Don’t call it “Mexican food.”
Dick’s Hideaway – an apt name for a place hidden behind a lush garland of greenery that frames a door with no name on 16th Street just north of Bethany Home Road – serves up New Mexican food.
What’s the difference?
“It’s in the sauces,” said Phil Kelly, general manager of Dick’s Hideaway and its sister restaurants Richardson’s Cuisine of New Mexico and Rokerij.
The red and green sauces that form the foundation of the menus at the three restaurants were perfected by owner and founder Richardson “Rich” Browne, who grew to love New Mexican food over several years of living in the state.
“The green sauce starts with Hatch green chilies,” Kelly said. The chilies, a New Mexico hallmark, pack a punch that’s missing in the ubiquitous Anaheim chilies, he said. “Once you have Hatch chilies, the others are … yawn.”
The red sauce begins with dried Hatch red chilies that are reconstituted in an onion-laced broth and then whirled to a smooth puree. It’s the basis for one of Dick’s most popular dishes, carne adovada, a succulent and substantial serving of pork that’s been smoked for hours, then simmered in red sauce, served with beans – ranchstyle, not refried – and some of the most flavorful rice you’ll find in town.
And that brings up another signature at Browne’s restaurants – humongous servings brought out on searing hot custom-designed metal platters.
On a recent Thursday midday, some rather sizable male customers were cleaning up the bounteous meals, but for those with more average appetites the to-go containers are a must. (They also make economic sense because there’s a $10 split plate charge for those who want to share.)
Why such enormous servings?
“Rich doesn’t like finger foods,” Kelly deadpanned. “And he wants hot food brought out hot and cold food cold, so we have the metal platters.”
Those sumptuous servings are one reason Dick’s is so popular, especially at breakfast, Kelly said. Stoke up on a plate of rellenos and eggs – two hefty rellenos stuffed with a choice of pork, cheese, duck, smoked turkey or beef tenderloin and smothered with red or green chile and served with three eggs, potatoes or hash browns, beans and a tortilla – and you’re ready to face a hard day’s work. If you can stay awake.
The menu ventures beyond New Mexico, with seafood linguine, gumbo, and a customer favorite, Pasta Heidi.
The restaurant is divided into two main areas: the popular bar, with a few tables along the wall and a small mezzanine with booths in the back; and a more subdued room with booths and tables. The room can be rented out for groups.
The hammered-copper-top tables and bar are another hallmark of Browne’s restaurants. They’re also practical, standing up to the heat from those platters.
All this started in 1989, when Browne decided to open Richardson’s.
“He only knew how to make three things – red and green chile and grilled steak,” Kelly said.
Browne learned as he went along, but those early days were a marathon,
made more challenging by a tiny staff. The restaurant became a neighborhood institution, and Dick’s and Rokerij followed. Loyal patrons were stunned when, in 2009, fire gutted Richardson’s. It was especially challenging since fire had caused serious damage just two years earlier at Rokerij. Browne originally planned to reopen Richardson’s in its original location, but difficulties with leasing drove him to buy the property north of Rokerij on 16th Street, just south of Maryland Avenue and open a new restaurant there.
Customer demand at the three restaurants has become so high that brunch and dinner reservations are a must. And get there early if you want a seat at Dick’s bar.
That demand, and Browne’s seeming insatiable itch to add more locations, will result in yet another restaurant, the C Store, adjoining Richardson’s at the corner of 16th Street and Maryland Avenue.
“We’re calling it the C Store because it was a convenience store for years,” Kelly said. “Rich bought it and we used the cold cases for storage.”
Renovations are nearly complete (they’re keeping the cold cases) and Browne said he hopes to open C Store in the next couple of months.
Like the other three restaurants, menu items will overlap. And there will be a capacious bar, another signature of Browne’s eateries.
“Customers love to hang out at our bars,” Kelly said. “People enjoy the drinks and conversation, along with the food.”
About that food – Dick’s bar offers the full menu, and it’s also a great spot to sample the long list of botanas including jalapeños stuffed with asiago wrapped in bacon and grilled; tomatillo toast; and New Mexico queso with spinach, onions and chorizo with chips.
But if you have room for just one, go for the green chile potato, one of Browne’s most popular creations. Think twice-baked potato in a roasted green chile. Hatch, of course.
Dick’s Hideaway, which is located at 6008 N. 16th St., is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas from 7 a.m. to midnight. For information, call 602-241-1881 or visit www.richardsonsnm.com.