9 great burgers in Santa Fe

Last week, Huffington post published America’s 10 Best Burgers, According To National Geographic on their site. They were working their way through The Ten Best of Everything, by Nathaniel and Andrew Lande (published by National Geographic). The third edition of the book was released in April.The eclectic volume, which works its way through a lot of bests around the world, has a list of the best burgers in the US. New Mexico’s chain, Lottaburger, made number four on their list. We found that choice interesting. Lottaburgers fine, but we’re not sure how or why they’re on they landed on a national best of list. Full disclosure; we haven’t read the book. We’ll chalk it up to one of those “let’s agree to disagree” things. The list got us thinking. Here are our picks for 9 Great Burgers in Santa Fe (in alphabetical order):

(Of course, being Santa Fe, the most popular burger is the Green Chile Cheeseburger. If you like heat, add the New Mexico State Vegetable to your burger.)

Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery, with both a downtown and Southside location has great burgers and micro-brews to go with them. The hand-made patties are formed from local Angus beef that’s been certified antibiotic, pesticide, and hormone-free. They also offer tortillas, a popular local favorite. Instead of a bun, the burger is wrapped in a tortilla and then smothered with the green or red chile. Burgers are served with a choice of hand-cut fries, smashed potatoes, jicama-lime slaw or calabacitas, a local dish of summer squash, corn, onions and green chile.


Great burgers in SantaSanta Fe restaurants photo Steve Collins

Bobcat Bite’s Green Chile Cheeseburger, photo/Steve Collins

Bobcat Bite, opened n 1953, has been on all sorts of best burger lists from food and travel magazines such as Bon Appetit, the now defunct Gourmet,. The New York Times and Travel + Leisure. They also made Epicurious.com’s Top Ten Burgers in America list. Personally, I think two things make their juicy burgers great. The meat (choice whole boneless chuck) is ground fresh daily and they’re cooked on a vintage griddle. There’s almost always a wait at this popular joint which has a handful of tables and counter seating. Just put your name on the board and wait patiently.

Burt’s Burger Bowl, 235 N Guadalupe Street, (505) 982-0215, is another old timer has been serving up burgers since 1954. Order at the counter of this mid-century drive-in and wait patiently for your burger (allow 12 minutes cooking time for the made-to-order burgers) or order ahead). In warmer weather, you can eat at one of their outdoor concrete tables..Local lore has it, Bert’s came up with the local icon, the Green Chile Cheeseburger, but it’s unconfirmed and others, such as the Owl Café in San Antonio, NM lay claim to this title as well. The burgers come with mustard, pickle, lettuce, tomato and onion. If you’re a purist and only want cheese and green chile, speak up. If you’re tired of the same old beef burger or want to try something different, Bert’s offers bison, Kobe, lamb and pork burgers. If you’re not a carnivore, try the veggie burger. Burgers come in both quarter-pound and half-pound.

Great burgers in Santa Bert's in Santa Fe photo Steve Collins

Bert’s Burger Bowl, photo/Steve Collins

Del Charro, who bills itself as “Santa Fe’s Waterhole,” is a loud, bustling local hang-out a few blocks from the Plaza. The place is almost always packed, especially on weekend nights when it’s a popular drinking spot. The menu is small and most people order the well-priced burger, one of the least expensive non-chain restaurant burgers in town. It’s their top selling item and the crowd loves them. They use premade chuck patties delivered in cryopacs to maintain freshness. Try the beer-battered fries with them. While not the best burger you’ll find in Santa Fe, you can’t beat the price.

Rio Chama on historic Old Santa Fe Trail offers two burgers, both available on the lunch, dinner and bar menus. Their signature Angus & Prime Rib Burger, is made with trimmings from the prime ribs they serve mixed with chuck (both cuts are from Angus cattle). The meat is ground fresh daily. Also on the menu: the New Mexico Buffalo Burger made with locally raised, natural meat. There is an array of toppings to choose from, including the ubiquitous green chile. You can opt to dine in their upscale dining room, the casual bar or in summer their secluded back patio.

Great burgers in Santa Second Street Brewery photo/courtesy Second Street Brewery

Second Street Brewery’s Railyard location, photo/courtesy Second Street Brewery

Second Street Brewery started out, as the name implies, on 2nd Street. They now have a branch in the up and coming Railyard District located in the north end of the Farmers’ Market Building. The micro-breweries’ menu reflects their casual pub philosophy. Burgers are made from all-natural Harris Ranch beef that arrives in pre-made 8-ounce patties. You can also opt for a buffalo burger made from local LaMont’s Wild West Buffalo meat. They are one of the vendors at the Farmers’ Market, adjacent to Second Streets Railyard branch. Burgers are served on cornmeal dusted Kaiser rolls.

