Casa de Benavidez – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico

Casa de Benavidez, nestled under the pines on Fourth Street

There are restaurants throughout the Duke City that have seemingly always been “there.”  They’re  as much a part of the fabric of the city as the neighborhoods they serve.  Casa de Benavidez is one of those restaurants, a familiar part of the landscape on North Fourth Street, some would say an institution.  Despite the notion of permanence, this venerable treasure has, in fact, been around only since 1984–at least under its current name.

Before there was a Casa de Benavidez, there was, just a mile or so away, a tiny little eatery with only three tables and a bustling take-out business.   There was also a dream, the shared ambition of Paul and Rita Benavidez  to serve their hometown with the food they loved and prepared so well.  At El Mexicano, a diminutive eatery they operated with their children, that dream began the transformation from monochromatic to technicolor with every one of their trademarked sopaipilla burgers sold.

Salsa and Chips

While the family was selling more and more sopaipilla burgers, they were also stockpiling used restaurant equipment in hope and anticipation of an expansion that would allow them to more fully realize their dreams.  Not far from their diminutive digs, Paul found a nearly 100-year-old two-story territorial style adobe home with a half-finished waterfall just south of the structure.  Quickly consummating the sale of the home, the Benavidez family moved out of their old location into the sprawling edifice in just one day.  The rest, as the proverbial “they” say, is history.

Over time, the carryout business at the back of the home became so successful that the family expanded their operation to include a full-service restaurant in the front of the house.  The restaurant was rechristened “Casa de Benavidez,” and the dream culminated with a commodious restaurant offering an expansive menu featuring traditional New Mexican and Mexican food in elegantly appointed interior dining rooms and exterior surroundings that include lush gardens, a koi pond teeming with life and strolling mariachis.

Combination No. 1 Tamale, Cheese Enchilada, Chile Relleno and Taco Served With Beans, Rice, Special Rib and Sopaipilla

On the marquee, subtitled directly below the restaurant’s name, are the words “Home of the Sopaipilla Burger.”  That’s a recognition of the role played in the restaurant’s early and current successes by its unique rendition of New Mexico’s ubiquitous green chile cheeseburger.  Several other restaurants offer their own take on a sopaipilla burger, but Casa de Benavidez’s version was the very first and it remains first in the heart of its loyal patrons, some of whom order the “jumbo” sized half-pound version.

Repeat after me (to the tune of the old Big Mac jingle) — one all-beef patty, refried beans, lettuce, cheese, tomato and chile  (red, green or both) on two sopaipilla “buns.”  That’s the sopaipilla burger, still one of the most popular and celebrated items on the menu.  The sopaipillas are more dense than the puffed-up sopaipillas on which New Mexicans love honey.  They’re formidable enough not to fall apart at the moistness of other ingredients, but if the chile is ladled on a bit too generously, expect your hands to be covered in the red or green stuff.

Carne Adovada Plate

Casa de Benavidez was one of the first restaurants we visited after moving back to Albuquerque in 1996. It didn’t surprise us when this casa was the 1996 winner of KOB TV’s “Salsa Challenge.” The salsa is about medium on the piquancy scale  and has a garlicky flavor aficionados love while the chips (served warm) are unfailingly crisp and fresh. Alas, sometimes because of overflow crowds your empty salsa dish isn’t replenished as faithfully as at other New Mexican restaurants. That’s about the only short-coming in the service which tends to be friendly and attentive.  That salsa, by the way, was named Albuquerque’s fifth best salsa by Albuquerque The Magazine from among a sampling size of 130 different restaurant salsas reviewed in the September, 2012 issue.

The menu features many New Mexican standards, but it also includes “foreign” items such as  chimichangas (Tucson) and fajitas (Texas).  Breakfast is served Friday, Saturday and Sunday with lunch and dinner (same menu) served every day of the week.  Lunch specials are a more economical dining option than dinners. To say Casa Benavidez is one of the more pricey New Mexican restaurants  might be an understatement.  You might experience a bit of sticker shock at seeing some items approaching the nine dollar price point–and that’s just the appetizers.  The entrees are all priced in double-figures.

Sopaipillas and Tortilla

3 January 2017: Perhaps the best way to experience the restaurant’s culinary wizardry is by ordering one of the four combination plates.   Combos are served with beans, rice, one very special rib and sopaipillas.  Combination plate number one features a cheesy enchilada, a taco, a crunchy chile relleno and a tamale. Of these, the real stand-out is the crunchy chile relleno whose sweet, battered texture is unlike any other we’ve had in Albuquerque.  The special pork rib is unique to Casa Benavidez.  It’s a real treat.  Be forewarned that combination plates are humongous–large enough for two.

One of the restaurant’s very best, albeit most unconventional entrees are the succulent pork short ribs: four meaty ribs on which is slathered a semi-sweet and smoky homemade sauce.  These are multi-napkin ribs, the type of which will leave a red beard on any clean-shaven face.  They’re better ribs than you’ll find at several of the Duke City’s barbecue restaurants.  That goes for the sauce, too.  You’ll find yourself dredging up excess sauce with the accompanying fries (or you can have rice).

Natillas

3 January 2017: My Kim tells me it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind.  She does so frequently, but rarely when ordering at a New Mexican restaurant.  Almost invariably, she’ll order the carne adovada plate though only with the chile in which the carne has been marinated, no extra.   Casa de Benavidez serves some of her favorite adovada.  Tender tendrils of easily pulled apart pork marinated in a rich, hearty red chile make her happy and when she’s happy, Gil’s happy.  The carne adovada plate is served with Spanish rice and beans (which she passes over to me). 

3 January 2017: Casa de Benavidez offers a number of desserts: German chocolate cake, carrot cake, fried ice cream, flan, natillas, brownies and a sweet roll.  The natillas are topped with a very generous dollop or ten of whipped cream.  When scraped off, not much of the natillas actually remain.  That’s too bad because these natillas are cinnamon rich, creamy and delicious.

On Fourth Street, facing east Casa de Benavidez is at the forefront of the Sandia Mountains.  Both seem to have an air of distinction and permanence.  Because of its longevity and community standing, the Casa de Benavidez is on the New Mexico Tourism Department’s “Culinary Treasures trail,” an initiative which honors those rare and precious family-owned-and-operated gems operating continuously since at least December 31st, 1969.  As with all the restaurants on the list, the Casa is an independent mom-and-pop restaurant which has stood the test of time to become beloved institutions in their neighborhoods and beyond.

