Category Archives: Eating New Mexico

San Marcos Cafe & Feed Store — San Marcos, NM

This adorable little café is one of those places that you’ll miss if you aren’t looking for it. And you might miss it even if you are looking for it. It’s located just off the road along Hwy 14, about 7 miles south of the intersection of I-25 and Hwy 14 near Santa Fe. It is open daily for breakfast and lunch.

The grounds of the café are unique to say the least. Peacocks and turkeys and chickens roam free (or semi-free; there’s a fence), and behind the building are several aviaries for turkeys, doves, and other birds. You might also catch a peek of what we call the “Lady GaGa Chicken” which is pretty much a chicken in a really fluffy feather suit.

San Marcos Café and Feed Store - San Marcos, New Mexico
San Marcos Café and Feed Store – San Marcos, New Mexico

The inside of the café is just as charming, with uniquely painted and crafted wooden tables and chairs, and a cozy fire in the fireplace (this day, at least).

San Marcos dining area
San Marcos dining area

Cups of coffee all around and cinnamon rolls for everyone. That’s how we wanted to start this trip.

The cinnamon rolls are flaky and sweet and delicious — everything a good cinnamon roll should be. The coffee is tasty. This is a great duo to start off a weekend getaway.

Overall, we have fully enjoyed our stops at San Marcos both times we’ve been so far. Hopefully we’ll get to stop by again soon for a full meal, because their menu looks pretty amazing (burritos, green chile stew, huevos rancheros, and other NM staples).

SAN MARCOS CAFE

3877 State Rd 14
Santa Fe, NM 87508
(505) 471-9298

(a few miles south of Santa Fe on Hwy 14, west side of the road)

Open daily 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

 

 

Tasty Teas and Treats at Hadley’s Tea, Albuquerque

Hadley's Tea, Corrales, New Mexico. The best chair.
This is the magical chair. And I call dibs!

See this chair here? It has magical powers.
When you sit in it, it envelopes you in happiness and comfort and makes you forget about all the troubles of your day. This magical chair is located in a nook of Hadley’s Tea, located at 7600 Jefferson NE, #9 in Albuquerque. Hadley’s Tea is a place to relax, enjoy some nice lunch and browse through the large selection of teas and pastries.

Now before you go and think I’m cheating on St James again, let it be known that while Hadley’s Tea serves teas, they also serve coffee. They also don’t have a formal tea service. The place is more like your favorite coffee shop. And that my friends is how I justify my tea habit.

My friend is a tea expert. Seriously, she can talk to you for hours about the different types of loose leaf teas and their histories. She is a mad tea genius. She and I often meet up at Hadley’s to relax and enjoy a cup of tea. Not too long ago, we met up and I enjoyed a tasty turkey and cheese croissant sandwich with a side of spicy tomato soup. The tomato soup had a nice kick to it; I believe it was spiced with green chile.

Hadley's Tea in Albuquerque, NM
Cafe style lunch fare at Hadley’s Tea.

My friend enjoyed the gourmet chicken salad, which was also delicious. Hadley’s serves a variety of hot and cold teas, as well as coffee. On this occasion, I partook of a large Earl Grey tea. My decision was based partially on the fact that I enjoy Earl Grey and also because it drives my friend nuts that I drink Earl Grey as her tastes are more refined. I spent most of my lunch setting my tea next to hers and asking her if her tea was embarrassed to be seen with mine. That’s what I call lunch and a show.

In addition to lunch food and pastries, Hadley’s offers tea and tea accessories for purchase. Black, green, oolong and wellness teas are all available for sale, as well as decaf selections. It’s also a great place to purchase tea accessories, including tea pots, cozies, mugs and more.

Tea for sale at Hadley's Tea, Albuquerque
Part of the tea selection at Hadley’s Tea.

Hadley’s is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Perhaps I will see you there. But if I do, I have dibs on the magical chair.

