This is for everyone who loves rock and roll. Yes, I know what you are thinking right now. “Rock and Roll in New Mexico? Are you joking? What about those pleasant country vibes? Where is the hand-crafted Spanish guitar? I demand some folk music,” you tell me adamantly. But in all seriousness, there is a truly lovely diner in Farmington that has a very Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks meets modern day feel. I would even go as far as saying it’s the city’s best kept secret (shhh, don’t tell anyone). So put on your best retro dress or suit, and I will see you for dinner at eight.
Are you ready yet? Come on, dinner’s on me today. As we walk inside, Blue Moon Diner, the first thing we notice is the soft rock finish. Neon lights stream across the north end of the wall, one red and the other blue, adding to the subtle American vibes that converge together to create the full 50’s feel. Posters, sheets of Elvis and other iconic pop culture figures of the Diner age, are scattered across the rest of the walls. We are led amongst a maze of steely tables and chairs to a booth, coloured a glossy red. While the ambience of Blue Moon isn’t shy of brightly coloured, it isn’t kitschy either. All the decor just adds to the fun, family-friendly environment.
A perky, young waitress hands us a menu that we sneak a glance through. The diner offers everything from custom All American burgers to a bit of internationally-inspired flair. But we’re starting off our meal with two cups of Green Chile Chicken. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t prepared for the spice. I know, I know, the title said “Green Chile” specifically! How could I not think that it was going to be slightly spicy? Well, this dish certainly sends our senses reeling. The mixture of textures of the soft chunks of chicken, the crunch of the saltine cracker, and the brothy stew of the soup are a sheer delight. If you go for the bowl, you get a few pieces of bread on the side and the mix of the spice-heavy soup and the mellow bread is the ultimate pairing for this appetizer.
Now that the fireworks have simmered down some, let’s order a bit more. I’m going to go for a house-specialty – the gyro. Blue Moon Diner’s gyro is a gallimaufry of flavours. The slices of rich lamb are lightly spiced and wrapped in pita bread along with lettuce, tomato, and a smattering of onion. But the real standout is the home-made Tzatziki sauce. The sauce runs creamy rather than watery. The cucumber taste isn’t overpowering but provides the sublime, delicate balance needed with the lamb. The order came with a side of potato salad that fell a little flat at first. As a stand alone dish, perhaps, the salad would have been a welcome delight, but it paled in comparison to the gyro rather than complemented the flavours.
Ah, your pasta has finally arrived. I took the time to order some Acapulco pasta (try saying that three times fast and tell me how you do) for you. Now, the plating for this pasta is simply astounding. It’s served in a dish the size of a giraffe’s hoof (I’m not joking, the portion sizes here are huge). The pasta is pooled in the center and flourished with seasoned chicken breast and fresh tomato. The pasta has a cheese-heavy texture that blends with the tender chicken. But the highlight of this dish is the avocado. It’s a fresh twist on a classic recipe. The avocado brings in a new, creamy texture that renews the flavour of the chicken.
Well, I have a little room left to eat. Just a little. Do you? How about some dessert? Blue Moon Diner makes purely homemade ice cream. There are over thirty flavours, and we want to try them all. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time (or the wallet) to taste each. In compromise, we order a Banana Split with three classic flavours (strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla). The Blue Moon Diner sundae is an elixir of simplicity. It doesn’t suffer from the saccharine sweetness of regular varieties, but rather has a rich, dulcet flavour. The scoops, themselves, are bathed in rich chocolate fudge with an all too heavy dose of lightly whipped cream. To break the sweetness further, the ice cream is generously topped with a pineapple syrup and a handsome dose of nuts (see, it’s perfectly healthy).
Well, I’m sure you are completely full right now. Did you enjoy the meal? Let’s head out through the front. As we walk outside, we look in, one last time, through the wide-paneled glass windows and at the large sign. Blue Moon Diner is hidden amongst a strip of buildings. It’s a fair drive of thirty minutes from Shiprock, Farmington’s main attraction. But this family-owned and locally-run restaurant is truly the city’s best secret. It’s where the locals dine and for a good reason. If the 50s decor and the When Harry Met Sally fare failed to astound you, then there are still plenty more dishes offered that are sure to wow. And don’t worry, we’ll come back again sometime soon.
Did you enjoy dining with me? Have you ever been to an American diner? Tell me, what is the best kept secret in your hometown?
Disclaimer: The Passport to Eden team was given a food stipend to help defray the cost of market research for this post, but as always, all thoughts, opinions, and Elvis references are very much my own!