El Patio de Albuquerque – Albuquerque, New Mexico

El Patio on Harvard Avenue

For more than a quarter century, award-winning journalist Charles Kuralt had the type of job any aspiring sojourner would envy.  He hit the road on a motor home, crisscrossing  the fruited plains where waving fields of wheat passed in review and snow-capped mountains reached for cobalt colored skies.  Observing that “thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything,” Kuralt avoided the interstates, instead traversing America’s back roads and byways in search of real people with interesting stories to tell.

Kuralt loved New Mexico, which he noted in his terrific tome America, is really a misnomer.  In his estimation, New Mexico “should be called Precambria for the sea that crashed upon its shores for tens of millions of years, or Mastadonia, for the mammals that later roamed its plains..; or Sandia for the mountain where the camp of an ice age hunter, the earliest known American was found in a cave…New Mexico is old, stupendously old and dry and brown, and wind-worn by the ages.”

Chips and Salsa

Kuralt also loved the cuisine of the Land of Enchantment.  In his book America, he declared the Owl Cafe in San Antonio, New Mexico “one of the best food tips” he’d ever gotten.  During his peridoc visits to the Duke City, the peripatetic wanderer also frequented Old Town’s La Placita restaurant which he considered one of his favorite feeding stations.  In 1988, the legendary newsman featured El Patio in a CBS “Sunday Morning On The Road” segment.

El Patio was then but ten years old, but already becoming a formidable presence in the Duke City dining scene.  It was then one of the few New Mexican restaurants in the UNM area, but that wasn’t solely the reason it garnered rave reviews and legions of loyal fans.  Discerning UNM students appreciated the authenticity and deliciousness of the food; for many of them, it represented a home away from home where they could get cooking as good or better than mom’s.  Those former students have raised a generation, many of whom followed their parents to UNM and to El Patio.

Frito Pie

El Patio is ensconced in a converted home just south of Central Avenue on Harvard Drive.  A telltale sign you’ve made it to the popular restaurant on this relatively low traffic drive is the can’t miss Taos blue Mexican picket fence.  Beyond the fence lies the patio (El Patio), essentially the entire front yard, which is shaded by tall trees, a welcome respite from the sun’s heating rays.  El Patio’s patio also welcomes dogs.

For the duration of its three decade plus, El Patio has been family owned and operated.  Founding owners Dave Sandoval (a fellow Taoseño) and wife Gloria Sandoval remain involved, but much of the day-to-day operation has been transitioned over to their progeny, sons Thomas and Christopher who have made some changes, including the addition of a catering service and a sales operation which markets El Patio’s fabulous salsa and green chile.  Both can be purchased in the restaurant and at several stores throughout the Duke City.

Carne Adovada Plate (Beans on the Side)

Thomas Sandoval, the elder sibling, is the chef while Christopher is the restaurant’s front-end man.  Thomas acquired his culinary skills literally at his maternal grandfather’s apron strings.  His grandfather taught him well.  El Patio’s food is as good today as it was decades ago when it first blew me out of the water.

Interestingly, El Patio considers itself primarily a vegetarian restaurant, but that distinction isn’t readily apparent in its meat dishes which are as good, if not better, than meat-based New Mexican entrees at other restaurants.  Even the most ardent carnivores, however, should at least try the vegetarian entrees which go a long way toward showcasing the delicious versatility of New Mexican cuisine.  The restaurant’s vegetarian enchiladas, for example, are made with spinach instead of meat.  The spinach imparts a spring-like freshness and healthful, but surprisingly (at least to meatatarians) delicious qualities to the enchiladas.  The Frito pie is also meatless, but you won’t miss the meat.  It’s one of the best Frito pies in town.

Carne Adovada Taco

Many pundits rank El Patio among the top four or five New Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque, leaving one to wonder if voters on “best of” polls mistakenly stuff the ballots for “El Pinto” when meaning to vote for El Patio which is several orders of magnitude better.  You’d think after the “dangling chad” episodes during the 2000 presidential elections in Florida, more extreme care would be taken in the voting process.