 

 

The Brew | Coffee & Tea

 The Brew is a cool, comfortable, coffeehouse in downtown Albuquerque that serves amazing locally roasted single source coffee and tea with an artistic flair by some very friendly staff. Located at 311 Gold Ave. SW, the tiny shop features Villa Myriam coffee. This Arabica bean coffee is grown in the hills of Piendamo, Columbia and then hand-roasted in Albuquerque. It is sold and served at numerous locations in Albuquerque, including Whole Foods and The Range. Even better, the Brew partners with Joliesse Chocolates (check out our review here) to serve handmade local syrups, including a red chile syrup.

The menu offers espresso, brewed coffee (drip, café au lait and red eye) and specialty drinks, including a Red Chile Mocha and a Crazy Monkey, which is banana, caramel and mocha. In addition to coffee, the Brew also offers an assortment of hot and cold brewed teas and tea lattes. Two particularly tasty concoctions are the Roobios latte, made of South African Roobios and pure cane sugar, and the Dirty Chai latte, made with chai and espresso. The friendly staff serves the lattes with such beauty that it’s almost hard to drink the lattes, but you push through it.

The Brew Roobios Latte Albuquerque
Gorgeous Roobios Latte at The Brew

The coffeehouse itself includes bright colored walls, funky art pieces and comfortable seating. Guests can use free Wi-Fi while working at a number of tables, or can relax and spend talking with friends and family in one of the comfortable, bright armchairs or couches.

The Brew Albuquerque seating area
The Brew – cozy seating area

The Brew is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Owl Café, Albuquerque

The Owl Café

I like to think I’m a laid back, authentic person. For the most part, I’m not judgmental (unless you’re a Kardashian, and then bring it) and I don’t particularly care about status. But there is one thing that I’m a snob about. And that is my chile. And by chile, I mean chile, not chili. I know this is a New Mexico thing, and if you look at dictionaries or websites, they say that you can use chile and chili interchangeably. But not in New Mexico, I say (rather snobbishly). You can always tell a native by whether or not they know the difference between the two. Green or red chile is stuff from heaven (made from our state-grown chile peppers, either red or green depending on when you pick em). Chili is that brown Hormel-like substance served in other states.

So imagine how trepidatious I felt when I found myself at the Owl Café in Albuquerque looking at their menu and seeing the Owl Burger “with green chili.” As a child, I had been to the Owl Café in San Antonio, NM many times to enjoy the Owl Burger. In fact, I believe it serves one of the best green chile (I just can’t call it chili) cheeseburgers in the state.

The original Owl Café was established in the 1930s in San Antonio, NM, and in 1986, the Albuquerque location was opened. The Albuquerque Owl Café has a 1950s diner theme in honor of nearby Route 66. There’s a jukebox in the restaurant, a pie case filled with desserts, and plenty of barstools and tables to enjoy a step back in time.

The Owl Café, Eubank Blvd Albuquerque. It's an OWL, people!
The Owl Café, Eubank Blvd Albuquerque. It’s an OWL, people!

So had I been wrong about the burger? Had somehow the expansion to Albuquerque changed what the burger had become? Had the Owl Café forgotten its roots and started to make burgers that weren’t as good? Or worse, were smothered in some weird green Hormel-like chili with an I?

During lunch with some friends, I decided to momentarily put my snobbishness aside and order the green chile (won’t do it) cheeseburger. The cheeseburger runs about $5, and you can order regular fries, sweet potato fries or onion rings for an additional $2.

Instead of the staple chips and salsa as an appetizer, the Owl Café offers small bowls of beans and green chile. The green chile had a bite to it, and the beans were nicely flavored, so I began to become hopeful about the Owl burger.

Beans & Green Chile is the new Chips & Salsa at the Owl Café. If you know what that means, you might be from New Mexico.
Beans & Green Chile is the new Chips & Salsa at the Owl Café. If you know what that means, you might be from New Mexico.

And then the burger came out. The patty was hand-made and large. It was topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and lots of green chile. A nice sized portion of sweet potatoes covered the rest of the plate. This looked promising. Then I took a bite. The burger was juicy, the condiments fresh, and the green chile was hot.

Owl Café Green Chile Cheeseburger and Sweet Potato Fries.
Owl Café Green Chile Cheeseburger and Sweet Potato Fries.

It was delicious and just as good as I remembered from my childhood.

I wolfed the burger down in no time flat. Then I was overcome by a wave of shame. Here I was judging the Owl Café for their use of an I instead of an E, and they delivered a wonderful burger. Luckily, the sweet potato fries helped me push through that shame.

What’s the lesson in all of this? I don’t know, really. I mean, I still don’t like people to use the word chili when talking about green or red or when they’re offering to throw it on my cheeseburger. But the Owl Café still serves a fantastic, mouthwatering, Owl Burger with green chile. So I guess the lesson is…well, just go try the cheeseburger.

The Albuquerque location of the Owl Café is at 800 Eubank Blvd. You can’t miss it. The building is shaped like an owl. Their hours are 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 7 a.m. –  11 p.m. on the weekends.

Figments Tea Shoppe & Gallery

Please don’t tell St. James that I’ve cheated on them. I love my tearoom. But look, I just can’t afford it every day. So when the opportunity came up to try another place that was a more reasonable option for every day tea cavorting, I took it. I went to Figments Tea Shoppe and Gallery and enjoyed tea and desserts.

I’m not going to lie. It was good. And I’m going to go back.

Figments Tea Shoppe is located at 8510 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Suite A7 and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The place sells loose leaf tea by the ounce  and tea products, as well as unique gifts. The Tea Shoppe also features a fragrance blending bar. Customers can get a personalized lotion, soap or massage oil made from a variety of fragrances.

Oh, but I’m sure you want to get to the details of my dalliance. Fine, I’ll share. Figments offers daily tea time specials. No reservations are required. For $8 I enjoyed a scone, dessert and tea. For my first time, I chose The Great Pumpkin selection (there are two selections every two weeks). I mean come on, it was too tempting, tea and a Charlie Brown reference??? This particular pairing included Linus’ Great Pumpkin Bread, Charlie’s Yogurt, Granola and Honey and Snoopy’s Caramel Delight. For each selection, Figments suggests a tea pairing. Teas come in a three or six pot serving or one specialty tea. I chose the Roobios peppermint bark latte for my tea of choice. I mean I was already cheating, might as well go decadent.

The Great Pumpkin selection at Figments
The Great Pumpkin selection at Figments
The Mad Hatter Selection at Figments
The Mad Hatter Selection at Figments
Peppermint Bark Latte at Figments Tea Shoppe & Gallery
Peppermint Bark Latte at Figments Tea Shoppe & Gallery

The portions were the perfect size for an afternoon bite, not too filling or even too sweet. The latte was huge and wonderful. Even more enjoyable was the ambience. Figments has a seating room towards the back of the store that is decorated like the Mad Hatter tea party from Alice in Wonderland. A decorative tree grows from a wall and blossoms glass flowers and glass tea cups. Hats hang from another tea branch, and the glass table and wicker chairs are decorated with bright flowers. It’s a great place to relax.

A little Koi Pond
A little Koi Pond

The staff is friendly and helpful. The owner explained that beginning soon, Figments will also feature a small bar with flavored vinaigrettes and olive oils. While Figments changes its tea menu every two weeks, after December this will change as well. The two selections will be available for a month, allowing more time for customers to enjoy their favorite sweet treats and tea. And yes, I’ll be back. But shhhh, it’ll be our secret okay?

The Turquoise Trail – Enchanted Weekend Part 1

Hello! This post is part 1 of a (so far) 8-part series dedicated to a weekend trip we recently took around northern NM. Check back soon for the following 7 (or so) parts.

In northern New Mexico, highways and byways have names, not numbers. Well, they have numbers too, but their names are much cooler. A few weeks ago, team EatingNewMexico took off on a whirlwind weekend jaunt around north-central New Mexico. Instead of using interstates and bigger roadways, we opted for back roads and scenic byways: The Turquoise Trail, The High Road, and The Enchanted Circle.

We hit a bunch of historic and special little towns along the way, and of course ate a lot, because that’s how we roll. We were extremely wise/lucky to plan our trip for mid-October, just as the trees along the rivers and on the mountainsides were their brightest yellow and orange.

