I should have made a left at Albuquerque!

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buffetbuster
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I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 06/22/09 3:30 PM
5
The original title for this trip report was going to be On the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail, but then I wouldn't have been able to use this clip.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8TUwHTfOOU
 
My cousin Johnny and I recently took our yearly vacation together.  This time, we drove all over the state of New Mexico, one of the very best states for Roadfood.
 
Friday June 5, 2009
 
Flying from Pittsburgh to Albuquerque, I had a 3 1/2 hour layover at Chicago's Midway.  Usually, I just grab a dog here.  But having more time on my hands, I grabbed a table at Harry Caray's instead.  This allowed me to sample one of my favorite Roadfood dishes, Chicken Vesuvio.

Obviously, the version you get at the airport is never going to be as good as the one you would get at the original downtown location.  But, this version was surprisingly quite good.  The chicken was nice and tender and it had the essential strong garlic punch.  Good stuff!  Maybe I was just swayed by the fact that I actually received real silverware this time, instead of the plastic knife and fork they gave in the past.  The side of pasta,

with the heavy, gloppy sauce and undercooked shells were only worth two bites until I gave up.
 
I landed at Albuquqerque International Sunport (they call themselves a sunport?) about 40 minutes before Johnny.  We had two dining options, either Powdrell's BBQ or Sadie's.  I called the phone number of the Powdrell's location listed on the Roadfood review and there was no answer.  Google gave me another location and I called that number.  They said they were open until 9:30PM.  Once Johnny landed and we collected our luggage, I asked him where he wanted to go.  Surmising there would be no shortage of New Mexican food on this trip, he thought Powdrell's would be the better option.  So off we went. 
 
After parking, we hurried into the first building we saw, which was an unusual, round brick building.

(I took the above photo as we were leaving.)   As you can see from the sign, which I managed to walk right past and not even notice, this is the take-out building.  Johnny and I were looking at the menu board and the nice lady behind the counter told us that if we wanted to sit down and eat, the restaurant was still open.  This sounded much better than eating off the hood of the car in the dark, so we headed to their front door.
 
On the way, you pass this sign

and this sign. 

Even though Mr. Powdrell passed away late in 2007, it is very obvious that this is still very much his place.  The restaurant was closing in about 15 minutes, but we were still greeted in a friendly manner and sat in the main dining room, which sure looks like it was the living room in this former house.  From our table, we had a nice view of the stairs.

 
Johnny, a lover of all things combo (a common theme you see throughout the trip), went for the chicken, brisket and ribs combo.

As you can see, all the items came heavily sauced, which we are generally not fans of.  Luckily, the excellent sauce here is sweet, with a little bit of heat or it would have been a problem.  All three of the meats had a noticable smoky taste, with the bbq chicken being Johnny's favorite.  His two sides were the greens,

which he described as being a bit tart and the creamy potato salad.

 
I went with the hot link sausage sandwich,

which also comes heavily sauced.  The sausage had no heat at all, but had a nice snap when you bit into it and plenty of meaty flavor.  The roll, not too soft, with a good chew, was also first-rate.  Here is a side view of the sandwich.
 
For my side, I got the beans, which were a disappointment.  These are pinto beans
 
and I much prefer the sweeter bbq beans instead.  I wouldn't make much of a cowboy, not liking pinto beans would I?
 
Because we had gotten there so late, we were their last customers of the day.  Despite this, we were still treated as special guests by our waitress, the hostess and by Mrs. Powdrell herself, who was the lady at the take-out counter.  I did ask about the other Powdrell's BBQ location and she told me it is temporary closed for renovations.   After buying a bottle of that yummy sauce, we were out the door.
 
Powdrell's BBQ
5209 4th Street NW
Albuquerque, NM
505-345-8086
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/353-353/powdrells-bar-b-que
 
We did eschew dessert at Powdrell's BBQ, because I had another stop in mind and we quickly made our way to 66 Diner.  If you have never been here before, this place looks great at night with all the glittering neon.  Unfortunately, I cleverly failed to take an outside photo.  But the inside


is pretty cool looking, too.  BTW, those are pez dispensers lining the top shelf on both sides.  We looked over our dessert options. 

Seriously, don't they have anyone with better handwriting than that?
 
I got the ball rolling with an Elvis milkshake.

The peanut butter taste was so strong, that it completely overwhelmed the banana.  Who knows, maybe they just forgot to put the banana in.  Still, a fine milkshake.  To eat, a piece of blueberry crisp pie. 

Need I say more?
 
Johnny, a man who knows his way around a dessert menu, started off with a strawberry shake, a slice of the creamy and light peanut butter pie
 
and finished it off with blueberry cobbler. 

Pretty impressive eating there!
 
66 Diner
1405 Central Avenue NE
Albuquerque, NM
505-247-1421
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/450-450/66-diner
 
We checked into our hotel for the night.
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Mon, 06/22/09 3:50 PM>

Davydd
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 06/22/09 3:44 PM
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Good start, BB. I'm looking forward to the whole trip. You guys amaze me the way you can put away those desserts.

Nancypalooza
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 06/22/09 3:46 PM
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Oh, I'da had trouble picking between the blueberry cobbler and the crisp pie.  Love that picture of Mr. Powdrell!

Ahi Mpls.
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 06/23/09 3:48 PM
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Oh, you gotta love when boring potato soup is anything but!!   I'm thinking that  " Johnny Combo "  sounds like a good name if/ when Cousin Johnny becomes a Goodfella......