San Francisco Street Bar and Grill and their sister restaurant, Santa Fe Bar and Grill offer a southwest influenced pub menu at reasonable prices.  Owner Rob Day opened the San Francisco Street location over 25 years ago and the DeVargas Mall outpost over 10 years ago. Day built his business and reputation on burgers. Their half-pound patties, a combination of chuck and sirloin, are premade, by a local distributor, from fresh ground, meat. They are then sealed in cryovac packing to maintain freshness. The popular burgers, which are the top-selling item at both locations are served on sourdough buns..

Great burgers in Santa Santa Fe Bar Grill patio, poptp courtesy Santa Fe Bar and Grill

Santa Fe Bar Grill patio, photo/courtesy Santa Fe Bar and Grill

SantaCafe, offers a great burger in a more upscale setting. Everything on the plate with their Green Chile Burger is made in-house, including the bun, the catsup and the potato chips. The 8-ounce patty is made from house-ground Angus chuck. In summer, opt for the outdoor courtyard seating.

Great burgers in Santa Fe the patio at Santacafe  photo courtesy Santacafe

In summer, have a burger outside in Santacafe’s courtyard photo/courtesy Santacafe

Tune-up Café, 1115 Hickox Street, (505) 983-7060), took over the spot that belonged to a funky local icon, called Dave’s Not Here, in 2008.  (The story behind that name is a Santa Fe legend). They quickly gained a following and then, shortly after opening, were discovered by the Food Network’s Diner’s Drive-ins and Dives. The tourists came. Their 7-ounce Tune-up Burger is made from house ground, New Mexico raised organic chuck and served on a garlic mayo slathered brioche bun  from Fano’s an artisanal Albuquerque bakery.  .

We could actually go on and on. There are a lot of great burgers in Santa Fe. Who’s your pick for great burgers in Santa Fe?

For more about great burgers in Santa Fe read Santa Fe restaurants on the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburer Trail.

As former hotel concierges, owners of a travel concierge and trip-planning business and in Santa Fe, the writers may have at some time been guests of business or services mentioned in this post or may be guests in the future. These experiences do not influence this post in any way.

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24 Responses to “9 great burgers in Santa Fe”

  1. Lane
    July 2, 2019 at 8:44 pm #

    This is a great list. For the budget wallet, I’d agree with Burt’s. For quality, Bobcate Bite. I’d have to say that our favorite comes from El Parasol. It’s so sloppy (juicy) that they double-wrap it and put a toothpick through it to hold it together. Del Charro is also a good choice. Heck, the green chili cheeseburgers any place in northern New Mexico are fab-u-lous!
    Lane recently posted..The First Inhabitants of New Mexico: An Overview of the Pueblo PeopleMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      July 3, 2019 at 7:41 am #

      We’ll have to do a post on Tortilla burgers one day. I pretty much stayed away from them here as I wanted more of a traditional burger slant. There sure are some great ones in town. The Pantry, is one of Steve’s favorite. I’ll bet Horseman;s Haven has a great one if you can stand it. There are a host of tortilla burgers to try out there- guess we have a new mission.

  2. Lane
    July 2, 2019 at 8:57 pm #

    Giving this more thought, I have to add an addendum, the Horseman’s Haven. It’s Mexican so it’s definitely more spicy. It’s in a parking lot of a gas station so you’d pass on by. But, it really offers a good burger. There will be no tourists, nor fancy-smancy atmosphere. There will be good beef and roasted green chili’s. Just don’t tell the locals I suggested this place.
    Lane recently posted..The First Inhabitants of New Mexico: An Overview of the Pueblo PeopleMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      July 3, 2019 at 7:37 am #

      I hesitate toe write about Horseman’s Haven. I know they have great burgers and people (locals) love them, but man, that chile is hot- it’s not for the tourist crowd. We went there once, years ago. The chile was even too hot for Steve who has a much more heat tolerant palate than I do. Have been thinking about going back as I can take much more heat after 8 years here. BTW it’s been written up in the national press a few times. Writers love to “discover” it.

  3. Jeff Beeman
    July 2, 2019 at 9:33 pm #

    I’m surprised the obvious….Bobcat Bite isn’t on the list (yet!) and in my neck of the rocks….Bode’s Mercantile here in Abiqui is #1 on the NM Greenchilecheeseburger Trail!

    • Billie Frank
      July 3, 2019 at 7:30 am #

      Bobcat is on the alphabetical list, Jeff. It’s #2. We couldn’t have a Santa Fe burger list without them. We love Bode’s. If we ever do an NM post, we’ll include them.

