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A Boston hound's NM trip rollup: Sadie's, Flying Star, Café Pasqual's, Taco Cabana

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Hey New Mexico hounds! I'm always excited to return to your fair state for the great weather and great chow. As usual, we had a phenomenal time eating our way through Santa Fe and, especially, Albuquerque. A few trip highlights:

Sadie's - been here many times before, but this was the first time I'd ever had the burger that put them on the map. Oh. My. God. Easily made my all-time top 10 burger list. I got a red chile cheeseburger, the wife got a green chile cheeseburger, and ironically we each nominally preferred the other's. But both were great, big but not obscene, perfectly toasted bun, delicious disc fries to go with. This burger instantly became a must-have when anywhere nearby.

Flying Star - again, been here many times before, but wanted to give a special shout-out to their hamentaschen. I love my Jewish grandmother very dearly, but she can't make hamentaschen anywhere near this good. They appear to use the same dough as they do for their excellent iced butter cookies, shaping it into the requisite triangle, coating it with coarse sugar, and filling it with a very tasty prune-based center.

Café Pasqual's - this place had been on my radar screen for a while, but this was our first visit. I'm really conflicted about this place. On one hand, the pros: tasty food with interesting upscale Southwestern accents, thoughtful selection of wines by the glass, good homemade desserts. On the other hand, the minuses: seriously overpriced, a bit loud and cramped, and at the end of the day, I could cook it all at home. Regardless, a nice evening. Highlights: baked brie sprinkled with red chile and served with roasted garlic and fresh salsa (I'm totally knocking this dish off for dinner parties), filet with green chile, blackberry pie.

Taco Cabana - much like Albuquerque took the Double Rainbow franchise and slowly converted it into the truly distinctive Flying Star, the TCs here are vastly better than I've had anywhere else. If there are better flour tortillas anywhere in the known universe, I'd like to know about them. Top-notch everything: breakfast tacos, salsas, green chile, enchiladas, beans. And cheap to boot -- what's not to love?

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  1. I totally agree about pasqual's. Everyone seems to gush about this place, but after visiting a few times, I just don't see it.
    You always wait for a table, which is cramped and semi uncomfortable. For what you get, it is very overpriced. The straw that broke the camels back was when my girlfriend and I stopped in and got a three ounce scoop of "fresh organic" sorbet for 9 dollars. And it was like a brick of frozen pulp. I just felt totally ripped off and have never been back.
    Still, it always pops up on these boards as a must eat, and people seem to like it.

    I love Taco Cabana, great mexican style fast food. I grew up going to Cabana at all hours of the day and night. I always stop by when I'm in ALB.

    1. I do love Pasqual's, personally, above all for the huevos motulenos at brunch—but I've never heard of Sadie's; next time I'm there it sounds like a must! (Guess what, finlero, I just returned from Boston today! Funny.)

      2 Replies
      1. re: tatamagouche

        Ha, go figure, we could have hi-fived from our respective airplanes.

        I have heard that Pasqual's is especially great for breakfast and brunch; something I'd really like to check out next time around.

        Definitely hit Sadie's. Other place I'd recommend is Dos Hermanos, which has some of the best carne adovada anywhere, not to mention excellent breakfast burritos, but be warned they close mid-afternoon. And long on my radar is Padilla's, although I have yet to get there with enough time to brave the long, long, long line.

        1. re: finlero

          Oh this hurts to read. I used to live across the street from Padilla's on Girard. We'd look out our window and figure out the wait time.

          The adovada and rellenos there are among the best.

          Have you compared the TC tortillas with the Frontier? When I was last there, I thought the Frontier fresh tortillas were still better.

      2. I went to Sadie's a couple of weeks ago, didn't have the burger, had enchiladas. And I was really disappointed. The red and green chile were both good (not amazing, but good), but the rest was just so blah. Pieces of tasteless (probably boiled) chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomato, corn tortilla. Nothing special about it at all. The chile was not nearly good enough to make up for that boringness. It wasn't bad, but for a place touted as some kind of standard for new mexican food, it was pretty mediocre.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LurkerDan

          I wasn't going to say it because it's sacrilege, but Sadie's is really uneven in term of quality of food. Has been since the 80's.

        2. The tortillas at the Frontier are FAR superior to TC, though I do loooove some TC fajita tacos, especially after a night of a little drinking!

          3 Replies
          1. re: ma_bell_deve

            Interesting, I like the tortillas at both places quite a bit, but I'm definitely partial to Taco Cabana's.

            For me, Frontier's are amazing when so fresh they're still warm, but they get a little bready rather quickly.

            Taco Cabana's have a little more char, and are a little denser. They're great fresh, but I find that they keep a little better than Frontier's when I bring them home.

            1. re: finlero

              I'm not even a big flour tortilla gal, but the ones at Duran's are delicious and addicting.

              1. re: finlero

                I do enjoy the char on the TC tortillas, thats for sure! At home I darn near burn my tortillas to death - just the way i like em!