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Gravy – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Gravy for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner on Central Avenue in the East Downtown (EDO) District

“Gravy is the simplest, tastiest, most memory-laden dish I know how to make:
a little flour, salt and pepper, crispy bits of whatever meat anchored the meal,
a couple of cups of water or milk and slow stirring to break up lumps.”
~Dorothy Allison, American writer

NOTE: There’s a reason restaurant critics don’t typically review new restaurants until restaurateurs have had the opportunity to iron things out, a process that sometimes takes several weeks, if not months.   Virtually all restaurants experience “Murphy’s Law-esque” start-up issues that belie the countless hours of planning and preparation for a smooth launch.  We visited Gravy scant days after its opening and found a number of issues that detracted from the enjoyment of our meal, however, the restaurant’s seasoned ownership makes it very likely these issues will be resolved in short order and Gravy will more than live up to the hype it’s received.

Some would say that the discovery (invention?) of gravy is one of mankind’s crowning achievements.  Others would deride it as the work of the devil, likening gravy to a beguiling temptress which bends the will to its bidding.  Dolly Parton acknowledges that “every single diet I ever fell off of was because of potatoes and gravy of some sort.”   It’s no surprise that similar to many of the world’s best tasting foods, gravy is generally fattening.  Most commonly, it’s the byproduct of pan drippings and juices derived from cooking meat.

Some among us who consider gravy one of mankind’s most glorious achievements (even as it flows through our veins) may salivate involuntarily when turning onto Central Avenue and espying a large sign reading simply “Gravy” subtitled with the three events with which gravy goes so well: “breakfast, lunch, dinner.”  One of the most eagerly anticipated restaurant launches in recent memory, Gravy is the brainchild of the partnership which in 2011 opened Holy Cow, one of the city’s  most celebrated purveyors of burgers.

Chocolate-Cherry Shake

Gravy is located at the site of the former site of Milton’s, a long-time East Downtown institution.  Despite nearly two years and more than half a million spent in renovating the edifice,  architectural constraints make it nearly impossible not to hearken back to the days in which the facade housed a Denny’s Restaurant.  That’s not to say the renovation was like “putting lipstick on a pig.”  It’s just that there’s only so much you can do with a building originally constructed in 1964. 

What you can do, however, is place a premium on providing an attractive venue for guests.  It’s a venue which pays homage to previous tenants in a retro-modern diner fashion without a thematic regression to the 60s.  The exterior (which had probably been neglected for years) has a pristine appearance; even the river rock facade now has a polished look.  The interior received similar attention though the sound system’s bassy speakers have a one-note (boom, boom) cacophony that makes discourse at conversational tones a challenge.

Steak Frites

Where Gravy will shine most is with a diner menu that bespeaks of inventive and traditional diner foods, many prepared with a New Mexico twist while others offer a contemporary interpretation of classic dishes.  Diner foods generally translate to comfort foods such as meatloaf, chicken fried steak, fried chicken and beef stroganoff, all staples of Gravy. Salads range from the classic chopped salad to the lobster-avocado salad.  You can start your morning off with such eye-opening favorites as biscuits and gravy or opt instead for a breakfast pot pie.  Nine types of pancakes grace the breakfast menu.

In the tradition of diners everywhere, milkshakes are prepared to order for kids of all ages.  These aren’t the milkshake machine variety shakes proffered at chain restaurants.  The chocolate-cherry shake, for example, is made with real ice cream, chunks of adult (dark) chocolate and a multitude of maraschino cherries, not some artificial cherry-flavored sweetener.  It’s served cold the way shakes used to be and should always be made.

