Green Chile Cheeseburger in Paradise

Hatch, New Mexico may not be the place Jimmy Buffett had in mind when he sang his song about a cheeseburger in paradise, but the fine folks at Sparky’s in Hatch, New Mexico know a thing or two about green chile cheeseburgers.

Having spent the past 30 years living in El Paso, Texas, just 80 miles to the south, I was certainly aware of Hatch’s reputation as the green chile capital of the world, but I had never had a reason to visit this small town of fewer than 2,000 people. That changed after hearing my neighbor talk about his trips to Hatch to pick up fresh-roasted chile and to stop at Sparky’s restaurant for their awesome green chile cheeseburgers.

The very next day, some other neighbors of ours joined us for the drive to Hatch. Although we could have gotten there in a little over an hour had we taken the interstate route (I-10 to I-25), we opted instead to take the scenic route through the valley farmlands, starting north on Highway 28, and then turning left at Valley Drive (Highway 185) in Las Cruces, which then took us directly into Hatch. Total drive time was just under two hours. Although much of the route runs alongside the Rio Grande, on this occasion there was almost no water in the river as the extreme drought had recently prompted water officials to halt further water release from the dam upstream at Caballo Lake.

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Having been told about the quirky statues outside of Sparky’s restaurant, once we arrived in Hatch we quickly found our destination and made our way inside, where we all ordered the famous green chile cheeseburgers. We’ve been told they also have some fantastic pulled pork tacos, but we’ll have to save that experience for our next trip. Having arrived at 4:00pm on a Saturday afternoon, we discovered that we were not lucky enough to catch the frequent live music entertainment, but we still had a great time taking in the interesting décor while we waited for our food to be served. When it finally arrived, we were not disappointed. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better cheeseburger anywhere.

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Because we had another commitment that evening back in El Paso, we weren’t able to spend any more time exploring the town and, in the interest of time, we chose to take the interstate route for our return leg. Along the way, I made a quick stop somewhere between Hatch and Las Cruces to capture a nice landscape photo to close out our afternoon excursion.

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