questioning what I referred to: T’was indeed fletcherizing, i.e. To thoroughly chew (dozens or hundreds of times) before swallowing. To suggest the other was indeed abhorrent and, am sure, makes your vocational choice as “a therapist specializing in weird relationship problems”, challenging.
    One reason I deviated a little, was that I never heard the term before…nor the other…and find such curiosities, curious as well as affirming one is never too old to learn. E.g. as I’ve noted before, the dimple on the bottom of a wine bottle that is now frequently used to shortchange us on the content of bottled items such as peanut butter, is called a punt; the area above the middle of your upper lip below your nose is called the philtrum; etc etc. Just recently was happy to find “acnestis”: the spot on your back that itches, but ya can’t reach with your hand to scratch!!! But, Iike The Donald, I digress!
    RE “Now hopefully we can go back to discussing restaurants and food in general.” Indeed, I’m with you there and hope you might take the lead in encouraging others to do so given Gil has noted that his reviews are but a snapshot at a given moment in time, which I take as an invite for others to Comment on their experiences to expand the picture of a restaurant or food item. He has even included a Comment section for that purpose. Alas for example, I don’t believe I’ve seen “AdviceToTheLovelorn” making any Comment about a restaurant/food and look forward to your doing so which might hopefully encourage others to follow suit! Indeed, I value reflections of those who do comment.

    1. BOTVOLR,
      The punt is not there to make a bottle of wine smaller while looking the same size as before. The punt is to facilitate the work of a riddler, usually a chemist of sorts, who job it is to rotate bottles for better fermentation.
      The punt allows the riddler to rotate 8 bottles in the rack by turning numbers 1&4, 2&5, 3&6, 4&8 simultaneously.
      The punt allows an experienced riddler to turn thousands of bottles of maturing champagne a day. No pricing skullduggery involved.

      1. Thanks ATTL re the explanation of riddling. Riddler is thus a new use of the word to me. (Eek! Lest I date myself: http://tinyurl.com/gl67xv2)
        Sorry, didn’t mean for my grammar to imply a shorting of wine, as punts in wine bottles is almost synonomous with them. T’was meant to refer to the recent repackaging of food products e.g. PB and other jars http://tinyurl.com/dg8ejo, let alone what some might call other scams of late in packaging http://tinyurl.com/z2gg9sq

  24. Dear BOTVOLR,
    I’m pleased to see that this food blog has become a relationship blog. Firstly, are you sure you mean fletcherizing and not fletchering?
    Perhaps you don’t fletcherize enough.
    Was this blind date chewing politely or with her, assuming it was a woman, mouth agape.
    Open mouth fletcherizing is a more serious impediment to a strong relationship than simple closed mouth masticating.
    Were you smitten or revolted by their fletcherizing? Has their habit made you less apt to want this person in your life? You’re not alone if this is the case. Statistics show that more relationships end due to one partner fletcherizing while the other simply masticates.
    I, for one, prefer masticating to fletcherizing. As a therapist specializing in weird relationship problems, I can only hope to stop the growing fletcherizing movement, it is my hope you seek love and companionship with someone who didn’t need to separate their peas from their mashed potatoes and repudiated fletcherizing.
    Are you sure you didn’t mean fletchering?
    Now hopefully we can go back to discussing restaurants and food in general.
    I would discus you problem one to one.
    My email address is http://www.MasticatersRUs.net

  25. Caveat: Off the wall (for some):

    Just asking: What is the etiquette regarding fletcherizing?

    Should we speak up or just “soldier on through” when the meat is tough or the veggie medley, let alone pasta, is too too al dente, which holds up the wait staff from possibly garnering another gratuity via use of the table?

    Elsewise, should I reconsider future dining experiences after this first time adventure with a Chica with whom I arranged dining via Succubus.com? or do I emulate and congratulate her on her daring to masticate that way in public to the benefit of her supposedly healthy life style. How do I know it is that or but the first hint at other O-CD happenings that are as yet to come that might then tap into my own O-CD needs for “Doing It & Moving On”? What if she then notes my Megillahing on this Blog?
    Seriously, how many herein mustn’t let one food grouping touch another or use their knife to scoop up only 3, maybe 4, green peas at a time?

    But then again Silly: “How do we, after all, know when You are fletcherizing?”

  26. Ok, Ok! Several people have asked what I did before the internet blossomed at the end of the last century into email, Instant Messaging, Blogs, Facebook, Texting yada yada. Here’s a Selfie http://tinyurl.com/h2c8do7 to make your Fourth Happy!

  27. “Inventing” Frito Pie is like saying you invented chocolate milk or nachos and cheese. Folks have been putting toppings on everything from sliced bread to sliced tomatoes. To say that Frito Pies were invented like say the light bulb was invented is a stretch at best.
    It’s like me thinking I “invented” dipping fries into mayonnaise or dipping Fritos into a good queso. And eating it out of a bag, it’s convenient and less expensive than providing a plate or bowl. Adding Toppings? An invention? Really? More like a necessity than just plain Frito pie. Perhaps it’s a way for New Mexicans to reconnect with a childhood favorite.
    I still crave 2 Devil Dogs and a glass of chocolate milk made with Fox’s U Bet Syrup for dunking. Just so you know It was my “invention”. I should have patented it.
    And it seems like Frito Pies were developed In the 40’s in the company’s test kitchen according to the company’s records way before 1960 when it’s supposedly invented by someone in New Mexico or Texas. I just don’t think you can invent food just create new ways to eat and new ways to get the consumer to buy it.
    We have so much more to be proud of in terms of food than chips and toppings eaten out of a bag.

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