Salsa isn’t complementary at El Patio, but it’s worth the paltry pittance for which you pay for it, especially considering the attentive wait staff is on the ball to replenish each ramekin just as you’re running low.  The salsa is jalapeno based, but it includes a tinge of red chile powder.  In any case, this is a wonderful salsa, some of the very best in the city.  This flavorful salsa has a nice piquant bite that will get your attention without dulling your taste buds for your entrees.  The accompanying chips are low in salt, crisp and formidable enough to scoop up ample amounts of salsa.  In its September, 2012 edition, Albuquerque The Magazine named the salsa at El Patio the seventh best in Albuquerque from among 130 salsas sampled throughout the city.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

30 June 2017: The restaurant’s most popular entree, according to the menu, are the green chile chicken enchiladas.  El Patio is so accommodating (one of the main reasons for its popularity), you can have dual meat–beef and chicken–enchiladas and you can have them Christmas style and on blue corn tortillas with the requisite fried egg on top.  This best of all worlds approach for one of New Mexican cuisine’s most versatile entrees is my favorite way to have them.  The shredded chicken is moist and delicious, prepared to absolute perfection.  The beef is ground hamburger, not shredded beef as Mexican restaurants will serve on enchiladas, but the beef is well-seasoned and not refried as some restaurants are apt to do.  The red chile is rich and flavorful at about a medium level of piquancy.  The green chile has a fresh, fruity taste.  Both are par excellence.

31 December 2011: Carne Adovada is available in several dishes, including on a smothered or hand-held burrito. Because the chile with which carne adovada is smothered is oftentimes not the same chile in which the pork is prepared, my Kim will never order a smothered carne adovada burrito. She contends it allows her to better enjoy the purity of the adovada. El Patio’s adovada is outstanding, well worthy of a visit from my friend Ruben Hendrickson whose quest for the perfect carne adovada continued until his passing on 30 May 2016 (I miss you, dear friend). The pork is spoon tender (that means even more tender than fork-tender) and absolutely delicious, a benchmark which competes with some of the very best in the city.

Combination Plate

1 July 2017: El Patio’s combination plate is the best way to introduce newcomers to some of the best the restaurant has to offer.  A veritable platter is brimming with two cheese enchiladas engorged with chile, a chile relleno and a taco (thankfully served on a small plate) all topped with shredded Longhorn Cheddar and your choice of chile.  Longhorn Cheddar is what makes the cheese enchiladas some of the very best you’ll ever have.  It’s a good melting cheese with a nice degree of sharpness and terrific cows’ milk flavor.  The chile relleno is especially noteworthy.  A single sweet-piquant chile is stuffed with even more of that luscious Longhorn cheese then battered lightly and deep-fried.   It’s quite good.  So is the taco.  Given your choice of carne advocada, chicken or ground beef (all good), opt for the carne adovada.  It’s prepared on a hard-shelled corn tortilla that crumbles quickly, but that’s why God invented forks.

Each entree is served with pinto beans (not refried), boiled and peeled potatoes and lots of garnish (lettuce and tomato).  The potatoes have a consistency near being mashed.  Similar to the boiled potatoes at Duran’s Central Pharmacy, they appear to be an anomaly at first in that they’re not crisply fried, but by your second forkful, you’ll be hooked.  The potatoes have a sweet-savory marriage that makes them a joy to eat.  The beans are perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious.

Fajitas

1 July 2017:  There’s a short list of fajitas on our list as best in the Duke City.  Topping our current list are the fajitas at El Patio.  Among the many reasons we esteem these so highly is the full half-pound of marinated steak, as tender and flavorful as any fajita beef we’ve ever enjoyed.  The marinated steak is hand-cut and sauteed with green and red peppers, mounds of onions, and diced tomatoes. They’re served with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, salsa, a side of potatoes and two flour tortillas (white or wheat).  Oh, and there’s plenty of Longhorn cheese, too.