  4. dj
    July 3, 2019 at 6:52 am #

    The green chile cheeseburger at Terra, at Encantado, is worthy.
    As are the cheese filled tots, and the truffle fries.

    • Billie Frank
      July 3, 2019 at 7:32 am #

      Sadly, with the new Four Season’s ownership at Encantado, Terra will be leaving us. Maybe they’ll be smart and keep the Green Chile Cheeseburger and the rest.

  5. dj
    July 3, 2019 at 6:54 am #

    Bumblebee’s on Cerrillo’s bugers are worth a try too.
    As well as the green chile Burger at El Parasol.

  6. Elizabeth
    July 3, 2019 at 7:49 am #

    This is a great list. I’ll have to start hitting them all. My friend enjoyed the burger at Tesuque Village Market, fyi.

    • Billie Frank
      July 3, 2019 at 8:12 am #

      Thanks for the kind words about the list and sharing yet another Santa Fe burger with us. There are sooooooo many great burgers in town.

  7. Lisa in VT
    July 3, 2019 at 12:02 pm #

    I like El Parasol too!

    • Billie Frank
      July 3, 2019 at 3:20 pm #

      Thanks for weighing in on our unofficial Santa Fe burger poll.

  8. R Pack
    July 3, 2019 at 3:55 pm #

    All those listed are well worth the trip EXCEPT for Burt’s Burger Bowl! This is the burger joint to avoid in Santa Fe. Every one of the others mentioned has a great burger, fries and/or other sides. Burt’s burgers are SMALL. I mean REALLY SMALL!!! Truly a 3 bite burger with a patty that is barely 3 oz. The fries are frozen from a bag. The one redeeming thing at Burts is the onion rings. They are hand-cut daily, breaded and deep fried per order. Rings are the only reason to patronize Burt’s Burger Bowl.

    • Billie Frank
      July 5, 2019 at 12:14 pm #

      Thanks for agreeing with the list. I checked with Bert’s- the burgers’ pre-cooked weight is 4 ozs- they may shrink a bit when cooked.Some of the more exotic burgers do come in half-pound sizes. I think a lot of us these days are used to the huger 1/2 lb burgers that have become fairly common. The fries are indeed frozen. Thanks for weighing in.

  9. Maia Duerr / The Liberated Life Project
    July 26, 2019 at 5:19 pm #

    The past few weeks I’ve been to 5 Star Burgers a couple of times and really enjoyed them. They are the ‘new kid in town’ — located next to the DeVargas Mall. High quality beef (as well as buffalo and lamb burgers) and yummy sweet potato fries to go with them.
    Maia Duerr / The Liberated Life Project recently posted..Summer Sabbatical (And a Best-of List)My Profile

    • Billie Frank
      July 26, 2019 at 8:14 pm #

      We had them in the post when we put it up but removed them. We had two experiences there that weren’t up to ones we had at their other locations.They were very new and had gotten overwhelmed by business right when they opened. We spoke with their marketing person who promised to let us know when the glitches are worked out. At that point, we’ll go back and check them out again. We have high hopes.

  10. Karen
    October 9, 2019 at 2:11 pm #

    Hi Billie,

    Might be time for you to re-visit 5-Star Burgers. Hubby and I ate there twice in the last month and burgers were great! Good happy hour deals, too.

    • Billie Frank
      October 9, 2019 at 7:33 pm #

      We did revisit. While it was better than the first two times, we still have reservations. Glad you enjoyed it!

  11. jewels
    December 25, 2019 at 11:31 am #

    South Side Plaza Cafe has a phenomenal grass fed burger and it is on their own brioche home made bun. Green chile and grilled onions, it’s absolutely amazing.

    Oh, and Cowgirl, the Game Burger, Buffalo, Venison and Elk smothered in green chile and cheese. And there is no bun and a green salad for the no-carbers.

    I don’t eat red meat very ofter but on the occasion I’m really craving a good burger those are my 2 go to’s. As the meat is such a superior quality,local, grass fed, organic and the seasoning is perfect. Yum.

    • Billie Frank
      December 25, 2019 at 12:13 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your favorite Santa Fe burgers with us. We love Plaza Southside. They do a great brisket on Fridays. Will have to check out the buffalo one at Cowgirl. My experience with buffalo is it’s a bit dry for me- smothered will pbobably take care of that issue a bit.

      My favorite burger place in town remains the ever popular Bobcat. There are other burgers I like, but in my book, they’re number one. I discovered by accident, their burgers even taste pretty good cold and I hate cold burgers.

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