Alibi V.27 No.39 • Sept 27-Oct 3, 2018 

Day Tripper

Hatch

Hatch is famous for its green chile
Hatch is famous for its green chile

This tiny southern New Mexico town is so known for its green chile that the name of the town is synonymous with the spicy stuff itself. It takes a two and a half hour drive to get to Hatch, the “Chile Capital of the World,” which lies just off I-25. Despite its chile-producing notoriety, Hatch is largely off the tourist track—which means that you won’t have to wait for that green chile cheeseburger.

Besides the chiles themselves, the most iconic image of Hatch is Sparky’s. This kitschy, block-long diner in the center of town is a great place to get a milkshake, a plate of barbecue or—surprise!—anything covered in chile (including chile lemonade). Perhaps even more than the food, Sparky’s over-the-top decor is what draws tourists in: Here you’ll find dozens of giant fiberglass statues from fast food joints, movie sets and heaven knows where else. It’s a photo opportunity you can’t pass up. The green chile cheeseburger here is especially beloved, and can in fact be shipped to anywhere in the world if you’re having a Hatch craving in, say, Cape Town. Weekends often feature live Western, blues and rockabilly bands on Sparky's backroom stage, in case you want to do a little two-stepping. And, yes, you do have to stand outside in line before you can order and claim your seat inside. Be sure to maneuver yourself under the outdoor misters. Chile ain’t the only thing that’s hot down there.

If you’ve done the Sparky’s thing already, you should round the corner and go to Pepper Pot, a Mexican joint that’s been owned and operated by two sisters since 1994. They specialize in all things Hatch chile, and their huevos rancheros make for an excellent hearty breakfast.

If you’re taking a road trip through the Land of Enchantment and looking for an appropriately enchanting place to stay, the Archer Villa Bed & Breakfast might just fit the bill. This quaint little B&B sits on a pecan orchard (yes, it’s not just chile that grows in Hatch) on the western side of Hatch and boasts an expansive green lawn to make you forget that you’re in the desert for a minute. The hospitality is top-notch, and the eggs Benedict is notoriously good. Talk to the owners, Glen and Joan, to learn about the history of the orchard and to get an idea of things to do in the area.

If you just can't get enough of the green stuff, mark your calendars for next Labor Day weekend when the little village of Hatch swells to accommodate visitors for the Hatch Chile Festival. This annual event celebrates the beginning of the chile harvest, when roasters line the streets and the whole town smells intoxicating. There are chile ristra-making competitions, food and beverages for sale and sample, and the much-anticipated crowning of the chile festival queen. Stick around for the live music and a taste of green chile wine (and please let us know if it’s actually any good).

Of course, perhaps the best thing to do any time of year in Hatch is to drive down Franklin Street and find a vendor to buy some fresh chile or a ristra from. Sure, you could buy it at the grocery store in Albuquerque, but that wouldn’t be any kind of adventure. Make sure you get a photo with the town sign on your drive in. (Robin Babb)

Favorite Place to Eat

Sparky's

Favorite Place to Stay

Archer Villa Bed & Breakfast

Favorite Thing to See/Do

Hatch Chile Festival

Favorite Thing We Forgot

Shop Main Street