Spinach, Artichoke and Feta Triangle with Cucumber-Mint Yogurt and Tomato-Olive Salsa

One of the more contemporary menu items offered at some diners is steak frites. While some might decry steak frites as just a fancy name for steak and French fries, in France there are restaurants whose entire menu is comprised solely of this sacrosanct dish.  Gravy’s rendition is a marinated top sirloin topped with a maitre d’ butter served with hand-cut fries.  At medium-rare, the steak oozes beautiful pink juices.  The maitre d’ butter, a compound butter with parsley, adds a complex layer of flavors and a rich unctuous quality that enlivens the meat.  The fries are just a bit on the flaccid side and are prepared at just past the stage at which they’re golden hued. 

Another entree unlikely to be found in an old-fashioned diner of yore is a spinach, artichoke and feta triangle served with a cool cucumber-mint yogurt and a tomato-olive salsa.  Not entirely unlike Greek spanokopita, this filo dough pastry is a winner, so good you can enjoy it on its own or with the delightful cucumber-mint yogurt and (or) tomato-olive salsa.  Luckily there’s enough of the cucumber-mint yogurt that you can use it in lieu of ketchup for the fries.  The tomato-olive salsa has a discernible bite whose genesis we weren’t able to determine. 

Lest I forget, there are a number of dishes in which gravy–sausage gravy and brown gravy–is featured.  It wouldn’t be Gravy without it.

725 Central, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 242-4299
LATEST VISIT: 13 December 2014
COST: $$
BEST BET: Steak Frittes; Chocolate-Cherry Shake; Spinach, Artichoke and Feta Triangle;

Gravy on Urbanspoon

Mr. Powdrell’s Barbecue House – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Pete Powdrell, Albuquerque's barbecue legend

Pete Powdrell, Albuquerque’s legendary barbecue king

If you believe in forever
Where baby backs are never bland
If there’s a barbecue heaven
Well you know Mr. Pete is lending a hand, hand, hand.

Shortly after Arthur Bryant died in 1982, the Kansas City Star published a cartoon depicting St. Peter greeting Arthur at the gates of heaven and asking, “Did you bring sauce?” A quarter of a century later, I can imagine St. Peter asking Pete Powdrell if he brought the secrets to his extraordinarily tender brisket.  What the legendary Kansas City barbecue giant Arthur Bryant was to sauce, Pete Powdrell was to beef. Albuquerque’s indisputable king of barbecue was called home on December 2nd, 2007, but he left behind an indelible legacy that extended far beyond serving some of the best barbecue in the west.

Pete was a second-generation sharecropper who in 1958 escaped the small town racism of Crosbyton, Texas to start a new life in Albuquerque. Fifty years later, Pete’s circle of friends and mourners included most of New Mexico’s political power brokers as well as tens of thousands of customers who loved his barbecue and the gentle man perpetually attired in overalls who prepared it.

Powdrell’s restaurant on Fourth Street is on the National Historic Register

To chronicle Pete’s life (and someone should) would be to celebrate the sheer determination and drive of a man whose greatest of many gifts may have been perseverance. He literally had not much more than the clothes on his back when he arrived in Albuquerque with his wife and eleven children, but he was determined to make a good life for his family. Mission accomplished!

Since 1962, the Powdrell family has operated several barbecue houses in the Duke City. Their initial restaurant venture, a take-out diner on South Broadway, launched four years after the family relocated to Albuquerque. The inspiration for Pete’s original, authentic Southern-style barbecue was family recipes he began perfecting during backyard and church cookouts in Texas. Those recipes dates back to the 19th century near Baton Rouge, Louisiana where his grandfather Isaac Britt began the Powdrell family legacy of incomparable barbecue.

Salad with blue cheese dressing

Salad with blue cheese dressing

The word “institution” is bandied about too easily these days, but in Mr. Powdrell’s Barbecue House, Albuquerque has a bona fide institution that continues to stand the test of time against the formidable onslaught and riches of corporate pretenders, many of whom fall by the wayside while Powdrell’s continues to thrive.  Drive by Powdrell’s and the wafting fragrance of hickory smoke literally invites you to step inside and partake of old-fashioned barbecue.  Not coincidentally, Pete’s son Joe will tell you his father was much like the hickory wood used at the restaurant–hard, stubborn and consistent.

