Alibi V.26 No.32 • Aug 10-16, 2017 

Restaurant Review

Lota Years, Lota Yum

Blake’s turns 65

Dearest Readers,

We recently realized that despite our efforts to produce excellent and interesting content in our food section, there has been a massive oversight in the selections we've made for restaurant reviews. Weekly Alibi is about to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Blake's Lotaburger is currently celebrating its 65th. Yet, somehow, we've never reviewed their culinary efforts. The time has come for us to review one of the most iconic local eateries … finally!

Sincerely,

Weekly Alibi

Birthday cake-flavored milkshake
Birthday cake-flavored milkshake
Renée Chavez
On a maddening Friday night oozing with glacially paced traffic and typical New Mexico drivers who don't use their blinkers, I pulled into the Blake’s Lotaburger parking lot in a beastly, hangry haze. I went right up to the clean, white counter and ordered almost every item on the dinner menu for a whopping $26.58. The friendly young woman at the register seemed unsure when my giggling sister joked that I was pregnant, then laughed when I casually added a brownie to my already hefty order. We received our ticket, a large iced tea and a specialty milkshake ($1.50), and sat down at one of the bright red and white tables to wait for our food. The shake was birthday cake-flavored in honor of their 65th anniversary. Topped with a dab of whipped cream and patriotic candy confetti, it tasted like vanilla pudding and yellow cake batter. Sweet and yummy—like licking the beaters when you were a kid.

Once we received our hot bags of food, we drove into the night. At home, we dumped out our treasure onto a table and split it like pirates. First up was the LOTAburger combo with green chile and cheese and a side of seasoned French fries. That first bite was Burqueño heaven: sour green pickles, tart mustard, shreds of crunchy lettuce, fiery green chile and a thin patty of ground beef. You really can't go wrong with a LOTAburger. There's a reason it has won multiple awards. The fries were salty and delicious, and I'm probably just preaching to the choir about this particular entrée, so let's move on to things I'd never had before.

The grilled chicken sandwich ($6.89) was okay, if a bit bland. It consisted of a chicken breast, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on a bun. The chicken was real meat (not the weird meat paste you get at other fast food places) and was quite juicy, but there just wasn't a whole lot of flavor going on. The onion rings that went with it were perfect—you could hear a delicate and crackly crunch with every bite.

Next up was the dish that, honestly, I was a little scared to try. To me, chili dogs ($3.09) simply don't look appetizing—something about lumpy brown gunk on a wiener just seems to portend digestive distress. But in the name of journalism, I closed my eyes and took a big bite … and it was actually pretty good! The Nathan's-brand dog was salty and the meaty flavor burst through the subtler notes in the topping. The beans were firm and the whole sauce had a pleasant spice to it. I munched on the burger, fries and onion rings, but surprised myself by going back repeatedly for another bite of the chili dog.

After digesting for about an hour, I greedily peeled apart the plastic wrap on the Deluxe brownie ($1.69). The treat was soft and had chunks of chocolate on top—always a good sign. Biting into the dark brown dessert, I was impressed with the flavor. Rather than having that bland, dry, this-has-a-shelf-life-of-nine-months zest, it tasted homemade and was more gooey than cake-y. Go figure that a hamburger joint would have some of the best brownies in the city.

On the following Sabbath, I went to a store on the West Side. There was no drive-thru (I was still in my pjs), and the interior was pink and purple and white rather than red and white. I felt like I was in an alternate dimension, which is fair enough because … you know … the West Side. Anyway, I sleepily ordered 4 breakfast items 10 minutes before 11am (when the breakfast menu becomes no longer available), then drove home to feast. The brown paper bag felt like it weighed about 10 pounds and was piping hot as I reached in for my first burrito. The tortilla exterior was soft, supple and warm, and my first bite revealed it to be the #8 carne adovada ($4.59). The bright red chile had enough heat to tickle the back of my throat. The chunky meat was tender and salty, and bled its flavor into the hashbrowns. It was a tasty, spicy, textured way to start my day. After a few more nibbles, I set it aside and reached into the bag again. This time, my game of breakfast roulette produced the #7 Southwest burrito ($2.19). It was a bit smaller than the previous wrap, but was stuffed with ooey gooey melted cheddar, fleshy green chile, juicy tomatoes and fluffy eggs. The bright tomatoes brought a sweet and light element to the relatively heavy cheese and tortilla affair. I was also pleasantly surprised whilst gazing upon my food to realize that the eggs were marbled yellow and white—which means real eggs, not the yellow soup from a carton. Clearly, Blake's is not into cutting corners.

Finally, I extracted a #9 LOTA breakfast sandwich with bacon ($3.49) and a #2 sausage burrito with green chile ($3.89). The sandwich had highs and lows. The bread was a bit dry and chewy, but the bacon was textured and tasty. The sausage burrito had green chile in sauce form this time, and it was spicy and juicy. The orange cheddar stretched into melty cables stringing my mouth to the burrito as only perfectly molten cheese can do. The meat was light and peppery.

So there you have it. After 25 years of waiting, we've now tried almost everything Blake's Lotaburger has to offer for about 42 bucks. What a deal—and it was a tasty adventure to boot!

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Blake's Lotaburger

3700 Fourth Street NW
(505) 344-2521
lotaburger.com
Hours: Sun 7am-9pm, Mon-Sat 6am-9pm
Vibe: Clean, efficient and a little bit retro in red and white
Alibi Recommends: LOTAburger with green chile and cheese; seasoned fries; carne adovada burrito