16 May Comet Drive-in II, Route 66, Santa Rosa, New Mexico
Back in 2014, my pal Jen Dragon and I set off across the country to travel the length of Route 66 with a bunch of bikers on a road rally called “The Ride for the Relay” – a fundraiser for cancer research. We were proud to be part of this fun group of bikers and trikers as we trailed along in the aging car we were moving from one coast to the other. We breezed along the route at a pretty rapid pace, although two weeks to travel half the country gave us enough time to really appreciate many of the incredible historic features still to be found on the Mother Road.
New Mexico is undoubtedly one of the richest states when it comes to Route 66 gold! And the tiny town of Santa Rosa is packed with mid-century modern gems worth documenting. We had just finished dinner and walked out of the restaurant and were greeted by this incredible sunset. I snapped this picture of the Comet with the background sunset and fell in love with the neon Zia symbol which glows brightly against all the warm hues surrounding it.
After doing a bit of research I learned that the Martinez family have been running this restaurant for three generations. It was originally a place called Mucho Burger in the early 50’s, but the Martinez family bought it in 1956 and called it The Comet II in 1961. It burned down in 1984 and Johnny Martinez rebuilt it, doing away with the drive-in and turning it into a sit-down restaurant. Their main fare is chile – which they put on everything including ice cream. (For those who might confuse it, New Mexico chile is usually green). Their most popular dish is an enchilada with a steak and fries on it! Johnny is now 89 and still loves cooking every day. What a brilliant accomplishment!