Casa de Benavidez
8032 Fourth Street, N.W.
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 893-3311
Web Site | Facebook Page

LATEST VISIT: 3 January 2017
# OF VISITS: 9
RATING: 18
COST: $$
BEST BET: Sopaipilla Burger, Pork Ribs, Chile Relleno, Salsa and Chips, Combination Plate #1, Sopaipilla

Casa de Benavidez Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burritos Alinstante – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Burritos Alinstante on Broadway

A couple of days before my Kim and I were to be married (some three decades plus ago), my mom flew to Chicago to teach her how to prepare some of my favorite dishes (is it any wonder my sisters call me “consentido” (spoiled)?). A quick study, Kim learned how to make tortillas, lasagna, fried chicken, red chile and other favorites just the way mom makes them. Among the wedding presents my mom gave Kim were a cast-iron comal (griddle) and a rodillo (rolling pin) of her own.   In short order Kim began making tortillas as if she’d been making them all her life, in the process contributing significantly to my adulthood struggle with caloric overachievement.

The time-honored, traditional art of making tortillas on a sizzling cast-iron comal is truly one of the defining elements of both New Mexican and Mexican cuisine. Tortillas are a simple, round flatbread partaken with just about every meal in many a New Mexican household. They are a staple available in most New Mexican restaurants and certainly in the Garduño household. With the widespread availability of plastic-wrapped, store-bought pretenders, however, the art of kneading dough and shaping orbs for preparation on a griddle is slowly being lost.

Green Chile Cheeseburger Burrito

That’s truly a shame because store-bought tortillas can’t compare in taste (and certainly not in aroma) with a tortilla just been peeled off of the comal with its robust, lightly crisped outside and soft, chewy center. The store-bought variety tends to be thin, highly processed and tastes like cardboard might.  You need go no further than Duran’s Central Pharmacy in the Old Town area to experience the former.  The latter is, unfortunately, available in far too many New Mexican restaurants.

Shirley Chavez was a tortillera in the traditional sense, a true craftsperson connected in tradition to rich, ancient cultures as far back as the advanced Mesoamerican civilizations. In 1989, she opened a small tortilla factory called Chavez Tortillas and while her product was known to be outstanding, sales were disappointing. It wasn’t until she began preparing burritos with her tortillas that her business took off. Thus was born Burritos Alinstante, a restaurant which now has a presence in Albuquerque as well as in Belen, Bosque Farms and Los Lunas.

Burrito with Chicharrones, Beans, Cheese and Green Chile

Although the tortillas at Burritos Alinstante are no longer made in the old-fashioned ways, food preparation is still an in-house, hand-crafted process. Everything on the menu is made fresh daily from scratch.  Gleaming metal vessels hold the ingredients in readiness until an order is placed.   Place your order and almost in an instant, your burrito will be ready for you.  If that sounds too much like “just add water and your burrito will be ready,” that’s certainly not a case.  The well-practiced hands of the restaurant’s staff are so deft that your wait will be minimal.

The menu offers twelve burrito choices plus a breakfast burrito (available only until noon) and build your own options (pick one meat, red or green chile, shredded or nacho cheese and two more ingredients). You can have your burritos smothered in red or green chile or hand-held with the chile inside. Combination plates include beans (prepared with lard for that wonderfully authentic New Mexican taste) and Spanish rice.  You can also order nachos, Frito pie, tamale bowl and a taco plate.  Several ala carte items such as salsa and chips, guacamole, tacos and tamales are also available.

The chile isn’t particularly piquant–at least for this fire-eater, but it is very tasty.  The number four burrito (chicharrones, beans, cheese and green chile) hand-held is a popular favorite.  It’s a full eight-ounces of flavor-packed deliciousness with chicharrones in every single bite.  Hand-held doesn’t necessarily mean you can drive with one hand and hold your burrito with the other.  The burrito is so crammed with beans, melting shredded cheese and chile that copious spillage is bound to occur no matter how careful you are.  You’ll enjoy the burrito more if you take a seat in the restaurant’s comfortable confines and savor it slowly. 

Comprehensive as it may be, the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail doesn’t list a single burger that isn’t constructed on conventional burger buns.  Savvy New Mexican restaurateurs long ago figured out green chile cheeseburgers can also be made on tortillas.  Burritos Alinstante doesn’t call their version a “tortilla burger” as some restaurants do.  It’s called a green chile cheeseburger burrito and it’s terrific!  Instead of cutting up a burger patty as some restaurants do, Alinstante’s cooks fill the tortilla with seasoned ground beef then they add traditional green chile cheeseburger ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, green chile and cheese.  This has become my favorite among the restaurant’s many delicious offerings.

For some inexplicable reason, there was a ten-year gap in between my visits to Burritos Alinstante.  That shameful travesty won’t be repeated.  Burritos Alinstante can become a habit.

Burritos Alinstante
2101 Broadway, S.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 242-0966
Web Site | Facebook Page

LATEST VISIT: 21 December 2016
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 18
COST: $
BEST BET: Chicharones Burrito, Salsa and chips, Guacamole, Green Chile Cheeseburger Burrito

Burritos Alinstante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Los Chavez Cafe – Belen, New Mexico

Los Chavez Cafe in Belen

Vamos todos a Belen
Con amor y gozo.

Translated from Spanish, those words–lyrics to a traditional New Mexican nativity song–mean “Let’s all go to Bethlehem with love and joy.”  In villages and cities throughout Northern New Mexico, peregrines sing that song as they reverently process from house-to-house reenacting the Gospel of Luke account of Mary and Joseph and their search for shelter.  Peregrines repeat their search every night during the nine days preceding Christmas, culminating with Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  Known as “Las Posadas” this Catholic tradition often incorporates farolitos, lighted candles weighted with sand in paper bags which light the way for the peregrines and the Christ child yet to be born. 

You couldn’t blame the Belen Chamber of Commerce if they ever decide to co-opt the lyrics “Vamos todos a Belen con amor y gozo.”  It would make a great marketing campaign, an invitation to visit the “Hub City” with love and joy.  While some of us may not associate love and joy with a visit to Belen, New Mexico, there’s much to love about the second most populous city in Valencia County.  If you regard Belen as solely a place en route to somewhere else, you’re probably overdue for a visit to this ancient settlement (founded in 1741) with an eye to the future.