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 06/24/09 1:53 PM
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Saturday June 6, 2009
 
When checking out of the hotel around 7:30AM, I noticed that the front door had been smashed

since we had arrived late the night before.  Apparently some drunk decided kicking the door would be a good idea.  I asked the desk clerk, "Did that happen late last night".  He replied, "No, that happened this morning.  About an hour ago."  The guy was drunk and acting up at 6:30AM?  Unbelievable!
 
A little less than a hour and a half later, we made our first stop of the day, for a Green Chile Cheeseburger at The Owl Bar & Cafe in San Antonio, NM.  This is one of the coolest looking Roadfood places from the outside, with the one color scheme and the owl art.



On the inside door is this sign, looking for a lost pony. 

We don't have signs like this back home.  The song Wildfire started playing in my head.
The inside of the bar has lots of things to look at.  Police patches from all over the country

decorate one area.  The are also hundreds of dollar bills

lining just about every available inside wall.  A sign on our table explained what they do with the money.

No surprise that much of the interior

is decorated with an owl theme.
 
We did briefly look at the small menu.

They do offer breakfast, but we were definitely here for the GCC.  And we were both quite happy with what we were served:

I took several shots from different angles and there is no green chile visible in any of them.  Trust me, it was loaded with them.  This shot I took of Johnny at least shows a few.

This is not an oversized burger, which is just fine.  The chile had both plenty of heat (though not overly so) and loaded with great flavor.  It was also the type of heat that sneaks up on you.  You know, the kind that as soon as you say, "Oh this isn't hot at all."  And then suddenly, there it is. This was the hottest GCC we ate on the trip.
 
We also tried a couple of sides.  The onion rings were crunchy,

but they still tasted prepackaged to us.  Better was the green chile cheese fries.
 
This is the first time I have tried this dish.  The green chiles on here were just as excellent.  Unfortunately, the juice made the fries themselves limp and lifeless rather quickly.  We loved this dish right after we got it, but less so as the meal went on.
 
Our waitress was a senior citizen with a wry smile, who seemed to enjoy all the picture taking going on.  This place is quite famous, so I'm sure she is used to it.  She wasn't very talkitive, but certainly wasn't unfriendly.  I think that was just her nature.  Before we left, she brought over souvenir menus and bumper stickers for us to take home, which we appreciated.
 
Before we left, Johnny and I put dollars bills on the wall, too.  The waitress brought us black markers and thumb tacks.  If you go to The Owl, look for our dollars.  Johnny put his just above our booth, the second one on the left as you go in.  Mine is in the back,

right next to the Corona sign.
 
The Owl Bar & Cafe
77 Highway 380
San Antonio, NM
505-835-9946
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/3612-3518/owl-bar
 
Since I needed to buy a map, we stopped at the convenience store next door.  While in there, we bought some of the really creamy fudge (peanut butter for me, rocky road for Johnny) and some wonderul cherry cider.  We asked the clerk about which GCC she preferred, The Owl or the other famous place in town, The Buckhorn.  She did not even hesitate and said the one at The Buckhorn was better.  Having also read that in the Roadfood forums, we crossed the street to The Buckhorn, with the intention of getting a GCC to go.  Unfortunately, it was only 10:00AM and it didn't open for another hour.  So we got back on the highway and headed east towards Carrizozo.
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Wed, 06/24/09 2:01 PM>

minilops
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 06/24/09 4:22 PM
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I have to say I am really enjoying your trip through one of my favorite states.  The food looks wonderful.  But I have to say as a pony owner I can't imagine loosing my beloved pony Molly!  I sure hope they find him/her soon.
Allison

TnTinCT
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 06/25/09 10:44 AM
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Not sure how you lose a pony, never having had one, but love the food pics. Thanks for sharing the trip so far!

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 06/25/09 11:49 AM
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Saturday June 6, 2009 cont.
 
Shortly after leaving San Antonio, we came across this historical marker.

Being at the Trinity Site is definitely a Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore moment.  Just before reaching the town of Carrizozo, the scenery became especially rugged, with lots of interesting black rock formations.

This was the Valley of Fires National Recreation Area, which reminded us of the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho.
 
The reason we were headed to Carrizozo was to meet up with respected Roadfooder rouxdog (Dean).  We called him when we reached town and he directed us to his place.  Dean has a ranch on the outskirts of town and he had a reception committee waiting for us.


The top two are Dixie and Duke and the second photo is of Scooter.  As you can see,

these are some highly trained guard dogs we are talking about.
 
Dean could not have possibly made us feel more welcome.  He introduced us to his wife Nancy and gave us a tour of his lovely adobe house and his ranch.  Here are some of the scenery on the ranch.




Hopefully, he will chime in and tell the interesting story of where he got that Pacific Northwest Native American symbol that is in the above photo.  I asked Dean to pose for a photo next to a skull.

 
Above and beyond, he gave me a booklet he made up of some interesting stuff.  Included in here was tourist info on the local area, directions, printed out Roadfood reviews of the places in the area and photos of his prized bull.  This obviously took a lot of work and I was very appreciative of the gesture.  If that wasn't enough, he also gave us a big cardboard box of local products.  This included chiles, pistachios, quail eggs, local cider, a six pack of Alien Amber Ale from Roswell and other assorted goodies.  This was incredibly generous of him.  I do have some photos of this stuff, but I haven't downloaded those yet and will add them in later.  I am always astonished what good people I meet through this site.
 
Okay, time for lunch.  We got in our car to follow Dean into town.  Then we found out how Scooter got his name.  I swear we were doing 35mph in the driveway and that dog was running in the grass beside us.  It was unbelievable!
 
Lunch was at the local bar/restaurant, The Outpost.  Here is Johnny and Dean chatting outside.

No mystery what they are well known for,

which is fine with us.
 
The Outpost was extremely dark on the inside and decorated with all kind of animal heads.

I don't remember being given menus, but the menu board is easy to see from our table.

 
Dean went for the Hamburger Steak,

which looked quite good.  All three of us liked the golden fries that came with his meal.

Of course, Johnny and I got the Green Chile Cheeseburger.

Here it is with the roof off.

This one didn't seem to have as much green chiles as some other burgers we had on the trip, but still had the real good green chile flavor.  And it was a healthy sized burger, too.  This place is well worth a stop and Johnny and I give it a thumbs up!
 
After finishing my burger, I said I was going to get up and take some photos.  Instead, I walked to the bar to try and pay the tab.  But the girl was slow and Dean was on to my tricks.  He walked over and insisted on paying for lunch.  Thanks again Rouxdog for the hospitality, you are a 100% class act!
 
Outpost Bar & Grill
415 Central
Carrizozo, NM
575-648-9994
 
We drove around the town a little bit, with Dean showing us the sights, but it was soon time for us to go.  We said our goodbyes and Johnny and I continued east towards, Roswell.
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 08/26/10 1:29 PM>

ScreamingChicken
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 06/25/09 11:49 AM
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buffetbuster


I wouldn't make much of a cowboy, not liking pinto beans would I?

 
Not to mention the fact that all the other cowboys wouldn't care for you constantly showing up at their camps and ranches to try their food...
 
Brad

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 06/25/09 2:13 PM
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Saturday June 6, 2009 cont.
 
As we approached Roswell, Johnny and I discussed whether we should eat first or visit the Alien museum first.  Well of course, the food won out and we easily found La Posta,


a place that Chris & Amy (ayersian) reviewed for Roadfood.  Fortune smiled on us, because the restaurant closed just a few minutes after we entered.  In fact, we were the only customers during our visit.
 
The inside is small,

with counter seats, tables and booths.  We selected a table next to the window, so I could get better shots.  It sure was nice to be eating in a place that wasn't so dark for a change.  Hopefully, my food photos will be better from here on.  We started off with our meal with the fine chips and salsa (surprisingly mild heat)

and horchatas to drink,

which Johnny described as rice pudding in a glass. 
 
As soon as I saw the flautas listed on the special board, I knew that is what I would be ordering.  These were so crunchy that after one bite, the shells just fell into small pieces. 

Loaded with chicken (I could have also gotten beef), these were quite good.  Captain Combo got a taco, flauta and (I believe) gordita combo,

with the loaded with fresh ingredients taco being the best of plate.  But Johnny's favorite thing here was the chiles rellenos,

which was extra cheesy and smothered in green chile.  This was excellent!
 
The staff was friendly and Spanish is definitely the main language spoken here.  Our waitress was relieved to find out we were paying in cash, since their credit card machine was broken.
 
La Posta
109 North Delaware Avenue
Roswell, NM
575-625-6726
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/4981-5009/la-posta
 
We continued into downtown to find the Alien museum.
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 06/25/09 2:21 PM>

Mariaehlana
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 06/25/09 2:25 PM
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Great report, as always!

ann peeples
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 06/25/09 2:25 PM
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Wow! This is one fun trip to follow.Great to see my friend rouxdog, his dogs and the ranch. The food looks wonderful.

Soccer862923
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 06/25/09 7:31 PM
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That peanut butter pie looks fantastic! Wish I could get a piece right now.

Nancypalooza
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 06/25/09 10:53 PM
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I have to say, the green chile cheeseburger is the top of my Roadfood bucket list, and those both look incredible.  The Owl is cute as can be too.  /me waves to Dean and Captain Combo

carolina bob
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 06/25/09 11:34 PM
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Captain Combo? That's pretty good. My crime-fighting code name is Captain Carnivore; do you think Johnny and I should apply for membership in the Justice League? BTW, great report and photos, BB. Those green chile cheeseburger pics are driving me crazy... I'm dying to try one.

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Fri, 06/26/09 9:21 AM
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I genuinely appreciate all the nice comments.  Especially since the food photos have been substandard so far.  What is about Green Chile Cheeseburgers and dark bars going hand-in-hand?

Nancy-
You have got to get a GCC sometime.  Along with lobster rolls, they are my favorite regional Roadfood items.

Soccer862923-
I love peanut butter and I love pie, but peanut butter pies are usually too heavy and rich for me.  That one was not and was one of the better I have tasted in a while.

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Fri, 06/26/09 10:16 AM
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Saturday June 6, 2009 cont.
 
Finding the UFO Museum and Research Center in downtown Roswell is not very difficult.  The exterior isn't exactly subtle.


On the way in, I had my photo taken with one of the security guards.

The woman at the register seemed amused at my hometown (Mars, PA), but I still didn't get a discount.
 
The first half of the museum is dedicated to the supposed crash of an alien craft on a ranch near Roswell and the apparent military cover up afterwards.  There is also all kinds of alien art work,



supposed photographs of UFOs and testimonies about close encounters.  You also get to see what an alien autopsy would look like.

We spent an enjoyable 1 1/2 hours here.  Johnny remains skeptical.  As for me, I live in Mars and we have a spaceship in the center of our town.  What do you expect me to think?
 
The entire town of Roswell has embraced the alien theme and you see signs of it all over the place.  Here are a couple of store fronts we noticed.


I really wish we had more time to explore Roswell, as it seems like a cool, quirky town.  But, I had to get to our hotel room in Carlsbad early.  My hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins were playing in the Stanley Cup Finals and the game started at 6:00PM.  We checked in on time and my team was losing 1-0 after one period.  We then ran out to catch a quick dinner.
 
In the 2005 Roadfood book, Jane and Michael Stern wrote about a Dairy Queen in Carlsbad that had really good barbecue.  I did a little bit of research and the owners left the Dairy Queen name, renovated the building and it is now called Danny's Place.  It sure doesn't look like a Dairy Queen, inside

or out.

 
Our meals started with big tumblers of iced tea. 

Considering how much beverage I usually consume during a meal, I love getting these lumberjack sized glasses.  BTW, without exception, every time we ordered iced tea on this trip, it came unsweetened.
 
So far on the vacation, we had received excellent service everywhere we have been.  Since I was in a hurry tonight, trying to get back to the hotel to watch the game, we had a teenage waitress who was slow and indifferent.  Luckily, the food made up for it.  This was some really good 'que!  I went for the pulled pork sandwich,

which came in a burger diaper.  Here is a better look at the tender meat under the bun.

Johnny's combo this time consisted of brisket, sausage and pulled pork.

I had several pieces of the juicy sausage, which he didn't mind since he loved the falling apart brisket so much.  This photo is kind of blurry in spots,

but it shows the crispy, charred edges and the beautiful smoke ring.  He also gave the potato salad a thumbs up.
 
Danny's Place
902 S. Canal St.
Roswell, NM
575-885-8739 
 
http://www.dannysbbq.com/
 
We hustled back to the hotel, passing an ice cream shop, only to find my Penguins were getting crushed 5-0.  I sat there and yelled at the tv for the rest of the game.  We never did go back out for ice cream.
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 06/26/09 10:51 AM>

mr chips
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Fri, 06/26/09 10:33 AM
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Great report, as always. Y mou,ve got me wanting to go there very soon.

Nancypalooza
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Fri, 06/26/09 2:08 PM
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I'm so glad you went to the UFO Museum--Roswell is a very fond memory of mine, and I love how they've embraced what they're infamous for.  Unfortunately I think we ate at a Denny's or something while we were there.  And it's good to see the museum hasn't changed in about ten years.  :)

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 06/30/09 2:14 PM
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Sunday June 7, 2009
 
The reason we spent the night in Carlsbad was to get an early start for a morning of spelunking in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. 

The drive in to the visitor's center was quite pretty.


 
We messed up, because we wanted to take the Natural Entrance Tour, but ended up taking the Big Room Tour.  The main difference is that we took the elevator down rather than the twisted walkway.  No big deal.  The big room has about a mile of reasonably lit walkways past many stalagmites, stalactites and other cool rock formations.



Here you can get a good look at the lit walkway and my ugly shorts.

These are called lion's tails.

There were several small pools of water.

A ladder leads down to the room below.  For more adventurous people than us!

Besides, I was too busy coming up with a name for the bat I plan on adopting.

Truly, a gift for the person who already has everything!
 
We spent a good 2 1/2 hours underground and thoroughly enjoyed what we saw.  They did have more advanced park ranger led tours, but I am slightly claustrophobic and there are plenty of spaces I don't fit into now, that I used to. 
 
Back in the visitor's center, we grabbed something to eat.  It wasn't lunchtime yet, so we had breakfast burritos, mine with sausage

and Johnny's with bacon.  These were actually good for national park food and a real bargain at $3.45!  Here is my tray,

that also included more of that delicious local cider and a granola parfait.  Johnny swears there were raisins in his parfait, although I don't remember any in mine.  For his sake, I hope those were raisins!
 
Next stop was crossing the border into Texas and Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
We stopped at the visitor's center and watched a movie about the park and all its beautiful scenery.  But this is an almost exclusively hiking park.  And neither one of us were up to doing long hikes in the almost 90 degree weather.  This pose of Johnny's kind of clued me in of what he thought of a long hike.

Still, we were able to see some pretty scenery nearby.


 
We continued west towards El Paso.
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Tue, 06/30/09 2:22 PM>

Foodosaurus
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 06/30/09 2:30 PM
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I really love the last picture of the flowering cactus.

Mosca
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 06/30/09 10:00 PM
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Stop apologizing for the pictures. Those low light shots are hard to take, and you're getting great focus in them.

Oh, nice report, too!

Foodbme
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 07/1/09 12:36 AM
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GREAT REPORT!
But---- I gotta go back to day 2.
Let me see if I understand this correctly--- You checked out of your hotel around 7:30AM and "Less than a hour and a half later, we made our first stop of the day, for a Green Chile Cheeseburger at The Owl Bar & Cafe in San Antonio, NM." ????????
 
You're eating GCC's and Green Chile Cheese Fries for BREAKFAST???.
You'ze Guy's are my heroes!
This qualifies you to be included in a White Paper Presentation at the next Gastroenterology Convention!
 
BTW-- I think you've cemented Johnny's new handle for posterity. He shall forever be known as "Captain Combo"!


buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 07/1/09 8:11 AM
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Foodbme-
If they are willing to make a Green Chile Cheeseburger at 9:00AM, we are certainly willing to eat it!

Ahi Mpls.
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 07/1/09 8:57 AM
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    BURGER DIAPER! 

Nancypalooza
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 07/1/09 9:14 AM
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Captain Combo has a future as Mr. March in the 'Men of the National Parks' calendar.  :)

Thanks for the scenery--I'd love to go back there sometime.

billyboy
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 07/1/09 4:08 PM
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BB, I love that Captain Combo nickname!  Priceless!  You and Johnny have surely done yourselves proud on this one.  I'll bet the final list of RF stops will match your weeklong sojourn through Texas last year!  How many pies will be destroyed in your path, sir?  How many??!!

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/6/09 8:14 AM
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billyboy-As much as I love the food of New Mexico, it just isn't a pie state.  This trip will be shockingly devoid of desserts.  I will feel like I let you down.

Nancy-Captain Combo visited over the weekend and chastized me for posting that photo.  You'd think he would know better! 

The Travelin Man
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/6/09 10:00 AM
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Yes, but Cap'n Combo and I have planned revenge.  I got four words for ya...

Sexy Quaker Oat Man!

Nancypalooza
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/6/09 10:25 AM
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/clutches my pearls in horror!

The Travelin Man
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/6/09 10:41 AM
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Oh...we got a picture for you, too, darlin'!

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/6/09 10:58 AM
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Just move along, there is nothing to see here!

Nancypalooza
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/6/09 11:48 AM
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Is this like the Burger King, in that it's supposed to be cute but is actually horrifying?

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/6/09 2:49 PM
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June 7, 2009 cont.
 
Our first stop in El Paso, actually wasn't in El Paso.  We drove a little bit further north to the tiny town of Canutillo to eat lunch at Little Diner.


Lots of cars in the parking lot, as this place is quite popular.  And as you can see from the inside view,

it really isn't that little.  This sign

on the wall made me think this restaurant had a New Mexico soul to it.  You place your order at the counter

(Spanish is the primary language here, but we had no trouble being understood) and they bring the food to you.
 
While we were waiting to order our food, the beverages caught our eye.  We both went, "Hey, Horchata"!  Ooohhh, Melon!"

The cantaloupe flavored drink

(more like an ade than a soda) was cool, refreshing and one of my favorite things on the trip.
 
Just to change things up, I got the combo this time,

with an excellent red chile enchilada, an even better taco, stuffed with fresh ingredients and a forgettable gordita.  A la carte, Johnny got a very good beefy tamale,

a huge chiles rellenos,

that had the Christmas (both green and red) chile on the side and an order of the flautas.


With the crunchy shell and the tender shredded beef, Johnny especially liked the flautas.
 
Another thing that makes me a fan of Little Diner is that they give away colorful bumper stickers, 

one of which is now on the back of my beater car.  The food was good, but I would definitely go back for the melon drink!
 
Little Diner
7209 7th Street
Canutillo, TX
915-877-2176
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/201-201/little-diner
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Mon, 07/6/09 2:52 PM>

Nancypalooza
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/6/09 4:54 PM
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That's just about the right colors for your alma mater too--I guess it'd be better if you went to Syracuse?  The food looks awesome--maybe Capn Combo has become that because if something's bad on the plate, something else is bound to be good.

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 07/9/09 2:37 PM
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Sunday June 7, 2009 cont.
 
We checked into our hotel room in El Paso and relaxed for a hour or so.  Since we had eaten so little on this day so far, we were soon ready for another lunch!  This time, we visited Julio's Cafe Corona

This is a bigger, comfortable place, that sits right next to the highway.  While we dined, there was live music from this guy.

There were large groups of Hispanic families, which was a good sign.  Our waiter, who was a real pro, easily slipping from Spanish to English, depending on which table he was addressing.
 
Like most meals on this trip, it starts with homemade chips and salsa. 

We particularly liked the fresh tasting, hot salsa we had here.  We were told that the lemonade was fresh squeezed,

but it sure didn't taste or look fresh squeezed.
 
Despite the 90 degree temperatures outside, Johnny and I decided to try some of their interesting soups.  Mine was the Tlalpeno soup,

which was extremely hot and absolutely delicious.  It contained big chunks of tender chicken and avocado.  Johnny's soup was called Julio's Special Soup. 

Not nearly as hot, it held chicken broth, cilantro, tomato, onion and lots more avocado.
 
For his entree, Johnny chose wisely and went with the Mole Poblano. 

I took quite a few photos of this dish, but this is the best I could do.  There were long shreds of moist chicken underneath the chocolate sauce.  There was some serious heat to this dish, too.  It was so good, it made me wish I had ordered this instead of the crappy meal I ended up with.  I tried something different and got the Salpicon. 

I should have known just by the fact the beef is served cold that it may not be something I enjoy.  Famous last words, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I passed on dessert, while Johnny went for the ultra caramelly flan. 

Really good!
 
After this, we were full.  We went back to the hotel and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.
 
Julio's Cafe Corona
8050 Gateway East
El Paso, TX
915-591-7676
 
http://www.julioscafecorona.com/
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 07/9/09 2:42 PM>

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 07/9/09 3:30 PM
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Sunday June 7, cont.
 
We had been running around at such a rigorous pace up until now, Johnny and I were enjoying the down time at the hotel.  So much, we seriously debated on whether or not to go out to dinner.  Knowing we would undoubtedly regret it later, we soon found ourselves in the car, heading east on I-10 towards the small town of Fabens.  Our destination was Cattleman's Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch

The directions we had were get off at the Fabens exit, make a left and drive five miles into the desert.  And they weren't kidding.  This place is truly in the middle of nowhere.  Still, when we pulled up, there was lots of activity as a wedding reception was going on in the front building.  We pulled in and followed the signs towards the very back of the complex to the steakhouse.  The parking lot was huge.  So we would find our car when we were leaving, I told Johnny to park next to the horse.

Back in PA, we don't have horses in our restaurant parking lots!
 
The inside of the place was equally as big.  Hey, we are in Texas after all.  Room after room filled with saddles, ropes, wagon wheel chandeliers, cowboy art,


the whole place looked like a Western museum.  We were handed thick, leather bound menus, which focused on steaks.

 
Since we weren't monumentally hungry, we settled for 10 oz. steaks,

mine being the New York Strip, his being the Ribeye.

These were both fine cuts of meat, both cooked perfectly, mine medium and his medium rare.  For flavor, his got a slight edge, but I was still very happy with what I was served.  As you can see, Johnny went with the corn on the cob, which came wrapped in aluminum foil, while I had the thick steak fries.
 
The other sides came served family style.  The creamy cole slaw,

which included pineapple, was a big hit with us.  Less so was the pinto beans. 

Strangely, after a few bites, Johnny remarked how much the beans reminded him of Coney sauce for hot dogs.  And he was right.  We also got an extra side of delicious, extra-buttery mushrooms, that were actually kind of sweet.

 
Dessert time!  Johnny loved his smooth chocolate mousse.

Once again, I went off the board and tried the Queen of Sheba,

which was frozen cream, with cherries on the bottom.  Trust me, it sounds better than it really was.  Kind of chalky to my taste.
 
Still, Cattleman's gets a big thumbs up from us for the great steaks and cool cowboy atmosphere.
 
Cattleman's Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch
Fabens, TX
915-544-3200
 
http://www.cattlemanssteakhouse.com/ 
 
Despite the fact that the horse was gone, we found our car.  We went back to the hotel and called it a night.
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 07/9/09 3:43 PM>

Ahi Mpls.
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 07/9/09 4:21 PM
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 First a missing pony, and now the horse is gone?! I think we may need to alert the media... something fishy is afoot!!  nowI must go find some TAQUITOS!!!!!

ChiTownDiner
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 07/9/09 5:57 PM
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buffetbuster -

Great report as always...was the second sculpture a Remmington?

ann peeples
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 07/9/09 6:19 PM
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I am enjoying all of your food adventures!!! However, I absolutely love pinto beans; sorry you dont like them!

carolina bob
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 07/9/09 6:37 PM
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BB, I'd sure like to know what they did to those pinto beans at Cattlemen's Steakhouse. I've been eating pintos ( 'soup beans' ) all my life, and I've never seen any that look like that. You compared them to Coney sauce, so I'm assuming that they were spicy; what was their heat level like? 

ScreamingChicken
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Fri, 07/10/09 11:36 AM
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buffetbuster



As you can see, Johnny went with the corn on the cob, which came wrapped in aluminum foil, while I had the thick steak fries.

So by the time you took the photo Johnny had already eaten the foil?
 
Brad

quijote
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Sat, 07/11/09 9:50 PM
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A delicious report. Those chiles rellenos and tamales look great, but what I really crave now is blueberry cobbler and blueberry pie. Great pics, as always. 

Nancypalooza
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/13/09 10:26 PM
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Your Tlalpeno soup looks a lot like the soup Julie lives off of at our local Mexican joint.  This is sopa de pollo (chicken soup) at Taqueria Jalisco:



And I don't know whether the Tlalpeno had cilantro in it or not; it does here, and it's served with a wedge of lime.  Mucho delicioso.

exsquidao
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Mon, 07/27/09 8:10 PM
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Brad_Olson


buffetbuster



As you can see, Johnny went with the corn on the cob, which came wrapped in aluminum foil, while I had the thick steak fries.

So by the time you took the photo Johnny had already eaten the foil?
 
Brad


LOL...Too funny.

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 08/10/10 2:39 PM
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With the Roadfood bus tour coming to New Mexico next month, this seemed like an appropriate time to finally finish this trip report from last year.  The food descriptions might suffer from my lack of memory, but I did take some notes.
 
Okay, where did we leave off?  Oh yeah, El Paso, TX.
 
Monday, June 8, 2009
 
First stop of the day was a place we were eagerly anticipating, H & H Cafe and Car Wash. 

This place is just a little coffee shop, with a much bigger area for washing cars.  And, you can get your shoes shined.  Talk about your one stop shop! 

Unfortunately, during the time we were here, we never saw a car being washed.  Or shoes being shined.  I guess we will just have to settle for breakfast.
 
There are a couple of tables by the near wall, but most of the seating is at the counter.  Two different menu boards
 

are on the wall and they still handed you a menu.  Our waitress was a little short with us, but that was most likely due to her lack of English and our lack of Spanish.  Johnny went with the Mexican Style Omelet,

which was full of ham and peppers.  On the side was refried beans, homemade guacamole and two large sliced potatoes.  And, of course, some homemade tortillas

on the side.  He was very happy with his breakfast. 
 
It is hard for me to ever turn down Huevos Rancheros,


so that is what I went with.  Have you ever seen Huevos Rancheros like this?  I haven't.  Instead of the normal red or sometimes green chile over top, it is served with what the Sterns called "a curious buttery gravy".  Whatever it was, it was delicious and I used my tortillas to mop up every ounce.  Johnny also ordered a bowl of the green chile,

but truthfully, I can't remember much about it.
 
I went outisde to use the bathroom and when I was walking back in, a man sitting on a chair just outside the front door, struck up a conversation with me.  Turns out he was the owner and was happy to hear I was from Pittsburgh.  He told me his (I believe) aunt used to be the mayor of Homestead, which is a suburb of Pittsburgh.  I asked if he minded if I take some photos and he even rounded up the ladies for an interior shot.

On the way out, he even gave us H & H Cafe coffee mugs. 

How nice is that?
 
A couple more outside shots:


 
H & H Cafe and Car Wash
701 E. Yandel
El Paso, TX
915-533-1144
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/3911/hh-cafe-car-wash
 
Johnny and I spent the rest of the morning exploring downtown El Paso, which was full of beautiful murals,



a cool alligator fountain,

statues

and interesting architecture.


 
We made a quick stop at the University of Texas at El Paso bookstore, so I could pick up a couple t-shirts.  I was amazed at how nice the store was,

only to find out it had only been opened for a few days.  All of this helped us build up an appetite, so we made one more stop in town.
 
Much more to come..... 
<message edited by buffetbuster on Tue, 08/10/10 2:47 PM>

Ahi Mpls.
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 08/10/10 3:38 PM
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  YOU WENT OUTSIDE TO USE THE BATHROOM?! 
       I really like the looks of the krazy huevos.

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 08/10/10 3:50 PM
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AHI MPLS-
Yeah, it was outside and around the corner, kind of like at those hamburger places in Ohio from a previous trip report.  Or, that could explain why the owner wanted to chat with me!

mayor al
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 08/10/10 4:16 PM
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BB
Janet had me park next to a hitching-rack where the Amish "parked" their horses during the Farmers Market Hours in Lancaster, OHIO last weekend. (so we could find the truck in the lot full of other trucks)!!! The dogs talked to the horses for awhile, before calming down for a nap.

Foodbme
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 08/10/10 5:53 PM
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mayor al


BB
Janet had me park next to a hitching-rack where the Amish "parked" their horses during the Farmers Market Hours in Lancaster, OHIO last weekend. (so we could find the truck in the lot full of other trucks)!!! The dogs talked to the horses for awhile, before calming down for a nap.


You may not have been able to find your truck, but I bettcha you found some Good Eats! Send me some Scrapple would ya? People out here think Scrapple is some kind of a board game to make up words.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 08/10/10 8:09 PM
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Let's keep this moving...I can't wait to see ABQ and Santa Fe! 

Foodbme
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 08/10/10 8:24 PM
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ChiTownDiner


Let's keep this moving...I can't wait to see ABQ and Santa Fe! 


Go easy on the poor Guy, CTD. After all, he IS from Pittsburgh ya know! They march to their own drumbeat!

ChiTownDiner
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Tue, 08/10/10 8:50 PM
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Or to slices of pie...I am already excited about hitting this new (to me) area!

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 08/11/10 11:43 AM
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Monday June 8, 2009 cont.
 
For lunch, we headed to Smitty's,

a bbq restaurant located in a strip mall near the airport.  The inside is very dark

and surprisingly large.  There are seats at the bar available, but we sat at one of the many big, comfy booths.  There were several tables with with people dressed in western clothes and soldiers from nearby Fort Bliss.  The walls are decorated with all kinds of cowboy amd western art.


We liked the art work on the front of the menu.

 
To drink, we both ordered the iced tea, which in this part of the country means unsweetened.  Since we are both power tea drinkers, we were happy when they brought over a whole pitcher. 

We also noticed, an old guy with two full pitchers sitting on his table.  Apparently, he planned on being there for a while.
 
Captain Combo struck again as he went with the four meat platter.


He thought the brisket was easily the best of the four and described it as being tender and moist, despite how thin it was.  He called the corned beef dry and leathery, the chicken, moist with plenty of smoke flavor and the sausage was mild and slightly sweet.  The beans were smoky, but neither of us cared for them.  Much better was the finely chopped cole slaw,

which was creamy and had small bits of pineapple in it.  Loved it!  The best known side here is the German potatoes.  They are very large, deep fried 'til crispy on the outside and have a creamy interior.  We were a big fan of these, too.  As you can see, pickle and onion slices completed the plate.
 
I went for the hot link sausage sandwich,

which was much spicier and did not need any of the thin bbq sauce sitting on the table.  I wasn't really planning on having dessert here, until I got up and walked around and noticed a cake sitting on the bar.  On the menu, it is called Melinda's Homemade Rum Cake and the waitress extolled it's virtues.  We both got a piece

and thank goodness we did, because it was fantastic!  This cake managed to be light and dense at the same time, incredibly moist and not too sweet.  Just a perfect piece of cake.
 
While getting back to the car, I noticed that I had somehow managed to get bbq sauce all over the bottom part of my leg. 

How did that happen?  I can be a sloppy eater at times, but that is ridiculous!
 
Smitty's
6219 Airport Road
El Paso, TX
915-772-5876
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/57/smittys
 
Before we left town, we checked out one more sight, a big church, with a beautiful interior.  Soon, we got on I-10 north and headed back to New Mexico for the rest of the trip.
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Wed, 08/11/10 11:46 AM>

Ralph Melton
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 08/11/10 3:13 PM
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We ate at Smitty's just last week. It sounds like Johnny's brisket was better than what I had; what I had was kind of tough. I agree that the rum cake was very good.

