L.A. Times : 50 must-eat stops on new Breakfast Burrito Byway
For anyone craving something more than a wellness vacation this year, think about a road trip to New Mexico on the freshly concocted Breakfast Burrito Byway.
The itinerary includes 50 restaurants unveiled Monday by the state’s tourism agency, which declares New Mexico the home of the breakfast burrito.
Who made the first breakfast burrito is a little sketchy, but one thing is for sure: Burritos likely didn’t start in Mexico. Food historian Richard Foss in “Burrito History” says they originated on “our” side of the border, with a definite Southwest and Tex-Mex twang.
“Pity the Aztecs, whose empire rose and fell 400 years before anyone in Mexico could get a carnitas burrito,” Foss wrote.
The New Mexico Tourism Department, which earlier had devised a Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail, says the breakfast burrito was “thought to have originated” in the 1970s at food stands at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and at Tia Sophia’s restaurant in Santa Fe. (Foss backed up the Santa Fe cafe claim in his essay.)
Either way, there appears to be no shortage of New Mexico restaurants that put it on their regular menu. To identify the best breakfast burritos in the state, the tourism agency polled the public in April and May.
Of 400 nominated restaurants, the top 50 were selected for a place on the byway map. (Note that the map takes you to restaurants all over the state; there’s no one way to do this trip.)
The top vote-getter was Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill in Edgewood (whose motto is “We make food we love to eat!”), about a half-hour drive east of Albuquerque on Route 40.
So what’s in a New Mexico breakfast burrito? It has to feature at least these three ingredients: egg, tortilla and New Mexico chile. Throwing in beans, cheese, sour cream and/or avocados is up to the maker.
And it’s apparently the chile that gives the dish a home-state advantage. “A breakfast burrito without chile is like a sky without stars,” Tia Sophia owner Nick Maryol said in a statement.
Katrinah’s on KKOB:
NM’s top breakfast burritos unveiled in ‘Breakfast Burrito Byway’
Updated: 06/16/2014 12:40 PM | Created: 06/16/2014 12:38 PM
By: Kristen Garcia, KOB.com
Monday, Gov. Susana Martinez unveiled the New Mexico True Breakfast Burrito Byway’s Top 50 burritos that earned a spot on the map.
“New Mexico’s delicious, unique, authentic cuisine is one of the many things that draw visitors to our state,” Martinez said. “The New Mexico True Breakfast Burrito Byway is a fun and exciting way to highlight our incredible cuisine, promote tourism and help bring even more dollars to New Mexico restaurants.”
For a restaurant’s breakfast burrito to qualify, burritos must have contained egg, tortilla, and authentic New Mexico chile. The restaurant also had to have a business license, as well as a brick-and-mortar location.
The competition began back in April, when 400 restaurants that were either nominated by customers or self-nominated vied for a spot on the list. The restaurants were then voted for by the public to narrow it down to the final 50.
“When you’re traveling in New Mexico, there’s no better wake-up call than one of our famous breakfast burritos, ” Tourism Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson said. “Our Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail is so popular that we decided to create the Breakfast Burrito Byway as a deliciously different way to showcase our chile and authentically New Mexican cuisine.”
Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill in Edgewood received the most votes for their breakfast burrito.
For a list of these locations and for further information about the New Mexico True Breakfast Burrito Byway, visit www.newmexico.org/burrito.
Katrinah’s on KRQE:
Burrito Byway winners announced
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico knows a thing or two about breakfast burritos, so much so, the state asked New Mexicans to weigh in on their favorite burrito joint. Monday, they announced the 50 founding members of the Breakfast Burrito Byway.
Out of nearly 5,000 restaurants in the state of New Mexico, 400 were nominated. Of those 400, only 50 made the Breakfast Burrito Byway.
Tens of thousands of votes were cast and, Monday, Governor Susanna Martinez unveiled those who made the cut and, the number one breakfast burrito in the state- Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill.
