Tag Archives: Must Eat

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).

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The Beatles Lied: A review of Casa Blanca’s Fried Green Chile Strips which are, in fact, all you need.

Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant
Ruidoso, NM

501 Mechem Drive, Ruidoso, NM | (575) 257-2495

[No website, but here’s a link to their Facebook page.]

We rolled into Ruidoso at what I thought was an optimal time, pulling into the parking lot at Casa Blanca at around 1:30 pm. A little after the lunch rush, but not too close to dinner time. As most New Mexicans know (and as I learned), roughly half the population of Texas descends on Ruidoso this time of year. We had about a 15 minute wait for a table, which, considering the crowd in town and in the waiting area, I thought this was very reasonable. (Author’s note: Okay, not really. I wanted to dig into those green chile strips so bad, I thought 15 minutes sounded like an eternity!)

The hostess and the wait staff were very friendly, considering everyone was hustling and bustling. We were seated at a nice table near a window, with plenty of room for our party of five. Three baskets of warm, crispy tortilla chips arrived immediately after we were seated, along with three bowls of very good salsa.

[Zia’s note: These are the best chips & salsa I’ve had in an eternity.]

Casa Blanca Chips & Salsa
Casa Blanca Chips & Salsa, Ruidoso NM. Worth the trip.

After placing our drink orders, we asked for two baskets of their world (probably) famous fried green chile strips.

Fried Awesomeness Dipped in Ranch
Casa Blanca’s Fried Green Chile Strips are WHY RUIDOSO EXISTS. I’m pretty sure that’s accurate.

How do I describe these things?

How would Picasso paint a lovely woman in a hat and fur coat?

How would Neruda describe love?

Well, since I can’t really channel either of those famous Pablos, I will do my best to describe them from a foodie’s perspective. They arrive at your table nice and hot, almost too hot to eat immediately. The batter is light and crisp, sort of flaky. The peppers themselves are cooked to perfection; they’re not soggy or greasy, but firm. If it’s possible (or legal?) to describe a chile pepper as cooked “al dente,” then that’s what I’d go with. So, once these have cooled down a bit (about 10 seconds after they arrive to your table…a slightly burnt tongue is a reasonable price to pay), just pick one up and dredge it through some ranch dressing. The ranch will cool it off a bit. Bite, chew, and enjoy. Repeat ad infinitum or until the basket runs dry.

The Entrees

Confession: the chips and salsa and the chile strips were plenty filling and could easily have been our meal…but that’s not how we roll.

Jalapeno BLT: Reading the menu, this sandwich sounded SO good. Smoked jalapeno bacon on sourdough with lettuce, tomato and a habanero mayonnaise.

Jalpeno BLT Casa Blanca
Jalapeno BLT at Casa Blanca in Ruidoso. Spicy/salty/bacony.

However, if I’d read the menu a little closer, I would have noticed that there is also cheddar cheese on this sandwich. I love cheddar cheese, and I love a good BLT, but I’ve never been a fan of cheese ON my BLT. Had I noticed, I simply would have asked the waitress to hold the cheese, so that one is on me. The sandwich itself was VERY salty, mostly due to the jalapeno bacon. The bacon was spicy, and taking a bite of the sandwich would definitely warm up the inside of your mouth, but the salt content was just too high. The combination of salt and heat makes you go through a lot of iced tea, so keep your glass full! (The wait staff was very good at keeping everyone’s glasses full.)

Going around the table, everyone was pleased with their entrees, but I think all of us had gotten so full of chips and salsa and fried green chiles that we had (temporarily) lost our enthusiasm for eating. Zia ordered the Taco Plate, which she reported to be “your typical taco plate.” Similar reports from the rest of the team.

Taco plate, Casa Blanca
Casa Blanca, Ruidoso, Taco Plate. “Your typical plate o’ tacos!”

NOTE: Casa Blanca offers a dessert sopapilla, which is ginormous and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. We were too stuffed to go there, but I’d highly recommend ordering like this: Chips & Salsa, Fried Green Chile Strips, Sopapillas. It WILL be plenty of food. You WILL leave happy.

Overall, I like Casa Blanca. I’ve been there twice now and would definitely return . . . as long as they keep frying up those green chiles.


 

Related Material:

NM Food with Tiny Twists @ Tia Betty Blue’s, ABQ

Tia Betty Blue’s is a small New Mexican café in what some call Albuquerque’s “International District” but I call “over by base,” meaning it’s kind of by Kirtland Air Force Base. It’s on the east side of San Mateo, between Gibson and Kathryn.