The Drive-up Menu

The New Mexico Railrunner Express makes it easy for you.  As the southern terminus point for the commuter rail system, Belen welcomes visitors with open arms.  Once you arrive, you’re in close proximity to one of the sixteen Harvey Houses built in New Mexico.  Across the street and acequia from the old Harvey House is the legendary Pete’s Cafe, one of the very best New Mexican restaurants in the Land of Enchantment.  A pedestrian overpass provides easy access to restaurants and galleries on Becker Avenue in downtown Belen.

Not everything Belen has to offer is in walking distance proximity of the Railrunner station.  To take full advantage of the city’s offerings, you’ll need your vehicle.  One event eliciting much love and joy in Belen is the annual matanza held the last Saturday in January.  Touted as the “world’s largest matanza,” the event involves the slaughter and cooking of several dozen fatted pigs then serving them to more than ten-thousand hungry patrons.  All proceeds go toward scholarships for local college students.  This family-fun event is renown for, among other delicious offerings, some of the very best chicharrones and carne adovada in the land of Enchantment.  People from all over the world flock to Belen to taste porcine perfection.

Salsa and Chips

About twenty separate teams carry on the tradition passed down by Spanish vaqueros, preparing a variety of dishes showcasing the versatility and deliciousness of pork.  For some cities it may be enough to be known for one significant achievement (such as the world’s largest matanza), but not for Belen.  In August, 2015, Belen laid claim to another “world’s largest” feat.  Fittingly it also involved pork.  During Belen’s Viva II event, the world’s longest tamale was constructed.  Measuring 116 feet, 7 inches, it easily dwarfed the previous  Guinness Book of World Records’ 66-foot 4-inch tamale, which was assembled in Cancún, Mexico.

LJ Thomason and wife Tina, proprietors of Los Chavez Cafe in Belen, led the tamale team.  When it comes to food and festivals in Belen, the Thomasons lead the pack…er, swineherd.  They also sponsor the Rio Grande Matanzeros, one of the pork preparation teams at the world’s largest matanza.  Since the New Mexico state fair began holding an annual chicharrones competition, the Thomson’s have practically owned both the “peoples’ choice” and “judges’ choice” awards.  When it comes to chicharrones, no one does it better!

Chicharron Taco and Carne Adovada Taco

Fortunately you don’t have to wait until late January or for the state fair to sample those celebrated chicharrones.  All it takes is a thirty-minute (from Albuquerque) ride south to Los Chavez Cafe on Main Street Belen.  It’s a drive to be made with love and joy, two emotions you’ll experience at the popular Cafe (reason enough to visit Belen).  The Cafe is rather innocuous, bearing little semblance to most New Mexican restaurants.  In a previous life, it appears to have been the home of a Long John Silver’s seafood (term used loosely) restaurant.  That notion is reinforced by the large drive-up window and cavalcade of motorized conveyances waiting to place an order.

Rather than trying to be another one of those restaurants purporting to server virtually every New Mexican dish and not necessarily doing any of them well, Los Chavez’s menu is relatively sparse, showcasing what they do best: pork dishes.  Open for breakfast and lunch, the Cafe’s best bets are probably chicharron dishes though the daily specials are tempting.  Chicharrones aren’t just found on the bounteous burrito menu.  You can find chicharrones, porcine gold nuggets, on some items in which you wouldn’t expect to find chicharrones.

Chile Relleno Plate

That includes chicharron tacos, a novelty anywhere else, but a specialty at Los Chavez.  Served on soft-shelled corn tortillas redolent with the alluring aroma of fresh corn, the chicharron tacos are replete with inimitably delicious golden-hued cubed pork.  Nestled within the corn envelope are chopped cilantro, red onions and chopped tomatoes, all reminiscent of Mexican-style tacos.  Though good as gold, you won’t have to raid Fort Knox to pay for them.  While you’re at it, you should also order a carne adovada taco.  The carne adovada is silky smooth and absolutely delicious.  The tender tendrils of chile-marinated pork are addictive. 

You’ll know you’re no longer in Albuquerque with your first sampling of the Cafe’s salsa and chips.  While too many of the metropolitan area’s New Mexican restaurants tend to dumb down their salsa, at Los Chavez the salsa has an incendiary bite–even more heat than the fabled salsa at Sadie’s.  Because heat isn’t the be-all qualify of a great salsa, this one also has a great chile-blessed flavor.  The salsa is served with crisp, low-in-salt chips.  You’ll quickly polish off the complimentary first portion (perhaps with a cup or six of coffee) and will probably order another portion. 

Jim Croce once cautioned against “tugging on Superman’s cape and spitting into the wind.”  He should have added “you don’t order something other than chicharrones at Los Chavez.”  That’s precisely what this humbled critic did because my waitress rhapsodized about the chile relleno plate.  Don’t get me wrong.  The chile relleno was delicious, thanks largely to the piquancy of the cheese-engorged green chile, but it was battered a bit too thickly for my taste.  Though I enjoyed the rellenos–and the superb frijoles and papits–very much, my cheating eyes were focused on the chicharron dishes destined for other tables. 

Love and joy will certainly warm your heart (and that’s not just the chile talking) after lunch at Los Chavez Cafe in beautiful downtown Belen.  It’s time to rediscover Belen and the pleasure pork can bring.

Los Chavez Cafe
633 North Main Street
Belen, New Mexico
(505) 859-4121
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 24 September 2016
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Chicharron Taco, Carne Adovada Taco, Chile Rellenos, Salsa and Chips

Los Chavez Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Apple Tree Cafe – Corrales, New Mexico

The Sprawling Wagner Farms Complex in Corrales Includes The Apple Tree Cafe

Apple trees have had a bad rap ever since a conniving serpent (probably a lawyer or politician in disguise) in a verdant paradise beguiled Eve into taking a bite of the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Never mind that Genesis does not specifically mention an apple as having been the forbidden fruit, for some reason (perhaps collusion among grape growers), religious art has always depicted the apple as the one fruit God prohibited Adam and Eve from touching or eating “lest you die.” The apple tree’s nefarious reputation took another nasty hit when an orchard of apple trees hurled fruity missiles at Dorothy and her friends as they made their way to Oz. Dorothy was just trying to follow the edict “an apple a day keeps the doctor (or the wicked witch of the west) away.”

Today, temptation is still synonymous with the apple tree, particularly in Corrales where generations of New Mexicans converge every year to get their chile fix at Wagner Farms. Few can resist the alluring siren’s call of chiles being roasted, their tender flesh hissing and spitting as they blacken as their alluring aroma perfumes the air. Like Eve succumbing to the wiles of the serpent, many of us also can’t resist the lure of the Apple Tree Café adjacent to the farm store. It’s a temptation so strong, we walk briskly past bins showcasing crisp, fresh vegetables and fruits. We fidget and fuss if we have to stand in line to place our orders at the counter then we count the minutes until we’re summoned back to that counter to pick up our bounty of deliciousness.

