Feb 6, 2010 | Santa Fe, NM
Feb 6, 2010

With 75 New Mexico locations and every burger cooked to order, there's a lot to love about Blake's Lotta Burger. Before stuffing it into your mouth, if you pause to look sideways at one of their giant burger patties, the sprawling expanse of flattened meat might bring to mind the great grasslands of the American West, where the cow whose haunches you're about to consume almost certainly never roamed.

The night is pretty dark in New Mexico, and after wandering along the highway for a while, dodging cars and looking for somewhere to eat, you finally come across Blake's. The fast food temple is lit with such bright white fluorescence that when you step inside, you have to put your elbow up over your eyes to guard against blindness, and then it's up to your other senses. Your feet can feel the slippery floor, your nose can smell chilis and grease, and your ears can hear someone say, "Welcome to Lotta Burger," and then go back to speaking Spanish.

It is the kind of place that is so bright it starts to light up all the dark places. The walls are all windows and at night they're like mirrors, and as you sit at the counter and look out the glass, you have to see yourself. You see the goofy splurge of ketchup on your chin, the limp lettuce next to your Pepsi arm, the French Fry festival rollicking on your napkin, your crinkled receipt like evidence, and as you go through your burger, you start to see darker things, usually hidden, that find it hard to hide in that kind of light.