The reason for Powdrell’s continued success–some of the very best barbecue in the west served by a warm family in welcoming milieus.  East side residents frequent Powdrell’s on Central Avenue between Eubank and Juan Tabo while west dwelling citizens visit Powdrell’s on North Fourth where barbecue is served in a stately brick home on the National Historic Registry.



Ann Powdrell, who was eleven years old when the family traversed the winding Route 66 in their move to Albuquerque, takes care of the kitchen in the Fourth Street restaurant.  She is a sweet, gentle woman with a raconteur’s gift for enthralling guests with stories about her fabled family.  On an infrequent slow lunch hour, she might even show you the veritable museum collection of family memorabilia upstairs.  More than likely, however, she’s in  the kitchen preparing the dishes which help make Powdrell’s the legendary barbecue restaurant it is.

Powdrell’s hasn’t been a local secret in a long time, but it’s a claim to fame of which we’re all proud. Over the years Albuquerque’s finest gift to Route 66 barbecue tradition has garnered a lot of recognition from beyond the Duke City.  In 2004, Sunset magazine published an article celebrating the west’s best BBQ. Calling the west a “barbecue frontier,” the magazine trumpeted Powdrell’s baby back ribs slathered with tart, spicy sauce.  Culinary sojourner Michael Stern, co-founder of the Roadfood Web and publishing dynasty loved Powdrell’s beef, proclaiming that “it isn’t the extraordinary tenderness that will make you happy; it’s this meat’s flavor.”  In his thematic tome, Dr. BBQ’s Big-Time Barbecue Road Trip! author Ray Lampe hits the road and introduces America to the best barbecue in the fruited plains. Mr. Powdrell’s Barbecue House was one of only four New Mexico venues singled out by the self-professed Dr. BBQ.

The combo platter

The combo platter

My first impression of this very special barbecue was formed in the late 1970s while living on the south side of Central Avenue not more than three hundred yards from Mr. Powdrell’s. With the most faint of breezes, the aroma of succulent meats smoked low and slow wafted toward my cramped quarters like an irresistible siren’s song. It was a tantalizing temptation no one could resist. The genesis of the olfactory arousing aroma was indeed hickory smoke-saturated meats, the memory of which imprinted themselves on my taste buds with an ineffaceable permanence. In Mr. Powdrell’s Barbecue House, barbecue Nirvana beckoned and I answered.

Over the past few decades my travels have allowed me to experience barbecue from the four American epicenters of barbecue excellence: Texas, Memphis, Kansas City and South Carolina. Though I have found barbecue that is more lauded and more famous, only Mr. Powdrell’s has the taste of being home.  It’s that way for generations of Duke City residents.

Chicken Dinner-One half pound of barbequed chicken

Chicken Dinner-One half pound of barbequed chicken

The stately brick home on North Fourth street which houses Mr. Powdrell’s Barbecue House still looks very much like the family dwelling it once was. From the built-in china cabinets to the hardwood floors, it is an inviting setting for dining, an invitation infused by the provocative hickory smokers near the parking lot.

In describing the west’s barbecue as “unburdened by the orthodoxy of such hot spots as Texas and the Carolinas,” Sunset magazine may have well been describing Powdrell’s where the menu has a whole lot of Texas, a little bit of Memphis with a touch of Kansas City for good measure. In other words, the menu has a bit of everything then some.


Chicken Wings Powdrell’s Style

Being “unburdened”, Powdrell’s can serve such non-traditional starters as mushrooms prepared in butter as well as all the favorite fried appetizer favorites.  It also serves some of the best blue cheese dressing in Albuquerque, a dressing ameliorated by just a bit of feta with some very high quality blue cheese.  It’s perfect–neither too thick nor too thin and runny, not too strong or sour.  It’s the blue cheese dressing Goldilocks would choose.