Place Your Order Here

Long queues are not atypical at the Apple Tree where ardent aficionados line up for a New Mexican breakfast or lunch fix. In fact, the number of hungry diners queuing up at the cash-only counter is often longer than the number of items on the menu.  While the menu may be small, flavors and aromas emanating from the tiny kitchen are not.  Alas, you can sate your appetite at the Apple Tree Cafe only during chile roasting season, a seasonal event that (sometimes) ranges from as early as mid-July through mid-November depending on the harvest (though the breakfast burritos are available at the Corrales Growers Market on Sundays).  Breakfast–essentially two burritos and huevos rancheros–is available all day.  Savvy diners traverse highways and byways to have one of the Cafe’s behemoth breakfast burritos. 

That became evident in the summer of 2014 when the New Mexico Tourism Department invited New Mexicans to nominate and vote for their favorite purveyors of breakfast burritos.  Nearly 50,000 votes were cast for the 400 restaurants nominated for inclusion in the New Mexico True Breakfast Burrito Byway.   Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill in Edgewood garnered the most votes with 2,623 tallies. The Apple Tree Café placed second with 1,907 votes.  The fact that the restaurants earning the most votes were from small towns speaks volumes about New Mexico’s oft quirky voting preferences.

Beef Enchiladas Christmas Style

In her novelty hit popular music singer Rosemary Clooney invited listeners to “try an enchilada with da fish a bac a lab and then a…”   While the lyrics may confound listeners, New Mexicans love enchiladas and would probably try them with “da fish a bac a lab” if only we could figure out exactly what that means.  Generally we like our enchiladas made in the traditional way.  More often than not in Northern New Mexico, that means flat, not rolled.  At the Apple Tree Cafe, enchiladas are rolled, but you get three of them on a plate along with your choice of red or green chile (if for no other reason but to sample them both, ask for “Christmas”).  Available with either chicken or beef (shredded), the enchiladas go best with a fried egg over-easy on top and are served with beans and rice.  The beans are terrific, but the Spanish rice is about as boring as every other Spanish rice dish in New Mexico.  We enjoyed the green chile quite a bit more than we did the red though neither is especially piquant.

Any compilation of New Mexican food favorites has to include green chile stew, a staple at virtually every restaurant and home throughout the Land of Enchantment.  Odes and paeans have been written about the invigorating properties of green chile stew, an elixir which can assuage hunger and make partakers contented.  A bowl of green chile stew is a must at the Apple Tree Cafe.  More than most, it’s replete with chopped green chile, fresh tomatoes, bite-sized chunks of potatoes and cubed pork.  Though it lacks the incendiary heat many New Mexicans love (remember, here pain is a flavor), the green chile is redolent with green chile goodness.  The green chile stew is served with a thick locally made tortilla that puts to shame most of the waifishly thin factory-made tortillas served elsewhere.

Green Chile Stew

It’s almost endemic in New Mexico that all restaurants, cafes, restaurants, drive-ins, diners, dives, joints, roadside stands and bowling alleys with cooking capabilities serve up their version of our state’s sacrosanct green chile cheeseburger.  The Apple Tree Cafe’s version is a nice vehicle for Wagner Farm’s chopped green chile, alas a fairly tepid offering.  Constructed with fresh, naturally ripened tomatoes, chopped lettuce, mustard, American cheese and green chile between sesame seed buns, this burger would be greatly improved with hand-formed, never refrigerated beef.  With every bite you’re reminded of the telltale signs of frozen beef patties on what would otherwise be an excellent burger.

Several postprandial delights await though you’ll probably take them home for later consumption because of the Cafe’s generous portions.  Make one of them the blueberry-lemon cake, a brick-sized cake featuring two fruits with varying degrees of tanginess.  Spongy freshness and moistness are hallmarks of this terrific cake.  We weren’t quite as enamored of the apple turnover which wasn’t nearly as flaky or fruit-filled as similar offerings at local bakeries.  Other desserts include homemade apple pie, peach cobbler and ice cream as well as caramel apples as teasingly tempting as they can be.

Green Chile Cheeseburger

Temptations abound at the Apple Tree Cafe, but unless you’re dietetically depriving yourself of New Mexican food deliciousness, you need not ever feel guilty about succumbing to the allure of culinary favorites blessed by the incomparable flavors and aromas of chile.

Apple Tree Cafe
5000 Corrales Road
Corrales, New Mexico
(505) 270-7056
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 5 September 2016
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 19
COST: $$
BEST BET: Beef Enchiladas, Green Chile Cheeseburger, Green Chile Stew, Watermelon Juice, Apple Turnover, Blueberry-Lemon Cake

Apple Tree Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Casa Diaz – Bernalillo, New Mexico

Casa Diaz on Camino Del Pueblo in Bernalillo

The siren song of a small town living has always appealed to Irma Rodriguez who just can’t see herself in the big city.  Having grown up in Gallup, New Mexico, she appreciates the sense of community–the extended family feeling of really getting to know her neighbors.  It’s an attitude she imparts to guests at Casa Diaz Mexican and American Grill, the Bernalillo restaurant she and husband Jesus launched in August, 2016.  For her, the term “locally owned and operated” is deeply rooted, a reflection of her upbringing in and around family owned and operated restaurants in Gallup. 

Irma’s grandmother served for decades as the tortillera at the legendary Jerry’s Cafe in Gallup.  Later when Irma herself worked at Jerry’s, she assimilated the day-to-day nuances of running the most popular independent restaurant in the Heart of Navajo Country.  In particular, she observed as the restaurant’s staff inculcated a customer-oriented attitude.  The lessons she learned are inscribed in her restaurant’s operational model on the Web site’s “About Us” page: “We strive to give you a fresh meal that’s similar to being home cooked. When you are at Casa Diaz we treat you like family because that’s what you are to us. We want to give you the best experience and provide the highest quality of service.”  Treat you like family, best experience, highest quality of service…those are small town values you’ll find at Casa Diaz.