It’s an order-at-the-counter kind of joint, making for quicker service and a faster lunch all around. I highly suggest you read their “About” page to learn more about their culinary philosophy! >ABOUT<

COMFORT FOOD

Sometimes you just need some comfort food. Maybe for you that’s a burrito the size of an actual small burro, smothered in cheese and green chile. Maybe it’s a Frito pie or a waffle. Sometimes you just need a friendly young waiter or waitress to smile at you and bring you things, in a quaint little eatery smaller than your typical Starbucks.

Tia Betty Blue’s has all this and more. Specializing in breakfast and lunch (open until 2:00 p.m.), they serve a wide variety of typical NM breakfast/lunch entrees, like waffles, breakfast sandwiches, taco plates, and enchiladas. But what they do that sets them apart is take these café staples and give them a little twist.

WAFFLES

There is something about a fluffy, crispy, chewy waffle that makes my heart go pitter-patter. And Tia Betty Blue’s has elevated the already quite elevated garden variety waffle by making them out of blue corn and serving them two ways — sweet or hot.

SWEET WAFFLE: You get a blue corn waffle topped with seasonal fresh fruit (like blackberries and blueberries), a little syrup, and your choice of whipped cream flavor: standard, cinnamon, chocolate, or lavender. The blue corn waffle is exactly the crispychewy texture you expect in a good waffle, but the blue corn batter gives it an air of sophistication and beauty, and makes it feel somehow socially acceptable to order a waffle for lunch. I opted for the cinnamon whipped cream, which was perfectly light, not too sweet, and slightly cinnamon-y. [Note: you can order this gluten-free, or with yogurt in stead of whipped cream, or with 100% maple syrup or agave syrup instead of the house syrup. Lots of ways to have it your way.] [‘Nother Note: I didn’t take a photo because I ate the WHOLE THING before I even thought about taking a photo… sorry.]

HOT WAFFLE: What’s that you say?  A spicy waffle? Is it a waffle cooked with chile in the batter? No (but there’s an idea!). The Hot waffle is basically huevos rancheros, but with a waffle instead of a tortilla on the bottom. It is the blue corn waffle, topped with an egg, red or green chile or both, cheese, and your choice of meat if so desired. The sides are papas and beans. 

Huevos Wafflos?
You’re Hot. No, YOU’RE hot, hottie. This waffle is hotter, though.

GIANT FRITO CHILE PIE

I’m not sure where the “Frito Pie” was born, but I have met people from seemingly all over the country who have never heard of it. Which makes me sad for them. Frito Pie was — and still is — a cold weather staple in my family, akin to chicken soup or green chile stew. It’s just something you make every now and then when you want an easy, warm, and delicious (but not nutritious) meal.

For those not in the know, a Frito Pie (or Frito Chili Pie) usually consists of a base layer of Fritos, then the chili (typically of the chili-n-beans type), then shredded cheddar cheese and diced onion. Iceberg lettuce and diced tomato are optional. And maybe some more fritos on top.

But at Tia Betty Blue’s, they take this simple bowl of chili and turn it into chile. That’s chile with an E.

They start with Fritos, naturally. But then they do something so crazy but so simple, I’m surprised I haven’t seen it on a menu before. They add New Mexico chile (red, green, or both) — instead of the standard chili with an I. Then: cheese, onion, iceberg, tomato, per tradition.

Loved It! The day I was there, the red was very hot, and the green mild but with fantastic roasted flavor. The fritos gave it the perfect salty crunch, and the garnishing iceberg helped to cool things off.

Frito Pie featuring Tia Betty Blue's red and green chile. YES.
Frito Pie featuring Tia Betty Blue’s red and green chile. YES.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING THAT I HAVE NOT ACTUALLY TRIED YET

Tia Betty Blue’s is very proud of their coffee. I love coffee, so I’m not sure why I haven’t tried this yet. They also have a big cooler full of unique sodas (think: juniper berry soda, key lime cream soda, cucumber soda, etc.). I love sodas, so I’m not sure why I haven’t tried these yet.

SUMMARY

Tia Betty Blue’s does New Mexican food in a way that is both traditional and unique. They try new things, but not just for show. The new things they are trying make perfect logical sense, both to the brain and to the taste buds. The atmosphere is casual and friendly. The prices are reasonable.

Oh, and there’s wifi.