9 February 2008: The menu includes a veritable smorgasbord of sumptuous sandwiches generously engorged with smoke-infused meats slathered with a tangy sauce. The sandwiches are excellent, but most diners queue for barbecue dinners, all of which are served with two sides and Texas toast.  A half-rack of baby back ribs at Powdrell’s is the antithesis of “competition” baby backs which tend to be overly sweet (sometimes almost candied).  A reddish glaze covers the moist, succulent pork on Powdrell’s baby backs which are so good you’ll discharge the bones like cartridge shells.

Babyback Ribs with French Fries and Texas Toast

9 February 2008: The combination platter (pictured above) features a pound or more of some of the best Mr. Powdrell’s has to offer–chicken, ribs, sausage, links and some of the very best brisket in the world.  The brisket is the pièce de résistance, indisputably the very best in town (and nothing else is even close). It is smoked at low heat for eighteen hours and when done is refrigerated then heated again. The process somehow imbues the brisket with an uncommon tenderness that belies what can be a leather-tough cut of meat.  Michael Stern is absolutely right in declaring the flavor of this meat to be your source of happiness. This is an absolutely delicious brisket that would convert the most staunch of vegetarians.

29 January 2010: If you’ve ever lamented the dearth of truly outstanding chicken wings in Albuquerque, Powdrell’s will make a believer out of you.  These wings are imbued with a hint of smoke before being deep-fried to seal in that smokiness and flavor while melting off that layer of fat just underneath the skin.  They are then glazed with a tangy, spicy barbecue sauce so unlike the sauces wings restaurant describe as “inferno,” “nuclear” and the like, but which don’t deliver.  Powdrell’s sauce has the zesty tanginess of orange peel, the pleasant piquancy of peppers and the sweet-savory goodness of ingredients that work very well together.  The wings are moist, meaty and utterly delicious.

Special of the Day: Catfish, Brisket and two sides (Fried Okra and Corn on the Cob) with Texas Toast

The perfect accompaniment for those wings is a dish of black beans and rice quite unlike what you might see at a Cajun restaurant where such a dish isn’t prepared with smoked sausage, celery and a tomato sauce base. Ann Powdrell describes it as one of those dishes her mother created out of whatever was in the refrigerator. You’ll describe it absolutely delicious.

1 July 2011: Not even the very best restaurants do all things well though the great ones tend to come close. At Powdrell’s as at most restaurants in Albuquerque, the Achilles Heel seems to be catfish. It’s the one dish I’ve enjoyed least at Powdrell’s and that’s not solely because of my eight years in Mississippi (America’s catfish capital) helped me appreciate the qualities of catfish done well. The coating on the catfish made it very difficult to cut into, normally an indication the inside is dry (it was). Fortunately the catfish was offered as a special of the day along with another meat. The brisket was as wonderful as the catfish was disappointing.

Broiled Trout

1 July 2011: Much better is an entree of broiled trout which is as tender and moist as the catfish is tough and dry.  Two delicious filets are served with two sides and Texas Toast.  The filets are brushed lightly with butter and served with a nice char.  A squeeze of lemon or a small application of tartar sauce and you’re good to go.  The only drawback to eating broiled fish, no matter how good it may be, is being surrounded by the fragrant bouquet of bodacious barbecue.  You may want some of Powdrell’s barbecue sauce on the trout, too.

Powdrell’s meats are the antithesis of the type of meat to which I refer as Ivory Snow in that it’s NOT 99 and 44/100 percent pure. You’ll find a fatty or sinewy meat here or there and plenty of dark meat, but that’s, in part what Duke City diners have loved about Powdrell’s for generations. It’s a bit sassy and a bit imperfect, but always comforting and delicious.

The Rockin’ Po-Boy

9 December 2014:  If you have a predilection for poultry, Powdrell’s is your hook-up and if you consider barbecue chicken to be the least exciting among available meats, this one may make a convert out of you.  The chicken (breast, thigh, wing) is moist, tender and delicious with the tangy house sauce generously slathered on.  The perfect accompaniment for the chicken is (you may want to be seated for this) deep-fried macaroni and cheese.  It’s not one of the available sides, but you should spring for it anyway. 

