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.
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