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Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill – Edgewood, New Mexico

Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill in Edgewood

It’s interesting that the New Mexico State Constitution bars “idiots” and “insane persons” from voting, but quips about votes being cast by dead people, family pets and farm animals have been pervasive over the years in some counties and municipalities.  In some of the same counties and municipalities, the saying “vote early and vote often” has seemed more a way of life than an aphorism.  Not all citizens of the Land of Enchantment exercise their right to vote, but some, it seems, exercise it vigorously…and often. 

Perhaps realizing the enthusiasm some New Mexicans have for the right to vote, the New Mexico Tourism Department allowed them to cast their vote daily for their favorite breakfast burrito in the statewide Breakfast Burrito Byway contest and tourism initiative.  Voters cast some 46,766 votes for their favorites among 400 nominated restaurants.  The top fifty vote-getters became “founding members” of the inaugural Byway. Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill in Edgewood garnered the most votes, tallying 2,623 votes (not quite one vote per resident in the community of 3,379 souls). 

The front dining room at Katrinah’s

In a “get the vote out” campaign utilizing Facebook, whiteboards and the ever-effective personal touch, Katrinah’s proved that in New Mexico the popular vote still counts (often more than once) and small communities do have a voice.  In the case of Katrinah’s, it’s a very active and powerful voice that drowned out the behemoth burrito-making bullies on the block in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  It’s a voice that garnered more support than breakfast burrito assembling megaliths such as Lotaburger, Twisters and The Flying Star.  

Quite unlike many other election results in New Mexico which generally end up with voter dissatisfaction or antipathy, the result of the Breakfast Burrito Byway voting was viewed by many with curiosity and a sense of adventure.  How far away is Edgewood?  How do we get there?  New Mexicans may not always be willing to drive ten blocks to cast a vote, but we’ll drive tremendous distances for a great breakfast burrito just as we would for a great green chile cheeseburger.

Fried Green Beans With Green Chile Ranch Dressing

Since it was announced that Katrinah’s breakfast burrito reigns supreme in the Land of Enchantment, visits to the small strip-mall eatery have increased significantly.  Initially Katrinah’s was “slammed” with out-of-town and even out-of-state diners and while the hullabaloo has slowed just a bit, first-timers area an almost daily occurrence.  Shame on New Mexicans who believe they’re in Texas the second they cross the Sandias going east; they can get to Katrinah’s in under half an hour from the Big I.   It’s well worth the drive!

Even if you weren’t visiting Katrinah’s for the breakfast burrito, the menu has a number of intriguing offerings which will warrant return visits.  The “Thunder Burger” (triple battered deep fried 1/2 lb burger with green chile and Cheddar), for example, sounds too good not to return, arteries be damned.   The fried green beans with your choice of housemade dressing are worth a return trip on their own, especially if you opt for the green chile ranch dressing.  These fried green beans will make a convert out of anyone who thinks they don’t like green beans.  They’re lightly battered, crispy and have the snap of freshness when you bite into them.

Katrinah’s famous breakfast burrito with green chile, green chile sausage and pinto beans

The breakfast burrito is a beauteous behemoth, bulging at its seams with fluffy eggs and cubed potatoes then topped with shredded yellow and white Cheddar cheeses and your choice of red or green chile (or even Texas “chili” if you’re so inclined).  Cumin is used in the preparation of both the red chile and the Texas chili.  The green chile is delicious and since you can’t have enough of a good thing, ask for your burrito to include the housemade green chile sausage, too.  The burrito is served with pinto beans, the other official New Mexico state vegetable.  This is an excellent breakfast burrito, large enough for two to share, but so good you won’t want to.

Breakfast is served until 2PM.  The rest of the menu is available all day long.  If you have vegetarian, gluten-free or other dietary concerns, your server will be happy to give you suggestions.  A fully-stocked coffee bar features Starbucks coffee or espresso.  Desserts include fountain-style shakes and malts, baked goods and ice cream treats.  The cinnamon rolls are so generously iced that it surprised me when my convivial server offered to slather it with melted butter.  That would have been a bit too rich and cloying for my tastes.

Cinnamon Roll

What’s surprising about Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill is not that it garnered more votes than any other purveyor of excellent breakfast burritos in New Mexico.  What’s surprising is that if it hadn’t been for New Mexico voters, many of us might never have heard of Katrinah’s.

Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill
150 Highway 344
Edgewood, New Mexico
(505) 281-9111
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 29 October 2014
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Breakfast Burrito, Fried Green Beans,Cinnamon Roll

Katrinah's East Mountain Grill on Urbanspoon

The Spot Cafe – Corrales, New Mexico

The Spot Cafe in Corrales, New Mexico

Big Bang Theory wunderkind Sheldon Cooper has a spot he describes as the “singular location in space around which revolves my entire universe.”  That spot is the left side of his couch, a location he has placed “in a state of eternal dibs.”  In scientific terms, Sheldon relates his spot as “a single point of consistency in an ever-changing world.”  His attachment to that one spot borders on obsession, but he’s not the only television character that possessive of his spot.

In television comedies, characters have always had their favorite spots and show little tolerance for anybody who tries to sit in them.  Cheers barflies Norm Peterson and Cliff Claivin had their favorite bar stools.  Jerry Seinfeld, George Costanza and Cosmo Kramer always sat at their favorite table at Monk’s Diner.  Heaven help anyone who sat on Archie Bunker’s favorite chair, the most famous and only one of the aforementioned spots on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Interior of the Spot Cafe

Television personalities are often based on and mimic real life characters.  As such, it will be interesting to see what Corrales resident will develop an attachment to a favorite spot at its newest eatery (as of May, 2014), fittingly named The Spot.  That’s an appropriate appellation for a cafe which promises to be a very popular gathering spot in the heart of the village.  The Spot opened its doors in May, 2014 and is open for breakfast and lunch every day but Tuesday from 7AM until 3PM. 

The Spot occupies the spot previously held by the Oasis Cafe within the Village Plaza, an 11,000 square-foot complex just north of the Corrales fire station.  At the help are Aaron and Deb Worrell, veteran restaurateurs with more than two decades in the industry.  In addition to The Spot, the couple own and operate two Aaron’s Sandwich Time restaurants in the Duke City.  It goes without saying, therefore, that sandwiches are part and parcel of the cafe’s menu.

Milk Shakes made from Blue Bell Ice Cream

Interestingly, the cafe’s ambiance bespeaks fine dining with linen tablecloths, cloth napkins and table service but the menu is more akin to an over-the-counter operation with an emphasis on contemporary comfort food at great prices. It’s an inviting menu both during breakfast and lunch.  Start the morning off with build-your-own omelets, panini-stuffed French toast, breakfast sandwiches and a nice line-up of breakfast burritos.  Sandwiches and burgers highlight the lunch menu, but no ordinary burgers are these.  A one-half pound Angus beef burger is available with your choice of toppings and is prepared to your exacting specifications.

Reason enough to visit The Spot are the housemade milk shakes made from Blue Bell ice cream, arguably the best ice cream in America.  When we moved from Mississippi to Albuquerque, Blue Bell ice cream was what we missed most–even more than blackened redfish and oysters.  The Spot’s milk shakes remind us why.  The Dutch Chocolate milk shake is rich and creamy with an adult dark chocolate flavor and a decadent fudge swirl.  The Spot offers a number of different Blue Bell flavors, all on display in a freezer.  You’ll want to try them all.

Green Chile Steak Melt with Sweet Potato Fries

10 May 2014: Over the years, my friends and I have, like Indiana Jones in pursuit of historical treasure, trekked throughout the city in pursuit of the best green chile Philly.  Only a handful (the very best being from Itsa Italian Ice) meet our exceedingly high standards.  The Spot’s green chile steak melt ranks right up there with them.  It’s a sandwich Philadelphia would be proud to call its own.   This gem of a sandwich is constructed from very high quality ingredients: tri-tip steak, a full-flavored, low fat content cut of steak; red, green and yellow peppers; caramelized onions and plenty of New Mexico green chile on your choice of bun (including one impregnated with green chile).

10 May 2014: Half-pound Angus burgers, with your choice of toppings, are sure to please the most discerning of burgerphiles.  The list of toppings options truly allows you to have it your way.  My way was with green chile, bacon and cheese along with the standard toppings of lettuce and tomato.  Not surprisingly, the Angus beef patty is very flavorful courtesy of nicely marbled beef prepared at a juicy medium.  Served on a green chile bun, this burger warrants further exploration with different toppings.  It’s a good one.

“Kobe” Burger with Baked Beans

10 May 2014: Sandwiches and burgers are available with a number of sides including sweet potato fries and baked beans.  The baked beans are terrific, so good I wiped them out before even trying the burger.  Unlike far too many baked beans, these are not candy cloying, but have a depth of flavors that’s very enjoyable and which might transport you to memories of barbecues.  The sweet potato fries are also quite good.

