After a long day of skiing and maybe following a well deserved pampering session at the Skin Sanctuary or Essential Massage and Spa Therapies, you are likely to be hungry—hungry for healthy, fresh and tasty food. Why not go to a restaurant that makes the best green chile cheeseburger in the state and that was also named a “Great American Burger Joint” by USA Today?
This restaurant is 5 Star Burgers, located at 1032 Paseo del Pueblo Sur. The walls are painted with bright shades of orange and purple and mouth-watering smells fill the air. Oil paintings by Marsha St. John (a local artist and the restaurant’s manager) decorate the space. One is appropriately called Spirit of Fall and brings all the autumn leaves inside in a psychedelic blur.
“I enjoy working in an environment where I see some of my favorite people at least once a week,” said St. John, whose art has been inspired by the Taos landscape. “We provide not only good food but also a very pleasant atmosphere.”
Bob Gontram, the owner and founder of 5 Star Burgers, is a white-haired gentleman who has created over 140 restaurants that he has bought and sold. The first one he opened in Taos was 5 Star Burgers, in April 2008, which was followed by another location in Albuquerque in March 2010. “Next year I expect to open five more 5 Star Burgers, three in New Mexico and two in Denver,” he said.
5 Star Burgers is an environmentally conscious company. They use biodegradable packaging made from corn and recycled paper. Frying oils are recycled for bio diesel fuel and their equipment is energy efficient. Most importantly, all beef is trans fat free, fresh, never-frozen, hormone free and antibiotic.
“The ground beef we use is all-natural Angus beef from Harris Ranch,” Gontram said. “The burgers are hand formed here. I am confident that we have the best burgers in New Mexico.”
Food critics from USA Today agree with him. “What distinguishes 5 Star Burgers (…) is quality. Served on a brioche bun from local Fano bakery, their hormone and antibiotic-free Black Angus beef is ground fresh daily and cooked to order. The 8-ounce green chile cheeseburgers come in two varieties with green chiles the star attraction,” said the USA Today press release.
Gontram is also particular about the kind of chile that they serve with the burgers. “There is more demand for chile now than it used to,” he said. “It is grown in other states like Texas, and even imported from Mexico, to supply the demand. But we buy only New Mexico green chile.”
A delicious green chile mayonnaise is served as a dipping sauce for the French fries and also put over cheeseburgers. As for the other ingredients, “we use gorgonzola cheese because it is creamy and works very well with the bacon without overpowering the burger,” Gontram said.
Then there is their signature tomato marmalade. Served with the grilled cheese sandwich, the combination makes the best comfort food I’ve ever had.
The restaurant runs a burger special every month.
“I am really passionate about the menu because I designed everything myself,” said Gontram. Though the Five Star burger is their biggest seller, the menu isn’t limited to burgers. It includes specialty sandwiches like Coho Salmon and Portobello Stack, as well as different kinds of salads, beer and wine.
The restaurant has a busy happy hour, from four to six pm. It also offers comfortable chairs and good coffee, two significant aspects that have been overlooked by a few restaurants in town.
5 Star Burgers’ hours are Monday through Thursday 11-9, Friday to Saturday 11-10 and Sunday 12-9.
Winter hours: The restaurant closes at 9:00 p.m. every night
To learn more about 5 Star Burgers visit their website http://www.5starburgers.com or call (575) 758-8484.