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May 20, 2010 05:31 PM

Single night in Albuquerque - where to eat?

BF and I are getting married in Santa Fe this summer and we'll be staying there for a few days, revisiting some of our favorite spots from when we lived there. However, we're flying out of Albuquerque so we'll stay there on Sunday night, and need to find a place to eat! My parents will be with us and although we're not looking for a "special occasion" restaurant necessarily, they are foodies and would probably enjoy something semi-upscale. We'll be spending 3 days in Santa Fe so we'll get our New Mexican food fix there (although BF would gladly eat it every day) - therefore the ABQ restaurant need not be New Mexican.

I haven't found many recommendations on this board that sound interesting other than Corn Maiden (which is closed on Sundays) and Prairie Star. Any other suggestions? We're open to any area of the city and have no real time constraints, but we're planning on taking the tram to the top of Sandia Peak at some point during the day and would like to see the sunset either from there or the restaurant, whichever works out time-wise. Thanks in advance!

Corn Maiden
1300 Tuyuna Trl, Bernalillo, NM

Sandia Bar
, Corrales, NM 87048

Prairie Star Restaurant
288 Prairie Star Rd, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004

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  1. Don't eat at the restaurants at either end of the tram if you want "foodie" quality chow. Nothing's all that upscale in ABQ (or in NM, frankly), but there's plenty of decent food of the type you're seeking.

    Not terribly far from the Tram, you might be interested in Savoy, which is run by the same folks as Zinc and Seasons. It's nothing exciting (typical '90s style "new American grill"), but it's quite decent. You might consider India Kitchen (not terribly far from the Tram, either), if you're looking for decent Subcontinental fare on par with what you'd find on Devon Street in Chicago. Chow's is sort of fun new Chinese, and they also have a location in the Heights.

    Antiquity in Old Town is always good for a special night (the sort of food that made Julia Child a household name, done well). Bien Shur at the Sandia Casino is closer than Corn Maiden or Prairie Star (and plenty better than Prairie Star, IMHO). Corn Maiden is very good, but not really convenient. The Rancher's Club is good again.

    Just some thoughts. I've brought out-of-towners to all of these for meals where we wanted to wear pressed shirts, and they've enjoyed them.

    Corn Maiden
    1300 Tuyuna Trl, Bernalillo, NM

    India Kitchen Restaurant
    6910 Montgomery Blvd NE Ste D, Albuquerque, NM 87109

    Bien Shur Restaurant
    30 Rainbow Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113

    Prairie Star Restaurant
    288 Prairie Star Rd, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004

    5 Replies
    1. re: Erich

      I like Ranchers Club, but it is really $$$$$ these days.

      For your consideration:
      Artichoke Cafe $$- eclectic, contemporary American; we had our wedding dinner there
      (505) 243-0200
      424 Central Ave SE

      Jennifer James 101 [eclectic without pretense]
      4615 Menaul Blvd NE
      Albuquerque, NM 87110
      (505) 884-3860

      La Provence Brasserie {Nob Hill} There truffle frites are to die for, my last meal will have their frites! Very quaint, bistro like setting.
      3001 Central Ave NE
      Albuquerque, NM 87106
      (505) 254-7644

      Mykonos {Mountain Run Shopping Center] Really good, authentic Greek in a pretty setting
      5900 Eubank Blvd NE # E18
      Albuquerque, NM 87111
      (505) 291-1116

      Scalo - northern Italian $$ [Nob Hill] High quality, has a nice upscale feel to it
      3500 Central Ave. SE

      And Erich is right, pass on eating at either top or bottom of Tram~

      Artichoke Cafe
      424 Central SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102

      Scalo Northern Italian Grill
      3500 Central SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

      Mykonos Cafe & Taverna
      5900 Eubank Blvd NE Ste E18, Albuquerque, NM 87111

      Brasserie La Provence
      3001 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

      Jennifer James 101
      4615 Menaul Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

      1. re: DebitNM

        Thanks guys. We were definitely NOT planning to eat at the top or bottom of the tram - I've read enough lackluster reviews of those places to stay far away! We were thinking of getting a drink at the top though, perhaps. Anyway, thank you for all the suggestions. We're not looking for truly upscale (we live in NYC and get plenty of that here), but nice-ish is good, especially since my parents aren't really into low-brow cuisine. We're having brunch on Sunday at La Casa Sena in Santa Fe, so something different would be good for dinner. Antiquity or Provence Brasserie sound good - truffle frites? OMG! Will start checking them out!

