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Need Santa Fe/Albuquerque Guidance

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Hi Chowhounds,

Another trip, another chowhound dilemma. This time wife and I are taking our 20 year old chowhound daughter for a 4-corners/Taos/Santa Fe road trip before she heads back to the books. We all love southwestern/Mexican food, but are staggering our dinner choices so we eat it about every other night. So far we have:

Dinner 1 in Albuquerque near Old Town - Crepe Michel or if we're too late, Sadie's.
Dinner 2 in Gallup - El Sombrero (might have chosen Jerry's but it doesn't serve alcohol)
Dinner 3 in Durango - Steamworks Brewing Co. for Cajun Boil
Dinner 4 in Taos - Orlando's
Dinner 5 in Taos - Bravo (or The Apple Tree)
Dinner 6 in Santa Fe - ?
Dinner 7 in Albuquerque near the State Fair/Airport - ?

For Santa Fe we'd like to do something New-New Mexican, but don't want to go so upscale that it just becomes another high end dinner like those we can get in San Francisco where we lived, or San Diego where we now live (FYI, if you're ever down here and have a bundle of money try Blanca in Solana Beach. It's run by Michael Mina's executive chef and is off the scale good). Recs like Coyote Cafe, Geronimos, Anasazi, etc. would seem to fall in that category--a little bit too refined for what we want. What might be some possibilities that are above Sadie's/Orlando's/El Sombrero, but not not so "trendy" that the food's no longer southwestern?

And for our last night in Albuquerque we'll be wandering around the State Fair in the afternoon early/evening and would probably like a dinner choice (could be anything as long as it's good) that's not too far from there or the airport and would be a nice chowhound cap to our trip?

Much Thanks!

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  1. I've found that the perfect pre-plane meal is Frontier Restaurant, on Central near UNM. Quintessential Duke City experience, IMO.

    While I've not been (yet), La Choza in Santa Fe is supposed to be a good bet for New Mexican. They are connected with The Shed in ownership, methinks....

    Andrea
    in ABQ

    3 Replies
    1. re: tenacity

      Miss Tenacity again demonstrates her good taste; I think she is right on in her La Choza recommendation (and in her understanding of its connection to The Shed).

      However, I sincerely regret that I must disagree on the Frontier (to each her/his own!). I am not a fan of the place, feeling it to be no more than a mediocre college-area diner that owes most of its success to the lack of transportation or nostalgia of its clientele. The Frontier is certainly not part of _my_ take on the ABQ experience. Again, to each his own, but the Frontier could be located _anywhere_ . I feel Mac's La Sierra, Mary & Tito's, or Barelas Coffee Shop are more "authentic" ABQ. Instead, I would urge you to consider Zinc, Standard Diner (upscaled variants of diner comfort food), Yanni's, or Petra (Palestinian) - all along/around Central in the area where you need to be.

      1. re: Erich

        For the last night dinner 7 --
        Il Vicino Wood Oven pizza - Nob hill/University area
        (505) 266-7855
        3403 Central Ave NE
        delish pizza, pasta and microbrews

        OR

        Quarters - BBQ
        505/843-7505
        801 Yale Blvd. SE
        Good food and near airport

        OR

        Los Cuates New Mexican
        (505) 255-5079
        4901 Lomas Blvd NE
        for good NM food

        OR

        Cervantes - New Mexican Food
        (505) 262-2253
        5801 Gibson Blvd Se [near airport]

        Michaels in Taos is always a winner for any meal, but especially for breakfast.

        Steamworks for Cajun Boil -- we had it a few weeks ago, it was really good and they had a new summer beer [it was white] and very good. But there are better meals to be had in town. Are you set on Steamworks??

        Hope this helps..
        Debi

        1. re: Erich

          I, too, can think of many other places besides The Frontier for a pre-plane meal. That said, it IS close to the airport.

          While The Frontier would do the job should I have one of those all-too-frequent-now-4/5/6 hour-on-the-tarmac experiences (whew !), I'd sure hate to be the person seated behind me.

      2. Hi everybody,
        Thanks for the Albuquerque recs. I think I have plenty to go on. I'm still not there yet on Santa Fe, as La Choza/Shed seem like the same downhome Mex/New Mex that I've been eating. What about La Casa Sena Cantina. Their menu has some upscale choices and there's the entertainment as well? Thanks again!

        Michael

        3 Replies
        1. re: warrenmi

          I thought you didn't want to go upscale . . . "For Santa Fe we'd like to do something New-New Mexican, but don't want to go so upscale that it just becomes another high end dinner."

          1. re: Erich

            Hi Erich and all,

            Sorry for any confusion. What I guess, I meant, was something more "refined/creative/challenging" than the traditional Mex/New Mex we'll be eating (and loving!) at Sadie's in Albuquerque (maybe), El Sombrero in Gallup and Orlando's in Taos. Coyote, Anasazi, SantaCafe, Compound, etc. seem to take it a little further toward high end 21st century generic American than we might want to go.

            The Casa Sena Cantina menu has a few non-traditional choices (chorizo stuffed pork, green chili cheese polenta, crabcakes w/mango chipotle sauce, etc. and a few potrentially interesting takes on standards like enchiladas and quesadillas. For reasons listed, wouldn't go to the main dining room, but the Cantina w/entertainment seems like it could be good food and fun. If Casa Sena food is far inferior to the others listed let me know as we certainly don't want to "waste" a dinner on mediocre food.

            BTW we've decided to do Zinc our next (and last) night in Albuquerque, so we should get a moderate high end fix there.

            Thanks Again Chowhounds!

            Michael