29 September 2010: In 2010, Powdrell’s East Side location was selected by Duke City voters as the inaugural winner of the city’s “rock this restaurant” challenge, qualifying for a complete make-over.  It’s a testament to just how beloved this bastion of barbecue has become over the years.  In honor of its selection, Powdrell’s introduced an “everything but the kitchen sink” sandwich called the “Rockin’ Po-Boy,” a beefy behemoth that would test the mettle of a professional gurgitator. Available in six- or twelve-inch sizes, this sandwich is engorged to its spilling point with beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, onion rings, French fries and coleslaw slathered with barbecue sauce.  There’s obviously no need for sides because they’re inside the sandwich.  You’ll be hard-pressed to finish this hard rockin’ sandwich.

Mr. Powdrell’s Barbecue House
5209 4th Street, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 345-8086
Web Site

LATEST VISIT: 9 December 2014
COST: $$
BEST BET: Barbecue Brisket, Chicken Wings, Rockin’ Po-Boy, Babyback Ribs, Okra, Corn-on-the-cob, coleslaw

Mr. Powdrell's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Placitas Cafe – Placitas, New Mexico


The Placitas Cafe in beautiful downtown Placitas, New Mexico

While it does have a nice ring to it, “beautiful downtown Placitas” probably won’t catch on the way “beautiful downtown Burbank” did when the catch phrase (and quite often, punch-line) was made famous first on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In then on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Located just a few miles northeast of Hollywood, beautiful downtown Burbank is 34-blocks of retail, office, residential and entertainment destinations that include more than 200 shops and 90 restaurants.

Beautiful downtown Placitas, on the other hand, is pretty much limited to the Homestead Village shopping center which is surrounded on all sides by capacious open space in a charming village back-dropped by the reddish Sandias.  Instead of the high-density urban sprawl of Burbank, beautiful downtown Placitas is graced by panoramic views of hills dotted with dessert flora, weather-worn mesas and verdured mountains.

View of the Sandias from the parking lot

View of the Sandias from the parking lot

The term “beautiful downtown Placitas” isn’t some sort of ironic inside joke among the village’s 3,000-plus citizens.  Nor will you find the term splayed on Placitas real estate brochures or touristy village literature.  Where you’ll most often read this term of endearment is on the Placitas Cafe’s blog.  The Placitas Cafe is one of two restaurant anchor tenants within the Homestead Village, the other being Blades’ Bistro.

While Blades Bistro has established a reputation as one of the very best restaurants in New Mexico, the Placitas Cafe hasn’t been as widely touted.  Could it be Placitas residents want it that way?  Might the fact that the Cafe’s exterior signage reads simply “Cafe” be indicative of the desire among locals to keep it a secret…to keep it to themselves?  It sure seemed that way during my inaugural visit for a late lunch when the restaurant was sardine-packed with locals.  With all the Placitas residents who read this blog, it sure made me wonder why they hadn’t been clamoring for me to visit.  Hmmm, Bruce, Dave, Joe?


Triple Berry Scone

Upon entering, it became immediately apparent that the Placitas Cafe is a beloved local treasure, a “Cheers” type of establishment in which “everyone (or at least the wait staff) knows your name.”  During my inaugural visit, the front of the house was in the capable and ambassadorial hands of Mike Franklin, brother of the Cafe’s owner and chef John.  As gregarious and extroverted as they come, Mike does indeed seem to know everyone–and if he doesn’t, he will by meal’s end.  Mike flits from table-to-table, engaging in witty repartee with guests while taking care of their orders with a deft touch.  In a subsequent visit over lunch, we discovered that brother John is equally engaging, bringing mirth and laughter to every table.  John told us family reunions are a laugh-fest.