“It’s amazing,” says owner Kathy Schuit.
Schuit says support from Edgewood has been overwhelming.
“I don’t think we realized how much support we had in the community until this whole event started taking place and even really until the end of it because when it was done people would come up to us and say, ‘oh I hope you won because we voted for you every single day,’” explains Schuit.
So, who rounds out the top three? Coming in second is the Apple Tree Cafe in Corrales and in third place- Twisters.
Yet, representatives with the New Mexico Tourism Department say, it’s not just about choosing winners.
“It’s fun, it’s engaging but, at the end of the day it’s about economic development for the state,” says New Mexico Department of Tourism Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson.
It’s a way to reinforce pride in New Mexico and encourage travel. Whether you’re a fan of Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill or another stop on the Burrito Byway, like Tim’s Place, Blake’s, Twisters or Frontier.
“It surpassed all of our expectations and I think that speaks volumes to what it means to people here in New Mexico to be from New Mexico and to love our food, to love everything that makes New Mexico New Mexico,” Jacobson.
Underdog leads in NM’s best breakfast burrito challenge
EDGEWOOD, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexicans take their breakfast burritos very seriously.
The state-run contest for New Mexico’s favorite breakfast burrito is at the finish line and you will probably be surprised to learn who is in the lead.
Hundreds of popular restaurants are competing for bragging right, who has New Mexico’s best breakfast burrito?
Voting ends Sunday, but the results so far show it is not Blake’s.
It is not Golden Pride.
It is not Frontier.
It is actually a tiny restaurant in the small Town of Edgewood.
Next to Busy Bee Quilts and Dough Re Mi Bake Shop sits Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill.
“We are a little town in the state, but her burrito has that much impact,” said loyal customer Nikki Johnson.
It’s locals like Johnson who are helping put this hangout on the map, the Breakfast Burrito Byway, a route the State Tourism Department will encourage visitors to take to taste their way through New Mexico’s 50 best.
So, what’s the secret at Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill?
The chile, of course.
“I have sampled chile all over the state, and I really, I like our chile,” said owner Kathy Schuit.
It also helps that Schuit is telling everyone about it.
Customers are reminded about the contest with a whiteboard on the way in and cards on the way out and the small community has been responding in a big way.
This Edgewood eatery is leading with more than 10 percent of the votes.
“I just about fell off my chair,” Anne House said. “I was like, ‘Oh, there are more people than us that make sure we vote every day.’”
“Every morning before we go to work, on Facebook, send it out,” Johnson said. “Get the word out and then go to work.”
The owner at Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill has promised if it makes the top 50, customers will get half-price breakfast burritos for a week. If it makes the top spot, customers will get half-price breakfast burritos for a month.
Voting ends Sunday night at 11:45.
Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill has been Featured by:
East Mountain Living Magazine, Feature article- 2009
ABQ The Magazine, Feature article “My Favorite Recipe” – 2010
New Mexico Magazine, Feature article “Going Places” – 2010
Named to “Google Favorite Places” – 2011
TripAdvisor #1 Restaurant in Edgewood -2012
East Mountain Living Magazine, Feature article – 2013
Albuquerque Business First – 2014
New Mexico Magazine – 2014
The East Mountain Grill
Ain’t no mountain high enough
I have this tradition I engage in at the close of every semester (yes, I am still a lowly collegian) where I watch The Man from Snowy River in my underpants. It started out as a joke, but after months of midterms, finals, ass-kissing, no sleep and a jackpile of bad coffee, I came to realize that relaxation comes in many forms. And besides, who wouldn’t want to do an Ed Bundy on the couch and watch men doing man things. And mountains are just cool.
I put my ritual on hold this time in order to do some mountain trekking of my own, in real time. Now, for the record, I was a firm believer in the theory that the world is flat, and that it drops off sharply after Tramway, so my trip out to the vast netherlands of Edgewood to review the East Mountain Grill was truly a sublime effort, sans only a sherpa and a sleeping bag.
