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Brit looking for real Mexican in ABQ

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I'm going to be in the ABQ area in May, and wanted to try some "real" Mexican food as it's the closest to Mexico I will be in the foreseable future.

I'm not after tex-mex nachos etc, but the kind of thing we don't get here in the UK. Assuming it really exists as I have been told it does?

Any recommendations?

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  1. Abq is in New Mexico and its Cusine is based on Red and Green Chile and Native American tastes such as Carne Adovada, (Pork simmered in Red Chile) Posole, ( Hominy and Red Chile stew with Pork or Chicken) Green Chile Stew ( Green Chile, Potato, Tomato, Onion,Pork or Chicken and spices) Sopapillas ( a deep Fried pillow of goodness that can be stuffed with a savory filling or filled with honey for an after dinner treat. I would recommend Weekdays (Downtown ) for breakfast. Saties (on the West Side) for Lunch and El Pinto (in the North Valley) for Dinner.
    As for Mexican food I would recommend any local Carnniceria such as Pro's Ranch Market (West Central) or El Mesquite ( several locations ) they all have eatery's inside and it is much more authentic then any Mexican style Restaurant in ABQ. Enjoy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nmtemp

      El Pinto definitely and by all means eat on the patio.

    2. Dave, sorry I can't help you with New Mexico food as I've only driven through the beautiful state a few times. Not trying to be a wise guy, just curious about the TexMex nachos. Here in Texas, the original recipe is cheese, chips, and jalapenos. What passes for TexMex in the UK?

      1 Reply
      1. re: James Cristinian

        Sounds like the same as here really. Maybe some horrible gluey refried beans too!

      2. Do you want New Mexican or Old Mexican? For a long time New Mexico was on the frontier of Spain's empire. So it has its own amalgam of Spanish and Native American, similar, but distinct from that of Mexico to the south.

        It shouldn't be hard to get a taste of New Mexico cooking in the Old Town area.

        If you want a taste of (old) Mexico, without the New Mexico influence, it might be harder. Years ago we found a place in Santa Fe called 'Old Mexico Grill', which has dishes like grilled chicken with a poblano 'rajas' cream sauce. But that place no longer exists.

        On that same trip we also sampled Native American cooking at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

        I bet that if the place has sopapillas on the menu, it is New Mexican. If menudo and pozole, it may be more old Mexican.

        6 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          Hi PaulJ - How did you like the food at the Pueblo Center?

          1. re: kare_raisu

            It was a long time ago, so I don't recall the details. I think we had breakfast there, toured the exhibits, and had lunch as M&J Sanitary Tortilla Factory. A few days earlier we'd also stopped at the Hopi Cultural Center and restaurant (in AZ).

            The current menu looks fancier than what I recall.

            1. re: kare_raisu

              Food at the IPCC is pretty bad. They've given up on doing Pueblo cuisine for the most part. It's mostly NM food, very canned tasting. The NM food in Old Town is also bad.

              1. re: ninrn

                That is a shame that they have given up on offering Pueblo cuisine. Is there any other place where you could try it? I recall reading about a place at Acoma.

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Only maybe at some pueblos' feast days. But even there, what you'll mostly see is classic NM fare, -- posole, calabacitas, green chile chicken enchiladas -- stuff that's based on some old traditions but not anything like what pre-Spanish pueblo people ever ate. I once heard an amazing interview with a 100-yr old pueblo woman and she talked about her grandmother's descriptions of pueblo food as it was before even her grandmother's time. It sounded so delicate and different from anything I've ever seen here, not at all like the recipes in the go-to reference, the Pueblo Indian Cookbook from 1972. I think maybe a lot of the true old pueblo recipes and flavors are lost.

            2. re: paulj

              I'm guessing Old Mexican. I would like to eat something that one might actually find in Mexico, rather than an americanised version of it.

            3. Surprisingly, there's not much really great Mexican food in Albuquerque. I second nmtemp's recommendation to visit Pro's Ranch Market and El Mezquite for their cafeterias. Another very Mexican place is Paleteria Michoacana de Paquime where they serve an amazing array of paletas (Mexican frozen desserts). For more conventional sit-down ordering, I think Zacatecas Taco & Tequila Bar in the University area is pretty great. It's not run by Mexicans. The owner is the chef at the famous fancy restaurant, The Compound, in Santa Fe. But it's the only Mexican restaurant I've visited in Albuquerque that comes close to having the freshness and brightness of flavor that Mexican food has in Mexico. El Norteno and Antojitos Lupe (North of Abq in Bernalillo) are decent for more basic US-style Mexican food, -- not Americanized so much as poverty-ized. Birrieria El Alex (specializing in a beef stew called birria, sort of a Mexican pho) is solid and probably not something you'll find in the UK. I'm sure there are some good taco trucks servicing mostly immigrant laborers, but I don't know where they are. Hope some other CH's might.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ninrn

                I am guessing that because there is an indigenous Hispano-Native cuisine already entrenched in New Mexico, it has altered the perception of what Mexican food 'should' be or have to taste like.

                It's quite the same here in California where the simple food of the Jaliscan Braceros in the first half of the 20th Century and the equally entrenched Californio (from the 18th and 19th century settlers) culture gave birth to the combo plate. Spanish rice, beans and some sort of fried masa became the constitution for Anglo-Californians of what Mexican food has to be.

                This has left little room for subsequent waves of migration from diverse regions of Mexico to market their regional Mexican foods to the American populace unwilling to part from what they are used to.

                If you look to Chicago where the Mexican immigration is relatively recent you will see much more diverse offering in the Mexican restaurants of that city.

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Hi Kare Raisu, My take on NM food, for what it's worth. -- It's the third or fourth item in the thread, a response to several posts by a very knowledgeable but annoyed Chowhound who kind of hated everything he or she ate here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785448 . I'm surprised to hear that there's a lack of variety in Mexican food in California, but I guess what you say makes sense. (I wish I could get a really good plate of that rice-beans-masa Jaliscan/Californio cliche' here, though.)

              2. I disagree that there is not much "really great Mexican" in Albuquerque. OK, it's true that this is not Southern CA and not actual Mexico, but there are some fantastic dives with the foods regular Americans will say "icky!" to, like offal meats and such.

                Antojitos Lupe (and) Lupe's Antojitos - two locations, same folks. Delicious across the board and not a cheese-smothered platter to be found.
                Birrieria y Taqueria el Alex - CLOSED, best I can tell.
                El Paisa - tacos, late night
                La Isla - divey, tacos, etc
                Chicharroneria Orozco - come on, doesn't the name make you want to check it out???

                More seafoody:
                El Zarandeado
                Mariscos La Playa

                And, I second the recommendation for Pro's Ranch Market for the cafeteria and for the foodstuffs you can purchase to take home! (not produce but rather dried goods)

                Hope this helps...

                1 Reply
                1. re: tenacity

                  Thanks for this. I think I will avoid seafood in a landlocked state, especially since I am flying to Seattle afterwards!