A full-service drug store in Albuquerque’s Old Town, Duran Central Pharmacy hosts a lunch counter where New Mexico’s signature dishes are at their best. There are tables, but I much prefer a seat at the counter, where the view is of a lady in the open kitchen wielding a wood dowel to roll out rounds of dough into broad flour tortillas that are beautiful tan circles. Cooked on the grill opposite the counter, each flatbread puffs up from the heat and blisters golden brown. Available plain or brushed with butter, tortillas come on the side of most lunches, including magnificent carne adovada.
Tortillas also are used to wrap hamburgers and as the base of quesadillas. We like them best as a dunk for Duran’s definitive red or green chile, available either plain (nothing but chilies and spice) or ballasted with ground beef, beans, potatoes or chicken. The green is hugely flavorful, hot and satisfying with an earthy character; the red tastes like desert air and sunshine turned to manna in a bowl.