Casa Diaz Dining Room

If you’ve ever been to Jerry’s Cafe, you’ve not only experienced great service, but some of the very best New Mexican cuisine in the Land of Enchantment.  Irma admits that when she’s stuck for a recipe or a dish is missing a little something, she’ll call her friends at Jerry’s and they help her out.  Having a strong service foundation and a little help from Jerry’s–that’s a good formula for keeping her guests happy.  It also helps that Casa Diaz has an inviting and homey look and feel.  Seating, on chairs imprinted with the sunburst symbol, is comfortable.  A kiva fireplace lends warmth even when it’s not in use.  Walls are festooned with artwork courtesy of the Rio Rancho Art Association

Casa Diaz is located on heavily trafficked Camino Del Pueblo in a space previously occupied by long-time Bernalillo favorite La Casita Cafe.  When La Casita shuttered its doors in 2013 after more than thirty years of feeding Bernalillo, it left a significant void.  Bellies still rumble when former patrons drove by the empty location.  As with Casa Diaz, La Casita was a family-owned and operated restaurant which treated its guests like family.  That’s just how things are in small towns such as Bernalillo.  That’s why Casa Diaz is already becoming a local favorite.

Empanadas

The concept of a Mexican and American grill is an interesting and ambitious undertaking, but if our inaugural visit is any indication, Irma and her culinary crew are up to the task.  As is our practice, we asked whether or not the chile is prepared with cumin.  Interestingly the green chile is made with cumin as is the fire-roasted tomato salsa, but the red chile is not (usually it’s the other way around).  Neither is the terrific tomatillo salsa (more on that later).  No matter what you order, make sure to wash it down with either the horchata or the Jamaica agua fresca.

Mexican and American dishes are not always the mix-and-match dichotomy they’re painted to be, especially when grilled.  They actually go very well together.  The breakfast menu includes a number of Mexican and New Mexican favorites such as huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos, but it’s also got French toast, pancakes (with bananas or strawberries) and a ham-and-egg breakfast sandwich.    While the menu may tell you breakfast is served only until 11AM, if you use the “my watch stopped” excuse and ask nicely, the ever-accommodating wait staff might let you order a breakfast entree even at 1:30PM.

Eggs & Nopoalitos

Casa Diaz doesn’t offer distinctive lunch and dinner menus which means you can have any of the twelve starters any time after 11AM.  The starters menu offers quite a bit of diversity: coctel de camaron and queso con carne as well as fried pickles and buffalo wings.  Soups and salads are available as well as menudo (Saturday and Sunday only).  Four burgers will tempt the burgerphiles among us.  Entrees range from ribeye and salmon to enchiladas and shrimp fajitas.  Kids meals include cheese pizza and grilled cheese.  There’s bound to be something for everyone, including vegetarians.

Casa Diaz may shatter any preconceptions about empanadas you’ve ever had.  Almost every other empanada we’ve ever had has been made with a bread-type dough, sometimes flaky.  At Casa Diaz, the empanadas are made with flattened sopaipillas.  It’s a winning idea!  The empanadas are engorged with ground beef, green peppers and tomatoes and topped with a crema fresca.  Excellent on their own, the empanadas are made exceptional when you spoon on the accompanying tomatillo salsa, as good as any tomatillo salsa we’ve found in the area.  The tomatillo salsa imparts bright, tangy, sour-sweet and piquant flavor notes.

Torta

There are several breakfast items you’ll certainly want to try.  One of those is eggs and nopalitos, two eggs scrambled with nopalitos, tomatoes and onions, served side of Casa potatoes and charro beans with two corn tortillas.  Don’t let the fact that nopalitos are the edible young pads of the prickly pear cactus dissuade you from enjoying a truly tasty dish.  Yesa, the pesky, prickly cactus spines are removed and no, nopalitos don’t taste like chicken.  Nopalitos have a distinctive herbaceous-sour flavor and a better flavor than so many other “vegetables.”  The accompanying charro beans are magnificent, among the best we’ve ever had.  Perfectly prepared pintos with pieces of hot dog and bacon, those charros are championship caliber.   

If you still think a torta is just some sort of cake, you haven’t spent much time in Mexican restaurants throughout the Duke City where tortas are making significant inroads.  Instead of ordering tacos which are far less substantial and quite a bit more expensive for what you get, savvy diners are ordering tortas, the quintessential, generously endowed Mexican sandwich.  Sometimes called “lonche” because they’re often eaten for lunch, tortas are good any time of day.  Anyone who loves sandwiches will love tortas.  Casa Diaz’ rendition is served on sourdough bread with lettuce, tomato, avocado, pepperjack cheese, roasted jalapeno on the side and your choice of protein.  The ham, a thick, smoky slice is especially good.

Adovada Pork Chops

When New Mexicans hear the term “adovada”  we tend to think tender chunks of New Mexico pork braised in wondrous New Mexico red chile.  Indeed, throughout the Land of Enchantment, when you see carne adovada on the menu, that’s almost invariably how you’re going to get it.  There are exceptions (Orlando’s in Taos comes to mind), but they’re few and far between.  Add Casa Diaz to the proud few restaurants for whim the term “adovada” doesn’t always subscribe to expectations.  As at Orlando’s, adovada at Casa Diaz means grilled, quarter-inch thick marinated pork chops marinated in chile.  The adovada pork chops are better than the waifishly thin breakfast pork chops area restaurants tend to serve courtesy of a red chile which, not especially piquant, has a nice flavor.  The adovada pork chops are served with calabasitas and papitas.

There was only one item on the menu we didn’t enjoy, the cherry cobbler.  After going two-for-two with outstanding cobbler dishes at The County Line Restaurant and Eclectic Urban Pizzeria and Tap House, we thought a trifecta might be possible. Twas not meant to be.  We managed to locate only one cherry in the cobbler, a gelatinous pectin-packed mess topped by a very good crust and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Since the theme of this review seems to be small town, we can only hope there are cherry trees in Bernalillo.  Casa Diaz is too good a restaurant to serve cherries from a can.

Cherry Cobbler

If you appreciate small town values and good food, you’ll like Casa Diaz Mexican American Grill, soon to be another Bernalillo dining destination restaurant.

Casa Diaz Mexican American Grill
567 South Camino Del Pueblo
Bernalillo, New Mexico
(505) 688-3589
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 3 September 2016
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Empanadas, Adovada Pork Chop, Ham Torta, Eggs & Nopalitos

Casa Diaz Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cervantes Restaurant & Lounge – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Cervantes Restaurant & Lounge on San Pedro and Gibson

In 1706, a group of Spanish colonists were granted permission by King Philip of Spain to establish a new villa on the banks and in the valley of the Rio del Norte. The colonists chose a spot “in a place of good fields, waters, pastures, and timber, distant from the villa of Santa Fe about twenty-two leagues.”  They named the new settlement La Villa de Alburquerque in honor of the Viceroy of New Spain, Fernandez de la Cueva, Duque de Alburquerque.”  A portrait of el Duque de Alburquerque hangs prominently just above the mantle at Cervantes Restaurant & Lounge in the southeast quadrant of the city named for him.  Though there is a lot to see throughout the restaurant, the portrait of El Duque is the cynosure to which all eyes are inevitably drawn, a commanding presence with a quiet air of dignity and regal bearing.

