"Masterpiece! Masterpiece" sings the waitress at the Owl Bar as she carries a green chile cheeseburger from the kitchen to my place at the bar. It is 8:30am, and while the menu does have a couple of egg-and-bacon breakfasts as well as a few steaks and sandwiches, the unique New Mexico hamburger is what has put this out-of-the-way watering hole on the good eats map. Since at least the early days of atomic bomb tests at nearby White Sands, when scientists used to come here for an explosive meal, The Owl Bar has built such an exalted a reputation that aficionados drive from Texas and Colorado to eat 'em two by two. It is so popular at lunch in the summertime, you may have to wait for a place to sit.
Crusty, gnarled patties of beef are covered with chopped hot green chilies and the chilies are in turn topped with a slice of cheese that melts into them and the crevices of the hamburger. The green chile itself is a flavor revelation; in concert with beef, it's magic. Customary condiments include raw onion, chopped lettuce, sliced tomato, and pickle chips. This is one glorious package, and while we have never compared it side-by-side to the excellent green chile cheeseburger up at Bobcat Bite in Santa Fe, there can be no doubt that the Owl Bar's version is among the state's best. Green chile cheese fries are also available on the side., and there is a small menu of other sandwiches.
When I ate my cheeseburger at breakfast time, the stools at the bar were occupied by a few regular customers having their own all-liquid breakfasts in the form of Coors Lite. Decor at the Owl is a delightful roadhouse hodgepodge of beer memorabilia, photos, and paper currency that customers tack to the walls. The story is that the proprietors, Adolph and Rowena Baca, regularly take down the donated cash and give it to local charities.
"The quality of chile makes all the difference in a green chile cheeseburger. The Owl uses full-flavored, hot green chile atop a hand-formed patty of crusty-fried beef. The chile's heat is complemented by the beef and balanced by the layer of creamy cheese on top. This one is fully dressed with all available condiments -- the only way to go."
"The Owl's green chile turns ordinary french fries into a memorable side dish."
"The view from my counter seat gives a small hint of the, shall we say, eclectic decor at this extremely colorful roadhouse."
"Just a couple of minutes off I-25 south of Socorro, the Owl Bar is a must-stop location for any traveler in search of unique regional specialties."