Entrees also include complementary sopaipillas.  Large, cloud-like and puffy, they emit wisps of steam as you cut into them to form a pocket for honey.   Kudos to El Patio for serving real raw honey, not that aberrational honey-flavored syrup.   These sopaipillas are not doughy as some sopaipillas are made, but rather have thin walls that are easy to penetrate, but not so thin that they’re sieves for the honey. If you don’t imbibe adult beverages, the watermelon limeaid is a very nice alternative.  It’s more tangy than it is sweet and it’ll quell your thirst on the dog days of summer.

Sopaipillas

El Patio at Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

25 May 2018: In April, 2018, El Patio launched its second location, this one on the northwest intersection of Rio Grande and Griegos in a location that had previously been home to such stalwarts as Geezamboni’s (which later changed its name to Johndi’s BBQ), Paco’s International Smoked Cuisine and most recently Village Pizza.   It’s a familiar milieu with a well-shaded dog-friendly patio our debonair dachshund The Dude enjoyed very much.  The menu is also familiar, offering the breakfast, lunch and dinner favorites Duke City diners have enjoyed since 1977.

El Patio’s Second Location, This One on Rio Grande Blvd

25 May 2018: It’s only fitting that a new location be celebrated by trying something new.  At least that was my contention.  My Kim argued that we should order the tried and true favorites we’ve enjoyed at the Harvard location just to make sure they were prepared the same way.  For her that meant carne adovada with a fried egg over easy accompanied by a flour tortilla.  For me, it was fish tacos, a Friday only special served with fries, cole slaw, and fire-roasted tomato cilantro salsa.  Available fried or seared, your choice, they come two to an order.  Frankly, what we enjoyed most about the fish tacos were the fresh corn tortillas and the two salsas.  The cole slaw was mostly chopped cabbage and had very little personality.  The pan-seared fish were flaky and light, but didn’t stand out.

Fish Tacos, a Friday Special

We’ve found service at El Patio extremely capable and more than accommodating, but then we tend to visit when the restaurant first opens (11AM seven days a week) and the choicest seating is available.  Experience has taught us that this extremely popular restaurant fills up quickly–and for good reason.  This is one of Albuquerque’s very best New Mexican restaurants, a genuine gem.

El Patio
142 Harvard Dr SE
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 268-4245
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 1 July 2017
# OF VISITS: 5
RATING: 23
COST: $$
BEST BET: Salsa and Chips, Sopaipillas, Beef and Chicken Enchiladas Christmas Style, Carne Adovada Burrito, Chicken Taco, Combination Plate, Carne Adovada Plate, Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, Watermelon Limeaid, Frito Pie, Fajitas

El Patio de Albuquerque Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

El Patio de Albuquerque
3851 Rio Grande Blvd, N.W.
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 433-4499
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 25 May 2018
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Salsa and Chips, Carne Adovada, Fish Tacos

El Patio de Albuquerque, Rio Grande Blvd Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Las Ristras Restaurant – Corrales, New Mexico

Las Ristras Restaurant: Comedor de Corrales

Based on interviews conducted with Hollywood luminaries who’ve starred in movies or television shows shot in New Mexico, you might think our state either doesn’t have a symbol of hospitality or that symbol is something as poorly representative of the Land of Enchantment as crack (Josh Brolin), tire stores (Jonathan Banks), shirtless drivers (Seth McFarlane), Walmart (Jessica Alba) or loudness (Tommy Lee Jones).   With all the tax breaks and enticements afforded film production companies, shouldn’t its most visible beneficiaries at least have something nice to say about New Mexico?

