New Mexican cuisine is something I enjoy greatly when done well, and my love of it was one of the factors that led to launching this web site. When I find a restaurant that serves as a truly good representative of New Mexico style Mexican food, it is a cause of great delight since there are too few such places, even in the Land of Enchantment.
Jerry’s Cafe in Gallup lies outside the belt around the Rio Grande where I normally find great New Mexican food, but in a lot of ways the food at Jerry’s is just as good. The red chile at Jerry’s is about as good as I have found anywhere, with a rich red taste and a spice level that I found a little on the hot side.
The restaurant’s specialty is the Stuffed Sopaipilla, a thick sopaipilla shell stuffed with guacamole, beans, and beef, and smothered with red or green chile and cheese. I like to include lettuce and tomato in the mix, and the salad included on the side seemed rather sparse for this purpose, but I am sure they would have given me more had I asked. I ordered the sopaipilla with beef thinking it would come in chunks, but it was ground beef (something I would not order again). However, this sopaipilla would have been just as good without any meat. The other ingredients gave it the flavor that I think makes the classic New Mexico style stuffed sopaipilla. The guacamole was a surprisingly effective flavor enhancer, and I think made this better than others I had tried.
The red chile, though, tasted like something I would expect to find in Santa Fe or Española. It was highly spicy to the point that the Sopaipilla served on the side with the meal (not for dessert, as they tend to do in southern NM) served with honey was highly effective in cutting the heat from the chile. This was truly how New Mexico chile was intended to be consumed.
If the red chile was this hot, I can only imagine what the green chile is like. I did not try it, however.
An order of Tamales also came with the red chile. I thought this was overkill, though, as a tamal should be enjoyed for its own flavor. One of the secrets of a good chile is to use it sparingly, and I thought it should not have been smothered over the tamales.
The owner and staff of Jerry’s are quite nice and accommodating. I am sure that if there is something about your food that is not right they will correct it. I found the stuffed sopaipilla, though, to be just about perfect.
A bonus is that they usually have vendors in front of the building selling Navajo jewelry. To me it is a testament to the jewelry that the vendors are able to stay there on a long term basis and it is a testament to Jerry’s that this is where they locate in order to find a steady stream of customers.
Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Smoking: No smoking
Special Features: Serves Breakfast
Most Recent Visit: Jun. 16, 2006
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: Stuffed Sopaipilla