Most of the time I’m virtuous. Eight glasses of water daily, quinoa for lunch, salad for supper. Nix on the mojitos (well, more than one).
But there are times when I’m bad. Really bad.
Like when I ate at Bobcat Bite this summer. Just thinking about it makes me blush.
It’s outside Santa Fe, on the Old Las Vegas Highway, along what used to be Route 66. Once upon a time it was a trading post, then a gun shop. The restaurant, open since 1953, was named after the bobcats that slunk down from the hills to the back door, seeking a tasty handout.
The place looks like it’s been around forever. Old adobe, neon and a peeling sign advertising “Steaks Chops Hamburgers.” It’s not always open, but when it is, the dusty parking lot is packed with hungry locals. And don’t be surprised if you see a truck with Alaska plates or a church bus from Tennessee or a van disgorging a dozen Chinese and their cameras.
‘Cause the word is out: This is where’ll you get the best bacon green chile cheeseburger of your life. (Even the indefatigable Jane and Michael Stern concur.)
Here’s the drill: You wander in and sign your name on the blackboard. (Are there really 11 parties ahead of us?) Squeeze onto a bench and wait. Call your mother, watch a couple of ten-year olds playing Angry Birds, read last week’s newspaper. Mostly you check the board to make sure no one’s cheating.
Finally your name is called. Tony. Or Raimundo. Or Helen. (Her husband calls her “the delicate flower.”)
You take a seat at one of a few tables on the sunset-hued porch. Or step up into the “dining room” and sit at the counter where you get to watch hummingbirds zooming around the feeder outside the picture window. Linoleum floors, ruffled curtains, bobcat photos on the walls.
What to order: The bacon green chile cheeseburger, of course. Extra sides of green chile, grilled onions, and a chili toreado (grilled jalapeno). Ice tea. Oh, there’s other stuff on the menu—and the 13-ounce ribeye is magnificent. But if you’re there just once, the cheeseburger is the thing.
What you get: Ten ounces of freshly ground, natural, hormone and antibiotic-free choice whole boneless chuck beef, shaped into a patty at least an inch thick, seared rare (“dark red—warm center”) or however you like it. It’s oozing with luscious fat and the juices run down your chin when you take that first bite.
Crisp lettuce. A slice of tomato. Thick cut Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon, two strips. A layer of melted “Swiss-blend” cheese. Chopped green chile, fiery as all get out. Served in a red plastic basket with ruffled potato chips.
My advice: Order an extra side of green chile. Don’t bother to eat the bun.
Bobcat Bite Restaurant, 420 Old Las Vegas Highway, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Telephone: 505-983-5319