Steaks and Burgers
A big brown cinder-block building containing a package-liquor store, Monte Carlo Steakhouse (3916 Central Ave. SW, 505/831-2444, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Fri. and Sat., $18) is not a gourmet experience—it’s more of a time machine. Inside, it’s a dim room full of vintage Naugahyde booths. Go for the prime rib if you’re there for dinner Thursday through Saturday; otherwise, it’s another cut of steak or a softball-size green-chile cheeseburger, served with hand-cut fries. Greek ownership means you get a tangy feta dressing on your salad and baklava for dessert. And even though the place adjoins a bar, you’re still welcome to buy wine from the package store up front and have it with your dinner, for a nominal markup.
Despite the retro name and the menu of burgers and fountain treats, the Route 66 Malt Shop (1720 Central Ave. SW, 505/242-7866, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $5) is no hokey 1950s-theme diner. It’s simply the real deal: an unpretentious short-order grill run by friendly people who work hard to make good food. For lunch, get a big BLT (“lots of bacon!” promises the menu) or a cheeseburger topped with extra-savory green chile. Then wash it down with a “black cow” (a Coke float with chocolate syrup and chocolate ice cream) or any other combo of syrup and ice cream you can dream up. An absolute must: the house-made root beer, an invigorating, not-too-sweet brew that’s great on a hot day.
Dog House (1216 Central Ave. SW, 505/243-1019, $4) specializes not just in hot dogs, but in chile dogs, and has been doing so since the 1960s. (Don’t like wieners? Get a green-chile cheeseburger instead. Or some tater tots.) The place is worth a visit for its neon sign alone: A dachshund wags its tail as it swallows up a link of sausages.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition