Manny’s Buckhorn Tavern – #7 in America

Buckhorn Burger

Buckhorn Burger

You wouldn’t expect that this small nondescript building in the middle of nowhere would have one of the best burgers in the country according to GQ and the New York times. Its one of those places that if you didn’t know it was there you’d just pass on by without giving it a second glance, it doesn’t help that just across the street is the legendary Owl Bar that has its own top ten nationwide rankings. I have to admit that I’ve not noticed it in the last several hundred times I’ve passed through San Antonio, New Mexico and this was the first time I’ve stopped here. I usually only stop for the spectacular fudge at the filling station, you better not need gas after dark or on sundays though its closed.

This time there was no missing the old house/tavern, it was packed with more than a dozen Harleys, Bosque Del Apache vehicles and beat up old ranch trucks outside, it was hard finding a place to park. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited until a Ruidoso rally when lots of other bikers would be going through to finally decide to try out Manny’s. First thing you notice is the rather bold statement on the door and you think they must have a lot of balls to put up a sign like that with the Owl just footsteps away, no way the food out of a little shack could be that good. We waited and waited and waited some more, about 45 mins total. First for a place to sit and then another half hour for the burgers to arrive, luckily our waiter was highly entertaining and there was plenty of odd decor items to keep us occupied. How many places do you know of that have a stuffed Cougar next to the tables in the back?

Buckhorn Cili Festival

Buckhorn Chile Festival

It turns out that the Food Network had been there the previous day filming. We got to hear all about how the taping went and the famous celebrity food personality guy that was there, whose name I cant remember now. Sorry I don’t have cable and never get to watch these things. If you do get the Food Network, be sure to keep an eye out for it. The thing they did on Burt’s next to my office aired maybe 2 1/2 months after filming, so watch for it.

The burgers were huge and each order of onion rings came in a big basket, kick ass! I hate those places that give you 3 or 4 onion rings in a little bag and that’s it. These rings were nice and crispy and plenty of them. The burgers were juicy with thick pattys that crumbled a bit in your hands, they don’t use fillers in the meat to hold it together. On mine they used enough green chile to give it a nice flavor but not much heat, a nice change from my place in Santa Fe that likes to make them nuclear hot for locals and loads more chile on the more often you come back. I’d have to say the burgers were the best I’ve had at a restaurant in recent memory and well worth the wait, but next time I’ll come when its not quite so busy.

Front door of the Buckhorn

Front door of the Buckhorn

The meat was great, as close as I’ve come to the burgers and steaks from cookouts in the Vally (Hondo) and up in Colorado with super fresh meat. As in your burger was still out grazing in the field that morning fresh. I’m a bit spoiled, but if you’ve never had fresh cooked steaks that have never touched a freezer or a refrigerator its incomparable how amazing they are and the next day the same steaks taste like any regular store bought kind something about the refrigeration process kills the flavor. The Buckorn burgers have a similar indescribable quality that make them amazing, I wonder if they grind their meat fresh every morning. Whatever it is keep doing it, these are not your ordinary burgers.

It seems that the tiny town of San Antonio does one thing better than anyone and thats green chile cheeseburgers. Its odd being that San Antonio is nearly an hours drive from anywhere and doesn’t have enough residents to even have a post office anymore. It doesn’t seem logical for a town like this to have one let alone two world famous burger joints. Then again in order to have a restaurant in a location like this it better be good enough that people will travel an hour to get there or draw them off the highway, theres not enough locals to keep them going. So the next time you’re just passing through take a rest stop and try one of the worlds best burgers.



UPDATE: I’ve since learned the show that was taping is called Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Looks like hes got a good selection of books available, I might have to add one next to my BBQ U.

4 comments to Manny’s Buckhorn Tavern – #7 in America

  • I have to say the ” Buckhorn ” was the greatest place I have never been to myself. Not very often I get my burger fixs. This was my best to get my burger after all. When I am at home I really don’t get meat to have now and than unless I’m with Tim going places that I never discover before or never seen. Hmm- man! those burger were great to eat and enjoy. I would love to have more of those burgers. I really enjoyed the trip to ruidoso. It’s has me being part of there life too. It’s a great way to escape from crazy people in Albuquerque. Now I have a favorite place to come and relax. I hope to do that again soon.

  • rmc

    I guess for a smalltown the food at the Buckhorn was ok. A group of us were in there recently and were so looking forward to the burgers. I’d recommend the burger if you are in the vicinity – but was disappointed in the service/owner who walked by a group of us at least 4 times as we ate and never even said hello – although he was going table to table chatting it up with people he knew/regulars….I guess being an outsider at the Buckhorn not too popular..

  • Thanks for a sweet article, very informative.. we will sure be back for more.

  • tozz

    I still prefer the Owl Bar’s burgers over Buckhorn. I went to college at New Mexico Tech 6 miles north and ate Green Chile Cheeseburgers every Friday night. We always went to the Owl.

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