Mick’s Chile Fix
Get your licks at Mick’s
An honest-to-god good value is hard to come by these days. The Flowbee I bought for $59.95 came with a promise that I’d be able to “create the most popular haircut styles using the suction power of my vacuum cleaner.” Instead of having titillating tresses, the thing scared the crap out of me and my cats and gave me a bald spot. And then there was the credit card I signed up for, bought a bag of tomatoes with and had a balance of $185 on because of interest and fees that came with the card. So it's with complete confidence that I can assure you that Mick’s Chile Fix does, in fact, offer excellent value for your dining dollar.
I went to lunch at Mick’s around noon on a weekday, and the place was jammin’. I sat myself at a table by the iron bar-clad front window and was greeted with a laminated menu. I ordered the biggest glass of milk they had because, even after five years of residency in New Mexico, I am ever-wary of the potential scorch of a new chile source.
The dining room was no-frills with utilitarian tables and chairs, plain tiled floors and a few inspirational posters hanging on the walls. The menu selections were also basic and unadorned—standard New Mexican fare like tacos, enchiladas, tamales and carne adovada. Breakfast was not only an option, but served all day, and included pancakes, omelets, breakfast burritos and egg plates with hash browns, toast and choice of meat.
There was a “hungry man’s" combination special for breakfast and lunch. The former touted three eggs, hash browns, two strips of bacon, two sausage links, a pancake and toast or tortilla for a mere $5.99. I opted for the lunch version ($6.99), which gave me two beef tacos, a meat and a cheese enchilada, a tamale and two tortillas, along with sides of beans and rice. On a tip, I also ordered the taco plate with carne adovada ($5.99).
I swear on all that's holy I received both dishes, bubbling hot, in under 10 minutes. This was impressive. So was the green and red chile, as it turned out.
For my money, a good chile sauce, red or green, has to conform to certain standards. It must have the correct consistency, like thin gravy. I want it to cling to each enchilada ever-so-slightly, but not congeal in a clump or run off the sides. The red chile here fit the bill and also had a nice, red-orange color and a medium heat. The green was even better with a beautiful emerald color, a warm, fruity taste, medium heat and just enough body.
The enchiladas were bigger than I expected. Instead of finger-sized rollups I got wrist-sized packets that were amply filled. My tamale was moist and fat, and the entire plate was covered with a ton of melted cheese. The beef tacos were meaty and filled with large hunks of tomato and lettuce, and even more cheese. The beans and rice? Well, they were just OK.
I zeroed in on the carne adovada. It was surprisingly mild and the meat was cooked way past tender. I miraculously had no messy accidents while chowing it down, since the sauce was thick enough to solidify everything in the taco shell. Hallelujah!
I was still musing about the quick arrival of my food when I noticed there was just one guy doing all the cooking. I also looked around at the crowded dining room and noticed an interesting cross section of diners. Some looked like legal professionals, others like suburbanites. There were plenty of construction workers and even a call center rep or two. Everyone was happily grazing, and even with one server, the whole lot of us were content and wanted for nothing.
I paid my shockingly tiny tab and meandered to the kitchen to see if they kept any oompa-loompas in the back to keep things running so smoothly. I discovered the one guy cooking was actually owner Mick himself, and I thanked him for such a cheap, delicious and turbo-fast lunch.
“I like to keep the prices low,” he said, smiling. “I cook everything myself.”
“The green chile has such a nice color!” I said.
“I make it every morning,” he replied.
“You’re not going to tell me the recipe, are you?” I asked.
He did not. It's always good to keep ’em guessing.
I left thinking how absolutely awesome it was to have found a lunch spot that I could afford to eat at using my leftover laundry quarters and how my stomach felt like a basketball. And I had a box full of dinner for later. I almost didn’t want to share this gem with the rest of the world, but I have to keep those laundry quarters coming somehow.