North Valley: 6230 Fourth Street NW • 345-5339 Northeast Heights: 15 Hotel Circle NE • 296-6940 sadiesofnewmexico.com
Sadie’s has held court as the queen of this category for three years running. But most impressive is that over the decades, it’s gone from a humble roadside burger stand to a bowling alley café; built up a palatial dining compound and a packaged salsa empire; and most recently adopted a sister restaurant in the Heights. That’s some serious New Mexican know-how.
2) Los Cuates 3) Tie: El Patio, El Pinto
Best Green Chile Cheeseburger
800 Eubank NE • 291-4900
Diners can’t stop hooting about Owl Café’s archetypal combo of beef, buns and blackened green chile. It’s a New Mexico classic, and so is the Owl. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
2) Blake's Lotaburger 3) Five Star Burgers
Best Red Chile Burger
Little Red Hamburger Hut
1501 Mountain NW • 304-1819
In Albuquerque's contentious burger wars, the Little Red Hamburger Hut—seated between Downtown and Old Town—has carved out a following for doing one thing perfectly. It's all about the "little red," a simple all-beef patty topped with tangy red sauce. Get in the (usually long) line and order one today.
We worship two Marys around these parts: La Virgen de Guadalupe and Mary Gonzales. The warm, fruity red chile at Mary & Tito’s—incomparable for 48 years in its depth of flavor and color—has even earned it a James Beard Foundation America’s Classics designation.
2) Duran Central Pharmacy 3) Sadie's
El Modelo (landslide)
1715 Second Street SW • 242-1843
Without a doubt, the chefs in the back of this giant kitchen deserve the honor. Tucked away in an industrial zone, El Modelo cranks out some of the best and least expensive food in town. The masa lacks the telltale dryness of store-bought versions, and the chile inside is hot and full of flavor. Heck, want to make your own? El Modelo will sell you its masa in bulk.
Freshly made by a machine that was one of the few intergalactic remnants to escape Roswell in the ’40s, Frontier's tortillas are buttery, chewy and light. There is simply nothing else like them. Wrap them around a breakfast burrito, use them as dipping fodder in your green chile stew or grab a sack to go—your friends might just mistake you for Rick Bayless at your next cookout fiesta.
2) Tie: Duran Central Pharmacy, Garcia's 3) Pro’s Ranch Market
Doughy, but not gummy. Flaky on the outside, but never dry. Sweet, but not so sweet that you can’t use it to scoop up extra bits of enchilada. A sopaipilla made just right is a sacred thing, and our readers pray at the alters of Los Cuates and Sadie’s.
2) Garduño's 3) El Pinto
1510 Girard NE • 262-0115
Every evening, a line of customers snakes around Padilla’s front dining room to get a coveted seat and plateful of stacked blue corn enchiladas. Well, every evening except on the weekends—with this much culinary gold, Padilla’s can afford to keep banking hours.
Lots of people think Sadie’s salsa is the hottest in the state. Go ahead, be a skeptic. But when you swirl that light and crispy tortilla chip around in a pool of tomatoes and jalapeño seeds and bring it to your tongue, you’ll experience the agony and the ecstasy that myths are made of.
After a hazy night on the town, there are few things more satisfying than wolfing down a bowl of Frontier's hearty meat-and-potato filled stew. And seriously, who needs a spoon when you've got one of the best tortillas in the world for a shovel? Go ahead—no one's watching.
2) Garcia's 3) Barelas Coffee House
Barelas Coffee House
1502 Fourth Street SW • 843-7577
The legendary posole at Barelas is much like the restaurant—a dependable, satisfying experience. It warms the heart to visit this neighborhood institution.
The next time you’re waiting for your number to come up at Golden Pride or Frontier, study the people shifting their weight from foot to foot beside you. Chances are they’re furtively glancing around, with one lusty eyeball on the folks who’ve just been served a burrito, and another protectively raking the counter for the burrito that will soon belong to them. Then it will dawn on you: You are one of those people. It’s OK. The burritos make us all do funny things.