The Turquoise Trail

The Turquoise Trail is where our journey began. It is a National Scenic Byway (turquoisetrail.org) that spans about 50 miles along Highway 14 from Tijeras to Santa Fe. (Once it hits Santa Fe, it turns into Cerillos Road.) The Turquoise Trail runs through the towns of Tijeras, Cedar Crest, Sandia Park, Golden, Madrid, Cerillos, and San Marcos.

Worth a stop nearly every time we go through is the small town of Madrid. Madrid (pronounced like “MAD-rid” not “muh-DRID” like you might think) was an old mining town turned ghost town that was then revitalized in the 60s and is now a small but thriving artists’ community. There is a cool little dusty museum there, galleries and shops to walk through, and the Mine Shaft Tavern, where you can get a green chile cheeseburger (and probably some other stuff). Madrid is also where parts of the John Travolta movie Wild Hogs was filmed.

Alas, on this trip, we had much to do and not much time, so we didn’t stop in Madrid. Just blew right through (at the prescribed 20 mph).

Our first stop on this trip was San Marcos, at the San Marcos Café and Feed Store. (visit on Yelp)

San Marcos Café and Feed Store

This adorable little café is one of those places that you’ll miss if you aren’t looking for it. And you might miss it even if you are looking for it. It’s located just off the road along Hwy 14, about 7 miles south of the intersection of I-25 and Hwy 14 near Santa Fe. It is open daily for breakfast and lunch.

The grounds of the café are unique to say the least. Peacocks and turkeys and chickens roam free, and behind the building are several aviaries for turkeys, doves, and other birds. You might also catch a peek of what we call the “Lady GaGa Chicken” which is pretty much a chicken in a really fluffy feather suit.

San Marcos Café and Feed Store - San Marcos, New Mexico
San Marcos Café and Feed Store – San Marcos, New Mexico

The inside of the café is just as charming, with uniquely painted and crafted wooden tables and chairs, and a cozy fire in the fireplace (this day, at least).

San Marcos dining area
San Marcos dining area

The wait staff is friendly and welcoming, and somehow remembered that our group of 5 likes cinnamon rolls, even though this was only our second visit. Cups of coffee all around and cinnamon rolls for everyone. That’s how we wanted to start this trip.

The cinnamon rolls are flaky and sweet and delicious — everything a good cinnamon roll should be. The coffee is tasty. This is a great duo to start off a weekend getaway.

Overall, we have fully enjoyed our stops at San Marcos both times we’ve been so far. I’m sure we will be back soon and often!

Santa Fe

Next up, we headed into Santa Fe to drop our doggie off at the doggie hotel. The Z Pet Hotel, to be precise. This is a little doggie hotel right off of Cerillos where you can board your pets and even get them groomed on their last day there. We have been very happy with Z Pet Hotel. They have easy reservations, easy drop offs, easy pickups, and the dogs seem happy there. Prices are reasonable and the employees are nice! Check them out here: Z Pet Hotel

PART 2

Check out Part 2 of our journey — Chimayo — here.

So You Want a Little Breaking Bad with Your Donut?

Rebel Donut

2435 Wyoming Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112
rebeldonut.com

Rebel Donut, according to their website, is Albuquerque’s “premier artisan donut and pastry shop.” Being a recent arrival to the Albuquerque area, I had heard a lot of office chatter around the water cooler about how great this little donut shop was, and how we “had to try it!” So not long ago, with the Albuquerque Balloon Festival in full swing, Team EatingNewMexico took an early morning foray to the Abq East Side to grab some artisan donuts and coffee, and to see if we could spot any hot-air balloons floating over town.

We arrived at Rebel Donut around 7:30 AM on Sunday morning. Their normal business hours are 7:00 AM-4:00 PM on weekends, and according to their Facebook page, they had opened an hour early to accommodate early-risers attending the Balloon Festival. When we arrived, the shop was not busy and we were able to go straight to the counter and start the very challenging task of selecting which donuts we wanted. Actually, it was more of a challenge to decide which ones we WEREN’T going to buy!

The selection was very good. Since there were three of us, we decided on a conservative half-dozen box. Rebel Donut varies their selection daily, so you won’t know what’s available until you walk into the store.

But one of the regulars is the Blue Sky donut, a.k.a. the BREAKING BAD donut, named after the blue sugary crystalized sprinkles on top that closely resemble Walter White’s nefarious creation in the television series. As a “BrBa” fan, the Blue Sky donut was at the top of my list — so much so, we got two.

BrBa Aaron Paul Donuts
Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul admires a box of Blue Sky.

Others that made the cut were the Fruity Rebel, Biscochito, a Red Chile Chocolate Cream, and a Boston Cream.

Rebel Donut - 6-pack
Blue Sky x 2, Fruity Rebel, Biscochito, Red Chile Chocolate Cream, and Boston Cream.

 

The Blue Sky donut was a light cake donut with blue frosting and blue “crystal” candy on top. While it was delicious, we couldn’t quite pinpoint a flavor in it, other than sugar flavor. Maybe cotton candy? Not sure. The Fruity Rebel was a basic cake donut covered with Fruity Pebbles (the 8-year-old liked it). The biscochito had the perfect biscochito flavor — cinnamon, sugar, and the subtle licorice flavor of anise. A true New Mexico tradition, in donut form (genius!). The Red Chile Chocolate Cream was a raised donut with chocolate glaze, and a dollop of red chile pastry cream in the middle. The Boston Cream was your typical BC donut. Tasty!

Other donuts available that day were French Toast, Maple Bacon Bar, Green Chile Glazed, and some more savory selections, such as Jalapeno & Cheese, and Apple Chicken Sausage kolaches.

Rebel Donut display case
So many choices. Get them all!

The donuts were fresh and delicious, and while there are probably “fresh and delicious” donuts all over Albuquerque, the variety and artistry of these confections are what make Rebel Donuts special and are such a big reason for their success.

Something you likely won’t find at Rebel Donut are your typical “donut shop” items, like glazed twists, apple fritters, and bear claws. (Though there was a plain glazed the day we were there.) So if traditional and cheap is what you’re after, you might want to try somewhere that doesn’t have “rebel” in the title.

For coffee lovers, Rebel Donut also has an espresso menu and delicious brewed coffees, including (my favorite), New Mexico Piñon Coffee!

The only negative on the day we visited was the SUN. In the early morning, the sun blasts through the shop’s huge windows, and there was literally NO shaded seating to be found inside. It was hot and bright and really uncomfortable, so we chose to eat in the car while driving around looking for balloons. At the very least, they could pull some shades or something.

Overall though, we were very happy with our Rebel Donut experience, and I highly recommend a trip to Rebel Donut the next time your sweet tooth gets the better of you!

 

St. James Tearoom: A Sweet Respite from a Hectic World

Life can be crazy these days.

Between work and a somewhat hectic social life, I’m bombarded by all kinds of extraneous noise. I mean how many snarky tweets, Facebook postings of cute animals and Google alerts on Channing Tatum can a girl wade through before just needing to run away for a while? Luckily, I have a special place I can go to escape the fast pace and noise of today’s world. A place that offers me some time to relax and unwind. Oh yeah, and drink some lovely teas and eat some amazing, wonderful food.

The St. James Tearoom, a quiet place for afternoon tea service in northwest Albuquerque.
The St. James Tearoom, a quiet place for afternoon tea service in northwest Albuquerque.

This magical place is the St. James Tearoom, located on the corner of Edith and Osuna in Albuquerque. What is a tearoom, you ask? You actually may not be asking, as you might be more refined than I am. Because the first time I heard of the St. James Tearoom, I assumed it was a place where caffeine junkies hung out, hopping themselves up on the latest teas and discussing—well, I honestly don’t know. But in actuality, a tearoom is a place where you get to experience a traditional afternoon tea service, a two hour respite from the world where you relax while enjoying a variety of loose leaf teas and a full meal.

The first time I ever went to the St. James Tearoom, I was leery. I’m not dainty, refined or even the least bit graceful. So the idea of sitting still for two hours in a room where I was expected to be quiet and drink tea from a dainty china cup while sitting on dainty furniture rather terrified me. I actually brought extra money with me knowing that the chances of me breaking a cup or piece of furniture was going to be quite high. While I might not be graceful, I am always prepared.

I’m glad to report that in the five years that I’ve gone to the St. James Tearoom, I have never broken anything.

