When it comes to burger joints, Diane’s Tortilla Burger may be one of La Plata County’s best-kept secrets. Unless someone tells you, or you live or work on county roads 307 or 308 (Diane’s is at the intersection of the two), you’d never know where it was.
The eatery came to exist about 5 years ago, after its owner, Diane Millich, was stuck at home recovering from scleroderma, an autoimmune disease. She noticed the high volume of trucks headed to the natural gas plants on C.R. 308 and decided to make food to sell to the workers.
Diane’s serves a range of foods including tacos, Frito pies, and tamales, but the two standouts are the burritos and the burgers – and the lynchpin that unites them both and makes the restaurant absolutely worth visiting is the tortillas.
The tortillas are just about as thick as you can get while still functioning as tortillas, and they’ve got a tenderness and flavor to them that cries out that they’re homemade.
The recipe for them was passed down to Millich by her grandmother, who, like Millich, cooked them on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.
We’ve only sampled a fraction of the menu so far (the most complete of which is on Diane’s Facebook page), but as of yet, our favorite thing to get is the eponymous tortilla burger – often with cheese and smothered in green chile. Smothering it transforms an otherwise easy-to-eat hand food into a fork-and-knife affair, but in our opinion, it’s worth it.
If you get the tortilla burger with all of its typical toppings and condiments, it comes with mustard. Turn around and combine that with chile covering everything and you get a flavor that is almost certainly not for everyone but is unique enough to amuse our palate.
We’ve also tried items such as the Frito pie and Diane’s desserts of the day – most recently a peach cobbler that was delectable (though be aware if you get something with ice cream, it’s definitely going to melt unless you eat it immedihhhately in your car; this year, thanks to you-know-what, the restaurant is to-go only.)
Everything so far has been good, and with the exception of the fries, everything is made on-site.
One of the biggest surprises for us was probably the simplest item on the menu: chips and salsa. The tortilla chips are made from, well ... those tortillas we were just ranting about a few paragraphs ago. As such, they have a bit of give to them. A sliver of chewiness that changes the chip-eating game.
The salsa is also pretty great, made with steamed tomatoes and chokecherry sauce.
The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and you can call in your orders in advance at (970) 759-9044. Because of a lack of heating, Diane’s is closed from Oct. until early March. To get there from U.S. Highway 160, turn south on State Highway 172 at Elmore’s Corner. C.R. 307 is the second turn on the right after 172 curves eastward. If you reach the Durango-La Plata County Airport or Igancio, you’ve gone way too far.