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Media Release

Published: 12/08/2009
Mike Stauffer Communications Director New Mexico Tourism Department 505-872-7379 |

Tourism Department Unveils Culinary Trails on

New Mexico’s busiest web site ( is about to get a whole lot busier, thanks to a new section that will appeal to food fans everywhere.

The New Mexico Tourism Department is rolling out its new Culinary Trails section on the web site with the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail, celebrating the state’s iconic burger. Forty-eight restaurants were selected from nearly 200 nominees statewide by a combination of popular vote and a panel of culinary and tourism authorities. All nominees will be listed on the web site, and those nominees that didn’t “make the trail” this year will have an opportunity to do next year.

Access the trail at An interactive map invites visitors to search by area or specific restaurant name.

“We are continually changing and enhancing our web site to further attract visitors who make destination and other travel choices based on interesting cuisine ,” said Michael Cerletti, Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department. “Promoting tourism to New Mexico may require a lot of hard work and creative thinking, but it doesn’t mean we cannot have a little fun in the process.”

“It seemed obvious to us,” the Secretary added, “that our first culinary trail would feature our incredible green chile cheeseburger. New Mexicans love these burgers, whether from steakhouses, hamburger huts and malt shops or cafes, white-tablecloth restaurants and mom and pops.”

Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail

Nominations for the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail came from patrons and restaurateurs from late August through the end of September. The popular vote was—well—extremely popular, with nearly 8,000 votes logged online. Additionally, in-person voting took place at the New Mexico State Fair, the Whole Enchilada Fiesta in Las Cruces, and the Viva Santa Fe 400th Anniversary Kick-Off Weekend. The top twenty popular vote-getters became part of the Trail. The selection panel then looked at a combination of other criteria, including overall quality and ingredients, geographic location, diversity, and appeal to visitors.

The selected restaurants include spots like Ella’s, a homey Main Street cafe in Reserve, Michael’s Mini-Mart a community gathering place in Velarde, and Landmark Café in Las Vegas’ historic Plaza Hotel. Renowned spots like The Owl Bar & Café in San Antonio, Day’s Hamburgers in Las Cruces, Bobcat Bite outside Santa Fe, and Bert’s Burger Bowl in the heart of Santa Fe made the list too.

Home of the Laguna Burger, found in a superette/Conoco station a burger’s throw from I-40, is owned by the Laguna Development Corporation. Abe’s Cantina y Cocina in Arroyo Seco continues to be presided over by Abe Garcia, who started the business after his return from World War II. His daughters help him run Abe’s today. Many other spots are multi-generation family affairs too, like the Circle T Drive-In in Belen where three generations of Tabets are involved. New Mexico chains Blake’s Lotaburger and Taco Box made the list too. With the combined number of restaurant locations, visitors can travel to over 100 locations.

Two New Mexico establishments, the Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio and Badlands Burgers in Grants, were honored with automatic inclusion in the Trail. Bobby Olguin’s Buckhorn Tavern, winner of a recent “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” episode on the Food Network, brought the State so much recognition for its burgers that Governor Bill Richardson honored it with Buckhorn Tavern Day statewide. Then, to further recognize more burger restaurants, the Governor declared a first-ever green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge at the State Fair September 22. Twenty restaurants from all over the state participated in the Governor’s Challenge. When the blind judging was completed, Badlands Burgers was declared the winner. Owner Daniel Chavez prepared the Millie double burger, named in honor of his mother, for the judges. Both Buckhorn Tavern and Badlands Burgers have had lines of customers out their doors since the announcement of their achievements. The Trail should bring similar attention to the additional featured restaurants.

Later culinary trails will focus on other aspects of New Mexico’s heritage and contemporary culinary resources. Watch for them in 2010.

For more information about the culinary trails campaign, contact Cheryl Alters Jamison, NM Culinary Liaison, 505-982-2041 or
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