Albuquerque in review
We just got back late last night from our visit to Albuquerque and wanted to give some feedback. We were attending a convention which was at the Marriott so we only had limited time to explore the city. Thanks to comments from this board it helped us find some places.
Dinner Friday night 7/17 was at Chef du Jour. Loved it. Buddy the owner is a gem and spent lots of time chatting with us and talking food. Very, very fair prices, intersting dishes, nice portions and it was a shame that more people do not dine here.. A little hard to find but well worth it.
Breakfast Satuday was at Flying star which was perfect for everything but even thought they are localy owned, to much of a Starbucks or chain feel to it.
Breakfast on Sunday was at Satellite coffee and being the same owners as Flying star pretty much the same feelings about them but Flying star had many things to order and Satellite had only 4 or 5 breakfast items.
Sunday dinner we walked around Nob Hill and it was early so we checked out the stores and try to decide where to eat. As we had a late lunch we were hungry but not starved so we wound up at Gecko's and had tapas. It hit the spot, good but not great. If we would have been hungrier it probably would have been Scalo, Nob Hill bar, Brasserie Proveance, Too Fools or maybe even Kelly's. Love the feel of the area, it was ecclectic and fun.
Monday morning breakfast at Frontier. Everyone said do not miss this place. Huh? Mediocre food, dirty atmosphere, Ok we love food and have eaten in places that are as dirty as here but....Sweet rolls, swimming in butter. This place was not worth the effort of getting there.
Yes, it is a difficult city to get around without a car, but we used the rapid ride system, and it was easy to navigate and cheap. The people in Albuquerque were about the most friendly and courteous of any city we have traveled to. Polite, helpful and just nice folks.
I think what you have to realize about the Frontier is its more of an institution if you will... Its one of those places that has been around for forever, and that has a VERY loyal customer base. Can you get better food somewhere else? Probably, but not tortillas... they are the very best, hands down. Its hard for me to explain why I love that place so much, but I can understand why some people are put off by it.
I agree with the "institution" assessment, but many people on this board carry on about the Frontier as if it were an astonishing place to eat.
As I've said here before, I've never been impressed with the Frontier's food and I am of the opinion that many of the folks who love it had their favorable memories of the place set when they were young, transportation-deprived, lived in the area and maybe didn't have the most refined palates or cultural knowledge of how chile can taste.
I'm glad folks have can relive fond memories by returning to a place that gives them a happy feeling where the food still tastes the same (there's no doubt that the Frontier's food quality hasn't changed in the more than two decades that I've visited it), but I do think it's a shame that the raves on the board lead out-of-town folks like rf4230 to visit, only to find "[m]ediocre food, dirty atmosphere . . . not worth the effort" (an assessment that I feel is entirely accurate). When you consider that rf4230 could have taken the Menaul bus over to Mary & Tito's (would have actually been easier and involved almost no walking) and enjoyed great red chile and carne adovada from a living treasure, well . . . what a shame.
Also, the machinemade flour tortillas at the Frontier are fine but they are in no way anywhere NEAR the quality of homemade tortillas I've had in households across N. NM. Best I ever had were by my wife's paternal grandmother, but I've had MANY wonderful ones at kitchens in ABQ, SF, Espa, Taos, Mora, Vegas, Coyote, Chamisal . . . those at the Frontier do beat the cold bagged ones in the supermarket, but not a real tortilla como hacían las abuelitas . . . or that folks still make all the time. :-)
In the Frontier's defense-- most times I see it discussed on this board, people are pretty clear that it's a giant cafeteria-like place favored by college students, so I don't think many visitors will be all that surprised by what they find in terms of either atmosphere or the type of dishes they serve. Whether they like the food or not is, of course, a matter of personal taste, as is also pretty obvious with all the pro/con discussions here over the years.
I've had green chile huevos rancheros in a lot of places all over the SW, and never found one I liked better than their utterly simple version. I like the flour tortillas too, especially as I don't know anyone in town anymore who's likely to invite me to their grandmother's house. (I'm not a fan of the sweet rolls, but they're definitely popular.)