13 July 2014: When my friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate, declared The Spot’s biscuits and gravy “the best I have ever had.  Anyplace.  Perfection,” it created a dilemma for me.  Biscuits and gravy border on traumatizing, the result of having been subjected in Air Force cafeterias to absolutely horrible renditions of this popular Southern breakfast staple.   On the other hand, when Larry is as passionate about a dish as he is The Spot’s biscuits and gravy, you’re well advised to try it…and soon.

Biscuits and Gravy–quite possibly the best in New Mexico (if not the universe)

13 July 2014: Biscuits and gravy combine various textures and flavors into each bite, making it a deliciously diverse, palate pleasing breakfast entree. Crumbled sausage links enliven the flavor of a tasty milk, flour and butter-based gravy served over three split biscuits topped with two eggs made the way you want them. The fluffy, steamy interior of the split biscuits coupled with the sturdy biscuit exterior are a perfect repository for the smooth, delicious body of the sausage gravy.  The eggs (Larry likes them over-easy) blanket the biscuits and provide runny yoke deliciousness.  This dish is served on a “too hot to handle” skillet.

13 July 2014: While the standard breakfast menu includes waffles, there’s just something special about the combination of chicken and waffles.  It’s a combination which has become increasingly popular in the Food Network age.  Several Duke City restaurants serve fairly standard versions.  The Spot stands out for its unique take on this Belgian culinary specialty.  To truly appreciate this entree, available with or without bones, ask for the honey-BBQ glaze instead of the standard waffle syrup.  The honey-BBQ glaze is reminiscent of sauces used on Asian dishes–not the sweet and sour type of sauce, but the sauces which impart proportionate measures of sweet, savory and tart flavors.  It’s probably not everybody’s cup of sauce, but adventurous types will enjoy it. The chicken itself is perfectly fried with a golden crust.

Chicken and Waffles

In time, The Spot Cafe promises an even more inviting menu, one replete with comfort food favorites diners will appreciate. This is a restaurant which just might become your spot.

The Spot Cafe
4940 Corrales Road
Corrales, New Mexico
(505) 899-7768
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT:  13 July 2014
1st VISIT: 10 May 2014
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 20
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Wagyu Burger, Baked Beans, Chile Melt, Sweet Potato Fries, Milk Shakes, Chicken and Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy

The Spot Cafe on Urbanspoon

Hannah & Nate’s – Albuquerque & Corrales, New Mexico

The original Hannah & Nate’s on Riverside Plaza in Albuquerque’s West Side

There are just some restaurants at which the stereotypical Ralph Cramden hungry man shouldn’t dine. Hannah & Nate’s is one of them. It’s not that the food isn’t good. That’s certainly not the case.  It’s just that  it’s part of the troglodytic nature  of men to whine and complain when we have to wait more than two minutes for our meals and we become doubly obnoxious when the portions aren’t large enough to feed a small bull elephant. Thankfully, my Kim has been a great civilizing influence on me and I’m able to enjoy restaurants such as Hannah & Nate’s as much as she does.

Hannah & Nate’s is a home decor and market cafe ideally suited for gentrified ladies with a lot of leisure time on their hands. It’s not a restaurant at which a boorish lout will sit patiently then be satisfied with what he would consider “finger foods.” Take for example the “beef & bleu” sandwich featuring sliced roast beef, caramelized onion and sautéed mushrooms topped with bleu cheese on grilled sourdough. It’s not four inches thick the way such men would want it and the bleu cheese isn’t powerful enough to give them the belch inducing halitosis powerful enough to clear a room.

Tuscan Meatloaf Sandwich:  Rustic Tuscan Meatloaf topped with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and jack cheese, Served on a grilled baguette (add Green Chile for only $.99)

Launched in 2002, Hannah & Nate’s is ensconced within the Riverside Plaza, a mixed-use development with convenient access from both Montano and Coors.  The plaza’s charming campus-like environment seems tailor-made for the home decor and market cafe which is named for the children of Beth and Phil Salazar.  Phil manages the food operations side of the business while Beth manages the decor operations.  The cafe is open from 8AM to 2PM while the home decor  operation remains open until 5:30.

The ambitious full-service breakfast menu belies the relatively small (call it comfy cozy) dining room which tends to get quite busy.  Many eyes are drawn immediately to the menu section entitled “Local Flavor” for Hannah & Nate’s take on New Mexican breakfast favorites such as huevos rancheros, breakfast enchiladas, breakfast quesadillas and the intriguing Eggs Benedict de Nuevo Mexico (two poached eggs served on top of an English muffin smothered with homemade carne adovada and melted Cheddar cheese.  This is the favorite breakfast entree of my learned friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate.

