A trifecta of burger-joint openings should tantalize the green-chile cheeseburger lobby: First, The New Mexican reported on April 15 that the legendary burger destination The Buckhorn Tavern will reopen in tiny San Antonio (the one in New Mexico). New owners Ernie and Stephanie Sichler of Las Cruces are getting the recipes from former owner Bobby Olguin, who made his mark in the national food press in the 2000s with his iconic green-chile cheeseburger. The couple hopes to open the new Buckhorn (68 U.S. Highway 380, San Antonio) by June.
The Notorious B.I.G. loved the popular Los Angeles fast-food chain Fatburger so much that he gave it a shoutout in “Goin’ Back to Cali.” Now Fatburger is entering the New Mexico burger wars with its first in-state location at Isleta Resort and Casino in Albuquerque (11000 Broadway SE, 505-724-3800, isleta.com), in a food court slated to open sometime this summer. No word yet on how legit their green chile might be.
Closer to home, at the old Santa Fe Bite spot at Garrett’s Desert Inn (311 Old Santa Fe Trail), chef Charles Dale and Jennifer and Jimmy Day of New Mexico Fine Dining are gearing up to open a diner called Jimmy D’s. Jennifer Day said they’ll carry on the Santa Fe Bite tradition with green-chile cheeseburgers on the menu — “but other burgers, too!” Day has fixed an opening date of Tuesday, May 7, for Jimmy D’s, which she called a “Pop Art diner serving American classic comfort food,” open seven days a week. Go to jimmydsrestaurant.com for more information.
New Mexico Fine Dining is having a busy season: They’re also launching a new pan-Asian food venture in the old State Capital Kitchen building at 500 Sandoval Street. Day said Lucky Goat (luckygoatsantafe.com) should be open around mid-June, serving noodle bowls and bento boxes at lunch, then more upscale versions of those at dinner, along with fusion specialties like a Peking duck taco.
It’s become something of a foodie sport to watch the space at 225 Johnson Street, the current home to Maize and the much-loved Georgia before that. Now, something of a culinary supergroup is taking over the address. Sazón co-owners Lawrence and Suzanna Becerra and Sazón chef Fernando Olea are partnering with El Nido chef Cristian Pontiggia on an Italian fine-dining restaurant called Sassella. The partners project a mid-June opening, but meanwhile, there’s already something new next door at 229 Johnson — the Santarepa Café (505-467-8379). Owner Isabel Mendoza opened the Venezuelan eatery in the old Sweet Lily Bakery building on March 19, and we hear the arepas are killer.
Santa Feans were greeted with more restaurant shake-up news on April 24, when The New Mexican reported that Coyote Café owner Quinn Stephenson was shuttering the 36-year-old Santacafé (231 Washington Ave., santacafe.com) for renovations after having bought the beloved downtown fine-dining restaurant from Bobby Morean and Judy Ebbinghaus. Stephenson said he plans to reopen “as early as June” with a menu that focuses on “fresh, organic, clean California style with nods to the Southwest.”
Congratulations to our local grocer for leading the nation in the efforts to help the planet: La Montañita Co-op (913 W. Alameda St., 505-984-2852, lamontanita.coop) is the first co-op in the country to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). La Montañita’s Level 1 certification by the GRA means that the environmental nonprofit recognizes La Montañita’s efforts in terms of sustainable food, water efficiency, waste reduction, and chemical and pollution reduction.
Santa Fe cookbook author Christine Y. Hickman is a finalist for an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Award in the self-published category. Her comprehensive guide to gnocchi, Gnocchi Solo Gnocchi, was profiled in Pasatiempo last December. (To read the story, go to tinyurl.com/y5zj3fh4.) You can root for Hickman at the annual IACP conference awards ceremony in Santa Fe on Saturday, May 18. To view a complete schedule of IACP conference events and register, go to conference.iacp.com.
Gear up for festival season: The 19th annual New Mexico Wine Festival takes place Memorial Day weekend (May 25-27) at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque (5500 Balloon Fiesta Parkway NE). Participants include old standbys and your new favorite wineries, including Luna Rossa, Black Mesa, Gruet, and Vivác. Tickets are $10-$50, nmwine.com.
The following weekend, from May 31 to June 2, the New Mexico Cocktails & Culture Festival puts on three days of seminars, tastings, and parties, headquartered at the Drury Plaza Hotel (828 Paseo de Peralta). The unofficial summertime kickoff for the past few years has been the fest’s Taco Wars event, which features local chefs battling for your vote for Top Taco, along with creative cocktails and music by Nosotros. The fest marks its fifth year by launching the NMCC Culinary Week from June 2 to 9. Events include a food styling and photography workshop and a Santa Fe School of Cooking class in Vietnamese cuisine. For more, head to nmcocktailculture.com.
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