 

Horseman’s Haven Café

4354 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe

I’m pretty sure I might have found a restaurant that serves the best green chile in the state. Nay, not just the best green chile, but perhaps the best New Mexican food I’ve had. Okay, maybe that’s too bold of a statement. Besides, I haven’t eaten at every restaurant in the state that serves New Mexican food. There could be a lovely little place in Datil that really deserves the honor of “the best”.

However, I am going to say that Horseman’s Haven Café serves the best New Mexican food and green chile in Santa Fe. A group of us went to restaurant after our rafting trip, based off of a recommendation of a friend. She did warn us to not be thrown off about the location. It’s located next to a gas station and from the outside looks like it could be an iffy place. But as I’m not particularly prissy, I was game. Besides, I was famished and had already started to secretly eye my friends to see which one’s arm I could gnaw off. The inside of Horseman’s has a typical country diner feel, with an open kitchen, plenty of tables and chairs and booths big enough to seat the nine of us.

I think my friends realized their limbs might be in imminent danger as they kept placing the chips and salsa directly in front of me. The chips were thicker than most  chips I’ve eaten at restaurants. The salsa was full of flavor and fresh. It also was less chunky than most salsa. But while it had flavor, it wasn’t particularly hot.

Seriously, measure the thickness on these things.
Seriously, measure the thickness on these things.

For my meal, I ordered a 3D burrito which comes with papas, a choice of meat and chile. Most of my friends also ordered the 3D as well, with variations on the meat and chile. My cousin ordered a combination plate just so that she could have a side of posole, to which I mocked her openly. I have a deep, abiding bitterness towards hominy–it’s just gross. But I did acknowledge the fact that it was cool that posole was an option as a side item, not something that I find is standard at most restaurants.

Apparently, there are different levels of chile that you can order at Horseman’s. I’ve heard that Level I is hot chile and Level 2 is for people who don’t cry at the end of “The Notebook”—you know, tough hombres. I myself probably fall somewhere like a 1.75. I like my chile really, really hot. If I’m not sweating and crying, it’s just not enjoyable. But I’m not above bawling like a baby if chile is too hot (or at “The Notebook” because come on, he wrote her all those letters). I didn’t see level options on the menu and our waiter didn’t ask us. I’m guessing he looked at us and made a command decision.**

So I’m not sure which level of chile I had smothered all over my burrito, but  that’s okay. Because my burrito was delightful. In fact, I’m going to go out on a very corny limb and suggest that the 3D in the burrito stands for delightful, decadent and delicious! I say decadent because the burrito was huge. I didn’t even finish half the burrito and remember, I was this close to eating my friends before we walked into the café. The chicken tasted fresh, the papas were cubed and fried to perfection and then there was the green chile. I sweated. I cried. The chile was so hot it burned my lips and I fell in love more with each bite and each tear. Everyone else commented that they enjoyed their food as well. I will say the green chile was preferable to the red chile. Those at the table who got the red seemed a bit disappointed over the lack of heat, and I sensed their envious and bitter looks out of the corner of my eye. But that also could have been just looks of embarrassment as I was making odd moaning noises after each bite. I’m telling you, the green chile was good.

burrito
3D burrito with chicken and green chile.

And here’s how you really know Horseman’s Have Café is worth trying out. My cousin insisted I try her posole. I did and guess what? It was great! I might even try it as a side when I’m at Horseman’s next time. Maybe. If the hominy behaves itself.

 

**I went back to Horseman’s in August and asked to have a side of Level 2. I did warn the waitress that if I cried to not take it personally, that it was just likely me being too wussy for the chile. She said that Level 2 only comes as a side, it’s way too hot to have smothered on your food. I put some on my stuffed sopapilla (not as good as the 3-D burrito, but good) and took a bite. It was the hottest, most flavorful chile I have ever eaten. Like seriously, four hours later I could still taste the chile on my lips. Totally worth it. And I didn’t cry!

Cervantes Restaurant – Albuquerque – Great Red & Relleno

Cervantes  |  Albuquerque | 5801 Gibson Blvd SE 

A chile relleno is a hard thing to master. You have to get the ratio of cheese to chile to breading just right, or you end up with a mess. Too much breading and it’s heavy. Too much cheese and you lose the chile. Too much sauce on top and you get a soggy mess.

For me growing up, chile rellenos were always crispy, served right out of the grease with just a hint of red or green on top. My dad would stand over the stove, one hand holding a slotted spoon poised over the pot of popping grease, the other hand held out for balance, it seemed, all fingers thickly coated in batter and flour. As soon as a relleno turned a medium brown, it was scooped up and served. Letting it sit on a stack of paper towels for a moment was allowed, but only long enough to let a little oil drip off. Not long enough for it to cool down or soften in its own juices.

