Change can be good, and new can be refreshing, especially in a city famous for its consistency. I was recently reminded of this while visiting
(311 Old Santa Fe Trail, 982-0544), the latest incarnation of the now defunct Bobcat Bite. Details of the issues surrounding the closing of the Bite are
, so there’s no need to rehash them here. The important thing is that owners John and Bonnie Eckre have found a new home for their incredible burgers, right here in downtown Santa Fe.
There’s no arguing the old Bobcat had its charms: It’s funky building, the location on the edge of town, and the country-kitsch interior were great. But the cramped tables, long waits, and Ruffles potato chips left a lot to be desired. While Santa Fe Bite’s new location at Garrett’s Desert Inn lacks decades of memories, it does have advantages.
First, the new space is much bigger. An outdoor patio translates to shorter waits for a table, and no more standing around in a dusty parking lot. An expanded kitchen has allowed the revamped Bite to grow its menu. The restaurant now serves breakfast and Sunday brunch.
Their morning menu includes many of the classics, and the green chile and cheese home fries can put a dent in the most severe of hangovers. The dinner menu has a few new sides (including an awesome wedge salad), and a handful of Tex-Mex standards like tacos, flautas and enchiladas.
Perhaps the most welcome kitchen addition is a new deep-fat fryer. Translation: no more bags of chips. After a series of failed attempts at French fries, the folks at Bite decided on using the fryer to churn out homemade potato chips that really rock. Seasoned with a touch of paprika and sea salt, the chips are the perfect compliment to any sandwich on the menu.
And while a good deal has changed, the burgers remain a soul-satisfying, artery-clogging constant. The Eckre’s recipe for success is simple—use just a few quality ingredients and prepare them perfectly. The standard burger is a 10 oz. patty (there is also a 16 oz. version), made from a proprietary blend of lean beef and fat from cows raised right here in New Mexico ($9.75) .
The patties are then cooked under a cast-iron press on a flat top that has been expertly seasoned with 15 layers of grease. The resulting burger has a caramelized crust that lends rich beefy flavor, while also sealing in the meat’s natural juices. I suggest adding green chile (bits of charred skin are happily present), white cheddar cheese and Applewood-smoked bacon, then slapping it on a buttered brioche bun to reach a maximal state of animal fat-induced nirvana ($13 with bacon; $11.25 sans).
If you’re ready to throw all caution to the wind (who’s scared of a little LDL?), or if you have a secret stash of Lipitor in the medicine chest, I recommend washing your burger down with a homemade malt (chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry). Hell, order all three, because they’re equally amazing.
When you’re finished, Bonnie and John will be happy to roll you on out and send you on your merry way, blissed-out on burger crack so good you’re sure to come back.
the best burgers this side of Old Las Vegas Hwy.
15-20 salivating minutes
throw all caution out the window and ask for the “Big Bite”