The one thought that never crossed my mind as to why my Placitas readers hadn’t raved to me about the Placitas Cafe is because maybe it wasn’t very good.  Considering the near overflow crowds, that notion just didn’t make any sense.  If the Cafe hadn’t been good, it would truly have been tragic because the menu is more than a cut above what you find in most cafes.  Some items, in fact, are heretofore unavailable elsewhere in the Land of Enchantment.  Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (8AM to 9PM every day but Monday. Saturday and Sunday, 8AM to 2PM), the Placitas Cafe offers American and New Mexican breakfast standards, organic spring mix salads, vegetarian dishes, New Mexican offerings, burgers, sandwiches and so much more.

Huevos Espiñaca Creama

Huevos Espiñaca Creama

When busy, you might be asked to seat yourself, the first invitation to make yourself at home.  Few things in life make me feel more welcome than helping myself to coffee–as much and as often as I want (for a non-morning person, there’s nothing as unnerving as an empty cup).  A self-serve coffee bar offers three coffee blends, including the eponymous Placitas Cafe blend tinged with New Mexican piñon.  As you luxuriate in your cup, you’ll want to take in the comfy, cozy ambiance.  Walls are adorned with a mishmash of cutesy, folksy wall hangings and landscape photographs showcasing the Land of Enchantment’s scenic vistas.

Breakfast is served from 8am-1:59pm with a menu including a Hawaiian favorite not often found in New Mexico cafes (ironic considering how popular it is in New Mexican homes).  That would be a plate called “Spam, Eggs, Bacon and Spam,” (BOTVOLR, this one’s for you) described on the menu as “a couple of Spam steaks, cooked to your preference, two eggs any style, bacon, sauteed potatoes and English muffin.”  How many of us even knew Spam could be cooked in different ways?  


Special Green Beans with Ranch Dressing

8 February 2014: Less artery clogging dishes are available to start off your day.  Among them are made-from-scratch scones which are light yet dense, crumbly yet soft and absolutely delicious.  The triple berry scone (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) is terrific, the tanginess of berries punctuating each bite.  As with all good scones, these aren’t overly sweet.  They also pair wonderfully with the coffee, especially the aforementioned Placitas Cafe piñon blend.

8 February 2014: Among the heretofore “not found in New Mexico cafes” items is a unique take on Eggs Benedict.  Called Huevos Espiñaca Creama (sic), it’s a very rich dish with which to start off a morning.  This isn’t a bad thing because you’ll likely take about half of it home for breakfast the following day.  The canvas for this decadent dish is a crispy flour tortilla which is topped by two poached eggs surrounded by a creamed sauce, spinach and diced potatoes and topped with melted mozzarella and crumbly feta.  Though it should come standard with an angioplasty, it’s an excellent example of rich indulgence the type of which we should all treat ourselves on occasion.


The Dubliner with French Fries

6 February 2014: The “snackies” portion of the menu includes a number of de rigueur appetizers such as salsa and chips, quesadilla, nachos con queso and something called “Special Green Beans,” described on the menu as “a tasty pile of organic green beans, deep sauteed and seasoned.”  The menu boasts “once you’ve tasted them, you’ll never look at a green bean the same!”  Served with Ranch dressing, these green beans are special indeed.  The  texture of these green beans is crispy, but not so much that the beans snap when you bite or cut into them.  The seasoning mix is a mix of mostly savory seasonings which lend a lot of personality to these beans.

6 February 2014: The “Burgers And….” menu lists some fourteen burgers ranging from the standard to the unconventional.  Among the latter is The Dubliner, which shares its name with the cheese featured on the burger.  The menu describes The Dubliner as “a hamburger stuck between spring mix, tomato and horseradish sauce on the lower, then topped with coleslaw and Dubliner cheese.”  As hinted at by the description, this is a moist burger, but also one redolent with deliciousness.  The nicely seasoned beef patty is hand-formed and about half an inch thick.  The horseradish has a bite, but won’t water your eyes.  If you’ve never had Dubliner cheese, you’re in for a treat.  Dubliner has a distinctive flavor, imparting a sweet, lingering aftertaste.  Its texture is firm and slightly dry.  Frankly it surprised me at how well it melts.  What didn’t surprise me is how enjoyable a burger The Dubliner is.  Would it go well with green chile?  Probably not, but no doubt someone will be willing to try.

