HATCH, N.M. (KRQE) – If you’ve been wanting to treat your tastebuds to some barbecue, Food Network suggests you take a trip down to Hatch, New Mexico. The network recently came out with its take on the “Best Barbecue Joint in Every State” and named Sparky’s Burgers, Barbecue & Espresso the best in New Mexico.
Teako Nunn co-owns the restaurant with his wife Josie and daughter Michelle and is humbled by the honor. “I’m flattered, I’m pleased, I’m just..there [are] so many other great, great barbecue places,” he says. “I’m a food junkie. I eat at everybody else’s place…I search out barbecue and cheeseburger places wherever I go.”
Sparky’s opened up in 2008 after Teako decided to combine his love of smoking meat with Josie and Michelle’s love of coffee and put it all under one roof. He says he started making cheeseburgers for his customers on the weekends when he ran an RV dealership. “It just seemed to bring people together and made us different than the other RV dealerships,” Teako says.
He says the restaurant business was already in his blood. “My dad had a steakhouse, my brother had several steakhouses and I would help them off and on over the years but never had a place of our own,” says Teako.
Sparky’s barbecue sauce is a scratch recipe that is made every day. Teako’s desire to make his own sauce came from a couple of friends getting him to judge Kansas City barbecue contests. Teako’s first attempt was a combination of KC Masterpiece and Frank’s Hot sauces. “[My friend] says, ‘it’s pretty good but you’re just using other people’s barbecue sauce, you need to come up with something on your own,'” says Teako. The sauce now is a combination of hot and sweet with ingredients such as pineapple juice and apple cider vinegar.
Along with the Food Network nod, Sparky’s also won the 2022 Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge at the New Mexico State Fair. “We’re darn lucky,” says Teako. “I love that event…such nice people, other restauranteurs. It’s just fun.”
If you’ve never been, Teako says that’s the burger you have to try. Teako says, “It’s the simplest cheeseburger you’re ever going to have. They make really great ones – everybody does – but nobody has made just a simple green chile cheeseburger, and that’s what we win with at the state fair.”
Sparky’s Burgers, Barbecue, and Espresso is located at 115 Franklin St. in Hatch, New Mexico and is open Thursday-Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.