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January 2024 - The Cut: La Cocina Hot Stuff

By Amanda Flory

The sign for La Cocina Hot Stuff
La Cocina Hot Stuff

Here's the thing - you can drive anywhere and back in New Mexico in one day. So, why don't we? That was the question I asked myself before heading to Silver City on a solo adventure. We all know that road food can be dicey, saturated by fryer grease and copious amounts of sugar. This time was going to be different. This time, I was going to go to a sit-down restaurant. I stretched my "foodie" legs to see what our state offers.

I left Albuquerque late, so lunchtime rolled around just as I reached Truth or Consequences. T or C, as we affectionately call it, is the city that accepted the challenge and voted to ditch the name "Hot Springs" for the popular 50s radio game show name.

This tiny metropolis of around 6,000 people is the gateway to Elephant Butte Lake. Not only does it have a trippy name, it also has seagulls. Yes, my friends. Seagulls decided to set up at the lake. What a treat to be greeted by these water-loving birds, squawking out sounds synonymous with vast beaches and ocean waves.

As I began to get peckish, I saw a large archway sign rising over a steep driveway. La Cocina Restaurant sits perched over the town with a gorgeous view of T or C. I turned in and rolled up to see a flock of sea-faring birds warming themselves in the parking lot.

Front view shot of La Cocina Hot Stuff
Front view shot of La Cocina Hot Stuff

It's a modest restaurant, quite cozy - from the stuccoed archway exterior to the kitschy interior that will remind you of childhood memories in New Mexico, regardless of age.

My server was a cheerful, energetic, and knowledgeable woman who informed me that she was a transplant from the Midwest. Her name is Sondra, and like myself, she is also a cheerleader for our great state. She didn't even seem to mind my incessant questioning over the source of their ingredients and who the chef was.

The chef is a woman named Mandy Brown. She happens to be the owner of this establishment on the hill. It was originally opened in 1965 by her husband, Monty Brown, and has been delighting the palates of Hot Spingers and travelers alike ever since.

I ordered the Bean Tostada Compuesta, French fries, and a side of guacamole to accompany the salsa that comes with each meal.

The french fries were crispy, not too greasy, and had the perfect amount of salt and pepper. The portion was enormous and consistent. The dish was surprising atop a sopapilla instead of its typical crispy tortilla. It wasn't what I expected, but it lent a fabulous flavor to the beans, cheese, and "Christmas" chile.  It was comfort food to the nth degree. Though I still prefer the classic, this was a nice deviation and an appreciated twist on a New Mexican favorite.    It, too, was a hefty portion that accompanied my leftover fries in my to-go box. The chiles come from Hatch and are all made in-house. They have a great kick without losing any of the flavor. The red chile was earthy with a balance of spices.  The green was sharp and warm and accentuated the other flavors - perfectly. The guacamole was fresh with a citrus essence. It tasted like it was mashed, tableside.

The whole meal was very reasonable, under $20.00. I easily made two meals out of the heaping portions of quality food.

La Cocina Hot Stuff is a must if you’re traveling I-25 in either direction.

Amanda Flory is a 4 generation native New Mexican, who moved from northern NM to ABQ 25 years ago. Foodie, artist, bohemian, auntie.


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