Patty Melt

Patty Melt

8 February 2014: Surely I’m not the only person who’s ever engaged in a “patty melt: burger or sandwich” debate?  Persuasive arguments can be made for both points.  What is a patty melt anyway?  It’s grilled onions and hamburger patty served on toasted rye with melted cheese (the Placitas Cafe uses Cheddar and mozzarella).  Not all patty melts are created equally well.  Utilizing excellent ingredients is the key to a good patty melt.  You want the beef patty prepared at no more than medium for optimum juiciness.  You’ll want the  onions (red, if possible) to be floppy strands of caramelized deliciousness without being overly crunchy or flaccid.  You’ll want the cheese to be thick enough to complement, not dominate the flavor profile.  You’ll want the rye bread to be lightly toasted and soft, but still formidable enough to hold up against the moistness of all other ingredients.  The Placitas Cafe passes muster on all counts. 

29 November 2014: Though I pride myself in being open-minded, there is one thing about which I’m unabashedly stubborn. For me, it’s not breakfast without chile. My Chicago born-and-bred Kim, however, was raised with different traditions and honors them by ordering such breakfast plates as the Placitas Cafe’s American Classic: two eggs (any style), sauteed potatoes, a choice of ham, sausage, bacon or turkey bacon and toast (white, wheat, rye, sourdough). She certifies this plate as absolutely delicious, but I can’t vouch for that because my breakfast was a New Mexican proud buffalo enchiladas plate that blows any American Classic out of the water.

American Classic

29 November 2014:  When asked if the chile served at the Placitas Cafe includes cumin, John’s response was “we don’t serve tourist chile.”  That’s an understatement!  This is New Mexico chile the way it should be–even  if it is spelled tourist fashion: chili.  Both red and green chile are pleasantly piquant with a very nice roasted flavor.  It’s also served steaming hot, an endearing quality not all restaurants practice.  One of the best dishes in which that chile is showcased is the buffalo enchiladas, flat enchiladas made with lean, delicious buffalo ground beef, fresh corn tortillas and red and yellow Cheddar served with papitas and beans.  Compared to beef, buffalo has a lighter flavor, tastes slightly sweet and is deliciously tender and lean.  The papitas are cubed potato perfection with a right-sized amount of salt.  The buffalo enchiladas are also served with a single tortilla from which you can construct “New Mexican spoons” for scooping up and eating the deliciousness. 

Buffalo Meat Enchiladas with Red and Green Chile

6 February 2014: The Dubliner isn’t the only menu item paying tribute to the Emerald Isle.  On your first visit to the Placitas Cafe, you’ll be treated to a slice of Irish Buttermilk Pie, made from a recipe brought over from Ireland by the Franklin brothers’ grandfather.  It’s a scrumptious and rich wedge of pie imbued with more than a scintilla of Guinness (would it be Irish otherwise?).  The Franklin brothers are justifiably proud of this delicious dessert.


Buttermilk Pie

I don’t know whether or not to be mad at my Placitas friends for not having invited me to this village gem sooner, but suspect they’ll be mad at me if this review drives up traffic to the Placitas Cafe.  Who can blame them for wanting to keep it to themselves, but it’s too good not to share.

Placitas Cafe
221 Highway 165
Placitas, New Mexico
(505) 771-1700
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 29 November 2014
1st VISIT: 6 February 2014
COST: $$
BEST BET: Special Green Beans, The Dubliner, French Fries, Buttermilk Pie, Huevos Spiñaca Creama, Triple Berry Scones, Patty Melt, Placitas Cafe Piñon Blend Coffee, Buffalo Enchiladas, American Classic

Placitas Cafe on Urbanspoon