MY FIRST MEAL IN NEW MEXICO was a green chile cheeseburger—and I’ve been a tad obsessed ever since. We had been on the road for about eight hours and arrived in Taos gnaw-on-the-steering-wheel hungry. But one bite into Doc Martin’s burger—New Mexico beef, dry-aged cheddar, caramelized onions, Hatch green chile, rémoulade—and I’d arrived.
My personal green chile cheeseburger trail has included stops at the Original Owl Bar & Cafe, in San Antonio (don’t skip the onion rings); Pajarito Brewpub & Grill, in Los Alamos (whose massive pub burger graces this month’s cover); Blake’s Lotaburger, in several places; McDonald’s, in Albuquerque (sorry, not sorry); and so many places in between.
Our favorite burger represents more than what ends up on a plate. It speaks to New Mexico’s ranching and farming roots, our culinary heritage, and our spirit of innovation. “The green chile cheeseburger is part of New Mexico,” says Danise Coon, who grew up in Española and now serves as a researcher at the Chile Pepper Institute, in Las Cruces. “It’s part of our identity.”
In this month’s cover story, Senior Editor Molly Boyle serves up the ultimate oral history of the green chile cheeseburger, from humble beginnings to its rise to culinary stardom. While it is quite the underdog tale, it is also one that many restaurants claim as their own.
“It was seen as such a classic combination of local stuff that it wasn’t considered remarkable,” says Cheryl Alters Jamison, who helped to create the state’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail. “It wasn’t getting its due.”
Well, no longer. Fantastic green chile cheeseburgers can be found at roadside stands and diners, bars, and restaurants with white tablecloths. Narrowing our list to 20 places was no easy task. Just about everyone in New Mexico has a favorite spot. In fact, Chef Johnny Vee even hit up five notables for their recommendations.
When we asked our Facebook fans about the best green chile cheeseburger in New Mexico, we received almost 200 comments, ranging from standbys like Sparky’s Burgers, BBQ & Espresso, in Hatch, to new-to-us spots like Lovato’s Food Truck, in Dulce.
Did we miss your favorite? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org—asking for a friend!—because there are so many burgers left to try.