owl bar & cafe

Pictured: Frances Anaya, Maryann Romero, Leslie Ramzel, Jesus Leyva, Norberto Leyva; front: Leo Murphy and Janice Argabright holding the plaque.
Gwen Roath \ El Defensor Chieftain

The Owl Bar & Café has done it again. The cornerstone restaurant has been garnering the attention of hungry patrons and food critics alike for its 75 years in operation.

Just recently, they received a plaque honoring them as Best Small Town Restaurant in New Mexico by Reader’s Digest. According to Nancy Mock in an Aug. 27 article at the online site rd.com, “Taste of Home’s volunteer Field Editors helped find the country’s best small-town restaurants. Each spot cooks up hearty and delicious food that’s beloved by locals and any folks passing through!”

The alphabetical listing notes that “The claim to fame at the Owl Bar & Cafe is their Owl Burger, with beef ground to order and their secret recipe green chile sauce that’s cooked up fresh every day. The Owl Bar has been an institution in San Antonio since 1945.”

While much has been written about the Owl Bar over the years, perhaps the Food Network’s succinct paragraph sums it well:

“If New Mexico could have one state food, it would be the green chile cheeseburger. It all started in the 1940s at The Owl Bar, an hour south of Albuquerque in San Antonio. Hungry working scientists requested more than just bar snacks for their evenings off, and with one grill and some local produce, the green chile cheeseburger was born.”

“It was a total surprise,” said Janice Argabright, third-generation Owl entrepreneur. “We didn’t know anything about it.”