One wonders what El Duque de Alburquerque would think of the city bearing his name and of the lively cuisine that prompted Livability.com to name that city one of America’s “10 most surprisingly vibrant cities for foodies to flex their taste buds” and for the Huffington Post to declare it “one of the ten best cities for local food.”  El Duque would certainly marvel at the profligate portions served at every meal and of the rotundity of many who partake of those portions.”  An aristocrat renown for the luxury and magnificence of his administration, El Duque would probably take great self-aggrandizing pleasure at the portrait hanging at Cervantes, but it’s likely the food would cause him severe gastronomic distress.  He would certainly not be used to the richness and piquancy of the ingredients and might wonder what manner of alchemy is searing his tongue and saturating his brow.

Cervantes Dining Room

Note:  It was during my initial visit to Cervantes in 1979 that I was told the portrait hanging over the mantle depicted El Duque de Albuquerque.  During my most recent visit in July, 2016, our server related that no one really knows whose countenance hangs on the wall.  She joked that it could be a portrait of “just about anybody.”  Whether you choose to believe that distinguished gentleman who’s presided over every meal at Cervantes is El Duque or just some noble looking dude won’t add to or take away from how much you’ll enjoy a meal at this legendary eatery.

Although Cervantes Restaurant and Lounge is hardly contemporaneous with El Duque de Alburquerque, it is one of the city’s venerable dining institutions.  Hundreds of Albuquerque restaurants have come and gone in the three and a half decades since Roberta Finley launched her restaurant in 1976.  Still, this Kirtland Air Force Base area institution continues to thrive against increasingly formidable competition, outlasting many of the anointed “flavor of the day” restaurants which burn hot at the start, but fizzle out over time.

Salsa and Chips

There are many reasons Cervantes has not fizzled out like so many of its competitors and one of them is because it still burns red hot—literally.  In the early 80s, Cervantes was where to go if you needed a chile fix, the hotter the better.  The chile was incendiary, but addictively so.  While stationed at Kirtland, we used to take the dreaded Inspector General team to Cervantes so we could watch them sweat in much the same way they probably delighted in watching us sweat their white-glove inspections of our mission readiness.

Today Cervantes’ chile isn’t nearly as piquant as the chile burned into my memory engrams (not to mention my taste buds and tongue), but it seems to be much more flavorable—especially the red chile.  For the non-fire-eaters among us, the incendiary heat of that chile may have detracted from the flavor appreciation that just isn’t possible when your mouth is burning.  For those of us with asbestos-lined tongues, eating that chile was a rite of passage, a demonstration of our manliness (being the more mature gender, women need no such affirmation).  In any case, the red chile at Cervantes remains very good.  It’s very healthy, too.  In keeping with today’s healthier lifestyles it is made with less sodium, fewer calories and no fat or cholesterol while retaining the richness of traditional flavors.  Cervantes food products contain no artificial preservatives, chemical additives, fillers or animal products.

Con Queso

Cervantes Food Products has become synonymous with the restaurant.  The Food Products Division was born from the family’s commitment to preserving heirloom family recipes, many of which are more than a century old.  Heart-healthy gift baskets for all occasions are available through the Cervantes Web site.  They’re especially popular with expatriated New Mexicans craving a chile fix.  Several Cervantes products have earned a multitude of Scovie awards over the years.  Named for Wilbur Scoville who pioneered the rating scale for piquancy, the Scovie award was created by Albuquerque resident Dave DeWitt, founder and co-publisher of Fiery-Foods & BBQ magazine.  Every year as many as 800 products from around the world compete for these coveted honors.

Cervantes remains, at heart, a much loved restaurant that has served three generations of loyal patrons.  Active duty and retired Air Force personnel and the civilian workforce from nearby Kirtland are especially loyal, constituting a significant percentage of the restaurant’s daily visitors.  No doubt they still bring the dreaded Inspector General for a meal or two, perhaps no longer to make them sweat from the piquancy of the chile, but to soothe the savage breast with New Mexican food with charms to do so.

Ground Beef Enchiladas Christmas Style with an Over Easy Egg

The dining room at Cervantes is in two levels with a lower center section flanked on both sides by seating for lesser numbers.  Tables in the lower center section accommodate larger parties.  The ambience is a sort of Spanish Gothic meets Mexican traditional.  Chandeliers suspended from the ceiling provide low-light comfort that just seems appropriate considering the dark woods and especially the crossed Spanish swords and shields festooning the walls on either side of the fireplace where el Duque de Alburquerque appears to look over the restaurant.  Colorful Mexican blankets are strewn about judiciously.

A basket of chips and a bowl of salsa are presented with your menu.  The first round is complementary, the second (and likely third and forth) will cost you a pittance.  The chips are unsalted, but large and crisp, perfect for Gil-size scoops of salsa.  The salsa is gloriously red, constructed of fresh ingredients (garlic, tomatoes, onion and I believe both jalapeno and green chile).  It is of medium piquancy with just enough bite to get your attention.

Carne Adovada

The menu includes many traditional New Mexican food favorites: enchiladas, chile rellenos, tacos, carne adovada, stuffed sopaipillas, burritos, taco salad and more.  House specialties include bowls of red or green chile with two flour tortillas and butter, posole, a New York cut steak and a unique Cervantes twist on the traditional New Mexico green chile cheeseburger.  This burger is crafted with a three-quarter pound of lean ground sirloin served open-faced on your choice of tortilla, French bread or a sopaipilla.  It’s quite good.

17 July 2016: Marinated overnight then slow-cooked until so tender it’s falling apart, Cervantes’ carne adovada is among the very best in Albuquerque, melding the exquisite flavors of New Mexican red chile, oregano and garlic with pork.  Unlike some restaurants, Cervantes doesn’t adulterate their carne adovada with cumin or an excess of Mexican oregano which can make the dish acerbic.  Instead, the marinade accentuates the marriage of pork and chile, imparting flavors that warrant reverence.  My Kim enjoys the carne adovada with a fried egg over easy on top.  A runny yoke atop the crimson carne may sound heretical, but the resultant flavors are quite good.