While New Mexico doesn’t have an official (as in legislatively decreed) symbol of hospitality, most of us recognize a ristra hanging on a doorway as an invitation to visitors, ergo a symbol of hospitality. It’s as much a symbol of hospitality as the pineapple is in Hawaii and the fleur de lis is in Louisiana. Moreover, the ristra has come to represent the state of New Mexico, maybe not quite as much as the Zia sun, but to a large extent. Now, if you want your texts to reflect New Mexico hospitality, download an app called “New Mexico Emojis” for your iPhone or iPad. Among the emojis you can add to your texts is one depicting a bright red ristra.

Chips and Salsa

In Spanish, “ristra” actually means string.  “Chile ristra” then translates into “a string of chiles.”   While the chile ristra has utilitarian roots (chiles being strung together by their stems and hung on walls to dry in the sun), it’s possible decorative ristras fashioned from ceramic, fabric, plastic, and plaster mold are almost as common as actual chile ristras.  Traditionalists appreciate the decorative qualities of the chile ristra, but ultimately will use them as they’ve been used for generations–for cooking and eating.

Because of the esteem with which the chile ristra is held throughout New Mexico, the expectations for a restaurant calling itself Las Ristras are high.  That name brings with it the promise of hospitality and good food showcasing chile.   Las Ristras opened its doors in August, 2015 at the site which scant weeks earlier was home to The Spot.  The restaurant was the brainchild of Corrales resident Ginger Hunter, a fourth generation Corralenia who in 2015 was awarded a Civic Recognition Award in recognition of “acts of compassion and kindness.”  Doesn’t that just bode of hospitality?

Baked Queso Fresco Topped with Chorizo

At its onset, the featured fare at Las Ristras was New Mexican cuisine—most of the “usual suspects” with a few creative touches added for good measure. Las Ristras made an impact on my friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate who gave it the “McGoldrick stamp of approval: “What I like about Las Ristras is that it is not a clone of the many dozens of cookie-cutter NM restaurants. The food is homemade and I feel like I’m eating (and conversing) in Ginger’s kitchen. This is simple food lovingly prepared.” Alas, not everyone shared the same opinion with Yelp and Zomato critics casting dissenting opinions. 

By year’s end, ownership of Las Ristras had transitioned to Chef Jude Sanchez, a Corrales native (and Cibola graduate) who had returned home after cutting a wide swath across some of the best kitchens in Chicago and New York (including one which earned a Michelin star).  Sadly, Jude passed away on 5 March 2018.  We had the great pleasure of having spent just a little time with him, but came away very impressed with his effusive outlook and high aspirations for Las Ristras.  To that end, he’s expanded the restaurant’s menu from mostly New Mexican fare to one now showcasing chophouse favorites the likes of which he enjoyed during his time in Chicago.  Because Jude’s story is so interesting and inspiring, it’s retold at the tail end of this review.

Dinner Salad

You’ll certainly appreciate the multifarious menu, a surprisingly ambitious bill of fare that is actually several menus in one. There’s the Steak House Menu which is subtitled “Chef Inspired Dishes.” This is where carnivores of all persuasions will gravitate. Then there’s the New Mexican Favorites page which lives up to its name. The third menu, called “From the Grill” includes such inviting offerings as green chile meatloaf, fajitas and the Corrales Tortilla Burger. A breakfast menu includes both New Mexican and American wake-you-up items. Drive past Las Ristras and invariably you’ll see a slate board inviting you to try the latest du jour offering.

4 November 2017: Five appetizers and three “in the bowl” starters (posole, green chile stew and chile with beans) may not seem like many, but you’ll be hard-pressed to make a decision as to which to order. Luckily while you’re perusing the menus, a bowl of fresh salsa and chips is ferried over to your table. It may inspire you (as it did us) to order a Mexican inspired starter–the baked queso fresco topped with chorizo. Described as “a fresh slice of queso fresco baked and topped with sauteed chorizo served with chimi chips,” it’s presented beautifully. More importantly it’s flavored beautifully. The chorizo has a pleasant piquancy that permeates the entire dish with the queso fresco slice serving as a nice foil, maybe even palate-cleanser. Since my Kim found the chorizo a bit too piquant for her Chicago palate, it was only fair that I let her have both slices of the melted queso. We suspect that what the menu described as “chimi chips” may have been the three sopes-like fried dough circles on which everything else is piled. In any case, it was the canvas on which a masterpiece was created.

