Road Trip Dining in New Mexico!
Don and I were traveling through New Mexico in September. We weren't hungry for lunch yet, but Don suddenly grew worried.
"We'll be out of New Mexico in less than 2 hours and we never tried a Frito Pie!" (Supposedly, this food delight was invented in NM) I quickly searched the internet and found the perfect place!
I was pretty delighted when we pulled in the lot! It looked like the iconic drive-in hadn't changed much, since it opened in 1967.
Although there was no curb service, we could have eaten in the car, under any of the shady roofs. But we'd had enough car time.
Walk Up Window
We parked and headed to the walk up window. A smiling face peered out, so I asked if I could take a photo. The cheery person answered, as she moved away from the window...
"Sure! Take as many as you like... just not of me!" The good humored woman teased another employee, to pose for my photo. I could tell we were going to have some fun.
After snapping the window pic, Don and I headed for the door. We wanted to eat inside where all the action was.
There were at least 5 people working in the tiny kitchen behind the counter.
Photos on Display
Alma, who was the first to greet me in the window, welcomed us. "Be right with you!"
That gave me a minute to study the display of framed photos. When Alma turned to take the order, she pointed with enthusiasm. "Those are my parents."
Cars at the Drive-In
Jeannette, who had played along and posed in the window, was also glad to see me admiring the photos.
"That's a picture of my car! Last week we had a big group of low riders that stopped here." There were a few car photos, so I'm not sure if this is her car
Don and I announced that we had come, to sample a Frito Pie! The kitchen seemed eager to help us out.
Luckily there was a short lull, with no new diners arriving. While our order was prepared, we had lots of time for kitchen banter. Gerald, (who is Alma's sister) teased from the grill, when I asked to take some photos. "No!" He answered with a lame scowl. Then he smiled as big as his Dad, in the photo.
Want to Buy a Restaurant?
The activity behind the counter was loud and playful. Gerald pretended to be annoyed when I asked for another photo, since the first one was blurry.
He asked more than once if we wanted to buy the restaurant. He hammed it up, as if he'd had enough of the stresses of ownership. But Gerald and the rest of the crew seemed to be having a pretty good time. I wasn't convinced they would sell.
Frito Pie Time
Suddenly our Frito Pie was handed to us in a paper bag. We chose 2 of the 10 red stools and got ready for our feast.
We said hello to our fellow diners, hoping to strike up conversation and continue the fun. But they answered my question with one word, "California." Clearly they were not about the whole experience. We left them alone.
Don and I grinned at each other as we opened the bag and pulled out a Styrofoam cup and a paper bundle, secured with a toothpick. I wondered why our feast wasn't being served in a Fritos bag.
I pulled off the lid and pushed the spoon down, past some melted slices of cheese. How curious. When I lifted the spoon, it held a soupy mixture of red chili, cheese and a few Fritos, that were just beginning to soften. Hmm? We could have added shredded lettuce and tomatoes, but we were quickly starting to enjoy the "soup" just as it was. This hardly seemed like a pie of any kind. The crazy goodie in a cup, was pretty yummy. We passed it back and forth. "I like how the Fritos are absorbing the chili!" "This tastes so much better than it looks!"
On Our Way
Before heading out, we made sure to let the whole crew know that we'd enjoyed our Frito Pie and our visit. There was a little more chatter... about the Houston Astros... about some of the favorite guests who have visited the drive-in... about the summer weather...
By the time we got in the car, a new wave of diners had arrived. Whether they were regulars or travelers, I hoped that they would appreciate the place like we did.
It's always nice to see a happy, family owned business! When Gerald and Alma's parents opened up over 50 years ago, I wonder if they guessed their kids would be running the place in 2018. I would love to have heard some stories about the siblings earliest memories at the drive-in. Maybe next time!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.