- Griffin Swartzell
- Doug's does right by its ingredients, serving up solid and spicy diner fare.
Mira, look, you can eat Pueblo green chiles or you can eat Hatch green chiles — both are damn good — but when the governors of Colorado and New Mexico are doing the legislative equivalent of talking trash about whose chile is better, something’s gone wrong. The question isn’t about which peppers are better, it’s about which state cooks ‘em better. And while some Coloradoans still think it’s acceptable to put tomatoes in green chile stew, well, there’s a conversation that needs having.
Consider Doug’s a local example of how to do green chiles justice. Named for founder Doug Weckerly, this diner opened in early 2015, but he sold it to Vicki and Rob Fraley in August of that same year. He’s since opened Duke City Kitchen in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he founded the Weck’s Restaurant brand in 1991. While the Fraleys have kept the clean, bright space and much of the New Mexico-true menu the same — including exclusively using Hatch chiles — they’ve made a few changes. They’ve dropped Barista Espresso beans in favor of Oregon-roasted Ridgeline Coffee Roasters beans, brewed and served strong, full-bodied and nutty-tasting, which makes for a damn fine cup of coffee.
Doug’s serves breakfast and lunch all day. On first visit, we stick to breakfast. We pick huevos rancheros, and we add carne adovada and top it with Christmas chile — red on one side, green on the other. The red’s earthy with a mellow spiciness and deep, savory flavor, while the green bites with heat, bearing fruitiness and true chile pepper notes (and, of course, no tomato). Rich beans and hash browns appropriately named “butter browns” pair beautifully. Then we get to the adovada, tender and bursting with red chile and pork flavor.
Another excellent breakfast item, the Taos papas bowl, is a pile of pappardelle-wide potato shreds under chorizo, green chile turkey sausage and just-barely-cooked red onion, which mostly adds pungency to the spicy, aromatic bowl. We skip chiles atop for sausage gravy, and when my dining companion says “It might be heresy,” our server provides an appropriate amount of sass. After all, what is a diner meal without a side of snark? Anyway, the gravy’s good, contributing black pepper and fennel.
For lunch, we revisit the Black Betty burger, a Weckerly specialty that layers creamy peanut butter under a burger patty with sharp cheddar, diced green chiles and blackberry jam. It’s something of an impressive balancing act, if unwieldy on an oblong bun. Sweet jam and fatty peanut butter blunt the chiles’ burn, but the green chile and beef lead the way. And since we seem unable to eat a meal without green chiles, we dig the spicy Reuben, which sees the thickest-cut corned beef I’ve ever had on a sandwich paired with green chile, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. The kraut disappears, but the green chiles pair surprisingly well with the rye bread.
Diners don’t have to order green chiles on or in everything here. The basic cooking — the huevos, the papas, the burger and the Reuben — all works as respectable diner food too. Were that not so, the rest would be bunk. But damn, does this place do right by its peppers.