Ala Carte Tamal

Huevos Rancheros with Carne Adovada is a popular way for your taste buds to pay proper homage to Cervantes’ carne adovada.  This plate includes two eggs any style, beans and rice on a flour or corn tortilla.  The beans are excellent, refried with melted white Cheddar atop.  The Spanish rice is moist and delicious with bits of green pepper which enliven the rice.  It’s the carne adovada which stands out.  Unfortunately there isn’t much of it–enough to make you crave more of it, but not enough to sate your immediate need for its delicious qualities.

17 July 2016: Another long-time Cervantes favorite is the enchilada plate, a plate of New Mexico enchantment comprised of your choice of two or three rolled enchiladas–two stuffed with cheese and one with ground beef.  You can also have them stuffed with carne adovada or chicken.  The enchiladas are great with both green and red chile and with a fried egg on top, but for my money, the red chile accentuates the other ingredients best.  As with other plates, the enchiladas are served with refried beans and Spanish rice.  Skip the Spanish rice and ask for two portions of the beans.  They’re among the best in town.

Sopaipillas

The sopaipillas are a true contender for “best in the city” honors.  These are puffy pillows of fried dough without any of the greasiness sopaipillas tend to have.  Cervantes also uses real honey (local) instead of that honey-flavored syrup some restaurants serve.  Don’t save them for dessert; polish them off as soon as they arrive at your table when they’re hot and steam wafts upwards as you pull them apart to form a pocket for the honey. 

17 July 2016: Even after polishing off the sopaipillas with honey, do yourself a favor and order either natillas or flan for dessert.  The natillas are exemplars of what natillas should be–a creamy custard made with milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  Ask for lots of cinnamon, an ameliorant which imbues the natillas with a fragrant bouquet you’ll enjoy as you’re spooning up the light, delicate (never lumpy at Cervantes) natillas.

Natillas

Cervantes Restaurant and Lounge is somewhat off the beaten path for diners who live outside the city’s Southeast quadrant, but thousands of loyal local patrons find their way to this popular  favorite for New Mexican food the way it’s been made for generations.  It’s one of the very best, most traditional New Mexican restaurants in the city of El Duque de Alburquerque.

Cervantes Restaurant & Lounge
5801 San Pedro, S.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 262-2253
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 17 July 2016
# OF VISITS: 7
RATING: 22
COST: $$
BEST BET: Sopaipillas, Enchiladas, Carne Adovada, Salsa and Chips, Natillas, Con Queso

Cervantes Restaurant & Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sadie’s Dining Room – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sadie’s, a landmark New Mexican restaurant

Albuquerque and Sadie’s Dining Room have come a long way since 1950. Back then the Duke City’s population was 96,815, up 173% from 1940. Sadie Koury, the oldest child of Lebanese immigrants, was four years away from launching her first Albuquerque restaurant. Located on Second and Osuna, the first Sadie’s was housed in a Lilliputian edifice not much bigger than the restrooms at the Fourth Street restaurant which today bears her name.  The Duke City was much more pastoral in the early 50s and Sadie’s restaurant was but a diminutive nine-stool diner on what was then one of the city’s most busy thoroughfares (though not quite as busy as Fourth Street which in 1954, was already seventeen years removed from having been part of historic Route 66). 

Sadie opened her eponymous eatery for breakfast every morning at 5AM and served lunch late into the afternoon.  Standing room only crowds often included truckers who deviated from their Route 66 throughway and who would park their diesel rigs around the tiny edifice.  Sadie greeted her customers with a friendly “hi honey” and got to know many of her regulars as well as how they liked their favorite meals prepared.

Sadie’s dining room

In 1973 after nearly twenty years at her restaurant’s original home, Sadie and her baby sister Betty-Jo moved the restaurant next door to the Lark Bar which could accommodate 35 guests. They would remain at the Lark Bar for only two years.  In 1975, Sadie retired and left the restaurant in Betty-Joe’s very capable hands.  Betty-Jo and her husband Bob Stafford soon relocated the restaurant again, this time to the noisy confines of the Sun Valley Bowl on Fourth Street where its reputation for humongous portions of incendiary chile-laden dishes was further cemented. The restaurant’s 120-seat capacity saw overflow crowds every night.

Sadie passed away in 1986, four years before the Staffords opened the palatial Fourth Street dining establishment that thirty years later continues to be one of Albuquerque’s most popular dining establishments.  Despite a comfortable lounge, a banquet room for large parties, a spacious bar and a capacious covered patio with fountains and greenery, the restaurant often seems crowded.  Such are the overflow crowds that frequent Sadie’s.  In 2009, a second instantiation of the restaurant opened, this one on Albuquerque’s east side. East-siders can share a parking lot with he Owl Cafe and  get their Sadie’s chile fix.  A third outlet, in the Santa Ana Star Casino opened in 2012.  Yet another Sadie’s opened in 2013 at an Academy location which previously housed Garduño’s of Mexico.

The grill that made Sadie’s famous

Today, the Duke City flirts with a population of more than half a million and Sadie’s remains one of the city’s most popular New Mexican restaurants–and certainly one of its most commodious with the Fourth Street location boasting of a 375 diner seating capacity.  With the addition of three other Sadie’s outlets, seating capacity for the burgeoning restaurant empire is closer to 1000 today.  Long waits are still typical at the Fourth Street location where a large mural taking up nearly the entire South-facing main dining-room wall depicts Sadie’s humble diner and its business neighbors, all back-dropped by the Sandias. On the roof of the diner was a large sign reading simply “Hamburgers” while signage reading “Chops” and “Steaks” flanked the restaurant’s door and sole frontage window.  In the accolade-laden shrine that is the hallway between the dining room and the restrooms are dozens of framed newspaper articles touting Sadie’s restaurant, but also holding a place of prominence is the original grill in which Sadie prepared her famous hamburgers.

Sadie’s is renown for several things, among which are: its rags to riches success story, consistently hot chile and prodigious portions. Over the years it has developed a growing and faithful following that has remained steadfast in its devotion.  Avid proponents make a case for Sadie’s being one of the best restaurants in the state. A fellow gourmand whose opinion I value swears the triumvirate of Sadie’s in the North, the Owl Cafe in Central New Mexico and Chope’s in the state’s Southern region are the three best restaurant’s in the Land of Enchantment.

