I have been going to Ricky’s Restaurant since about 2002. It has seen at least three different locations in the time that I’ve preferred it: attached to what was the Ramada Inn, another little motel in Questa (a brief period where I only got to eat there once a week); I heard something about a spot in Pueblo, Colorado at some point, but he’s now just South of Smith’s, on 312 Paseo, and he has been for sometime. It’s around the corner from the laundry-mat if you’d like some really excellent chili and diner coffee while you stare out at the highway waiting for your clothes to dry.
Here’s something odd – I have been calling Ricky’s to place the same to go order for the past many years: bowl of green, light beans (they usually reiterate it as “easy beans”), the sopapilla that comes with it. Other than the newest of employees, they all know me well whenever I place that order on the phone. But every time, instead of just telling them who I am and that I want the “usual,” or the same, I go through the process of ordering, even when I recognize the voice. Rhetorically I ask, why do I have to go through that process?
When you get a call on your cell phone, and it’s a friend, do you say “Hello?” Does anyone say “Hello” anymore? I prefer the old fashioned rhythm, thrown off entirely by the efficient and casual answer of nothing more than the caller’s name. So composed and casual it is, as if out of my last five calls to your cell phone, three of them weren’t deliberately averted as a result of the same caller ID feature you’re using to warmly address me: “Barnaby.” I’m used to it, but I’d rather you didn’t – I seem to find comfort in the pretense of anonymity, however short lived, and so I suppose the same is true of this regular order of mine. They say “Hello, Ricky’s,” I place my order, they take it, ask my name, and there you have it – “Oh, okay hon, we’ll see you in about five minutes.” All the while, my tentative manner on the phone just cost us both about a minute and a half of our lives.
Along with his old fashioned use of a rotary phone in the restaurant, Ricky promotes local musicians. He does this largely by word of mouth, with customers whenever he has a short minute to sit down, but he also has a large batch of CDs and tapes for sale. He used to book acts when he was the lounge at the Ramada, and you could hear such an eclectic mix of musicians there that it bordered on surreal some nights. My impression was that Ricky so plainly and sincerely wanted to provide a venue for those who weren’t already playing Taos Inn that he booked just about every musician who ever spoke to him. His current location, for the past 8 or 9 years, is too small to include entertainment, but he has a sign centered above and facing the customers: “Music is what feelings sound like.”
Apart from my regular bowl of chili, my survival to go order, for lunch and dinner I’d put their enchilada plate, stuffed sopapilla, Indian tacos and so forth against anything in town. The Mountain of Love is a huge breakfast of chorizo, eggs, hash browns, and tortilla. I haven’t had it in a very long time but I say it’s your turn to open your heart and mouth and find out how much of the good stuff you can really take in one morning. Or split it with someone, you tender little baby you.
Ricky also caters on a regular basis. Their drive-up window is very temperamental, so call your order in if you want to use it: 758-1156. Tell them the guy who orders green chili with easy beans sent you.