The Unvegan

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Getting New Mexican at Carlsbad Tavern

Green chilies? How surprising!

When I think of New Mexico, a couple things come to mind. 1) Bugs Bunny should’ve taken a left turn at Albuquerque. 2) Carlsbad Cavern is supposed to be awesome. 3) They love green chilies on everything. Well a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona has taken a pun from Carlsbad Cavern, thrown green chilies in and somehow failed to include Bugs Bunny. It’s called Carlsbad Tavern and I went in search of a burger instead of a bunny.

The burger is the Green Chile Cheeseburger and apparently just about every restaurant in New Mexico serves some incarnation of it. The incarnation at Carlsbad Tavern was a green chile sauce with cheddar cheese and served open-faced on a slice of sourdough bread instead of inside a bun. It came with a choice of salad, jicama slaw or fries and I chose the one that seemed not terrible.

When it was brought it, it was definitely one of the most colorful burgers I had set out to eat. Remember, I’m a guy that doesn’t eat lettuce or tomato, so bright green on a burger is a big deal to me.

I had to tackle the thing with a fork and knife, which is not how I like to play my burgers, but with no bun I had no choice. As soon as I took down the first bite, though, I forgot about the odd way I was eating the burger and just enjoyed.m The green chile was an interesting topping for a burger and added a little kick, but also some sweetness to the thing. The patty itself was so juicy that the sourdough bread could only fight for so long before succumbing to sogginess. This was alright though, because the bread really just seemed there to absorb, rather than to add any major dimensions to the burger.

The fries were perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I liked them in ketchup, but they were even better when dipped in some of the remaining green chile sauce.

Carlsbad Tavern was a great introduction to the green chile cheeseburger. As my first, I can’t even attempt to say how it stacks up against its brethren in New Mexico or against other New Mexican restaurants in the world, but I can say it was unique burger at a cool restaurant that I recommend to anyone in Scottsdale looking for something to mix things up.