There are three questions every New Mexican must come to terms with before death:
1. Is Billy the Kid really buried in the Fort Sumner cemetery?
2. Does arsenic in the spring water of a famous New Mexico spa really help my arthritis, or is it just killing off a few brain cells?
3. Who has the best Green Chile Cheeseburger in the state of New Mexico?
Let’s skip the first two and answer that huge, tongue-scorching question #3. Who really does have the best GCCB?
Consider that the New Mexico State Fair devotes two whole days to a contest which is supposed to determine the #1 Green Chile Cheeseburger in the state. Even then, after a celebrity panel samples all the burgers in several blind taste tests, the outcome is so hotly contested that a “People’s Choice” category had to be added to keep fights from breaking out in the burger room and spilling out into the fruit pie bake-off.
Personally, I have eaten hundreds — ever since my first double meat green chile cheeseburger at the old Monroe’s restaurant with the big arrow-through-the-heart sign over on Lomas. I finally, in my opinion, found the best!
Here it is: Sparky’s Burgers in Hatch. Mike Moye and I drove the 186 miles from Albuquerque to Hatch just in time for a late lunch. We stood in line. The picnic tables were mostly full, but emptied out as a stiff wind swirled and the temperature dropped. Mike had the beer-battered chicken; I had the #1 choice on the menu, the Green Chile Cheeseburger. We decided to eat our meals in the pickup rather than chance having to chase our airborne fries all over Hatch.
Once in the truck, I opened up that clamshell container and stared. It was huge! Green chile was lavishly overflowing from the burger. There was so much of it the bun couldn’t hold it all. There was no mustard, ketchup, onion, lettuce or tomato. Just meat, American cheese and green chile on an ordinary white bun with no attempt to “fancy” it up. We ate in silence.
When I finished I just looked at Mike. “This is absolutely the best GCCB I have ever had — anywhere, anytime, any price. This one is the very best! Sparky’s — in Hatch!”
Mike smiled. “Write it up,” he said.
Jon Knudsen is a freelance writer and retired educator. Email him at email@example.com.