1115 Hickox Street, Santa Fe NM 87505 (map); 505-983-7060; tuneupcafe.com
Cooking Method: Grilled inside over a gas grate.
Short Order: Save the calories and order a salad for a dollar extra.
Want Fries with That? Comes with; nothing special.
Price: Hamburger, $7.50; buffalo, $8.75 for the buffalo; extra 75¢ per topping
Notes: Arriving around noon, we waited 45 minutes for our burgers to come out.
If Santa Fe is known for its liberal, hippie population, then Tune-Up Café must be where they all go to dine. Before me in line was a girl in a hemp dress who ordered a vegan burger made with brown rice and nuts; next to our table, a group of college students sat discussing Foucault.
Tune-Up Cafe may be number four on the Jamisons' list of top 5 burger joints in Santa Fe, but its buns are easily some of the best non-traditional buns I've eaten. All the burgers come on sesame seed brioche buns, perfectly toasted on the surface with a slightly chewy, slightly tender crumb inside. The buttery flavor of the brioche bun was apparent. The garlic mayonnaise, on the other hand, was not particularly memorable: neither garlicky nor creamy, its presence in the burger was negligible.
We ordered a "Dave Was Here" Burger, their basic burger named for the former establishment occupying the building. For toppings, we opted for green chile, mushrooms, and manchego cheese. The patty had a decent char and was cooked medium rare as we had ordered; the meat, however, was not particularly beefy. Tune-up's grinder must be set to a very coarse grind because I could see the slivers of meat that weren't cohesively bound together inside the patty.
We also ordered a Buffalo Burger with green chile, avocado, and swiss cheese. This patty seemed to have a finer grind. While not as medium rare as the beef burger, the buffalo was a bit juicier though not especially distinguishable as buffalo meat. The patty also had a nice char on the outside.
All the toppings—chunks of juicy green chile, slices of high quality cheese, and fresh mushrooms and avocado—were carefully prepared additions, but mostly, the brioche buns made the burgers more distinctive.
The fries were crispy, but not flavorful. I didn't get a rush of potato flavor, as one would with the fries from In-N-Out, for instance. I also didn't taste any evidence of the fries having touched a meat-based fat, which would've made them taste better. All in all, a decent place for burgers, though not worth seeking out.