“How far is it to Belen?” Kate asked. But before I answer with “about 40 miles I would guess,” she continued: “Harla May’s Fat Boy Grill sounds like our kind of place.”
Reading from Gil Garduno’s blog [Gil’s Thrilling (and Filling) Blog], we learned that Harla May’s had originally been the Oñate Theater, built in 1932, and converted to a restaurant by Anthony Baca in 2004.
“What a find—an old theater and a funky restaurant filled with movie memorabilia and a Bob’s Big Boy statue looking down on diners from the upper level seating level,” I exclaimed (yes, really) as I continued reading. “Any guy who makes up a name (Harla May) for his restaurant is a guy I would like to meet.”
So with little delay, we were off to Belen, and about 30 minutes later and 35 miles south of Albuquerque, we found ourselves parked a block from the Oñate Theater. On our walk to the former theater, we came across several signs like this one is a store window. We guessed that the Belen High School Eagles’ football team was involved in the state playoffs, but the logo looked identical to the Philadelphia Eagles'. We wondered about copyright infringement . . ., but Harla May called to us.
We could already taste Harla May’s signature burger—the Fat Boy Burger: a pound of beef topped with chile, Smokehouse bacon, cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, and onion rings. Would the burger reality match my mental picture of the Fat Boy? Or would one of the other 13 burgers be more intriguing? Or what about the one-pound country fried steak? And what about Noah’s Apple Dumpling or Ann’s Snicker Doodle for dessert? Oh, Anticipation.
As we took a closer look, something seemed amiss.
At the door, was the answer. In my reading, the hours of Harla May’s had been a source of a few chuckles: “10:57 am to 9:57 pm.” This was one of the off-beat features of this eatery that attracted me. However . . ., it seems that when preparing for the trip my focus on the hours led me to overlook one crucial feature—the fact that the hours were for Thursday through Saturday.
Today was Tuesday.
So, it was with a sense of embarrassment mixed with frustration that we bid a sad farewell to Harla May’s, Belen, and our visions of the Fat Boy and headed for lunch . . ., but where?
We headed north to Los Lunas, the nearest town north of Belen. Driving into town, we stopped to ask for a recommendation on local diners, drive-ins, or dives. And where to stop for suggestions? Why the local Ford dealership, of course.
The results of the recommendation we received at Brad Francis Ford tomorrow.