Albuquerque history, chile featured in international travel show


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque just got some prime exposure to an international market. A BBC Network show on historic American railroad towns just featured our city — which is music to the tourist industry’s ears.

“We’re famous for our, famous red chile and green chile,” said Jim Thomas, owner of El Pinto Restaurant.

But the state owes much of its history to trains.

“The railroad really opened New Mexico to the rest of the world,” said John Taylor, New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Rail Road Historical Society.

New Mexico was recently featured in two segments of “Great American Railroad Journeys,” a documentary travel series featured on BBC2 in Europe. The show stopped in Santa Fe and in Albuquerque.

“My next stop will be Albuquerque, which Appleton’s tells me has a population of about 60,000, situated on the Rio Grande River,” said the host, Michael Portillo.

It shows how the railroad transformed Albuquerque in the 1880s. It was the largest workshop between major cities – Chicago and Los Angeles.

“The railroad brought people, it brought opportunity and it provided a way for New Mexico to become a part of the United States,” said Taylor.

The Albuquerque episode highlights how the city has grown since then, and features El Pinto Restaurant.

“The BBC came to us about six months ago,” said John Thomas, owner of El Pinto.

The restaurant family is proud of their heritage in the state.

“In fact, our family actually coined the name New Mexican food back in 1939.”

Of course the host asked the owners of El Pinto the age old question.

“What is the difference between red and green chile?”

“They’re completely different even though they’re from the same chile as everyone here knows in New Mexico, but the world doesn’t know that,” said John Thomas.

The owners said speaking for the state was a responsibility they did not take lightly.

“It’s really an honor to be able to represent New Mexico,” said Thomas.

To watch the episode on YouTube, click here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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