No Wimpy Burgers
By David A. Fryxell
Fans of Terry Castillo's original Patio Cafe in Columbus will be delighted to discover that she's opened a Deming branch, in the former Starlight Cafe at the Starlight Village Resort on the highway to Hatch. If you've ever tried "Terry's Famous Burgers," we suspect that this is welcome news indeed.
Put all images of flat, cardboard-like hamburger patties out of your head: The famed Patio Cafe burgers are ground fresh daily from 85 percent lean beef—a half-pound apiece before cooking—and formed for each order. You can adorn your burger in any of a dozen different combinations of cheese, bacon, chiles, pico de gallo, sauteed onions, barbecue sauce, fresh mushrooms, even ham. Being New Mexico purists, we opted for the green chile cheeseburger—topped, as the menu notes, "with a WHOLE green chile"—though we could also have gone for the jalapeno cheeseburger if chile was a must.
Besides toppings, burgers come with your choice of chips, cottage cheese, soup, fresh-cut fries or—and we loved having this option—Tater Tots. When our dining companion ordered the soup, however, and it turned out to be possibly the best green chile soup/stew we've ever begged a taste of, we began to regret our choice (though the Tots were just as crunchy and tasty as we remembered from childhood). The green chile was a daily soup special, so you might want to call ahead.
The burgers might lead you to think that Deming's new Patio Cafe has a sort of diner-inspired motif, and you'd be right. There's counter service, complete with stools, and luscious-looking cakes await under glass atop the counter. Daily specials are announced on both a traditional chalkboard and a newfangled whiteboard. A soothing paint scheme, artwork on the walls and fresh flowers by the register lift the decor out of diner drab, however.
The non-burger menu choices do deliver all the standards you'd expect from an upscale diner: Sandwiches ($4.95-$6.25) include such classics as the club, grilled cheese and BLT. And of course you can wash these or your burger down with a milkshake (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla or daring raspberry). But the daily specials go beyond diner fare, as do the salad options ($2.75-$7.25), such as grilled chicken salad and fried shrimp salad.
The Patio Cafe is a big breakfast place, too, with more than a dozen different egg creations ($1.95-$5.95) ranging from eggs scrambled with pico de gallo or chorizo to four omelet options. Hungry eaters can breakfast on the "GIANT" pancakes, and the griddle also sizzles with intriguing-sounding sweet-potato pancakes. Or there's Terry's Jumbo Burrito ($3.25), filled with egg, hashbrowns, cheese and your choice of ham, bacon, sausage or chorizo.
Unless you're headed to Hatch or staying at the
Starlight Village, the new Patio Cafe may seem a bit out of the way;
it's on your right, just a few miles after you turn off Hwy. 180 north
of Deming, heading toward Hatch. When we visited, they hadn't even
replaced the old "Starlight
Cafe" sign yet. But once you've tried those burgers, you'll decide
it's easily worth a slight detour.
David A. Fryxell is editor of Desert