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On the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail in New Mexico
By Tom Adkinson
Published November 28, 2019

ALAMOGORDO, New Mexico – There’s a spot on the miles-long commercial strip through this desert city where four burger joints are practically within rock-throwing distance of each other. Within sight of each other are a Wendy’s, a Burger King, a McDonald’s and the Hi-D-Ho Drive-In. You’re a fool if you choose anything other than the Hi-D-Ho.

green chile cheeseburger
A green chile cheeseburger is a handful at the Hi-D-Ho Drive-In in Alamagordo, New Mexico; image by Tom Adkinson.

After all, the Hi-D-Ho carryout menu proudly proclaims its top selling item has been voted “#1 Cheeseburger in Otero County.” It also serves fresh-squeezed limeade and keeps a bucket of limes on the front counter within easy reach of the drink makers. The diner must go through a lot of limes every day, because a “super giant” limeade costs a whopping $2.49.

Another green item – New Mexico green chiles – actually is more important than limes. That’s because New Mexicans are crazy about green chile cheeseburgers. There’s even a state-inspired New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail.

hi d ho drive in
Nobody comes to the Hi-D-Ho Drive-In to admire its architecture; image by Tom Adkinson.

The Hi-D-Ho is famous for its “Tiger Burger,” a two-patty double handful, but the regular-sized burger is plenty big if you haven’t planned an afternoon of horseback riding across the open range to consume some of the calories. Augment the hefty burger patty with American cheese and green chiles, and chow down.

The chiles on a New Mexico green chile cheeseburger aren’t any old chiles, and they certainly aren’t jalapenos. They are Hatch green chiles from the town of Hatch, just north of Las Cruces and west of Alamogordo.

As a writer in The Los Angeles Times noted, “These magical green Hatch chiles offer just enough sizzle to pique the palate but not enough to beat it into numbness. It’s baptism by a deliciously tempered fire.

hi d ho drive in limes
The Hi-D-Ho keeps a big supply of limes on hand to make fresh limeade for very low prices; image by Tom Adkinson.

Consider using the Hi-D-Ho’s version as a benchmark if you sample green chile cheeseburgers elsewhere, and remember that simplicity is key. These are basic creations: Meat, bun, American cheese and chiles. Any establishment that gets fancy is messing with tradition.

The Hi-D-Ho delivers on multiple levels and doesn’t depend only on green chile cheeseburgers. It’s been around since 1952 and is living proof that classy ambience isn’t required for a memorable dining experience.

The Hi-D-Ho’s architecture could be described as mid-century non-descript. It’s a squat, concrete building with a large covered patio next to a busy four-lane federal highway. You can go inside to place your order, wait for a server to come to your car to take your order or plop yourself down at one of the approximately one dozen wrought iron tables on the patio.

#1 cheeseburger in otero county new mexico
Smiles and the "#1 Cheeseburger in Otero County” keep the Hi-D-Ho Drive-In hopping; image by Tom Adkinson.

The traffic noise becomes white noise as you dive into a burger, a burrito, a BLT or a taco salad. There’s even a shrimp basket on the menu, but you know you didn’t come to New Mexico for shrimp.

Service is reasonably paced, but don’t expect to rush in and rush out. The three so-called competitors are for that. As the Hi-D-Ho message goes, “We are not fast food. We cook everything to order. If you’re in a hurry, this may not be for you.”

Trip-planning resources:,,

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available at

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