Though the population of the village of San Antonio 12 miles south of Socorro is less than a hundred people, it is a village with plenty of character. It is the boyhood home of Conrad Hilton, the hotel magnate. The Owl Bar, on the corner of Highway 380 and Highway 1, is famous for its green chile cheeseburgers as well as having been a meeting place for the scientists who detonated the world’s first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site east of San Antonio on July 16, 1945. Two blocks away from the Owl is the Buckhorn Tavern, the site of a throwdown with the Food Network’s Bobby Flay in 2009. Bob Olguin of the Buckhorn bested Bobby Flay when it came to producing the better green chile cheeseburger.

Not to be outdone by the purveyors of green chile cheeseburgers, the San Antonio Crane Café offers a menu of superb Mexican food. And for dessert? Tourists and locals alike frequent the San Antonio General Store for its homemade fudge and hand-scooped ice cream.

San Antonio is known as the gateway to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, the famous winter home of thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese. Thousands of birders pass through the village on their way to the Bosque during the winter season, beginning with the annual Festival of the Cranes the third week of November through the beginning of spring migration at the end of February.

Another must-see is the San Antonio mission church on Highway 1. Unfortunately visitors are limited to viewing the church from the outside as the church has been closed since 2010. Crumbling adobe and cracked mud walls have made the building unstable and unsafe.

Good food, friendly folks, interesting architecture and plenty of history make San Antonio a great place to stop on your way to see the birds or just as a respite from I-25.

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