A week before Mr.D and I left for a business trip to Albuquerque, as is routine I began asking around about where to eat. I had a taste for something longstanding and traditional. So I made a point to ask people who were born and raised in the Duke City, or had lived there for most of their lives and moved away “Where is the one restaurant you must go to when you’re back home?” I love the look on someone’s face when you ask this. That thoughtful expression as they flip through that inner childhood scrapbook. The smile. The noises “Ummm” “Aaahhhmmmhuh” “Weeeeeelllll…..” as they come to a decision.
Many places were highly recommended, and the overwhelming most popular answer was Sadie’s of New Mexico. For pretty much the same reasons — it’s been there forever, it’s a family tradition, the portions are huge, order the enchiladas, it’s authentic, everybody knows Sadie’s. Families grow up there. They celebrate their big events, birthdays, reunions, proms. Over the years the children grow up, go on dates there, celebrate their engagements, weddings, and continue the tradition with their children, generation after generation.
“Her Love Filled Our Hearts; Her Generosity Will Not Be Forgotten”
Sadie Koury and her sister Betty-Jo opened the first location in the 1950s. It seated 9 guests and sat along a main thoroughfare. In no time they were a favorite with truckers and locals for their burgers, steaks and pork chops. Trucks lined the streets, it was standing room only. So they moved to a larger place with 35 capacity that became just as popular. In 1975 Sadie retired and Betty Joe took over, along with her husband Bob. The crowds kept coming, the wait list ran over two hours, so they bought a nearby bowling alley, added authentic New Mexican family recipes and then it got really busy. (Is anyone also wondering when this family found the time to sleep?) In 1991 they moved to the current location that seats over 350.
Their very first grill is on display in the front hallway. The plaque reads: SADIE’S ORIGINAL GRILL For 28 years with more than 1 million Sadie Burgers plus your other favorites to its credit, this grill has become our symbol of pride and gratitude for your continued patronage.
If you divide Albuquerque into a plus sign using highways 40 and 25, they’re in the Northwest area.
It’s easy to find them. The city recently named their street Sadie’s Lane in honor of the family. An indication of the respect and standing they have in the community.
Solar Road refers to the sunburst that goes off in your mouth from their green chile sauce. Just kidding. But if you’re from out of town it’s easy to remember the street names that way.
Sadie and Bob are no longer with us. Betty-Jo is still very involved, every day she comes in to prep the drawers and check in with everyone. On Wednesdays she and her friends dine at her favorite table in the enclosed patio. My photo of that area turned out too blurry, but the image above is a wall mural near Betty-Jo’s favorite spot. Her sons William and Brian, along with William’s wife Amanda also run the place.
This is the main dining room with skylights and hanging plants. Soft natural light, you’d swear you were dining in an outdoor courtyard. The decor is Native American and Spanish, and the mural depicts their first tiny location, that some say was about the size of their current waiting area.
I promise you, there were two chicken enchiladas under that glorious sauce. What a fabulous treasure hunt to find them. And if you are a believer that there can never be too much cheese then this dish will have you doing the happy queso dance. My plate could have fed three adults. The chicken was tender and flavorful. For me, the red sauce was not solar flare hot, more a medium warmth. Our server said “If you can handle the salsa and chips, you can handle the chile heat.” She was right, that was a good gauge. And I like that even though it was one massive smothered helping, I could still taste the individual ingredients. Exactly what I’d been craving. I’d order that again.
On the left, red sauce. On the right, green sauce. Yep.
Everyone in the Southwest has their own version of chile sauces. Sadie’s red sauce is made from New Mexican red chile pods, with beef. Or straight up red chile if you prefer. The green sauce is mixed with tomatoes, and also they like to use harvest roast green chiles. The ones that stay on the plant into October and November that turn yellow and orange. Which is why the green sauce doesn’t appear to be the green you might expect, but no less flavorful and fresh. Herbie roasted goodness, also with or without meat.
Many thanks to everyone who suggested this Albuquerque tradition. While writing this post I was reminded that my must-have isn’t there anymore, Stevenson’s Old Apple Farm just outside of Kansas City Missouri. My husband Mr.D grew up in the Mojave Desert. When he was a little boy he knew that a drive to see family in Los Angeles, or any family member flying into LAX to stay with them, meant they would have lunch at the The Bear Pit . It’s personal for him, because it connects family with the treat of eating at this one place, a constant in their lives. And it’s still there, with amazing bbq and the best garlic toast in California. If you have a favorite hometown must-have, please feel free to share. Send links. What do you always order? Is it still there, or long gone? I’d love to know your taste of home.
There are four Sadie’s locations now. You can check their website here.
Los Ranchos address: 6230 Fourth Street (off Sadie Lane), Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. Phone: 505 345 5339
Love Sadie’s! I’m pretty sure they were in the bowling alley in the late 1960’s, but I’m an old guy so my memory may be faulty. I do remember walking up the steps to the left just inside the front doors and eating the best plate of chicken enchiladas ever – with green chile so hot. I grew up in Albuquerque, moved away, and returned about 12 years ago. I still eat regularly at Sadie’s on north 4th. I don’t think their chile is quite as hot these days. Go at lunch time and get the #1 combination plate!
Bosque Bill, thanks for the combo tip. We meet people all the time who lived in ALBQ or grew up there and moved away … if only we had a quarter for how many have said “I love Sadie’s!”
Wonderful! Loved the writing, and love my future trip to Sadie’s.
Thank you! I had written about four times the text posted, and it was tough to edit down. There is much to say about Sadie’s.