Del's Restaurant ~ Tucumcari, New Mexico
Food: Del's menu is a mix of roadside Americana (chicken, fish, steak) and New Mexican specialties. Given that the primary purpose for us being in New Mexico in the first place is to eat the local cuisine, we haven't ventured beyond the native offerings. It would be tempting to declare there's no way a place such as Del's can compete with Santa Fe's finest (which we will cover shortly on the RJG), but that's not really the case at all. When talking New Mexican food, chile is going to be an early topic of discussion, and I can honestly say I really enjoy both their red and green. As always while in New Mexico, we order our dishes "Christmas" (which is an official state designation for serving chile BTW), and this way we can try them both. If looking for recommendations, I've really taken to their Chicken Crispitos, which are in effect, flautas on steroids. And the chicken is charbroiled and very flavorful on their own. Mrs. RJG stays traditional with rolled enchiladas. The Spanish rice is superb, and the whole beans are truly sublime. The dishes arrive flaming hot, so each bite accentuates the spice already in your mouth from the... wonderful chips and salsa. Actually the salsa isn't so much spicy as it is flavorful. It's very tomato-y, with lots of garlic and cut up green chiles. While we haven't tried their American offerings, it appears folks rave about their burgers and steaks. And they even have a salad bar, another relic from the past.
Drinks: Beer and wine only. Their house wine is an excellent buy. A $6 globe like glass filled close to the top, that is far more than the usual chintzy glass you get elsewhere. It may not be the finest wine in the land, but after a long day of driving, a cold Chardonnay hits the spot quite nicely. And no need to order more than one.
Location: Del's can be found along the old US 66 strip that rides along Tucumcari, a town that time has forgot (and subsequently has seen a major drop in population since 1950). These roads are always interesting as some of the old motels still thrive while others have gone to seed. The towns exploits the "Mother Road" as much as possible, and who can blame them? The restaurant itself seems a hodgepodge of various construction eras, but is quite nice overall. And, of course, it has a gift shop. I mean where else can you buy Route 66 gear? :-P
Notes: Del's first opened in 1956, and has been more or less in the hands of two families ever since.
Rating: 4.0 (Won't appear in the Labels section since its outside of DFW)
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00a - 9:00p; Closed Sunday