The appeal of Tía Betty Blue’s might seem skin-deep at first. The paint is fresh. The food comes fast enough to service a drive-thru window. A collection of bottled soda pops is so vast, it could be a gimmick. And the image of a raven-haired hottie—Tía Betty Blue, presumably—stares you down from the sign, the walls, the menu. But despite its candy-coated veneer, Tía B’s means business. The food is simple but thoughtful, and it’s different. And as long as food is the priority, who cares how cute the servers are?
Which is better: having the best location and the worst tamales, or the best tamales and the worst location? Only soul-free capitalists would choose the former, while a soulful stream of Burqueños regularly choose the tamales at El Modelo.
As I was preparing my move to New Mexico, a Blackfoot Indian woman came by to see about renting my house in Missoula, Mont. She didn't rent the house but we became friends, and before she left she gave me some bright red kernels of dried corn she got at a powwow.
Nothing in this whole wide world compares to the ambrosial sensation of chowing down on foodstuffs covered with roasted New Mexico chile. Smitten with our state’s almighty green chile burgers, Gustavo Arellano—of the OC Weekly and ¡Ask a Mexican! fame—wrote a love letter to Blake’s Lotaburger. In the blog, he praised the fact that the 76 Lotaburger locations are all within the borders of New Mexico. Meanwhile he lamented the outbreak of Five Guys fever (I guess Southern California is experiencing it too), a once D.C.-specific burger joint that now has 625 locations in the U.S. and Canada. It seems that Arellano and I have similar feelings about Five Guys. The burgers are good, but is all of the brouhaha deserved? Wait, what’s that? I can’t hear you over this blaring Doobie Brothers song!
Albuquerqueans can find out what all the fuss is about at 6650 Holly NE (waaaaay up there in that mess of chain stores and subdivisions on Paseo between San Pedro and Louisiana).
One morning while waiting for a plate of huevos rancheros at Cocina Azul, some sort of meeting started taking place at a group of tables by the piano. Owner Frank Barela told me later that Cocina Azul has become a popular meeting place for local politicians, judges and other operators, and that Henry Tafoya sometimes does his KDEF 1150 AM radio show from the dining room, via cell phone.