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 08/11/10 3:55 PM
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Ralph-
That's cool that you were just in El Paso.  Sorry your experience with the brisket wasn't good, but glad you got to try that rum cake.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Wed, 08/11/10 4:23 PM
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I want to be Captain Combos side kick when I grow up!  Nice plate of chow!

irisarbor
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Thu, 08/12/10 5:03 PM
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Captain Combo! I love it! Great trip report, and beautiful photos.
I have never really explored the southwest with the exception of Tucson,
where my in-laws used to live.
I would love to do some roadfooding there some time.
Wish I could make the tour this year, but the budget and the dates are not in my favor...maybe next time.

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Fri, 08/13/10 9:50 AM
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Monday June 8, 2009 cont.
 
Once we were back in New Mexico, our first stop was the small town of La Mesa, home to the Roadfood restaurant Chope's

We knew ahead of time that they are closed on Mondays, but I still wanted to see the place and maybe, hope for a miracle.  The place sure looked promising from the outside, but they were indeed closed.

 
Instead of getting back on the interstate, we took Route 28 north and were treated with some lovely scenery. 

And once we arrived in Mesilla, we struck by the beauty of this small town.  Instead of going straight to lunch, we spent a good hour or so wandering around.  Some of the sights around town. 



Right on the north end of the small town plaza is a great looking church, known as Basilica of San Albino.


Johnny and I really liked the town of Mesilla.
 
Our lunch spot was only a few blocks away, so we walked over.  La Posta de Mesilla has long been in the Roadfood books and on the outside,


it looked very New Mexican!  The building itself has a long history as more than just a restaurant.

The lobby was unusual, as they have very large bird cages and fish tanks, including piranhas. 

The entire interior was decorated in a bright, cheerful decor


and this is one of the prettiest restaurants I have ever seen.  I even ended up taking a photo of the sink

in the men's room!
 
The menu is huge, so we told the waitress we wanted to look it over for a bit, but we did want to start with some appetizers.  Soon, our basket of sopaipillas arrived. 

These are puffy rectangles of fry bread, best served piping hot.  There are only two to an order here, but these sopaipillas are larger than what you normally see.  Drizzled with honey, these sopaipillas were pure heaven!  Because Johnny needed a change of pace, he also ordered a bowl of fruit,

which came with some cottage cheese on top.  For how much fresh, sweet fruit we got, we thought this was a bargain at $6.00.  Great idea by Johnny and we made quick work of it.  Also as an appetizer, we placed an order for La Posta de Mesilla's most famous dish, Tostadas Compuestas,

which was first created here in 1939

and spread to other New Mexican restaurants.  We loved all these fresh ingredients and different flavors on top of each other.  To complete our meal before our meals showed up, these was chips and salsa

on our table, which we devoured.
 
For our entrees, true to form, Johnny went with Combination Plate #1,

which was frijoles, tamales, rolled red enchilada, rolled taco, red enchilada con carne and rice.  I can't remember specifically how each thing was, but I do know he was very happy with his meal.  My entree was the Green Enchilada,

which was corn tortillas covered with green chile and topped with shredded cheese.  On the side was frijoles, rice and an interesting Mexican slaw, which tasted like it had salad oil or vinegar on it.  The dish got a thumbs up from me.
 
La Posta de Mesilla was one of the better dining experiences during our week in New Mexico.  needless to say, I was happy when it was announced that this restaurant is going to be part of the upsoming Roadfood bus tour.  No doubt, everyone is going to enjoy their meals here.  One other cool thing about this place is that the galley on the nuclear submarine USS New Mexico is names after La Posta de Mesilla,

which is quite an honor.
 
La Posta de Mesilla
2410 Calle de San Albino
Mesilla, NM
505-524-3524 
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/355/la-posta-de-mesilla
 
After a little more exploring in town, we drove north and checked into our hotel room in Las Cruces.
 
Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 08/13/10 10:06 AM>

buffetbuster
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Re:I should have made a left at Albuquerque! - Sun, 08/15/10 8:49 AM
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Monday June 8, 2009 cont.
 
After a few hours of relaxing in the room, we headed out for dinner in Las Cruces.  Our destination was the Roadfood reviewed restaurant, Nopalito

We were a little surprised to see the dining room so empty, but it was a Monday night. 

 
Both of us started our meals with horchatas. 

Thicker than I am used to and not as hot as others we would have later, we thought these were the best horchatas we had on the trip.  The thin chips were obviously homemade and went very well with the fiery red salsa, but we preferred the full flavor of the green salsa.

 
Johnny went for the very good chiles rellenos,

which benefited from the thicker breading.  I ordered the stacked enchiladas,

which I really liked despite there being practically no heat at all.  The fried egg on top was a nice touch.
 
With their being so many great restaurants in the area, it is easy to overlook a place like Nopalito and we were very pleased with our visit.
 
Nopalito
310 Mesquite Street
Las Cruces, NM
505-524-0003
 
http://www.roadfood.com/R.../Reviews/3650/nopalito
 
One more stop before calling it a night.  On the way to Nopalito, we spotted a frozen custard place called Caliches

and stopped on the way back to the hotel.  The custard itself was nothing special, but it still hit the spot on a hot Summer night.  Here is my hot fudge sundae

and Johnny enjoying his Mango Dango sundae, which came with fresh mango and salted pecans.

 
Caliches
590 S. Valley Drive
Las Cruces, NM
505-647-5066
 
http://www.caliches.com/%3C/a%3E%3C/font%3E
 
We went back to the hotel and called it a night.
<message edited by buffetbuster on Sun, 08/15/10 8:52 AM>

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