My partner, Mike, and I traveled a bit during the summer for a little bit of sightseeing and visiting National Parks, and while the trip was eye-opening and interesting, our main reason for traveling was to try out green chile cheeseburgers. You’re probably confused right now because who puts green chile on their cheeseburger, right? Well, the people in New Mexico would like to disagree with you. Imagine a standard cheeseburger but with a fairly fiery, charred green chile added on top. No more basic burger toppings for us- green chile has changed the game, and it is here to stay.
Green chile is the pride of New Mexico, and I am so captivated that I now see the symbols on the flag of New Mexico as green chile lying in a bed of cheese. This isn’t so odd because the people there see green chile cheeseburgers as a state treasure and symbol.
To prove even more that New Mexico is obsessed with cheeseburgers, there is a green chile cheeseburger trail formed by the tourism board. The trail allows you to try as many green chile cheeseburgers as possible on a road trip around New Mexico. When I first heard of the trail, I have to admit that I wasn’t so into it, until I had my first green chile cheeseburger.
On this trip, we have tried over 15 GCCs (green chile cheeseburgers) so far and don’t plan on stopping. We have also tried sopapillas, chile rellenos, carne adobada, and burritos, but they haven’t been able to turn me away from GCCs.
There are two ways to eat GCCs, with vegetables, and without vegetables. You can also get them with some vegetables as a side dish, but the difference people notice is in the ways they are served- the wrapped presentation that feels like an enchilada or a burrito, and the typical burger presentation. So far we prefer the regular burger presentation, and we don’t agree that the smothered GCC qualifies as a GCCs. After all, what makes it a cheeseburger is if you’re able to pick it up burger-style.
With the number of green chile cheeseburgers we’ve eaten so far in New Mexico, I think we can call ourselves experts on all things GCCs and everything that makes a green chile cheeseburger perfect. The burgers were all graded on five key points: green chile, vegetables, buns, cheese, and, most importantly, the patty. And for the love of math, nerdy stuff, and food graphs, we made spider charts showing our results more clearly. Keep reading to see the best green chile cheeseburger in New Mexico, and if you have any comments on anything we missed, let us know because we’re going back to New Mexico soon, and I’m ready for more green chile cheeseburgers because I can’t help myself.
Side note: Photographing a green chile cheeseburger isn’t easy at all because they taste way better than they look, so we don’t have good pictures of every burger we had.
We ate the cheeseburgers in this sequence:
The Burger Stand at Taos Ale House
We had the first burger of the trip here, and we do not have any regrets. Well, my one regret would have been that the green chile wasn’t enough for me, but I enjoyed the whole burger too much to care. The bun, a toasted brioche bun with butter, was delicious- not my favorite, but Mike swears by it, and the juicy, medium-rare patty was perfectly cooked and slathered in melted pepper jack cheese. We also got freshly cut white onions, tomatoes, and arugula. The whole burger tasted incredible. 10/10-would recommend.
Orlando’s New Mexican Café, Taos
Orlando’s, a popular local joint, was teeming with people and already had a line that led outside immediately after opening. A resident recommended it to us as a good spot for GCCs, and once we ordered, we understood why. I ordered something called the Sloppy Bro, which is an open burger topped with red and green chile and cheese instead of the regular green chile cheeseburger they had on the menu. This burger has a perfectly cooked medium rare patty, plenty of chile, and delicious shredded cheese- a standard Mexican mix. While it would be hard and unfair to compare this burger to the others I ate, I have to say that this burger was delicious, and it had the perfect proportions of patty, cheese, and chili. The bun was also good, although it was quite moist and mushy, and we weren’t served with any vegetables.
El Parasol, Española
El Parasol originally started in a small shack in Española, but today they’ve stretched out to several locations such as Los Alamos and Santa Fe. They serve their burgers encased in a foil and white wax paper wrap and held in place with a toothpick. Opening them is like unveiling a yummy gift, and this burger is easily the best green chile cheeseburger Mike, and I had on this trip.