Half Rack Green Chile Rubbed Ribs

4 November 2017: Ever since a rib was taken from Adam’s body and fashioned into the first woman, both men and women (exempting vegetarians and vegans, of course) have craved ribs. Whether spare ribs, baby backs, rib tips or St. Louis cut ribs, they’re beloved by many, but don’t always offer many surprises. Chef Sanchez’s half rack of green chile rubbed ribs (fire-roasted baby back ribs with a Corrales green chile rub and sweet jalapeño sauce) surprised us. Most surprising is just how balanced and complementary the Corrales green chile and jalapeño sauce were. If you ever thought “never the twain shall meet,” you’ll be won over by just how much flavor can be extricated from that combination. The ribs themselves aren’t quite fall-off-the-bone tender, but then the best ribs aren’t. They have a little bit of give, indicative that they’re not overdone as those fall-off-the-bone ribs tend to be. These are competition worthy ribs which would fare well at Rio Rancho’s Pork & Brew.

4 November 2017: For my Chicago born-and-bred Kim, meat and potatoes have been a lifelong dietary staple, so you just have to know that she spent most of her time perusing the Steak House Menu. Not that she got very far even on that page. Mostly she contemplated at length the very first item on the menu, a beefy behemoth called “The Bad Boy.” Picture a sixteen to eighteen ounce bone-in ribeye, it’s described on the men as the “James Dean of the menu,” “so good, it’s bad.” That’s bad in a good way. At medium rare, this beauteous slab of beef has picturesque grill marks that preface flowing juices and a rich, beefy flavor with nice marbling throughout and after all, fat is where a lot of the distinctive flavor of beef comes from. In some places, ribeye is sold as “beauty steak.” The two-inch-thick Bad Boy certainly fits the bill. Steak House menu items are served with a terrific dinner salad drizzled with a creamy avocado ranch dressing. You also have your choice of sides: smoked Gouda green chile potatoes, pancetta vegetables or cilantro lime rice. Go for the former.

The “Bad Boy”

20 May 2018: During our first visit to Las Ristras two months after Chef Sanchez’s untimely passing, we expected a pall of gloom. Instead, our server related that the staff celebrates his life. His recipes are still prepared and his customer orientation values are still practiced. There’s no better way to honor a very well respected and liked chef who left us too soon. Service was terrific with our Dude being the talk of the restaurant. Several servers came out to the patio to meet our debonair dachshund. Our beverages were quick to be replenished and we were well accommodated with a couple substitutions (Gouda green chile potatoes instead of garlic mashed potatoes, fruit instead of papas).  His staff would have made Chef Sanchez proud.

On a leisurely Sunday, we decided to enjoy our appetizer—emanating from the “From The Garden” section of the menu—before ordering our entrees. It’s not very often we enjoy an appetizer so much it changes our thinking about what entrees to have. La Ristra’s fajita salad did precisely that. Described on the menu as “all the great taste of traditional fajitas in a new, fresh, crisp way,” this salad is constructed with bell peppers, onions, cheese, sour cream, corn tortilla strips and your choice of beef or chicken all topped with house avocado ranch dressing. The only thing missing is flour tortillas. My Kim loved this salad so much, she ordered…(wait for it)…fajitas as her entrée.

Fajita Salad

20 May 2018:  The fajitas, available with your choice of beef, chicken or shrimp are much more conventional though presented with less flair than at some New Mexican restaurants. That is, they didn’t arrive at our table on a sizzling hot iron skillet with aromatic steam trailing behind. Otherwise, every expected element is there. The marinated grilled beef is more tender than most skirt steak and who can complain about that. A tangle of sweet, caramelized onions and a finely chopped pico de gallo along with the requisite cheese and sour cream were all in good proportion to the beef.  The flour tortillas were thick orbs of pinto pony charred deliciousness.  We filled them to capacity as we enjoyed every bite of Kim’s fajitas.

