Seventy years and seventy locations. Wow, Blake’s Lotaburger must be doing a lot right. I’m not alone in my admiration. USA Today readers voted them as having the Best Green Chile Cheeseburger in New Mexico. National Geographic magazine’s ardor went even farther, naming Blake’s The World’s Best Green Chile Cheeseburger.
A LOTA BURGERS
Last week, I interviewed the folks behind September’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown for my SantaFe.com radio show (listen to the podcast here!). Right afterward, I guested on Bunny Terry’s I Love New Mexico podcast, which — of course — had to include a conversation about our state’s signature burger. You can guess what was on my mind afterward for lunch. I headed to the Blake’s Lotaburger closest to me, on Guadalupe Street, one of the city’s five locations. It’s one of the older style Blake’s stands, where you hang outdoors to place an order in a snaking, but fast-moving, line. Three picnic tables offer seating, but most people eat in — or on the hoods of — their cars or trucks.
“NEW MEXICO STYLE”
In 1952, founder Blake Chanslor flipped the first LOTA burger in Albuquerque. He was on his way to creating a cultural icon, all the while popularizing the green chile cheeseburger. The Blake’s “New Mexico Style” classic has two Angus beef patties and melty American cheese, generously topped with Hatch green chile, with just the right amount of kick. That’s indeed a LOTA burger, so I typically opt for the single patty ITSA burger myself, subbing in mayonnaise for mustard. I’ve been enjoying Blake’s burgers for some 40 years, and marvel at the consistency managed by the chain. It’s truly one of the best cheap meals you can find.
BLAKE’S ISN’T JUST BURGERS
It doesn’t cost much more to add crisp fries or onion rings to the order. Milkshakes in traditional flavors are joined by fun seasonal flavors like pumpkin pie for the fall and bizcochito for the winter holidays. There’s a sprinkle-topped birthday cake shake, too. A summer addition to the menu is iced caramel coffee. A Frito pie or bowl of chile con carne are staples, as well as chicken sandwiches and a variety of burritos.
Over time, the breakfast menu became almost as big a deal as the burgers. Blake’s locations open early — usually at 6 a.m. Both the hefty breakfast burritos and the breakfast sandwich, loaded with chile, can fuel the day.
I always get a smile seeing the staff in T-shirts that trumpet the slogan, “If you are what you eat, you are awesome.” You too can own one of those shirts, or other 70th-anniversary memorabilia. Just check the website, the place to discover all those 70 locations, too.
70 locations, mostly New Mexico, and in neighboring Arizona and Texas
Story and photos by Cheryl Alters Jamison
Four-time James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison is the host of Heating It Up on KTRC and is now the “queen of culinary content” for SantaFe.com. Find new stories about the Santa Fe food scene each week on SantaFe.com.