While the green chiles in most of the other cheeseburgers left a lot to be desired, El Parasol dominated with a perfectly spicy chile that was not too hot or too mild. You get vegetables along with your burger, but they weren’t particularly impressive.
Their patties are prepared by hand, using the smash and scrape method, which makes them large and juicy. Paired with a freshly buttered and crisp bun, melted American cheese, and the spicy chili, they make a perfect El Parasol burger that keeps bringing you back for more. Of course we had to stop at every El Parasol spot in New Mexico to confirm that the quality was the same, and yes, the burgers are fantastic everywhere.
Extra tip: Try the crispy chicken and guacamole the next time you’re there- they’re simply incredible.
Atrisco Café and Bar, Santa Fe
Atrisco served us our biggest and brownest burger yet. The patty was well browned without getting too burned, and it was served in a toasted sesame seed bun that had butter on it. The green chile alone was really good, but when placed in that huge bun, it got a bit lost among the other components of the burger. We had quite a bit of vegetables too, and we were served red onions, which was a nice change from the white onions we had seen on this trip. I think the cheese was meant to be all melty and spilled all over the burger, but it became a little bit too solid. Altogether, it wasn’t a bad burger-it was good, just not one of the best. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t grab it with both hands if I had it served to me right now.
The Pantry, Santa Fe
With its cute neon sign and old school diner counters, The Pantry serves up classic New Mexican fare, and it is one of the much-loved places in Santa Fe. We ordered their basic cheeseburger called the Pantry Burger, which had a truckload of chili, cheese, and grilled onions all placed on an open bun. Looking back, we would have been better off making our own burger from their selections, but the deed was already done. The burger had both red and green chile, so it was a huge Christmas explosion all over the bun. I had no problem with the chili actually, but the rest of the burger was average at best, and the bun was a big no. We enjoyed their curly fries, though, but why bother when El Parasol is just down the road?
Rustic on the Green, Albuquerque
Albuquerque has this adorable thing that resembles a container park known as Green Jeans. Green Jeans has collection of stores, restaurants and drink joints. There’s a trendy food truck there called Rustic 505, and we got our burger from its cute brick and mortar store. Rustic on the Green has some of the best burgers in the city, something that Mike happily agreed to once we had our burgers. We got fresh vegetables and enough green chile for a nice, slow burn. I wasn’t such a fan of the bun, and the amount of mustard added, but I rather enjoyed the succulent burger and the cheese.
Blake’s Lotaburger, Multiple Locations
Blake’s Lotaburger is the In-N-Out of New Mexico, and they’ve sold burgers here for over 60 years. So, of course, we had high hopes for their burgers, and we were looking forward to trying them, and Blake’s did not let us down at all. We each ordered a double cheeseburger, and they were suitably packed with so many red and green chilies that were roasted over a fire. These chilies packed some heat and spice. Everything about this burger had a lot of thought put into it from the thinly cooked patties and American cheese. Blake’s resembled an authentic 50’s diner with red chairs and formica tabletops that are reminiscent of the old times. Blake’s Lotaburger is scattered around the state, so we were lucky enough to try the burger more than once.
Duran’s is a small restaurant located at the back of a dated drugstore. We went there for a green chile cheeseburger, but they are more famous for their adobada; however, we persevered. Now, Duran’s has some of the best tortillas I’ve had so far. They are so fluffy, crisp, and delicious. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about their GCCs. We got stale buns and overcooked meat. The red and green chiles were okay, but we didn’t get enough to make up for the rest of the burger. This is a burger I could have gone without having. On a lighter note, make sure you try their adobada and as many tortillas as you can eat- you’ll enjoy it more than we enjoyed our burgers.