The dainty teacup, ready for service.
The dainty teacup, ready for service.

For those of you who have never been to a tearoom and have stuck through the previous paragraph, I will reward your patience by describing the wonders and logistics of the St. James Tearoom. As each tea setting is broken into two-hour intervals, you must make reservations ahead of time. Reservations can be made by calling, or via their online reservation service. Seating times are available at 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and at those times plus 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

As this is a formal tea, I recommend dressing up. Not in a full-length ball gown or anything, but at least in either your Sunday best, or minus the scruffy jeans and shorts. Although the staff at the St. James Tearoom is so gracious and mannered they won’t judge you. (I totally would, but they won’t). To add more fun to your adventure, you may also want to wear a decorative hat to tea (think Kentucky Derby-type hat). If you do not own such a hat, you can find a selection of loaner hats in the Tearoom’s gift shop.

Fancy hats for the borrowing at St. James Tearoom, just for funzies.
Fancy hats for the borrowing at St. James Tearoom, just for funzies.

Once you arrive at St. James Tearoom, you can wander through their gift shop or peruse their wide variety of loose leaf teas and tea accessories. A bell will sound to alert you that it’s time to be seated for your tea.

The gift shop sells a variety of loose teas with fun & unique names and flavors.
The St. James Tearoom gift shop sells a variety of loose teas with fun & unique names and flavors, such as this one: Van Gogh, Smiling.

Depending on the size of your party, you will either be seated in one of the cozy nooks or the library area. Each of these areas are decorated to represent a different estate of a famous person from the Victorian era. For example, there is a room decorated to look like the home of Florence Nightingale (my favorite nook) and another to represent the farmhouse of Beatrix Potter. Each area is blocked off by a curtain to allow you privacy, and to let you enjoy some peace and quiet. So turn off your cell phone and use your inside voice. That said, my inside voice is quite loud and I’ve never been shushed, so you’ll be fine.

Library seating at the St. James Tearoom.
Library seating at the St. James Tearoom.
Interesting décor fits the Victorian theme.
Interesting décor fits the Victorian theme.

After being seated, a server (dressed in darling Victorian garb) will introduce you to the month’s menu. Each month, the St. James Tearoom features a theme. For instance, this October’s theme is “Phantom of the Opera” and next months’ theme is “A Narnian Teatime.” I only mention November’s theme because I love C.S. Lewis and am geeky-excited about the theme. Essentially, the foods will be named or inspired for the theme, such as Mr. Tummins Fig and Goat Cheese Sandwich (see how I got Narnia in there twice?).

Your server will begin by serving you one of three teas for your setting. Usually, your tea adventure begins with a traditional black tea, followed by a spiced black tea, or a green tea, finished by a flowered or fruit tea. Each tea is served in a pot and you are provided cream and sugar. Your server will tell you which tea goes best with cream and sugar. Once you’re done with a particular tea, you set the lid of your tea pot up to indicate you’re ready for your next tea.

A hot cup o tea at the St. James Tearoom. Excellent.
A hot cup o tea at the St. James Tearoom. Excellent.
All the creams and sugars you could need for your teas.
All the creams and sugars you could need for your teas.

During Christmas, the St. James Tearoom features my absolute favorite tea—sparkling sugar plum. The tea actually sparkles!!

The Sparkling Sugar Plum tea has little glittering bits of something that sparkle in your cup!
The Sparkling Sugar Plum tea has little glittering bits of something that sparkle in your cup!

Ah, now let’s talk about your afternoon tea food. After you’ve been given your first tea, your server will deliver heaven on a three-tiered tray.

Your lunch, on a 3-tiered tray!
Your lunch, on a 3-tiered tray!

Now, don’t be alarmed by how small everything looks. The first time I saw the amount of food provided, I leaned over to my niece and told her we would go for a cheeseburger afterwards. Trust me, you will leave full and satisfied. The bottom tray of the tier will feature savories, such as (from this month’s menu), carrot soufflé, salmon en croute and more. The second tier will have the St. James traditional scones and lemon curd and the month’s featured scones with cream. The top tier will have desserts, fabulous, wonderful, sugar coma (worth it) inducing desserts. I cannot say enough about the food. This is melt in your mouth, savor every bite, sell your mother or your soul for another bite, wonderful food.*

Another bell will ring letting you know that your tea time is officially over. Feel free to cry that your respite from the real world has come to an end. Your server will offer you a hot towel to let you wipe away your tears. Okay, the towel is really to wipe your hands, but you know, they’re not going to judge you. Even I won’t judge you as there has been many a time that I’ve cried and wailed. You know, in my inside voice.