Most times I go to a new (new to me) Mexican or New Mexican restaurant, I get a combo plate of some kind. I usually look for the combo plate that includes a taco, enchilada, and relleno. It is the crispy, rightly-ratioed version of the relleno of my childhood that I’m looking for.

Most restaurants get it wrong*. The typical problem is an overabundance of batter, more pancake-like than anything else, and/or an overabundance of sauce on top — a “smothered” relleno is a soggy relleno. Or they use a Poblano pepper. And that’s just weird.

But Cervantes…. Cervantes gets it right. I ate at Cervantes in early July 2014, and in true Me style, ordered a combo plate with relleno.

NOTE: Thank you, Cervantes, for putting the taco on its own little plate. Many restaurants put the taco alongside everything else (between the enchilada and beans, for example), which means the bottom of the taco sits in the bean juice and red/green sauce until you pick it up, at which time it promptly falls apart because the integrity of the shell has been compromised.

Cervantes - Combo Plate 2

Above: Combo Plate #2: Taco (on its own plate!), Enchilada, Relleno, Carne Adovada + RBI (rice, beans, iceberg)

Anyway, the first thing I did was take a bite of the relleno. It was a little too smothered for my personal preference, but the relleno underneath was actually crispy! It had some texture to it. The chile had great flavor, there was just the right amount of cheese, and the batter wasn’t overpowering. AHHHH! (Insert mental image of the heavens opening up and angels singing here.)

I was thrilled to have found what I consider to be a properly cooked (and delicious) chile relleno at Cervantes.

SURPRISE ON THE PLATE:

The combo plates come with the typical sides of beans and rice, but also with a little dollop of carne adovada. The carne adovada (shredded pork in red) was absolutely the best thing on the plate, and that’s saying something. I was disappointed that there was only a little scoop – maybe 1/3 cup. Next time I will order more adovada.

WHAT ELSE WE ORDERED:

Carnitas plate: Cubed pork in a roasty green chile sauce. Served with RIB and hot, homemade flour tortillas. It was really good! Peppery, porky, green chile-y, but not spicy. (If you want spicy, you have to get something with red.) The flour tortillas were fantastic!

Cervantes - Carnitas

Above: Carnitas plate: Cubed pork in green chile sauce, RBI, homemade tortillas

The meals also come with sopapillas, which makes me beyond happy. The sopapillas are a little bit dense, but still delicious, and they are served with local honey.

KEEP IN MIND:

The red chile is hotter than the green, and the day I went it was pretty spicy. Not “OMG Bring Me Milk Now” kind of hot, but it was spicy enough for me to take notice! Just the perfect amount of heat. I ordered my meal Christmas style, and the green chile was super flavorful, but not at all spicy.

ABOUT CERVANTES:

Cervantes has been around a long time – according to the sign outside, since 1973. The building exterior and the neighborhood are not impressive. Which is pretty typical of really awesome NM restaurants. The slightly shady neighborhood and run-down looking building and abandoned Pizza Hut building next door let you know you’re in for a treat.

The google internetz machine calls this the “International District.” Having lived and worked in Albuquerque for a long time, I would call this the “Base District” (or probably just “Over by base”) because it’s right outside Kirtland Air Force Base. Specifically, outside the Gibson/Louisiana gate, at the corner of Gibson and San Pedro. This makes it an easy lunch for anyone working at Kirtland, but also puts it within easy reach of UNM, Nob Hill, and even the airport.

The interior is kind of dark and cozy and typical of a legit New Mexican restaurant. Not trying too hard, but trying enough. The walls are hung with lovely local art – paintings of adobe in the snow, and the like. I visited Cervantes in early July, and the interior was decked out in July 4th décor. And not just the obligatory flag here and there – they go all out. And from what I’ve heard, they do this for all major holidays. I’d like to go back around Christmas.

SUMMARY:

Cervantes is really really good. It is legit, authentic, traditional New Mexican food, with excellent red chile and a chile relleno — (almost) just like you’d get at my dad’s house.

*Yes, after decades of searching for a relleno cooked the “right” way, and 95% of the time finding rellenos cooked the “wrong” way, it has occurred to me that maybe my family and I make and prefer our rellenos the “wrong” way. But I’m sticking with this, regardless.


 

Visit the Cervantes website here > CERVANTES