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Burgers have their stars perfectly aligned

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A good burger is one of America’s comfort foods, and Taos’ Five Star Burgers does burgers right.

If you’re a first timer here, as my friend and I were, it’s hard to know what to pick. The menu offers four Angus beef burgers, a bison burger, turkey, chicken and lamb burgers and a veggie burger. You also can get chicken or fish sandwiches, vegetarian options and several salads with or without meat. And don’t forget the special burger of the month.

After some consideration, we decided to share the Five Star Burger, a BLT salad, an order of fries and a milk shake. Sounds like an ample lunch for two, right? Well, if the two were teenagers bulking up for football.

Five Star Burgers
LOCATION: 1032 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos, 575-758-8484
HOURS: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

First, the burger. We got the Five Star because we figured any burger that shared the same name as the restaurant itself ought to be good. And it was. The meat, Angus beef ground on site, is hormone- and antibiotic-free from Harris Ranch. It arrived grilled medium as requested, juicy without being overly greasy. Delicious. Even the bun had class: fresh toasted brioche instead of the regular white bread.

The signature toppings of blue cheese crumbles and crisp, smoky bacon were great. We added some of the garnish: tomato and onion slices, leafy lettuce and pickles. The waitress brought the restaurant’s house-made green chile mayo, served in a pretty two-well dish with a side of ketchup. Very yummy. If you’re paying $9 for a burger, without even a bag of chips on the side, it ought to be special. This one is.

Other choices include the Old Timer, your basic burger with garnish, the Taos Burger with a strip of green chile, cheddar and barbecue sauce (the waitress assured us it was good), Green Chile Cheeseburger and Bison Burger with grilled onions. You can also try turkey, crab, veggie or lamb burgers, chicken, salmon or portobello mushroom sandwiches. Or grilled cheese.

Everything I’ve mentioned comes a la carte, but you can order extras such as coleslaw, fried green beans, French fries or a salad. We tried a mixture of half regular and half sweet potato fries ($3.25). They were good, sliced thin (but not shoestrings), hot and fresh. It’s nice to know the oil used for cooking contains no trans fats and gets recycled for bio diesel fuel.

The BLT salad ($8) was huge, enough for lunch for two by itself. The crisp romaine, ribbonlike strips of mild mozzarella, bits of ripe red tomato and crisp smoky bacon in the oval white bowl created a beautiful collage of colors, textures and flavors. The Rojo Ranch dressing, seasoned with mild red chile, had character and made the salad memorable for more than its size. Very good.

We shared a vanilla shake that came in the frosty metal shakemaker cup, a creamy, rich treat. For dessert, for only a buck, you get what they call an ice cream shooter, a one-scoop cone. I tried the Snickers, and I recommend it.

We sat on the patio enjoying the little fountain, the view of the mountains and the pots with a variety of flowers including magenta geraniums. We were joined by other diners who seemed to be locals, and a big, well-behaved black poodle. When the poodle and its owners left, a strawberry-blond hound of mixed heritage stretched out next to us like he owned the place. The waitress said his name was Burger, a free spirit who made Five Star his home during business hours. The staff had grown fond of him. She said, “I think he’s inhabited by the soul of someone who lived here and decide Taos was better than heaven.”

Even for us noncanines, Five Star Burgers is a heavenly experience.

Our lunch for two, with a second ample meal of left-over salad and a soda, was $29.97 with tax before the tip. Five Star Burgers also has a restaurant at 5901 Wyoming NE at Academy in Albuquerque.

Customer acting kindly

At breakfast last week in one of Santa Fe’s busiest restaurants, a man at the table next to me ordered migas – scrambled eggs with corn chips and other goodies. The waiter brought him banana pancakes. The man pointed out the mistake. He wasn’t angry. He didn’t make a scene or berate the waiter. The waiter apologized and promised to fix things. No, the customer said, he’d eat the pancakes. When the waiter left, he told his wife: “If I sent it back, they’d just throw it out. What a shame it would be to waste good food.”