Readers Sound Off: Real Burger
Last week we ran down a list of five things we wish we’d known before we ate at Midtown restaurant Real Burger for the first time, and SFR readers had thoughts on the matter. Thus, as we are sometimes wont to do, we’ve gathered comments from those readers and will respond to them. Don’t ask us why, but people have told us they love when we do this. Could we have used this space for new information? Probably. And we will again soon, but for now, it’s all about readers sounding off (we even included a new photo so you can see what our burger looked like to make the experience feel more tangible):
“Nothing in this picture is good for you.”
So says reader Robert M., who, we guess, is a health nut? Look, man, sometimes you’ve gotta rock a burger. And that’s not us saying that, that’s the law.
“When I was a kid and they were downtown I always wanted to stop there and grab a burger but I never got to try them until they opened their place off of Maes Road. Why did I wait so long?
That’s what we’re saying, Frank S.! Atmosphere and ambiance are big for us when it comes to eating out, and we love, love, love a place that’s not all hoity-toity or whatever. It feels more like you could laugh and carouse in there than it does at some white tablecloth place. We know you mean this like, “I like the burger,” and we like that, too, so...yeah.
“One of my favorite places. They have an awesome green chile stew as well!!!”
“I love the green chili (sic) Frito pie!”
We lumped Monica V. and Trish A.’s comments together because we love both green chile stew and a green chile Frito pie and how badly we want them.
“I always get the ‘patty melt,’ which I present in quotes because it in no way shape or form resembles an actual patty melt, but it is so delicious I let them get away with it. It’s way too big though for just one person.”
Yeah, we didn’t know Real Burger had that on the menu, but we’re down. We’re not sure why it’s not the classic meat-on-rye, Anye S., but your description of a huge sammie with guacamole tells us it’ll be fun to find out!
“Go fork yerself.”
Woah, woah, woah, Steve A., we’re just trying out burgers, guy!
“You can’t really have a top 10 a Burger places until you’ve tried Carmelita’s in El Dorado and had their green chile cheeseburger with grilled onions. You have to have it that way. You have to have it with grilled onions. Keep on eating!”
Folks who read the print edition of SFR might have seen that the paper’s non-Fork staff included this letter in last week’s edition. We accept your burger challenge, Skip W., and we will update the class if/when we know more.
“[El Milagro] on Zafarano…across from Lowe’s has the best hamburgers in town and maybe the universe. "
As we told Anthony G. in our email reply, we’ve heard that from a number of readers and somehow have always missed biz hours for El Milagro. That said, we’ll add it to the burger list along with Skip’s suggestion (and we’ll always take burger recs, folks).
“I just wanted to sing the praises once again and over and over again of Joseph Baca’s Santa Fe Famous food truck across from Kaune’s. I LOVE Joey’s breakfast burrito, tacos and soups…and I love that his sign board says: ‘Hungry and can’t afford it? Let us know and we’ll hook you up.’ For years, he’s quietly fed the hungry, and, for years, all of us in the neighborhood often leave extra when we can, or pass it forward with money for the next guy…and he is a farmer and rancher, so a lot of the ingredients are local.
OK, so this note from Fork Frend (yes, without the “i,” not only because we’re cool and don’t have time for that letter, but because we’re trying to TM the term so we can kick off a cool club with buttons and merch and stuff) Erin C. isn’t specifially related to Real Burger, but we loved learning it and wanted to share with everyone how much she loves his stuff.
“Talk about law of attraction! I was just there, probably around the same time you were, for the first time, also having driven past it for years and never in. I immediately fell in love with the ‘70s decor and the big open space. And I really loved the people that worked there. Humble and friendly. But the best was the burger! It was a beast, as you say. I didn’t get the big one though. Just the green chili cheese burger itself was enough for two people. I got mine with the sweet potato fries. This hidden gem is a keeper. And I’m so glad that you are writing about it. Because I literally thought, while sitting there eating this burger, why haven’t you guys written about this place before? And here you are. Thanks for the review.”
Sometimes we ask ourselves the same thing, Tess D. Like, how have we not written about such-and-such place yet? We think it’s something to do with the weird Santa Fe effect that comes from being a local. The best way we can explain it is, if you asked a local to name 10 shops surrounding the Plaza, they’d be like, “Five & Dime and the Plaza and…wait, what’s all that stuff in that one place? I’ve never looked.” Does this make sense?
“While I understand this column is meant to be irreverent and zany, I find the ‘Super Hitler’ reference to be unnecessary, offensive, potentially dangerous and an example of self serving shoddy journalism…We are living in precarious times, where geopolitical and religious and racial tensions out of our control have widespread ramifications for many people on all sides of the discourse. This in addition to the gun violence that has been perpetrated in places of worship.”
