Santa Fe restaurants on NM’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail

The search for the perfect green-chile cheeseburger is serious business in the Land of Enchantment. Green Chile Cheeseburgers began showing up on menus at roadside joints in New Mexico during Route 66’s heyday (the middle of the 20th Century) and have been going strong ever since. Everyone has an opinion on who makes the best one; in 2009 the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail was born. Sponsored by the state’s Tourism Department, it’s a voting contest. People can nominate and then vote for their favorites. In case voters miss any iconic cheeseburgers, a panel of experts weighs in, too. Here are the Santa Fe restaurants that made the list for 2011.

Bobcat Bite’s green chile cheeseburger, own spot number 3 on NM Cheeseburger Trail, photo.Steve Collins

Atrisco, a fairly new addition to the Santa Fe dining scene (run by a family who’s been serving New Mexican food for years) made the list for the first time this year. Their green chile cheeseburger, a six-ounce version, is made in-house from grass-fed beef.

Bert’s Closed for business on April 29,2015
Bert’s Burger Bowl
* (505- 982-0215) has been serving up burgers since 1954; that’s a lot of burgers flipped. This old-style stand claims to be the first spot in Santa Fe to offer green chile cheeseburgers, the Owl Cafe and Bar in San Antonio claims to be the first in the state. Bert’s burgers come with mustard, pickle, lettuce, tomato and onion. If you’re a purist and only want the cheese and green chile, speak up. The menu board notes that there is a twelve-minute wait for the made-to-order burgers. Short on time or impatient? Call ahead. If you’re tired of the same old beef burger or want to try something different, Bert’s also serves bison, Kobe, lamb, ostrich and pork burgers. There’s also a veggie burger if you’re not a carnivore. There are two sizes; quarter-pound and half-pound. They serve other things, but, come on. It’s the Burger Bowl and that’s what just about everyone orders.

Bert’s Burger Bowl Santa Fe, NM serving burgers since 1954, photo/Steve Collins

Santa Fe Bite (formerly Bobcat Bite has been serving up burgers since 1953. The meat for their 10-ounce burgers is ground fresh daily from a mix of chuck and sirloin. The hand-made monsters are thick and succulent (don’t order them well-done). There’s a choice of toppings, but the toppings of choice are cheese and green chile. credit cards are not accepted.

Bobcat Bite, Santa Fe, NM photo/Steve Collins

The number one spot on the state list went to Blake’s Lottaburger, a New Mexico chain with five locations in Santa Fe. Their version starts with a frozen, pre-made patty topped with American cheese, chopped jalapenos and green chile, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and onions.

El Parasol, a small family-owned mini-chain has been serving up New Mexican food since the 60s, first in a taco wagon and then in a small take-out place on Cerrillos Road (they also own El Paragua, a restaurant in Española). They make their own 1/3 pound patties from already ground beef. Green chile cheeseburgers come with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and mustard.

La Plazuela, in the historic La Fonda Hotel, is a great place to grab your green chile cheeseburger if you want more up-scale ambiance. Their version is made with freshly ground Black Angus beef grilled to order, topped with a choice of American, Swiss or smoked cheddar cheese and green chile. It’s served on toasted Telera bread (a traditional Mexican bread with a crusty outside). They only serve the burger at lunch; if you’re craving one for dinner, their La Fiesta Lounge serves them too and most nights they have live music.

La Plazuela is located in the historic La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe, NM, photo/Steve Collins

What Santa Fe restaurants are you favorites for green chile cheeseburgers? Whether it made the list or not, let us know. We’re always on the hunt for the perfect one.

*Listed on the New Mexico Culinary Trail family-owned restaurants (often still owned by the founding families) in business over 40 years.

Authors’ note: As a former hotel concierges and owners of a travel concierge and trip-planning business in Santa Fe, the writers may have been guests of business or services mentioned in posts on this site. While these experiences have not influenced us in any way, this information is provided in the spirit of full disclosure.



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12 Responses to “Santa Fe restaurants on NM’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail”

  1. Melinda
    May 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    It’s almost 11pm and now I have an insatiable craving. Never having had a New Mexican green chile cheeseburger, you’ve got me curious. At first I thought you meant a cheeseburger with a green chile(s) on top, but it looks like these have green chile. Our green chile is usually made with pork (though I make it with chicken). Is this the case on this burger? Like a chile dog but with a burger and green chile? Got to get back to NM soon; it’s been too many years.

    • Billie Frank
      May 27, 2011 at 8:09 am #

      There are variations on the green chile cheeseburger. The majority of restaurants use chopped chiles on the burger- and many of these come from Bueno Foods, an Albuquerque, family-run companies that has been supplying green chile for years. You can buy it in the freezer cases at Whole Food stores around the country if you want to try this at home and fill that craving. Some restaurants grill slices of chile and put them on top and you can also get smothered burgers in some places. These would have a green chile sauce. This often has pork in it, but can also be vegetarian. And then there’s green chile chicken stew which is an old northern New Mexico staple.

  2. Megan
    May 27, 2011 at 12:15 am #

    Well, my two favorites made the list – El Parasol and Bert’s. I do think Lotaburger does a lovely burger as well!

    • Billie Frank
      May 27, 2011 at 8:11 am #

      I haven’t tried El Parasol’s yet, but I’m a big fan of their breakfast burritos (with green) and their shredded beef tacos. Steve had one from Bert’s the other night when taking the photo for the post. Tough job!

  3. Maia Duerr / The Liberated Life Project
    June 25, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    The Tune-Up Cafe on Hickcox St. makes an excellent buffalo burger and you can get green chile as a stopping. As with everything the Tune-Up does, it’s muy bueno!

  4. Annie
    July 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    YUMMMM! These are going on my list! I think cheeseburgers are one thing that I’ll never get tired of and I LOVE finding new ones to try that are raved about and different than the rest! Great post!

    • Billie Frank
      July 13, 2011 at 7:21 am #

      These are the BEST cheeseburgers I’ve even tasted. All the elements really work together. You can try it at home with canned chopped chiles or with a grilled jalapeno. It won’t be as good as one made with NM green- but you’ll get the idea. And if yoi want to try the real deal, Bueno Foods ships them.

  5. Nomadic Samuel
    December 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Now that’s what I call a ‘proper’ burger. Living in Asia I only get to have these when I come home 🙂

  6. Lane
    February 18, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Hi Billie. I’ve missed the La Plazuela burger but have tried the others. Blake’s? I can’t believe they made the list. Now, Bobcat Bite is DELISH! They deserve to be on the list. Real Food Nation did offer a buffalo burger which you could turn into a green chili cheeseburger. When we were there a few days ago they stated that they no longer offered the buffalo burger. Sigh. It was better than beef. Del Charro (historic district) offers up a good green chili cheeseburger also.

    • Billie Frank
      February 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Hi Lane-The list is somewhat vote driven by New Mexicans with some judge input. Blake’s has a lot of locations and people do like them. Heck, people like McDonald’s and Burger King. You can probably turn any burger in town into a green chile cheese one-it’s want a lot of people want. Even the fast food places put green chile on their burgers here. Del Charro, I think, has the least expensive burger of any sit-down restaurant in town.

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