        La Casa Sena
        125 East Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501

        1. re: DebitNM

          Argh, who knew Sunday evening dinner would be such a tall order in ABQ? According to their websites, Zinc, Bien Shur, Slate St. Grill and Jennifer James are all closed on Sunday. Not sure about Antiquity, their website didn't say. That leaves us with La Provence, Artichoke Cafe, Savoy, Lucia, Scalo or Mykonos (which is probably not a contender, as my parents and BF aren't huge Greek food fans). Of those, I think the most interesting menu to me is at Lucia, but given the report of terrible service below I'm not sure I want to tempt fate.

          Bien Shur Restaurant
          30 Rainbow Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113

          1. re: biondanonima

            Alas, restaurants do tend to be closed here on Sundays. I didn't bother to check and see which of the ones I listed would not be open, sorry.

            If you want something a bit upscale, Artichoke Cafe [eclectic] and Scalo [northern Italian] would be the way to go; for a tad more comfortable, La Provence and Savoy[have not eaten there but am going with Erich's recommendation].

          2. re: DebitNM

            Oops, looks like I missed Ranchers Club - they're open Sundays and the menu looks good - steakhouse with a twist, yeah?

        2. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

          I just took an out of town friend up the tram and it is a great. We had a drink at the bar at High Finance (the place at the top) and we ate dinner at Santiago's at the bottom of the tram. I would not recommend High Finance, it is expensive and though we didn't eat the menu did not look all that compelling. The service was so so. There are lots of places to walk around and sit at the top, maybe bring a snack and just chill up top and take in the view. I had a groupon for Santiago's and it was fine, nothing special except the sunset. Though I will give a shout out to our server who was really nice and efficient and didn't mind the coupon. They have a nice patio but they get crowded and we did have to wait.

          I like the idea of going to one of the places DebitNM recommended in the Nob Hill Neighborhood: Scalo and La Provence, I would add Zinc to that list. The neighborhood is one of the few in 'burque where you can walk around and people watch. Central Ave is the main drag (Old route 66) and there are lots of great old neon signs. There are also a couple of places where you could get ice cream, gelato or coffee after dinner and sit outside and enjoy a lovely summer night.

          Nothing in ABQ is a upscale as you'll fin in Santa Fe but my favorite nice restaurant is Slate Street Cafe, it's just north of downtown and kind of out of the way. I've heard really good things about the restaurant at the newly refurbished Hotel Andaluz. It's called Lucia & the hotel is really lovely. You may consider staying there. They have a new roof bar and a great lobby that features live music a few nights a week.
          Good luck and have fun!

          Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro
          3009 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

          Slate Street Cafe
          515 Slate Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

          Lucia at Andaluz Hotel
          125 Second Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

          11 Replies
          1. re: jjdot

            JJdot, thank you for the info about the top of the peak - I wasn't sure there was anything up there really but the restaurant. Perhaps we'll take a picnic snack and watch the sunset, then have a later dinner elsewhere. Will check out Zina and Lucia as well!

            1. re: biondanonima

              Went to Lucia's for brunch. The food was very nice [ricotta pancakes and stuffed french toast] but the service was awful. Took forever to get waited on, served, the server forgot the side of bacon only to bring it when I was done with my french toast.

              Then she brought the wrong check [after waiting 10 minutes for the check]; she mixed ours with the table next to us. We realized we had the wrong bill, as did the people next to us. They said - oh it's the same prices [not -especially since they had mimosas and bloodymary's and we didn't]. They left cash for the check [our check] andwe tried to get the waitress to come over and fix the check. Oh we also had a buy one, get one free certificate. It took another 15 minutes for the waitress to come over, get us the correct check [with the free entree deducted] and then another 10 to get her to get credit card from us. We will not go back anytime soon - we don't like having to wait to pay.

              Zinc is good too, but my heart belongs to LaProvence. <3

              1. re: DebitNM

                We went to Lucia a few weeks ago and I would recommend it. Nice build out, seems very "un" New Mexican. Service was dreadful (don't get me started). We shared the oysters, mushroom appetizer and garlic shrimp (which was the best app). It was a slow Wed night and they were out of beets for the beet salad and manchego crisps for the soup and several other items I can't remember. So we ordered the caesar salad, it was just average. My wife liked the flatbread pizza Farina (next to the Artichoke on Central) offers a better pizza on all levels and I think they are open on Sunday night as well. The scallop and sugared shrimp entree was redundant but good. Nothing on the limited menu wowed me or even had me thinking, "I'd really love to try that", but everything was quite good. There is a fun roof top space for drinks before or after dinner.