I and my mountain-climbing Honda spanned long distances, blew a good 10 bucks worth of gas and inched around rocky corridors, narrowly escaping danger at every turn (not really, unless you count being boxed in by semi-trucks from Wal-Mart). After what seemed like an endless journey, I discovered my destination nestled in a modest strip mall next to the John Brooks supermarket. I staggered from my car, dazed by the bright sunshine and the idea that I was finally, at great long last, going to get some decent trail grub.
The mountain-dwelling natives were friendly, and I was greeted by a tall glass of sweet tea to wash down the trail dust. There was only one thing I could do now—order a chicken fried steak to assert my womanliness. The salad ($.99 with an entrée) that came first was your typical fare, but the homemade green chile ranch got far less credit on the menu than it deserved. It was slightly thin in consistency–a sign of being house-prepared–tangy and warm with both red and green chile. I would have named it “East Mountain ranch dressing,” or some more exalted title, because it was durn good stuff.
Tossing back the greens first, I decided to explore my surroundings, as any mountain girl would naturally do. The restaurant is spacious and utilizes a business-savvy approach to spatial allocation: the three-tiered dining room. In the back there is a dining room for large groups, nice and quiet and slightly partitioned from the others; in the middle, there is a family friendly room with plenty of space in between tables; and, in the front, a diner-style area with booths and an island to showcase their full Starbucks espresso setup. They’ve also got ice cream, shakes and sundaes to pull in the singles, daters and hanger-outers.
My tummy was a-rumblin’ by the time I sat back down, and my supper was timely. The chicken-fried dinner ($8.50, your choice of chicken or steak) was an ode to mountain appetites everywhere, because the portions of hot, mashed red potatoes, plump sweet corn, hand-battered beef steak and thick milk gravy was practically hanging off the plate. The true test of a good chicken-fried anything is cutting into it: The meat was juicy and gave way to my hunting (table) knife.
Much like the man from Snowy River, I gazed with longing and some regret at the horses (entrées) that got away. Owners Mark and Carol Lowry (true mountain people in the own right) own and operate the place with a small staff, and Mark—I’ll call him “Mountain Mark,” as befits his status—chooses the menu items himself. With such table-heavy delights as nachos New Mexico ($4.50, or add $1 for chicken or beef), made with natural-cut potato chips, and the grill platter ($7.99, $8.99 or $9.99) with your choice of hand-cut sirloin, chicken breast or hamburger steak and two sides, there’s no shame in bustin’ your best Wranglers. The house special is the East Mountain thunder burger ($6.99) which is a hamburger infused with green chile and cheese, battered, deep-fried and served on a sourdough bun with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion.
“I know this guy who orders it with cheese and bacon,” said Mountain Mark, with the smile of a man who knows what trailblazers really want.
The East Mountain Grill also offers a hearty breakfast menu including the staff fave “Cowboy” breakfast burrito smothered in sausage gravy and cheese, a Sunday brunch from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., daily and “early bird” specials, and a hefty menu for the little ’uns.
As with any trail stop, I eventually had to say goodbye and ride off into the sunset. This leads me to my only gripe with the place, which is: Too many trips out there and my saddle-bumming ass is going to end up at LoanMax to pay for gas. But on the drive home, I found an added bonus. The scenery is really breathtaking, and the view made me remember why it’s a good thing to blaze outta town every once and again. Unfortunately, my day of being a mountain girl was over way too soon, but I can still look forward to my afternoon at the cabin, underpants and all, watching a Snowy River boy grow a beard, round up some horses and get the girl. Fat and content, I’ll live to ride another day.
The Alibi Recommends:
IBC cream soda/vanilla ice cream float
Homemade soup du jour
The East Mountain thunder burger (arteries, schmarteries)
Fudgy wudgy cake