Golf in New Mexico has a few handicaps. Clearly, living through a drought can make things like growing grass a challenge, and raging wildfires can cancel your tee time, but our ferocious winds can also wreak havoc on your game.
However, we do have one thing that sets our state apart from pretty much all the others: sunny days without rain delays aside, it’s a good bet you can find a burrito on any golf course in the state. While the private courses are fine for burritos and otherwise, we are lucky enough to have public courses with plenty of burrito options for those not in the club. It is here we discover some prime examples as we tour a few from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.
First stop, Los Altos Grill at Albuquerque’s Los Altos Golf Course. The parking lot at 9717 Copper Avenue NE was full at 11 am on the Wednesday I wheeled into the city-owned course. Frill-free, the Los Altos Grill is a clean, efficient sort of stopover, rather than a loungey nineteenth hole. The outdoor seating may possibly double as the smoke-break area for the kitchen crew, but if you are just there to grab a quick bite and hit the links, it won’t matter in the least.
Los Altos offers two options: A handheld breakfast type (cutely dubbed the Walking Burrito) for seven dollars and a smothered burrito plate for eight. Opting for smothered with red chile, I encountered a burrito maxed out with ground beef and little else. The Mexican rice and pinto bean side was a nice touch, making the plate a hearty meal. Sadly, the red chile had that straight-out-of-the-plastic-container taste.
Not far from Los Altos is the Lobo Grill at the University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course, located at 3601 University Boulevard SE. The Lobo Grill has a lot going for it. A wide, covered patio with a view of the course, the volcanos, and a vignette of downtown Albuquerque. I asked the cook if it was normally crowded on a weekday morning and was told that it was. “Maybe the smoke,” she explained.
A Lobo myself, I find the breakfast burrito to be a comforting reminiscence from an indefinable point in my college career. I know I’ve had this one before, perhaps because of some burrito-making tradition passed down through UNM culinary training. A classic breakfast burrito served in a foil wrapper and filled with eggs, sausage, and red chile for less than five dollars really is a bargain you can’t go wrong with. The Lobo Grill even has bendy straws. It’s details like this that give the place an edge in the world of golf course restaurants.
The Stone Kiva Bar and Grill at Cochiti Golf Club (5200 Cochiti Highway, Cochiti Lake) is a bit of a drive west off I-25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. It is a stunning, quiet spot that offers spartan indoor and outdoor seating, but all points come with great views. It is also worth noting that here, like all other golf courses I visited, you will find the elusive “mini.” These airline-sized liquor bottles were banned from New Mexico’s retail shelves last year and can now only be found on airplanes, in hotel minibars, and on golf courses. That said, crafting a cocktail using minis to pair with your breakfast burrito is a low form of alchemy best not attempted.
The breakfast burritos at Stone Kiva are available with standard options of bacon or sausage and with red or green chile. While a little light on the meat, it was clear that the potatoes were actual potatoes that someone had shredded earlier in the day rather than some inferior type of processed substitute. The red chile was above average as well. At $4.70 a piece, it was worth the drive.
Farther on to Santa Fe you will find The Links Bar & Grill at the Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe (205 Caja del Rio Road), the city’s municipal course. The Links has a bit of a clubby look, with wooden tables and a full bar. Cigars are for sale there as well, though, with current fire conditions, I’m not exactly sure where one would smoke them. From your table you can see a bit of the course and a large patio with a small stage at one end. While enjoying my burrito, I imagined people trying on different sport coats and receiving trophies on stage at the end of a grueling day of competitive golf.
Of particular interest was a handwritten sign by the register advertising spiked cherries available for the low price of two for a dollar. The sign immediately filled me with inescapable regret. In the end, I chose to regret not trying them at all rather than regret eating alcohol-soaked cherries on a Santa Fe golf course in the morning.
Two types of burritos are available at The Links. The first is a well-assembled breakfast burrito, a credit to the form. It contained the right proportions of sausage, egg, and sufficiently spicy red chile. The other, a carne asada burrito with avocado, jalapeños, and a side of salsa, takes the top spot of all the burritos I have sampled on New Mexico’s golf courses.
What has become clear to me is that a proper burrito is just as at home on a golf course as an Arnold Palmer is. Available statewide and with just enough variation to keep it interesting, feel free to play it where it lies, wherever the game takes you throughout Burritoville. All that remains is to ask your caddy, Red or green?
Clarke Condé is a veteran food photographer and writer based in Roswell with a strong preference for red chile, keto-friendly beverages, and natural lighting. Find him on Instagram @clarkehere.