Eating Up History: New Mexico’s Classic Restaurants

January 25th, 2011 by Kate Nelson

Sugars72_4x5From Pappas Sweet Shop in Raton to Sparky’s in Hatch, the Bibo Bar in Cibola County to Sugar’s BBQ and Hamburgers in Dixon, New Mexico eateries have weathered tough times to tempt the palates of generations. At 2 pm on Sunday, Feb. 13, culinary explorer Cheryl Alters Jamison shares her on-the-road discoveries of places that helped define the tastiest part of our state’s heritage.

“Still Cooking: New Mexico’s Historic Diners, Chile Joints, and Burger Bars” is free with admission (Sundays free to NM residents). To jump-start your own gastro-adventure, we’ll share some special deals from some of the state’s longest-serving restaurants. Hit the highway or walk down the street to enjoy New Mexico’s home-style cooking and partake of our historic traditions.

During her 30 years in New Mexico, Jamison has eaten from border to border – while taking careful notes. She helped develop and continues to work on the New Mexico Tourism Department’s culinary trails initiatives (the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail and the Culinary Adventures Trail).  With her husband, Bill, she’s a four-time James Beard award-winning author who has written numerous books on food and travel, including the upcoming Tasting New Mexico: 100 Years of New Mexican Cooking (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2012). Jamison teaches at the Santa Fe School of Cooking and appears as a guest instructor nationally and in France’s Dordogne region. She can discuss the finer points of smoking a turkey with Bobby Flay, show Matt Lauer how to make French toast, or argue with anyone about why New Mexican food ranks supreme among regional cooking styles.

4-culinary_Sparkys72Throughout the state’s history, New Mexicans have nurtured a love affair with their restaurants. Jamison will pull on heartstrings like the Taco Boxes in Portales and Clovis and reveal which Las Cruces restaurant is famous for its steak fingers and chicken-fried steak (served with green chile, of course). Do you know how Maria’s in Santa Fe got its start? Do you know where in Albuquerque can you get a green chile cheeseburger with egg fu yung? What differentiates New Mexico cooking styles in the north and south? Come to the lecture to find out.

Some 20 years ago, when Cheryl and Bill Jamison were writing travel guides, they took on a project that became The Rancho De Chimayó Cookbook. Turning their attention to the serious side of barbecue and grilling, they wrote The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining, Born to Grill, and the landmark Smoke & Spice, which has sold close to 1 million copies. The Jamisons also have played a leading role in the revival of good, robust American cooking with American Home Cooking, A Real American Breakfast, and The Border Cookbook. To write Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ultimate Culinary Adventure, the couple cashed in 440,000 frequent-flyer miles and spent three months traveling the globe in search of great food.

JamisonMug72_1x2Jamison works as culinary consultant with the New Mexico Tourism Department and the New Mexico History Museum. She also consults on outdoor kitchen design with interior designer Barbara Templeman, through their business insideOUTsantafe. She is a board member of Cooking with Kids, one of the country’s first programs that addressed getting good food into our schools, and was a recipient of the University of Illinois’s alumni achievement award in 2007. Bill Jamison is retired from saving the world and keeps their lives in order from their home in Tesuque.

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