The Pantry Restaurant is a lot like my writing: it may not be art, but it’s quite good and more than gets the job done. Since 1948, the Pantry has served up its take on New Mexican staples such as tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. What sets it apart from other New Mexican joints is that it also offers chicken fried steak and what I consider to be among the best burgers in town. Toss in its breakfast menu that includes a Durango omelette, and diners at the Pantry can find something tasty and filling, even if they have a low chile tolerance.
On a recent lunch visit, I opted for the Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich, which contained a grilled chicken breast, chopped green chile, swiss cheese, avocado, and chipotle mayo. My dad, who is about the pickiest person I know who isn’t in kindergarten, created his own custom meal of 3 eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, and beans. We each asked for a raw jalapeno; our waiter wrote down our request as though it happened all the time (many places don’t have raw jalapenos, so it’s worth noting, as I find jalapenos as necessary for a meal as a spoon). Our food appeared promptly and fresh, without having spent much time under the warming lamp.
My sandwich was tasty, with the green chiles adding sweetness and the roasty flavor prized in New Mexico. The chicken wasn’t dry and was seasoned well; there was a bit of cumin, salt, and pepper, but not enough of any spice to overpower the chicken. There were some nice char marks, which added a outdoor barbecue feel to our lunch. The homemade potato chips that accompanied the sandwich were crispy, salty, and without a hint of being greasy. It was a tasty and filling lunch that was well worth its price. My dad’s eggs were cooked exactly as he ordered them, and the bacon was crispy, just the way he wanted it. He had no complaints, which is a lot like saying that Gordon Ramsey didn’t raise his voice during an entire episode. Our lunch, including tax and tip, rang in at 25 bucks. It was worth every penny.
I’ve eaten at the Pantry many, many times and I have no doubt it’ll continue to a “go-to” place for me and my family and many others who find comfort knowing that the joint will be provide a satisfying meal at a reasonable price. It may not be the most imaginative or trend-setting place in town, but if you want good food and service for an affordable price, then give Pantry your time. You’ll be glad you did.