The hint of sweetness in Murphy's red chile contrasted nicely with savory, cheesy eggs and tender pinto beans.
BY ARIANE JAROCKI
On my first visit to a restaurant, I usually hang back a moment to observe what other patrons are devouring. Crossing the threshold at Murphy’s Mule Barn, (tunnel) vision of huevos rancheros danced in my head. Thing, Murphy’s is renowned for their chicken-fried steak.
Murphy’s has bucolic décor down pat, and the vibe here is refreshingly casual. Defying Southern-fried tradition, I ordered huevos before sipping strong coffee and taking everything in. That’s when I realized my mistake. A freshly delivered chicken-fried steak mocked me from an adjacent table. The titanic entrée was smothered in white pepper gravy, but it wasn’t hard to imagine the down-home staple covered in melted cheese and green chile. Suffice to say, I know what I’m ordering the next time I visit this hodgepodge of a North Valley hot spot.
That said, my huevos craving was sated and then some. The hint of sweetness in Murphy’s red chile contrasted nicely with savory, cheesy eggs and tender pinto beans. Their green chile is served piping hot and boasts chunks of salty pork. My typical huevos consumption method begins with the eggs; the resulting yolk-chile mixture infuses the beans with extra flavor. At Murphy’s, I broke the yolks and folded together a brilliant mess of chile, eggs, beans and crispy hash browns. The accompanying flour tortilla sops up the remains of the plate.
For the price, the portions here were rather generous. Our server mentioned that the kitchen bakes Murphy’s biscuits fresh every morning. Yet my dining companion admitted defeat before even tasting his side of homemade biscuits and gravy. Naturally, I stepped in to investigate. The homestyle gravy has a pleasantly thick mouth feel, and a smattering of sausage crumbles adds another dimension of texture and taste. Making gravy this complex – a mélange of cracked black pepper, savory sausage and creamy, even buttery flavor – takes a lot of practice, and Murphy’s has it down. Along with a strong, consistent menu, the relaxed, unpretentious vibe of this North Valley standout is conducive to warm, fuzzy feelings.
Resident foodie Ariane Jarocki fearlessly explores and reports on Albuquerque’s restaurant, food truck and bakery scenes for ABQ Free Press.
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