20 May 2018: Wild game–elk, quail, wild boar and Chilean trout –is featured on the Chef’s Seasonal menu for Spring, 2018.  Tempting as these are, the ten-ounce, bone-in chile-honey glazed pork ribeye beckoned loudest.  When the menu describes its pork ribeye as “bone-in” it just might be two bones as was the case with the one delivered to our table.  Prepared with nary a hint of pink, the pork ribeye is porcine perfection.  The chile-honey glaze has the sweetness of honey with the piquancy of chile in balanced proportion to each other.  The ribeye is tender and absolutely delicious.  Instead of the “sauteed seasonal vegetables” being code for the seemingly de rigueur vegetable medley of peas and carrots, the accompanying vegetables were sauteed onions, asparagus and mushrooms.  Now these are vegetables I can eat all the time.

Fajitas

4 NOVEMBER 2017: OUR VISIT WITH CHEF JUDE SANCHEZ: To say Chef Sanchez came a long way is an understatement. Unlike many chef luminaries who aspire from a very young age to pursue the culinary arts, he had no such designs. Fate—and a famous New Mexico chef—intervened. After committing a teenage indiscretion, Chef Sanchez found himself in front of a judge about to impose a sentence of community service. Chef Jim White, then at the helm of Corrales institution La Casa Vieja, convinced the judge to let the young rapscallion perform his community service at his restaurant. The rest, as the proverbial “they,” say is history.

Initially, Chef Sanchez was assigned to what the military terms as “kitchen police,” or “KP,” a punishment calling for washing and drying mountains of soiled dishes. When the repentant teen proved himself adept at following instructions and performing quality work, Chef White taught him how to cut and peel vegetables, the next tasking to which he was assigned. Laboring in the fast-paced kitchen environment went from judicially imposed community service to a career path Chef Sanchez wanted very much to pursue. After his stint at La Casa Vieja, he made it his life’s quest to learn as much as he could about the vast diversity of culinary arenas, hence his sojourn to Chicago and New York.

Chile-Honey Glazed Pork Ribeye

The domain of some chefs is solely the kitchen where they toil in relative anonymity and rarely mingle with the dining public. Other chefs glad-hand diners and let others actually prepare meals for their guests. Not so with Chef Sanchez who not only made it a point to check up on his guests, he prepared meals. When we met him, he was toting heavy boxes of locally grown produce for use at Las Ristras, but the prospect of spending time with our debonair dachshund Dude lured him toward our table under a porch at the back of the restaurant. Chef Sanchez was an outgoing gentleman with an easy smile and ebullient passion for his restaurant. He loved his  pit bull terrier like many of us love our children.  How can you not appreciate a chef like that?  Godspeed Jude!

Ristras is part New Mexican, part steak house and a one-hundred percent destination restaurant.

Los Ristras Restaurant
4940 Corrales Road, N.E., Suite 400
Corrales, New Mexico
(505) 433-4192
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 20 May 2018
1st VISIT: 4 November 2017
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 22
COST: $$
BEST BET: Chips and Salsa, The Bad Boy, Green Chile Rubbed Ribs, Fajita Salad, Fajitas, Baked Queso Fresco, Dinner Salad, Chips and Salsa

Las Ristras Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

2G’s Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico

2G’s Bistro on Central Avenue in the EDO Neighborhood

In May, 2018,  Yelp published its listing of the 50 best restaurants in Albuquerque.  Only three of them came from the not-yet-done-revitalizing East Downtown (EDo) district.  The two that won’t surprise anyone are The Grove Cafe & Market at number eight and Standard Diner at number forty-seven. Sandwiched between them is a relative newcomer named 2G’s Bistro which ranked twenty-first.  Geographically, 2G’s Bistro is also sandwiched somewhere between The Grove and the Standard Diner on Central Avenue.  My very preliminary assessment (one visit) is that it may be better than its EDo neighbors on Yelp’s list (gasp, the sacrilege).  Even though  2G’s only has 43 Yelp reviews (as of this writing), they average five stars.  That’s as perfect as Bo Derek, circa 1979.