Garcia’s café, Albuquerque
Albuquerque has so many good spots for good New Mexican food, which is why you’ve seen it so many times on this list. Garcia’s cafe came up quite a few times when people were asked where we could get good quality New Mexican food, and it was also featured on the popular show, Breaking Bad. At the café, I went with a green chile cheeseburger-duh!- while Mike went for their combination plate. The burger was excellent, with a tasty toasted buttered bun and a slightly browned burger with crisp edges. The patty’s extra smoky flavor enhanced that of the green chile, which enhanced the burger’s taste. There was a good amount of the chile also, and the cheese was also okay, but it would have been better if it was more melted.
MÁS Tapas y Vino, Albuquerque
MÁS’ Greene Chile Honey Bun was the winner of the annual GCC smackdown last year, and with good reason too. The burger has a homemade milk bun with some honey bacon and some smoky and piquant chile on top. Although we asked for a medium-rare patty, we got one that was well-done and quite a bit dry if we’re being honest. But it was still quite tasty, thick, and browned, and the cheese was okay, just not as melty as it could have been. This was one of the burgers that didn’t come with any vegetables.
La Plazuela at La Fonda, Santa Fe
La Plazuela is another restaurant that is well-rated in New Mexico. They serve a great burger with a thick and juicy medium-rare patty and spicy green chile. I would have preferred a bit more green chile, but it doesn’t change much, and the cheese was just how I like it- melty and runny. Unmelted cheese can ruin a cheeseburger, so this one makes the cut.
The lines at Frontier extend all around the city block the restaurant is located in, and because of its proximity to the University of New Mexico, it is always flooded with a crowd of students, tourists, and parents at all hours. The lines are quite long, but they don’t last, and you don’t have to wait too long to get your food because a board notifies you when your order is ready for you. As expected, this burger is pretty average, and it is something you’d expect to see in a college area. It is affordable, and it tastes good enough, but there are too many places that serve much better GCCs than this place for me to recommend it. They gave me a generous serving of green chile though.
The Owl Bar and Café
The New Mexico Tourism Board has The Owl Bar and Café on its list of restaurants on the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail, but we had no intention of eating there initially. Instead, we planned to visit The Buckhorn which is known for its excellent GCCs, but the place was closed, and The Owl Café happened to be close by, so we headed there instead. The Owl is one of those old burger places that have been around since forever. At The Owl, we ordered a double chili to compensate for The Buckhorn situation, but the burger blew our minds so much that we had to get second helpings. The toasted bun tasted terrific, and the patty was prepared with the famous smash and scrape method to produce a thin and tasty patty. We got veggies and melty American cheese, alongside the show-stopping smoky and spicy green chile.
Rocking BZ Burgers, Alamogordo
Towards the end of the trail, we had a short stop to camp at the White Sands National Park. But we couldn’t camp on an empty stomach, so we went into Alamogordo, specifically Rocking BZ Burgers, to get our hands on their GCC, which was the Green chile Cheeseburger. At the store, we ordered “The Champ,” which was the winning burger, in the competition, and it was really good. The burger contains half a pound of medium rare patty, American cheese, green chile, grilled onions, and some lettuce and tomato. Everything worked in this burger from its well-cooked patty, plenty of chile, and perfectly melted cheese.
The Burger Nook
The Burger Nook was one of the last stops for us and an entry on the Green chile Cheeseburger trail, so we went in there with a lot of expectations. When we first arrived, the restaurant was empty, but soon after, customers started trooping in, with most of them ordering two burgers each. We later found out why when our orders arrived. Thankfully, there are two sizes you can pick from, and if you don’t eat so much, the large should suit you. At this point, we were enjoying one of the last burgers we ate there, so we just spoke about how the smash and scrape method patty suits the green chile cheeseburger recipe quite well. The burger was enjoyable, and though I didn’t particularly like the bun, the chile is the star of the show, and it was good enough.
Wow..that was a long list and a whole lot of GCCs! The funny thing is that we didn’t even get to eat every burger we wanted. Do you have a preference for green chile cheeseburgers? Have you tried one before? And if you have, what is your preferred way, green chili on top of the cheese or under the cheese?
I’m looking forward to returning to New Mexico. It is an enchanting place- and it has chile!