Hey, Harris, Fork here. We want to respond with a couple of thoughts, including that our intention was never to offend anyone, but rather to jokingly pop off the most absurdly next-level notion of evil imaginable. We’re sorry to you and those who are upset. It was a dumb joke and semi-homage to the old The Simpsons yuk wherein a government employee tells Homer Simpson he is “Worse than Hitler,” for smoking indoors. Y’know, we’ve gotten a couple letters on the matter asking us to remove that joke, but we’re not going to do that and we’ll tell you, Harris, and everyone else why: accountability. Were we to remove this wording from last week’s edition of The Fork, that would be tantamount to acting like it never happened. And if we do something that upsets people, we don’t want to act like it never happened. We don’t believe that when someone says we hurt them, we get to say “No, we didn’t.” So, please accept our apologies for upsetting you.
“Even though Real Burger doesn’t open till 10 or so, it has breakfast burritos, and probably the best I’ve had. I love the chorizo.”
Oh. Em. Gee. Richard B., did you know we LOVE brekkie b’s? We’re kind of known for that. We’ll put it on the list. And 10 am brekkie sounds good to us.
“FYI, they also have some of the best posole with real chunks of pork and their carne adovada is killer.”
Dang, they also have carne adovada?!? We admit, we didn’t look much further than the burgers and chicken on the menu (not counting the brisket and pulled pork), but we’re so down with that. Carne adovada is maybe the single best thing to ever exist in recorded history?
We’ll leave it there as we just realized this is getting kind of long. Still, we love when people engage this hard. Do you think you know a place that’s not getting attention? Tell us about it. Maybe we’ll make this Five Things thing a series or something.
Like you, we had not idea there was a boy band called Five. But if we have to know this, you also have to know this.
-A whole heapin’ mess-load of Santa Fe restaurants (by which we mean four) came away with nominations as semifinalists for the 2024 James Beard awards earlier this week. We’re talkin’ Alkeme at Open Kitchen, The Compound, Dolina and Zacatlán.
-Santa Fe Restaurant Week shall return this year in February for the big One-Three (that’s 13 in case you’re a nincompoop), and to celebrate in style, organizers say they’re gonna loop in Leap Day. This brings the total of days up to 11, which sounds a little closer to Restaurant Fortnight, but since the video game Fortnite is holding everyone’s kids captive, they probably thought it best to just stick with “Week” so as to not piss off the overlords at Epic. If you don’t know what that joke is about, go ahead and clean your dentures; fill out that AARP paperwork; re-apply your Ben Gay; shout at some Swifties about how The Beatles were better despite lyrics like “tra-la-la and tee-hee-hee, holding hands sounds good to me;” and don’t worry about it. We’re high-fiving the rest of you who know what we’re saying, particularly in the spirit of our motto: “‘Tis better to make a small handful of people laugh for real than to make a massive group chuckle disingenuously.” Anyway, Santa Fe Restaurant Week is back from Feb. 19-29 and you can see a full list of participating eateries right here.
-Sounds like New Mexico just can’t quit that sweet, sweet booze—even when it comes to Dry January. A new study from kratom company Happy Go Leafy says that while New Hampshire for sure keeps it real for Dry January, New Mexico is the third-least likely to take part in “dryness.” This is based on searches per 100,000 people, though, which doesn’t seem super-scientific to us.
-Canyon Road fine dining bastion The Compound sent over some rather interesting 2023 numbers that we kind of wish more restaurants would send us (if you own a restaurant, tell us this stuff. We like it.) Anyway, according to this missive, in 2023, the eatery that chef Mark Kiffin built served 4,256 onion rings; 4,242 schnitzels; 3,145 beef tenderloins and 1,837 opera cakes (if you don’t know what an opera cake is, this guy has a good recipe) across a total of 42,831 guests. That’s like if half the city of Santa Fe went over there.
-Seattle’s Piroshky, being a bakery that we’re told is “renowned for its exquisite Eastern European-inspired pastries,” will pop up in Santa Fe at Second Street Brewery’s Rufina Taproom as part of a nationwide pastry tour. This is going down on from 5-7 pm Monday, Feb. 5 and we’re pretty sure there will be chances to pair pastry with beer.
-The Santa Fe Indigenous Center will not host a food distribution event on Feb. 2 as The Food Depot is hitting its annual inventory hoedown (that’s not a real thing, we’re just saying The Food Depot is counting its stores), but will be back up and running on Feb. 16. For more info, visit the site.
-As Above So Below Distillery in Santa Fe (which was previously called Altar Spirits in case you’re confounded) is getting into the tiki spirit by hosting the Forbidden Ritual pop-up tiki experience from Jan. 25-March 3. We’re talking special drinks, DJ action, food from local chef/La Lecheria ice cream shop founder Joel Coleman and that certain tiki-ish je ne se quois.
