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Happy meal

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Review: DeColores offers good food and a pleasant dining experience

By Jennifer Garcia

Finding a decent Northern New Mexican meal on the Hill is not an easy task. In fact, it’s nearly impossible.
Yes, there are restaurants that churn out Northern New Mexican food, but there’s always something missing.
Sometimes the dishes lack flavor and sometimes the chile is no more than bland chile water. There’s no heat and there’s no flavor. Until now.
DeColores Restaurant has been at the same location for years. It’s on the edge of town, so it’s sometimes forgotten. But it’s well worth your while to have a meal or two there.
On a recent Thursday evening, the restaurant was practically empty.
A singer/guitarist entertained the handful of patrons scattered about the dining area.
One look at the menu and it was evident that things had changed.
The prices had gone up slightly, but there was also a lot more to choose from.
In addition to the traditional Northern New Mexican fare, the restaurant also offers a variety of hamburgers, salads and other items.
It was hard to make a decision about what to order, but the waitress was patient, coming back a couple of times before a decision was made.
In the meantime, free chips and salsa were offered to munch away on as the menu was browsed. The chips were good.
They were not at all greasy (which is almost always a problem at restaurants that offer the appetizer) but rather, they were crisp and had just the right amount of salt on them.
The salsa was also good. It was not too thick and not too soupy. The consistency was good, the tomato flavor was evident and it was seasoned just right.
Although, this was some spicy salsa. One bite would set the mouth aflame for a few minutes. The heat wasn’t overbearing, however, but just enough to let you know that you were in fact eating salsa and not tomato sauce.
After a few minutes, it was decided that the steak enchiladas with guacamole and red chile ($12.45) would be ordered, along with three sodas ($2.50 each), large beef nachos ($9.45) and the hickory burger with French fries ($8.95).
The wait time for the food was not at all long. Just as the salsa and chips were finished, the food arrived.
The enchilada was packed with steak bits and onions, then smothered with cheese and topped with guacamole.
It looked gooey and wonderful — and tasted as good as it looked. The chile was not too watery and not too thick and had a good flavor.
The steak bits were also packed with flavor and combined with the onions, chile, guacamole and cheese, packed a punch with every bite.
The beef nachos come in two sizes: small and large. Be warned that the large is enormous. In fact, not even a hungry teenage boy could finish the plate.
Beef, sour cream, beans and guacamole are piled high on a bed of nachos, daring the person that orders it to finish the meal.
For an individual, that’s practically impossible, but perhaps two people could accomplish the task.
If not, there’s always a smaller portion available. The meat had a good flavor, as did the guacamole. The nacho chips seemed to be the same type that are offered with the chips and salsa, so being greasy was not an issue.
The hickory burger was another winner. Though the patty appeared to be frozen, it was seasoned and cooked just right, despite the fact that the waitress did not ask how the burger should be cooked.
The patty was served on a roll rather than a traditional hamburger bun, but that was OK.
The roll was not hard or chewy. Instead, it was just the right flaky consistency and complemented the burger well.
The barbecue sauce was served on the side rather than slathered on the hamburger patty, which is fine, as it allows the diner to control the amount of sauce on the burger.
Topped with a slice of cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles, the hickory burger was a good choice. Although, the pickles had not been properly drained of their juice, so when the burger was picked up, it was a little drippy.
But the flavor was good, so that made it tolerable.
The French fries were nothing to write home about.
They were thin, fast food-type fries. A while back, DeColores used to serve steak fries with their burgers. They should do that again.
Service that evening was quick. The waitress was friendly, neat in appearance and knowledgeable about the specials.
Drink refills were brought quickly and she checked in a couple of times to make sure everything was OK.
She asked if dessert would be ordered before the check was brought to the table, then said that the ticket should be paid at the front counter.
That’s not something all waiters and waitresses do, but it’s a nice gesture, especially if one is new to a restaurant and isn’t sure whether to pay at the register or to pay the server.
Toward the end of the meal, more patrons started to filter into the restaurant.
The entertainment played throughout the meal and helped provide a nice dining experience. Aside from the food at DeColores, one of the best things about the restaurant is the view  — especially in the evening. As patrons sit there enjoying their meals, the sun begins to set, painting the mountains a beautiful shade of pink.
The prices are a bit high. In fact, they are comparable to Santa Fe restaurant prices. But the ambiance and views from the restaurant are hard to match and that alone, almost makes it worth a visit.
Plus, if you don’t want to drive off the Hill, it’s convenient.
The restaurant also has a bar, so one can enjoy a margarita, beer or glass of wine with their meal.
Total for three with tax, before tip, came to $41.15.