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Aug 17, 2010 12:29 PM

Albuquerque - All Stars?

I'll be in town for a couple of days and am interested in restaurant hopping. Any suggestions on ABQ's must-eats? All types of food, all levels of dining are welcome.

Plus, any cool food shops in town I can check out?

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  1. The ABQ CH community seems to wax and wane a bit in terms of activity, so a board search will likely be more help than you'll get from posting. That said, a few quick picks:

    The Grove - terrific upscale sandwiches and outstanding coffee, including espresso, skip the Mexican/New Mexican dishes.
    Budai - brand new discovery, but holy crap, some of the better Chinese/Taiwanese I've had in a good long while. Don't miss the Xao Long Bao.
    Mary & Tito's - good example of well-executed New Mexican-style chow
    The Range (original Bernalillo location is the most fun) - midscale New Mexican and American, fun local color
    Frontier - pretty good fast food institution in crazy, frenetic digs near UNM, good for a green chile cheeseburger, breakfast burrito, or sweet roll, open late

    Mary's & Tito's Cafe
    2711 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107

    Grove Cafe & Market
    600 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM

    Range Cafe
    925 S Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo, NM 87004

    6300 San Mateo Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109

    1. I agree about searching the boards. Also, Albuquerque is a pretty big town so you may want to narrow your focus. For example, I could tell you about some things in the neighborhood where you're staying and/or places that may be uniquely ABQ and a little eccentric. Places to get a hamburger with red, places to get a hamburger with green, places to get an awesome taco at midnight. Or maybe you just want to find a 'hood where you can walk around where there is a high -ish density of places to eat.

      6 Replies
      1. re: jjdot

        I guess I'm more out of touch than I thought. I can't think of any place with an awesome taco at midnight. Just getting and something I'd care to eat...excluding Frontier (which doesn't really have an awesome taco)... after 10 PM is a challenge. Any ideas for late night dining I've missed?. Many Thanks.

        1. re: scottso

          taco mex on 4th between griegos and montano. open late every night and really late on weekends. taco truck on 4th in Barelas. I have only been there on Saturday nights but they are there until 2 am or so.

          1. re: jjdot

            I pass by there every Monday night about 10 PM (often hungry) There are never any cars and I've always wondered if the food was good. Thanks, I'll check it out.
            There is another phantom nighttime taco truck on Zuni a few blocks West of Luisiana.

        2. re: jjdot

          Thanks everyone for the replies.

          jjdot - I guess we're mostly hovering around downtown and the University. But we'll have a car so any place is accessible.

          1. re: wasabi

            Church Street Cafe in Old Town. To the left of the church on the square, half a bolock down on the left.
            El Patio on Harvared across from UNM for excellent soppaipillas, a New Mex speciality.

            1. re: wasabi

              If you are in the University area you should stop in to Frontier. It's an ABQ institution, house made tortillas and good new mexican food. Funky ambiance and cute little hats are a bonus. I like the carne adovada. You can get that alone on a tortilla or slathered on a breakfast burrito.

              For good ayurvedic veggie food Annapurna is a block away from UNM on Silver & Yale. They have a nice shady patio and good chai.

              The Nob Hill area is a good place to walk around and there are many, many bars and restaurants. You can walk up central from the University and you will pass under a neon sign that marks the entrance to nob hill. It's a little over a mile. Of course you can also drive. Parking is rarely a problem. Nob Hill has several places that serve good bar food and drinks: Scalo, Zinc, Geckos, Nob Hill Bar and Grill. There is an outpost of the local CoOp there as well. This is a good place to check out food from local producers.

              I think the best neighborhood for a good concentration of New Mexican food is the North Valley. My personal faves are Ezra's for din and Sophias for breakfast and lunch. Both on 4th street. Both have the same exec chef. He is a native NM who was trained by Alice Waters. Ezras is in a bowling alley. It's very funky but the food is sooo good and usually there is some crazy special that will blow your mind and palate.

              I like the little red hamburger hut on Mountain for red chile burgers and the owl for green chile cheese burgers.

              Slate street is a nice upscale experience with a great casual wine loft.

              If you feel like taking a pretty drive go up Rio Grande, do a wine tasting at Casa Rondena, stop at Los Poblanos farm (farm stand thursdays 3 - 6:30 farm store open until 5). keep going to Corrales and eat at Casa Vieja.

              I put links where I could find them--is there really no link for Frontier?!
              Have fun!

              Los Poblanos Inn and Cultural Center
              4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM

              Nob Hill Bar & Grill
              3128 Centaral Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

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

              Geckos Bar & Tapas
              3500 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

              Owl Cafe
              800 Eubank Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87123

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

              Casa Vieja
              4541 Corrales RD, Corrales, NM 87048

              Casa Rondena Winery
              733 Chavez Rd NW, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM 87107

              Little Red Hamburger Hut
              Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM 87104

          2. NOt sure where you call home but unless it is somewhere else in New Mexico then you will want to eat as many mexican food meals as possible. There is no better North of the border mexican than in New Mexico. Mary and Tito's red chile carne adovada popover is crazy good. A side of chicharonnes(sp) is a must.

            Many will diss this next selection but it is legit. Sadies and the Roberto special with red and green chile. SO cheeesy and delicious and the beef has great flavor.

            Chicken fried steak at the Bernalillo Range is well worth the trip and ask for the green chile gravy.
            Also downtown my other favorite dispensary of red chile is Barelas coffee shop. THeir carne adovada enchiladas for breakfast or lunch are magnificent, once again a side of chicharonnes is a must.

            I could go on and on but these will fill you up nicely.