-The Museum of New Mexico Foundation, which is dedicated to the museums of New Mexico (the state ones, bruh), has some new cookbooks on offer through its online shop, and we must admit that some of them look good as hell. Perhaps a little something on chile from the freaking Chile Pepper Institute? Maybe some Indigenous goodness through The Pueblo Food Experience Cookbook? The most enticing might be the one called Dulce: Desserts from Santa Fe Kitchens (which happens to be on sale for more than 50% off as of this writing). You can see the full list here.
-OK, so this is maybe only tangentially related to food because local boutique hotel/bar/restaurant The Mystic has a restaurant/bar, but local record label Mama Mañana (which focuses on tapes) has been booking some pretty cool music events over there featuring both its roster members and others. If you’re looking for that sort of thing (being a nice drink and nosh…ewww, sorry we said “nosh”), follow the Insta right here. We’re gonna just take a break and think about what we’ve done when we decided to write “nosh.” God, we hate ourself.
-We aren’t sure what’s going on, and we admit this is anecdotal, but why are we struggling so hard to find hash browns on Santa Fe menus recently. Where are y’all getting yours? And are they crispy? We still know a few places, but blow our minds if you would...?
-Despite one reader once telling us, “Why are you so in love with Baked & Brew?” as if that’s a bad thing, we wanted to let folks know that B&B, being one of Santa Fe’s newest bakeries, is offering up cruffins at the moment. That’s croissant/muffins that have been Cronenberg’d into one glorious treat. We want it bad and we bet you do, too. Remember that B&B is closed on weekends which, if you are a regular reader, you’ll know we respect.
-A reader sent us a photo of a sign up inside downtown bar/restaurant Boxcar that we just think is cool and want to mention. “If you require assistance because you feel unsafe with the company you’re in, please order a ‘Angel Shot’ from any member of our staff and management and/or security will intervene.” Fuck yeah, Boxcar, that’s awesome! We must never forget that not every space is safe for everyone, and this is a very cool thing to do.
If you need us to hold your hand to understand what we mean by “Cronenberg’d.”
-Self-described “premium herb and spice company” Savory Spice has some 2024 food predictions for everyone, including a rise in popularity for foods from Sri Lanka and the Philippines, mushrooms as a meat substitute (though any vegan/vegetarian worth their salt has known this since always), more fermented foods (good for the gut) and more sour foods (which any Sour Patch Kids fan will tell you is practically old hat at this point).
-Totally bitchin’ food writer Jaya Saxena (seriously, one of our faves working today) has a wildly interesting piece over at Eater-dot-com that breaks down how food marketing terms and hollow jargon make people think meaningless word salad bullshit=healthy. The culprit in this instance? The term “harvest,” which Saxena posits is full of bologna. “Yoplait at some point started calling its peach yogurt ‘harvest peach,’ unless a harvest peach is somehow different from a peach and they are in fact two separate flavors,” she writes. “‘Harvest’ certainly evokes farming, but you don’t harvest ranch dressing or cheddar.” It’s like those insidious Snackwell cookies of the early 1990s that were like, “low-fat, dude!” and you were like, “So I can eat 50 of them!”
-If you’re a social media type, you probably saw TikTok clips of Reese “No Nickname” Witherspoon scooping up snow in a mug, covering that snow in chocolate sauce, then eating that snow. You might also have heard that folks on the internet—no, not doctors, just people—told Witherspoon that she is clearly some kind of dumb idiot for doing that because eating snow is somehow unsafe. Well, Witherspoon clapped back, people continued having absurd reactions to things and now the writers at Food and/or Wine-dot-com have asked the experts if it’s safe to eat snow. Our take? Well, we’re not a medical doctor, and we probably wouldn’t eat snow off a city street (we learned from Frank Zappa, thank you very much), but if it were, like, sitting all pristine in a meadow betwixt a beautiful pine tree and some sort of stump from which possums and skunks played folk music on makeshift washtub basses and banjos with twigs for tuning forks? Well, we’d probably eat that snow with some choco sauce, sure. Someone please draw a picture of the thing we just described and send it to us at email@example.com. Thank you.
-Since The Fork has sometimes been a repository for the most horrendous brand mashups that no one could possibly need, you should know that Burt’s Bees (being a lip balm and lotion company owned by some guy called Burt, we think) and Hidden Valley Ranch (which is a ranch dressing company) joined forces to make a ranch lip balm. Before you get too excited, the first run already sold out. May this unholy abomination ne’er again see the light of day.
A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence
In this week’s print edition of SFR, a pair of SFR staffers think they’re too good for this restaurant Ortiz, then they go over there and have their minds blown by the burger and the pork and stuff.
Number of Letters Received
*We really touched a nerve with Real Burger, but an overwhelmingly positive nerve. Y’all LOOOOOOOVE that place.
Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader)
*Seriously, that’s all the email said. Is this...like, are WE gross, or...?
Actually Helpful Tip(s)
We have some real good burger recs now, which never goes out of style.
*Seriously, recommend food to us.
Still realer than most even if we don’t technically exist,