If you haven’t heard of 2G’s, you’re probably not alone.  It’s only been around since mid-2017 which makes its exalted ranking doubly impressive.  Not surprisingly, two other couples dining on the Lilliputian bistro’s charming dog-friendly patio were visiting because of 2G’s lofty ranking on Yelp’s list, once again demonstrating the power of crowd-sourced reviews.  Both couples raved about their inaugural experience, enthusiastically concurring that they’d return soon.   Our own visit was prompted by the lovely Vanessa, a faithful reader of Gil’s Thrilling…who called 2G’s Reuben “the best in town” (more on that later).

Pulled Pork Street Tacos

Chances are very high that during your visit, you’ll interact directly with the characters for whom 2G’s Bistro is named.  When we asked about the name 2G’s, one jokingly said it stood for two guys drinking beer.  Actually, he elaborated, the two G’s represent the last names–Gonzales (John) and Garragan (Casey) of the two very hands-on business partners who run the restaurant.  Both are peripatetic presences at one of the most charming little restaurants we’ve discovered in 2018.  John inherited the entire (circa 1900) complex of which 2G’s is a part.  That complex includes a maze of connected structures: private residences, offices and a small studio.  The dog-friendly patio sits at the back of the restaurant, perhaps thirty feet away from the cacophony of bustle and noise that is Central Avenue.  Beneath the canopy of leafy trees and shade-giving umbrellas, you might feel as if you’re not even in the Duke City.  Who needs Calgon?

A very ambitious menu belies the diminutive diner.  Though we usually order two appetizers to acquaint ourselves with a restaurant’s style, seeing humongous portions being delivered to neighboring tables dissuaded us though each of the five appetizers were certainly appealing.  So were the salads, soups and salad-soup combos, numbering eight in all (little did we know when perusing the menu that the “side” salad was as large as a side of beef).  Five house specialties, three of them sandwiches follow suit on the menu, but there’s also a sandwich menu with nine more options.  Since you can never have enough choices, the menu also lists four entrees and a bevy of bountiful breakfast items.  For those of us who need caffeine in the morning, the featured coffee is New Mexico Piñon Coffee, increasingly one of my favorite “best parts of waking up” coffees.

Green Chile Meatball Sub

Among the appetizers are two taco plates–the blackened fish street tacos and the pulled pork street tacos (four fresh corn tortillas topped with slow-roasted pork infused with habanero BBQ sauce, in-house pickled jalapeños and onions finished with fresh feta cheese).  It’s been our recent experience that when a menu boasts of a habanero sauce, the preeminent notes are sweet (which habanero peppers do have) with very little of the incendiary heat for which habaneros are appreciated by volcano-eaters like me.  At 2G’s, the habanero BBQ sauce bites back–enough to gain my respect and my earn my Kim’s instantly ruddy complexion.  With or without the sauce, these tacos are outstanding.  Credit much of that to the slow-roasted, tender as my heart tendrils of porcine perfection.  Moist and absolutely delicious, it’s a pork worthy of adulation.

Habitues of Gil’s Thrilling are undoubtedly familiar with (and probably tired of) my ad-nauseam whining about meatball subs. The genesis of my whining stems from two years of enjoying the best meatball grinders (what subs are called in Massachusetts) on the East Coast. Regardless of my pride in (almost) all things New Mexico, our meatball subs don’t have much of the enchantment.  Still, your humble blogger persists.  Wondering if perhaps a meatball sub pervaded with green chile might do the trick, I hesitantly ordered 2G’s Green Chile Meatball Sub (Grandmother’s recipe with a New Mexico twist, homemade meatballs infused with green chile cooked in a scratch marinara topped with melted provolone and basil on a fresh baguette).  There won’t be any hesitation the next time.  Grandmother (John’s) certainly knew what she was doing.  The meatballs are about the size of a golf ball with a nice ratio of meat to binder.  The chile imparts a roasted piquancy that marries oh so well with the marinara.  My search for a transformative meatball sub in New Mexico is over.

