The Range Café began the same way the Alibi did—penniless in the autumn of 1992. (The Range has a month of seniority, opening on Sept. 2 to the Alibi’s Oct. 9.) After inflation, the Alibi is still basically penniless. The Range, meanwhile, has three locations worldwide. And it’s even gotten into the publishing business.
Half cookbook and half scrapbook, At Home With The Range Café compiles nearly 20 years of recipes and stories from Range proprietors Matt Digregory and Tom Fenton. The book opens with a little history. Chapter 1 reminds us that the original Range Café in Bernalillo was a jackalope, one of those quixotic thingamabobs the Southwest seems to cultivate. In Matt and Tom’s case, it was a New Mexican restaurant that served red oak leaf lettuce and no sopaipillas. People were confused. And delighted.
Year after year, Alibi readers award The Range’s comforting, mildly eccentric dishes “best of” status in our Best of Burque Restaurants poll. Those recipes are here. As is a diatribe on “Chile With and ‘E’,” and snapshots of the people who make The Range what it is—artists like resident sculptor/painter Roger Evans, whose obsession is VWs and painterly deep breaths of high desert vistas. There are even some shocking twists. The Cabernet salad dressing is surprisingly succulent for a vinaigrette, and there is a secret ingredient that explains it, and it’s butter. There’s even a priceless photo of a Barack Obama striding to his table at the Bernalillo Range with a huge grin on his face. He ordered his chicken enchiladas with red and green chile. Smart man.