            3 Replies
            1. re: SeanT

              Mary and Tito's is a gem...(I have quarts of their carne adovada and red in my freezer at home in Los Angeles) ...and I agree with you about Sadies...I have been going since it was in the bowling alley...and the Roberto Special is something I can only have once a must be over 4000 calories!! I also agree about Barelas Coffee Shop...while not as good as Mary and Tito's...very serviceable!

              I really like Cecilia's cafe on 6th street...great vibe and wonderful carne adovada...her red is one of the best in the city if not the state! Durans Central Pharmacy has great tortillas and their green chile stew is something I crave on a regular basis!

              The only disagreement I have is calling New Mexican Cuisine "Mexican"...The unique ingredients and preparation of New Mexican cuisine make it a unique style of its own...maybe one of only a few unique cuisines in the US...along with Louisiana and New Orleans!! Whatever we call it, we are lucky to have it!!!

              1. re: TravelPath

                While I agree with you that New Mexican is its own wonderful food entity, it is Mexican food. As a guy who grew up in New Mexico and California I can tell you that we go out to eat Mexican food in New Mexico. When I talk to friends in California I differentiate the two versions, the California version woefully substandard after you have enjoyed the New Mexican.

                1. re: SeanT

                  I think we will have to agree to disagree...I also grew up in SoCal and lived in Mexico as I am quite familiar with Mexican food . The New Mexican cuisine I think of has its roots from the unique mix that is New Mexico...the native American, Spanish, Jewish (yes Jewish...the history of the Conversos in New Mexico is fascinating), Anglo...and yes Mexican...My friends and family in New Mexico all differentiate Mexican from New Mexican when they dine out in the Land of Enchantment do the local restaurant reviewers. Gil Garduno , perhaps New Mexico's best restaurant reviewer, definitely separates the two!

                  Regardless, we can agree on the quality of the cuisine in New Mexico...and the rarity of quality outside its borders!

            2. Others on this board know way more about ABQ than I do but we had a very nice meal at Lucia in the Hotel Andaluz on Sunday night. The hotel lobby is a very cool spot to have a drink, plus there are a couple of bars including a rooftop one that are nice as well. Lucia itself is gorgeous and the food was very good - perfectly cooked meats, interesting sauces. The garlic shrimp starter and the pork chop entree were my faves.

              14 Replies
              1. re: biondanonima

                Glad you were so happy with Lucia - a vastly different experience than we had.

                1. re: DebitNM

                  Hey, I had my first bowl of green chile stew, in 31 years, at the Frontier last Sat. It was good as ever, the Frontier burrito was eh and the green enchie was good. Except for the cheap price of the veggie green chile burritos, upon which I used to live as an UNM grad student, I walk to either El Patio or Padillas instead.
                  ps we thoroughly enjoyed the wine festival as well and now have a case of NM wines stocked for special ocasions.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    I love the sopaipillas at El Patio, easily my favorites in town. Maybe my favorite relleno also, and the avocado burrito smothered in green chile... Oh man makin myself very hungry. Never could get into Padilla's, many of my fellow law schoolers loved walking over for lunch but if I had any say we were jumping in the truck and heading to El Modelo.

                    1. re: SeanT

                      I never liked Padilla's much when I was in law school either, but after my wife (who has an office over in that area) has finally worn me down after years. Have only been there once this summer, but the meal was great.

                      El Modelo is always El Modelo! Thanks for reminding me: I need to walk down there for lunch one of these days.

                      1. re: Erich

                        Where is Modelo?
                        Has anyone been to the taco truck near the corner of Louisiana and Central?

                        Are there any good eats at the NM State Fair?

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          "Are there any good eats at the NM State Fair?" That my friend is an OXYMORON in the first degree!

                          1. re: DebitNM

                            El Modelo is on 2nd street just S of Bridge. But it's a little tricky to get to, b/c Bridge goes _over_ 2nd. What you want to do is turn onto the little extension of 3rd that runs south across Bridge - that turns east and intersects 2nd, just N of El Modelo.

                            1. re: DebitNM

                              Does that mean yes? A lot of cardiac arrest crap in Maine.
                              Has anyone tried the taco truck at Louisiana & Central, not far from the fair grounds?

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                No, it mean, there is no good food at fair, heart clogging or otherwise, run don't walk away.

                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  Taco trucks, quite possibly the most overrated food experience of the new millennium.

                                  1. re: SeanT

                                    I'm not so sure. Our daughter is in Austin and the taco truck has evolved to a high art form there.


                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                      I hear what you're saying, but as a former truckowner, I can tell you that you are working in a very small cramped kitchen and certainly no culinary advantage over a stand alone.

                                      The upside is you can go and park outside bars and drunk people love your food. The alternative usually being a sysco frozen burger or a frozen pizza in the bar. Oh and this, no matter how hard you clean the truck it still never really gets clean. Something to consider when truck dining.

                                      Back to all stars, since I brought up El MOdelo, might as well throw in this south all star, K&I for the travis with grilled onions. One of the original dare foods.

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        It's true! Awesome food coming out of Austin food trucks!

                                  2. re: DebitNM

                                    Absolutely not. Never forget about the homemade and often-sold-out pies at Asbury Cafe.


                                    (as a side note, I don't think there is anything wrong with a turkey drumstick. At least it's real food.)

                      2. On Thursday afternoon, just after landing in Albuquerque - I drove my rental car straight to Frontier Restaurant and had a bowl of green chile stew, which was accompanied by a homemade flour tortilla. It had been ten hours since breakfast in Georgia and I only had some bagged peanuts on the flight. That certainly would make anything taste good, but I thoroughly enjoyed my stew. After eating the stew, I had the tortilla - rolled with a packet of honey drizzled inside. It was even more enjoyable than the very good stew.

                        Frontier Restaurant
                        2400 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Milt

                          I find Frontier's tortillas the best hot off the grill around, unfortunately, they don't stay that good when day old.