Not long after opening her namesake café in 1999, Cecilia Baca one morning discovered a small retablo placed just outside her door. This devotional painting on wood is of San Pascual, the patron saint of Mexican and New Mexican kitchens. The retablo now holds a place of honor in the cafe’s dining room. The gift was given anonymously and now, over 20 years later, the benefactor is still unknown. Cecilia’s Café is the type of place that will have you believing miracles are possible.
There have been visits when we walked in just as the restaurant opened and we were told that it will be a few minutes before the red chile is ready. Cecilia’s prides itself on making everything from scratch each morning. This is red chile worth waiting for. Our favorite way to enjoy it is the carne adovada and eggs breakfast: falling-apart, succulent chunks of pork, topped with a homemade flour tortilla, cheese, and finally doused with smoky, flavorful red chile. The heat level of the red varies day to day, from a mild slow burn to downright incendiary.
We love restaurants where everything on the menu is available at any time. Want a green chile cheeseburger at 7:00am? Cecilia’s will be happy to make it for you. It is a wide, juicy patty in a soft, toasted bun, with the green chiles held in place by a layer of thick melted cheese. It’s the green chiles that make it sing. Unlike the red, we have found the green consistently ferocious, all the while still providing brilliant sunny flavor.
Other menu highlights: chicken fried steak smothered in creamy green chile gravy; long enchiladas encasing moist shredded chicken and covered Christmas-style (with both red and green chile); and a massive breakfast burrito stuffed with scrambled egg, potato, and onion. Those with an especially robust appetite might consider the ten pound Fireman’s Burrito challenge.