Somewhere on the outskirts of Paris, Texas was a heavenly little burger joint. Our stops there were the rare exception to home cooked meals and would have been pure giddiness had I ever been allowed to have two of those small gems. For that cruel dictum I fought back by eating the huge roll on my lunch plate first. And my skinny friend’s for dessert. I can’t recall the superheros of the time because Wimpy balancing that stack of burgers was the only hero I required. Iron Man recently bumped Wimpy as a more modern version of burger clutching role model. Stopping for an American cheeseburger was first priority upon his return from three months in captivity – my kind of hero despite the Burger King bag.
Since fast food is off limit during a solo road trip, I’ve become part bloodhound in detecting the smell of a well seasoned flat iron grill. Oh I’ve ordered burgers in upscale restaurants (just in case you’re a first time reader I use ‘upscale restaurants’ loosely). But haven’t eaten one yet that surpassed the cheap ones cooked on a blackened grill of high quality beef, American cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles – in Oklahoma with onions fried in. Always capped with a white flour bun toasted on said grill and slicked on top with a shimmer of oil – pulls the whole thing together. Not unlike the rug in The Big Lebowski.
That’s the basic architectural structure but no condiment or food item plopped atop is doubtfully frowned upon. Mom’s “eat the damn thing before you judge” was taken to heart at an early age. Which brings me to the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail.
No single state can lay claim to a burger component like New Mexico to the hatch [chile]. Roasted, then sweated to shed the skin, halved or chopped and blanketed with cheese, the first bite yields a soft tomatillo wang that settles on the front of the tongue; mild to medium heat creeps toward the back. The taste bud conference in the middle is unmistakably green pepper, a stab of sunshine, and a swish of buttery chardonnay. Wimpy would have pawned his waistline for this coupling.
66 restaurants (in honor of Rt. 66) made the trail for 2011. Some, like Blake’s Lotaburgers have multiple locations. My favorite? The green chile cheeseburger from Bode’s General Store in Abiquiu. Clayton’s The Rabbit Ear Café was good. I couldn’t get past Blake’s Lotaburger in Espanola being part of a chain. Bobcat Bite in Santa Fe (in a very un Santa Fe location) grinds their own chuck roast. While bigger than Bode’s, it lacked something. Could have been the karma from Bode’s table cloth – an intangible advantage that may not have a leveling component. I’m guessing those table covers aren’t available just anywhere. Sorry Bobcat. If you’re headed to New Mexico or near any of its borders, plan on taking the burger trail map and stopping for a New Mexico gem, or two.
** No caveman cookery will take place tonight. I’ll give the arteries a break and grill the Boca Burger in my freezer. They now make ¼ pounders! I can’t decide if this is more of a good thing or a harder slap in the face. The cheese will remain in its cellophane package. A stack of tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce will be piled high between a whole wheat bun that I’ll give a good lick on top to mimic the oil slick. And I’ll dream of being Wimpy’s best friend on a day he was flush with burger money.
** For more fun travel and taste bud ideas, check out Wanderfood Wednesdays at Wanderlust & Lipstick. The Pan Fried Chive Bun recipe is on my list. Check out the July 12th post.
Other posts in this series:
New Mexico Travel Sites: