"Extremely beefy and flavorful, each bite made me want more."
420 Old Las Vegas Highway
Santa Fe NM 87505 (map); 505-983-5319; bobcatbite.com
Cooking Method: Griddled on an on cast iron surface.
Short Order: An extremely large, beefy, and juicy patty. A true bargain for the quality.
Want Fries with That? Yes, please. Home fries are skin-on and cubed, with a meaty flavor.
Price: Green chile hamburger, $7.65; green chile cheeseburger, $7.90; fries, $2.10
Notes: The wait can be over two hours. Get your burgers to go.
Bobcat Bite is a but speck on the dusty New Mexican highway, a little shack housing five tables and a bar that spans the short length of the restaurant. Hearing from both friends and relatives about the regrettable wait, we arrived at Bobcat at 2 p.m. in the hopes of avoiding the lunch crowds. Twenty other people had the same idea; when we asked how long the wait would be, the woman told us, "About one hour." Considering that Bobcat Bite was number one on the Jamisons' list of the best green chile burgers in Santa Fe, we reasoned that one hour wasn't outlandish and walked back to the car to kill time on the Old Las Vegas Highway, once part of Route 66.
Forty minutes later, we returned to the restaurant. In the time we'd been gone, the line-up in the waiting room had remained essentially unchanged. Figuring that the turn-around would come any minute, I plopped myself down next to a family of four from Spain who was also waiting to sample the goods at Bobcat. As I chatted with them, I kept my eye on the clock. One hour passed. One hour and fifteen minutes. Finally, at one and a half hours, I began to suspect that we weren't going to be seated, much less served, anytime soon.
Then and only then did my dining companion notice the waitress handing bags to customers flitting in and out of the waiting area. Burgers to go? Why hadn't we thought to ask an hour and a half ago? I hastily placed our take-out order; twenty-five minutes later, our waitress handed us a hefty bag. We scuttled back to the car and feasted behind the wheel, with the beautiful snow-capped mountains to admire as we dined.
At a full ten ounces, Bobcat's burger patties are nearly impossible to fit into one's mouth. As I positioned the patty in all kinds of angles approaching my mouth, I finally reconciled myself to taking incomplete bites—perhaps part of the patty and the top half of the bun, followed by another bite of the patty and the bottom half of the bun.
Is it truly necessary to serve a patty exceeding the half-pound marker? At initial consideration, I figured that a bigger patty should confer two main advantages: First, that the interior, taking longer to cook, would have a better chance of remaining rare to medium rare (just the way I like it); second, that the outside of the patty, by virtue of sitting on the cooking surface for a longer period of time, would attain a nice char in the process. To test my assumption, we ordered two specimens: the first, a green chile hamburger cooked rare; the second, a green chile cheeseburger cooked medium rare.
I was correct on the first count. Both the rare and medium rare patties practically oozed fatty and flavorful juices with each bite. Neither patty, however, had developed much of a crust. This was worsened by the juices that poured forth with each bite; as I made further headway into the burger, both patty and bun became soggier.
Texture aside, the flavor of the beef won me over. Extremely beefy and flavorful, each bite made me want more—quite a feat, considering that this was my third burger stop of the day. Bobcat's patties are made from Choice grade boneless chuck, and the grind was a great balance of fat and flesh.
At first I was skeptical of the home fries because the surface wasn't crispy. However, their taste—meaty with a fresh potato flavor, combined with an interior texture that was creamy but not mushy—was excellent. I don't know what the fry cooks are doing at Bobcat. Dare they skim from the beef fat? Whatever they're doing, these home fries were as exceptionally meaty.
All in all, the Bobcat Burger is by the far the largest burger I've consumed, and one of the better ones I've tasted in a long while. That being said, I think that if an establishment dares to serve a ten-ounce patty, it ought to find a better solution to the rich meat juices that will invariably pour forth. If I were crafting a ten-ounce patty, I'd want a chewier, tougher bun that could hold under the weight of the meat. The buns on our burgers crumbled a third of the way in, so that our fingers were covered in meaty juices for the remainder of the meal. Still, the burgers are truly a bargain for the size, quality, and price; if I ever return, I'll get mine to go from the start.