I will say that this wonderful, magic experience does not come cheap. Seating prices for adults is $33 and for children 4-10 is $24. During the Christmas season, prices are $36 for adults and $26 for children. But I’ll pay anything for those sugar plum sparkles. But while the tea experience is pricey, it is completely worth it. The St. James Tearoom also caters to individual dietary needs. They offer decaffeinated tea, as well as a gluten free and vegetarian menu.

*I realize this post sounds rather blasphemous. I in no way really mean that the food is literally like heaven, as in actuality it’s not served by Channing Tatum or Ryan Gosling. And in no way should you really sell your soul for food. Hold out for a car at least.

Drool-worthy Green Chile Cheeseburger & Tacos & Everything Else at Burger Boy

One day you might find yourself on NM HWY 14, cruising up or down the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. This byway is basically the “back road” linking Albuquerque and Santa Fe, taking you along the east side of the Sandia Mountains from Tijeras to Santa Fe. Along the way, you’ll pass through some beautiful country and through the historic mining (now eclectic arts & crafts) towns of Madrid, Cerillos, and Golden. This makes for a lovely day trip from the ABQ or SF areas, stopping at each little town along the way, learning their history, viewing their art, and drinking their coffee. Oh, and eating their burgers, though this goes without saying.

Heading north from Tijeras to Santa Fe, the first town you’ll hit is Cedar Crest, just a few miles north of I-40 on Hwy 14.

Tucked into the few buildings and brush on the west side of the road is where you’ll find Burger Boy. It’s a family owned and run business that has been slinging burgers in the East Mountains for more than 28 years. The ambiance is “diner casual” — just this side of a greasy spoon — but clean enough and very comfortable. The walls are adorned with paintings and news clippings and photos for your perusal while you wait for your food. Service is quick and friendly, and your drink will always be refilled. (You can just take your cup to the counter and ask for more if you’re in a hurry.)

Burger Boy is pretty much our favorite place to eat on the East Mountains, when we want to be bad (but oh, so good). You won’t find any salads here (I’m guessing… I’ve never looked, don’t judge me), but what you will find is THE BEST Green Chile Cheeseburger I’ve had in the past few years. And that’s saying something, because I’ve had a lot of them.

Green Chili Bill -- painting that hangs in Burger Boy
Green Chili Bill — the original Burger Boy?

When anyone in the Zia-Roadrunner-Little Coyote clan has a hankering for a REAL green chile cheeseburger (the kind that drips all over the place and has a little heat in the chile) with a side of some kind of deep-fried thing (tots, fries, onion rings), we head down to Burger Boy to get our grub on. Our most commonly-ordered food is the green chile cheeseburger, natch, with tots or fries. Because this is ALWAYS WONDERFUL and this is just what we eat here in New Mexico. I recommend ordering this burger with everything on it except pickles. Pickles and green chile just don’t quite work together.

This is not a fancy burger. It’s not kobe beef, it’s not spritzed with truffle oil, and it doesn’t come stacked 8″ high with a steak knife stabbed down the middle of it to hold it all together. It’s just a burger. THANK YOU, BURGER BOY.

Burger Boy GCCB with Tots
Green Chile Cheeseburger with Tater Tots — how could you not order this?!

This one time, I got it without cheese. It was still awesome. The onion rings are a little on the thin side for me (not much onion) but they were still crispy and tasty.

Burger Boy - Green Chile Hamburger with Onion Rings
Burger Boy – Green Chile Hamburger with Onion Rings

LOOK AT MY GREEN CHILE!

Green Chile Hamburger
Green Chile Hamburger — just, yes. Go eat at Burger Boy already.

OK, if you can bring yourself to branch out from the GCCB family of products, your next step should be the taco plate. This is your standard taco plate, but it is SO GOOD. The tacos are crispy, the ground beef is juicy and flavorful, and these babies go down really easily. Like you could eat 6 of them, that kind of easily.

Burger Boy Taco Plate
Taco Bout Perfection — Taco Plate at Burger Boy

I had to wait for the weather to cool down a tad before I ordered the Frito Chile Pie. It seems like a cold-weather food. So when the temps dipped below 80 (ha), I headed straight over there and ordered it. This starts out like your standard Frito pie, but where traditionally you would have chili (with an I — the red stuff with meat and beans and spices), here you have chile (with an E — the New Mexico stuff with red chile peppers and awesomeness). The chile was flavorful and spicy (just this side of too spicy). There were ample corn chips and plenty of iceberg lettuce and tomatoes on top. There was also a heaping scoop of ground beef and lots of melty cheddar cheese. It was just… wonderful. If you can tear yourself away from the GCCB, this is a great option to try.

Burger Boy - Frito Chile Pie
Frito Chile (with an E) Pie at Burger Boy. With all that lettuce you can pretend it’s a salad!

Everything we have tried here at Burger Boy has been fantastic. That’s why anytime feel we have somehow “earned it,” we head on over to Burger Boy and chow down on some of the best Green Chile Cheeseburgers this side of the Owl Café (and that side of it, too … all sides).

Corn Dogs and Meh at the New Mexico State Fair

So we went to the State Fair and for like three weeks leading up to the fair we were like CORN DOGS FUNNEL CAKES DEEP FRIED THINGS ON STICKS — MAKE IT HAPPEN, FAIR. And then we got to the fair and yes, there were many yummy smells coming from many food booths all over the place. Promising!

It was about 85 degrees, I think. Which might not sound too hot, but out on the asphalt and NO SHADE of the fairgrounds, it quickly became a blistering stuffed animal & carnie infested hellscape.

You know what sounds good in that environment? A/C and a nap. A cold beverage. Ice cream, snow cones.  You know what doesn’t sound good in that environment? Hot, deep-fried foods.

BUT WE WERE ON A MISSION. A mission to eat and love some fried fair foods (preferably on sticks).  So we stood in various lines and picked up a foot-long corn dog, some drinks, and a funnel cake.

Then we sat down in the shadeless noonday sun in the midst of the carnival crowds of sweating, dragging, weary people and we ate our hot, fried foods, dripping sweat into our mustard.

CORN DOG
Foot-long hand-dipped corn dog, NM State Fair

So the corn dog was $6 and the bottle of water was $3. We also got a cold bottle of Pepsi, also $3. (Which is more expensive than the drinks at Disneyland, which I hadn’t thought possible.)  The funnel cake my daughter picked out (with whipped cream and Hershey syrup) was NINE FREAKING DOLLARS.

Everything was fine. Good, even. But was it exciting or special? Not really.

Something else we had, which was a finalist or something in the “Unique Foods” competition, were the deep fried green chile cheese curds. Which really, sounds like the quintessential NM State Fair food, does it not? And they are served with ranch for dipping, naturally, like every other savory deep fried thing.

And they were fine. Good, even. The problem I had with them was the lack of green chile. There was a slight green chile flavor, but at the NM State Fair, where we are celebrating things New Mexico, if something says “green chile” I want BAM! GREEN CHILE!

So, yeah.

State Fair Cheese Curds
Deep Fried Green Chile Cheese Curds, NM State Fair

Maybe my expectations were too high. I had been watching Carnival Eats for weeks leading up this day, just to prepare myself. But I found the foods to be uninspired and just OK. Oh and way too expensive.

Overall, we had a fine time at the fair. We rode some rides and played some games, ate some foods, and felt somehow violated in ways we couldn’t pinpoint by a few carnies, so it was a typical fair experience.

But I’m just now getting over the sticker shock of the prices for everything ($5 apiece for rides/games was the norm).

My favorite part of the fair was not the food or midway at all — it was the buildings of prize-winning art, textiles, and giant vegetables. Mostly because they were interesting to look at, but also partly because they were air conditioned and didn’t cost another $15 each time we walked through a door.