Reuben

Not that long ago, an inquiry by BOTVOLR about Reuben sandwiches triggered an cavalcade of comments with respondents weighing in as to where the Duke City’s best can be found.   If the Reuben at 2G’s isn’t the best, it’s on a very short list, in rarefied air alongside the Reubens at Bocadillos and The Farmacy.  At 2G’s all meats are slow-roasted on the premises.  If the corned beef was any more tender, it would be chipped beef.  As is, the slow-roasted corned beef is sliced thin but piled high and topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a house-made remoulade on marbled rye.  The remoulade is fabulous, a worthy substitute for the traditional Russian dressing.  The corned beef is the star however, delivering an Oscar-worthy performance that delighted our taste buds.

Sandwiches and house specialties come with your choice of potato salad, pasta salad, coleslaw or Ms. Vickie’s chips. For a pittance, you can upgrade to the soup of the day or a side salad. If the soup we had, an indulgent French onion soup, is any indication, upgrading to the soup of the day is akin to ordering a second entree. We expected a miserly cup, not a satellite-dish-sized bowl brimming with flavor and ingredients. Think I’m exaggerating about the size of the bowl? The image below shows how easily two bread slices blanketed in molten shredded Gruyere fit into that bowl where all ingredients swim placidly in a rich beef consomme with sweet caramelized onions and sliced mushroom pieces. Prodigious though the portion size may be, it was the big flavors of complementary ingredients replete with flavor that really impressed us.

French Onion Soup

A few weeks before our visit to 2G’s, my Kim ordered a salad entree that set us back more than a ten-spot. We’ve had side salads larger than the scanty portion of wilted leaves and under-roasted beets set before us. The side salad at 2G’s is the proverbial beach bully to that salad’s 98-pound weakling. Again, pictures are worth a thousand words. As shown below, this side salad is is what George Costanza would term a “really big salad.” It’s teeming with mixed greens encircled by sliced cucumbers and topped with red peppers, red onion, sliced mushrooms and crumbled feta cheese. Make sure you enjoy your salad with 2G’s signature Cajun vinaigrette dressing made with agave nectar, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Cajun seasonings. The sweetness of the agave tempers the fiery personalities of the other ingredients. It’s a revelatory dressing. 

The intimacy and personal space proximity of the patio meant we got to know our neighbors, all millenials (ergo, all probably smarter than me). That was demonstrated with each delivery to their tables of such New Mexican dishes as a carne burrito (described on the menu as “melt in your mouth”) and enchiladas.  John explained that though both the red and green chile have a nice bite to them, he can add to their piquancy by sauteing the chile with a few drops of capsaicin oil.  It’s a tactic employed by other restaurants which serve the incendiary chile New Mexicans love.  Alas, no one at the patio ordered the Southwest Benedict which Howie “The Duke of Duke City” KaibelYelp‘s charismatic Albuquerque Community Manager, described in his own inimitable manner as “plenty of understated flavors balanced red and green chile that wasn’t overpowering, solid in-house ham and two of the most delightfully drippy, preggo poached eggos.”  Add that to a growing list of “must try” items on my list.

Side Salad with Cajun Dressing

The EDO neighborhood should be in any conversation about the city’s best dining destinations.  2G’s, the humble Lilliputian eatery with prodigious portions of wonderful food is one of the many reasons.

2G’s Bistro
414 Central Avenue, S.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 246-2040
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 19 May 2018
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Reuben, Green Chile Meatball Sub, French Onion Soup, Side Salad with Cajun Dressing, Pulled Pork Street Tacos
REVIEW #1042

2G's Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1 2 3 368