Salsa and Chips at Sadie’s

Unlike so many other so-called New Mexican restaurants, Sadie’s hasn’t “dumbed down” its chile which retains its characteristically piquant flavor, a fire-eaters elixir that makes our tongues tingles and brings sweat to our brows. That’s the reason–along with the prodigious portions–so many native New Mexicans crowd Sadie’s.  Newcomers to New Mexico who are eager to prove their mettle or obtain an endorphin rush also list it among their favorites.  My own personal estimation (and rating) of Sadie’s has waned in recent years, largely (but not exclusively) because of the restaurant’s use of cumin, a distinctly non-New Mexican food ingredient.  Unlike some other cuminista restaurants, Sadie’s doesn’t actually use cumin on its chile.  Instead, the cumin is used liberally on the restaurant’s beef (including the Roberto Special described below).

At Sadie’s, salsa is complimentary and masochists like me might polish off two bowlfuls as our brows glisten (sometimes profusely) courtesy of the capsaicin rich, green chile endowed salsa (which, by the way, is bottled and sold in stores throughout New Mexico).  The salsa is the most piquant item on the menu.  Comparatively, the red and green chile are tepid. In its September, 2012 edition, Albuquerque The Magazine named the salsa at Sadie’s the sixth best in Albuquerque from among 130 salsas sampled throughout the city.

Award-Winning Burger

Portion sizes are gargantuan! Some platters would feed a developing nation or as former Tonight Show host Jay Leno might joke, one endomorphic American diner. Hefting home a doggie bag won’t burn off many of the 2,000 or so calories you just consumed, but it does provide tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. Most “dinner” plates includes frijoles and papitas.  For years no restaurant in Albuquerque prepared its papitas (little cubes of potato perfection with the taste of well-salted, square-shaped French fries) quite as well as Sadie’s.  During our most recent visits, we’ve found the papitas desiccated and underseasoned.

My long-time Sadie’s favorite for years was the Roberto Special, a pounded hamburger steak patty–the likes of which Sadie herself may have hand-formed back in the 50s. The Roberto Special is topped with enough artery-clogging melted queso to up your cholesterol 50 points.  That molten queso blankets a mountain of papitas and frijoles in a plate the size of a car tire.   For a mere pittance you can request a “large” Roberto special which essentially doubles the pounded steak portion.  Even with the pounded steak doused in cumin, what has stripped this dish of its “Special” designation for me is the fact that  all too often the steak is cooked at well-done.

The Roberto Special Christmas Style

At many New Mexican restaurants salsa and chips are no longer complementary and it’s increasingly rare to find restaurants which also don’t charge for sopaipillas. That’s definitely not the case at Sadie’s where each meal is accompanied by several of these puffy treasures. During a 2006 Food Network episode of the Secret Life of…Southwestern Food, host Jim O’Connor spent a day at Sadie’s where he learned all about sopaipillas. He ate stuffed sopaipillas, sopaipillas with honey and sopaipillas by themselves and enjoyed every single morsel.

When he traveled to Albuquerque for a taping of the Travel Channel’s Man vs Food Nation (which aired for the first time on June 22nd, 2011) host Adam Richman was introduced to the world’s largest sopaipilla at Sadie’s–a foot wide, six and a half pound behemoth of stewed chicken, ground beef, carne adovada, papitas, pinto beans, red and green chile and Cheddar. Served on what appeared to be a pizza-sized platter, it was “sopa-perfect” according to the effusive Richman.

Grilled Pork Chop with Beans and Papitas

Sadie’s stuffed sopaipillas are indeed very enjoyable (for me only if they’re stuffed with chicken which doesn’t receive the cumin dousing to which the beef is subjected).   Even if you’re not inclined to eat the largest sopaipilla in the world, you’ll find a standard stuffed sopaipilla dish quite formidable.   Sadie’s sopaipillas can be engorged with spicy beef, chicken, grilled lean ground beef or just frijoles and can be topped with green or red chile (or even better, Christmas style).

The house specialty at Sadie’s is the enchilada dinner, a platter-sized plate brimming with two soft corn tortillas rolled or stacked with Cheddar cheese and onions and served with frijoles. The enchilada dinner is as flexible as the soft corn tortillas on which it is made. That means you can have it with blue corn tortillas instead of the standard yellow corn tortillas. You can have it with boneless grilled chicken or with Billy’s spicy ground beef and if that’s not enough, you can customize your creation–maybe one ground beef enchilada and one with chicken.

Sopaipillas

Your customization might also extend to the chile where you can have red or green chile or preferably both (what New Mexicans call Christmas style). You can even ask for a third enchilada if you’re so inclined. By all means ask for a fried egg on top of your enchilada. It’s the way New Mexicans have had their enchiladas for generations.

13 July 2016: Even non-chile eaters will find something to love at Sadie’s. One such option is the grilled pork chops, two bone-in chops grilled to a smoky perfection and served with papitas. These are flavorful half-inch thick chops which retain their succulent juiciness and are imbued with delicious, smoky charred edges.  The grilled pork chops are served with a dinner salad which is topped with moist, unctuous avocados.  Try it with a green chile Ranch dressing for a New Mexico kick.

13 July 2016: Allow me to introduce yet another contender into the highly disputed “best green chile cheeseburger” in New Mexico category. That would be Sadie’s version of the ubiquitous burger practically worshiped by local eaters.  Sadie’s burger is crafted with a six-inch, hand-formed meat orb topped with chopped green chile (or green chile sauce if you prefer), tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese. The meat is grilled and prepared to your exacting specifications and the bun is lightly toasted. It is sensational, a wonderful alternative to other entrees.  Better still, order your burger the way Sadie prepared burgers in the 1950s–on two thick slices (Texas toast-sized) of French bread. In 2013, Sadie’s rendition of the green chile cheeseburger won the inaugural Governor’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge at the New Mexico State Fair, besting ten other contestants. 

Sadie’s is a member of the New Mexico Culinary Treasures Trail, a New Mexico State Tourism initiative which honors independent mom and pop restaurants which have stood the test of time to become beloved institutions in their neighborhoods and beyond.  Sadie’s truly is that.

Sadie’s Dining Room
6230 Fourth Street, N.W.
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
Web Site
| Facebook Page
(505) 345-5339
LATEST VISIT: 13 July 2016
# OF VISITS: 17
RATING: 16
COST: $$
BEST BET: Roberto Special, Enchiladas, Salsa, Stuffed Sopaipillas, Papitas, Green Chile Cheeseburger

Sadie's on Fourth Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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