An American Legend….
The Owl is a hoot.
Best Green Chile Cheeseburger? Really close. Read on….
The Albuquerque Journal ran a reader’s poll recently searching for the best GCCB in New Mexico. The results were not surprising — a statistical tie between Owl Bar and Manny’s Buckhorn Tavern across the street (I’ll try this one next time). We took a trip to T or C for the mineral baths last weekend and tried Owl on our way down there.
Owl is one of those funky old places that you just have to love. Several rooms, all dark. We sat in a booth in the front room, which has a long bar with vintage barstools on one side and booths on the other. Neon beer signs provided most of the illumination.
Small menu, but we already knew what we were here for. GCCB with Green Chile Fries for me, and GCCB double meat with no bun and plain fries for my gluten-free wife, Jane. The burger was a hair short of perfect. Hand cut, hand ground, hand formed, and hand grilled masterpiece that was juicy and tasty, and the Green was among the very best I have ever had. The fries were ordinary, but the Green on top made them seem better than they really were. This is some beautiful, piquant Green, and it is not for the faint-hearted wimps. Masterpiece.
I chatted with the owner (the charming Rowena Baca) for a while, and she told me that the Bar in San Antonio, started in 1939, is the original Owl, and they have franchised some in Albuquerque, of which only one is left (Eubank near Lomas). The ABQ place couldn’t possibly be as good as the original. Nonetheless, I’ll try it when I want a shorter drive.
OK. Is it the best? Really close, superb, but I prefer the GCCB at Sparky’s in Hatch by a hair. I am not fond of pickles, onion, lettuce, tomato and the like on my GCCB. I scraped it off at Owl, but Sparky’s served their GCCB naked, as it should be. Better fries, too. This is, of course, a personal preference, but what the heck — I am looking for pure perfection. But gee, they are both fantastic.
The Owl certainly deserves its nationwide reputation. Stop there next time you’re on the way to Trinity Site or Bosque del Apache. Or take a special trip. It’s well worth it. A gem right in the middle of New Mexico.
Owl Bar & Cafe
Rated #6 on my New Mexico Top Ten list
77 U.S. 380
San Antonio, NM 87832