                Vernon's Steak House might be open on Sunday.

                1. re: scottso

                  WHY would you go back to a restaurant that had dreadful service, and where they were out of several items??

                  1. re: DebitNM

                    I really need to put up a review of Lucia . . . I took pix and everything, and it's been a month or so since our (Saturday evening) visit. The front-end service was bad (which is actually what led us to no-show on our Valentine's Day reservation there, we were so irritated by their attitude), but, once inside, the waitress and bussers were great. Food was quite good. We had a nice time and are likely to be back.

                    I really need to put up a review . . . :-/

                    1. re: Erich

                      I agree about the food, it was good. BUT, and this is a big but, the service is almost as important as the food when you are dining in any restaurant other than those where the tab comes in under $5.

                      Come on Erich, let's see that report! :o)

                    2. re: DebitNM

                      Hate to be negative, but service is so bad and items are so often not on the menu, at so many places here in town, I wouldn't be ever going out to eat, if I let that get in the way. As it is, I don't go out that often these days. The worst offender for running out is Flying Squirrel or is it Star? My wife likes it because of the decor and convenience... so we go. They are often out of the soup and at least three items. Besides they're overpriced and the food is not that good. There are very few places here with outstanding decor. It's not part of the equation, like in New York, where even a funky little place tries very hard to be clever in decor and concept etc.

                      1. re: scottso

                        Well, despite the negatives about the service we decided to go ahead and reserve at Lucia. The menu looked more interesting than anywhere else and the hotel itself seems quite nice and maybe worth seeing. If anyone has any better ideas, though, we've got a month so we can surely cancel!

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          I have not eaten at Lucia but I have spent some time drinking and dancing at other venues in Andaluz. The tram is always fun for visitors and has the best view in town but Andaluz also has a roof bar (it's the roof of the lower floors but still fairly high for ABQ) called Ibiza. It might be a nice place for a pre-dinner sunset cocktail. My favorite thing to do at Andaluz is hang out in their lovely, historic lobby. It is very confortable with lots of cosy places to talk. Have a great time in New Mexico!

                          1. re: jjdot

                            Just wanted to thank you guys for the Lucia suggestion - we had a really terrific meal here. The service was a tiny bit slow, but I think they were just trying to pace our meal nicely so that we had time to talk and such. Otherwise, no service issues to report. It was a Sunday night though, and the place was 3/4 empty, so I doubt the kitchen or the servers were too stressed.

                            I had the fritto misto starter, which was good, and tasted my husband's garlic shrimp, which were AMAZING - the lime butter sauce, OMG. My mother's dolmades were only okay - a little dry. For mains we had a terrific vegetable ravioli, a solid NY strip, excellent filet and AWESOME pork chop. Being from NYC I forget how big the portions are elsewhere - my NY strip was 14oz and came with SIX crab claws - I couldn't remotely finish it, given that my fritto misto was the size of an entree portion in NYC. All the meats were cooked exactly to our liking and well-seasoned/sauced. The tamarind BBQ sauce on my husband's pork was to die for!

                            Anyway, to top it all off they comped us their chocolate sampler dessert (since we told them we were celebrating our wedding) - each of the elements was quite good (mousse, ganache and pot de creme). I also thought they had a fairly nice and reasonably priced wine list. The restaurant (and the hotel in general) is gorgeous, too - great atmosphere. A winner all around! We all liked it much better than Geronimo in Santa Fe (where we ate on Saturday night).

                            1. re: biondanonima

                              Glad you enjoyed yourself! I think that hotel is lovely and it is one of my favorite places to take visitors.

            2. The best place is El Pinto.
              It is New Mexican, but the best food around.

              It's at 10500 4th Street Albuquerque, NM 87114, which you can get to easily from the tram if your head north on Tramway, then west past I-25. That turns south onto North 4th Street. El Pinto will be on your east side.

              Best to buy your salsa there too.

              Each time Bill Clinton came to New Mexico, El Pinto provided the food for him and his staff to eat on Air Force One on their return trip to Washington. Clinton also always took back cases of the salsa. Come to think of it, George Bush did the same thing when he came here.

              El Pinto
              10500 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87114

              1 Reply
              1. re: zoie

                El Pinto does not fit the wants of the OP. Sorry, but it is not anywhere near the best of what ABQ has to offer. I don't know that having Clinton eat at your restaurant makes it chow worthy.