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Del's Restaurant

1202 E. Tucumcari Blvd.
Tucumcari, NM
(575) 461-1740

The City of Tucumcari may face somewhat of an identity crisis. As the easternmost major town in the Land of Enchantment along Interstate 40, it has strong ties to the history, culture, and life in the State of New Mexico. The economic activity, landscape, and cuisine, however, may be closer to that of Texas, with Amarillo being the closest major city.

Although several restaurants in town attempt to serve New Mexican style food, with spicy red and green chile, Del's seems to have given in to the notion that the food must resemble Tex-Mex cuisine that is popular in the neighboring state. While it offers both red and green chile, they seem to be adulterated by the spices and "fillers" commonly included in Tex-Mex enchiladas that make them very tame on the "heat scale."

I ordered Stuffed Sopaipillas, a popular dish in New Mexico but seldom served outside the state. This dish contained two small sopaipillas rather than a large one that is normally called a sopaipilla compuesta. After being informed that the restaurant was not using green chiles from the fresh fall harvest, I ordered it with red chile. The sopaipillas normally come with ground beef, but chicken can be substituted of which I availed myself. When the dish was already prepared, though, a couple of the employees advised that the green chile was a better choice, even though it was not fresh from the harvest. I was able to get a small container of the green chile to try on the sopaipillas, but unfortunately they had already been covered with the red chile. I say "unfortunately" because this chile was so adulterated by other ingredients to make it mild, the red chile flavor was not even apparent. It seemed that anyone coming into New Mexico on I-40 and having stuffed sopaipillas for the first time would not have a good impression of this treat, and would probably wonder who ever thought it would be a good idea to mix these ingredients together.

Some of the corners of the sopaipillas were clear, however, and the portions on which I was able to pour the green chile were pretty good. The green chile looked just as adulterated and non-authentic as the red, but the flavor was much more robust and closer to the "real deal." It was spicier than the red chile, but I thought the heat was about medium.

The chicken also seemed to be not quite right-- not spoiled, but just off from the flavor it should have. Since the sopaipillas normally come with ground beef, though, it is probably not fair to make a judgment of the dish based on the chicken.

By far the best feature of the meal was the Sopaipillas with Honey served for dessert. They seemed to have a better flavor than the ones used in the stuffed sopaipillas, although they were probably exactly the same. Even though they were served at room temperature, they were light and non-greasy and were some of the best I have eaten in New Mexico. The honey was served from a squeeze bottle rather than the individual packages used in many restaurants that turn out to be hard to open and create a mess.

Del's also has a salad bar and serves American food. Whatever is ordered, I would advise getting sopaipillas and honey with it.

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RESTAURANT DETAILS

RATING: 15

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
Aug. 14, 2006

Number of Visits: 1

Best Item
Sopaipilla

Special Ratings
Stuffed Sopaipilla: green chile
Sopaipilla:
Chips:
Salsa:



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