Rio Grande Turkey: Sliced Breast of Turkey, avocado, and green chile, topped with jack cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes, served on grilled sourdough and green chile stew

More traditional eggs Benedict dishes are also available on the “Traditional Favorites” section of the menu where you’ll also find quiche and sourdough French toast.  A number of breakfast burritos and omelets are also available for the most important meal of the day.  The lunch menu is apportioned into several sections: Appetizers, Sandwich Board, Garden Fresh Salads, New Mexican Food Favorites, “Hot” From the Grill and The “Lite” Side (a half-sandwich with your choice of potato salad, fresh fruit, side salad or cup of green chile stew).

Lunch enjoyment might start with the carne adovada crisp, a quesadilla in which crisp flour tortillas envelope lean pork marinated in red chile and melted cheese. Why more quesadillas don’t feature carne adovada is beyond me, but even if they did, it’s doubtful they can duplicate this artfully crafted appetizer. Although the red chile isn’t especially hot, it’s very flavorful with a garlicky taste which complements the rich red chile.

In the spring of 2006, Hannah & Nate's Market Cafe launched its second restaurant, this time in Corrales.

In the spring of 2006, Hannah & Nate’s Market Cafe launched its second restaurant, this time in Corrales.

Among the many hot-off-the-grill sandwiches we’ve enjoyed from the sandwich board are:

  • Nate’s Melt (sliced beef roast, green chile, red peppers, caramelized onions, avocado and cheddar on grilled sourdough bread) in which the green chile has that pronounced roasted green chile aroma and taste New Mexicans love as much as life itself. This is an outstanding sandwich!
  • Tuscan Meatloaf Sandwich (rustic Tuscan meatloaf topped with caramelized onion, roasted red peppers and Jack cheese served on a grilled baguette). This is meatloaf at its comfort food best, the type your mother made for you as a child.  The meatloaf isn’t overly thick which means you’ll actually taste the other ingredients, a harmonious mix of complementary toppings.
  • New Mexico BLT (crispy bacon, fresh tomato, roasted green chile and lettuce on grilled sourdough bread). This isn’t the boring BLT you make at home. The bacon has a smoky taste; the sourdough bread a buttery, grilled texture; and neither the L or the T dominate as they’re apt to do.
Carne Adovada with a fried egg

Carne Adovada Breakfast Enchiladas:
3 Stacked enchiladas, stuffed with carne adovada, topped with red or green chile, cheddar cheese and 2 eggs any style, served with a side of hash browns and tortilla

All sandwiches and grilled items are served with your choice of homemade potato salad (a  boring celery and dill pickle based potato salad that is the only thing we haven’t liked at Hannah & Nate’s), fresh fruit or ridged potato chips. Invariably, the fresh fruit seems to be in season no matter the time of year. We’ve had watermelon in November and it had a fresh flavor. The chips are always crisp and fresh and thankfully not the “bottom of the bag” bits some restaurants serve.  Eschew these sides altogether and ask for a cup of green chile stew.  It’s served warm and has a nice piquant bite of green chile complemented with just enough Mexican oregano.

For an additional two bits, make sure you ask for one of the five (chipotle, cucumber dill, cranberry, herb, olive) specialty mayonnaise offered. Even though the sandwiches don’t need any additional accoutrement whatsoever, the mayonnaise can be used as a dip for your chips.  The chipotle mayo and the cucumber dill (similar to the Greek tzadziki sauce but maybe even better) are our early favorites.

Steak burrito

Steak & Egg Burrito

Corrales Addition: In the spring of 2006, Hannah & Nate’s Market Shop launched a second Albuquerque area restaurant, this one in the former site of the very popular Calico Cafe which burnt down in 2004. If anything, the Corrales version of Hannah & Nate’s is even better than the Riverside Plaza restaurant.

For one thing, the Corrales restaurant has a full breakfast menu–three pages of traditional and New Mexican favorites. My early favorite would have to be the steak and egg burrito served Christmas style (red and green chile).  This burrito is engorged with three eggs, sautéed onions, roasted red peppers, cubed potatoes and steak–not a cheap cut of meat either, but grilled top sirloin. This is an excellent breakfast burrito made with high-quality ingredients and served hot.  Both the red and green chile at Hannah & Nate’s are very good with a slight nod going to the red chile which is almost burgundy in color and which possesses the rare earthiness I love in red chile. 

Breakfast Enchiladas with two fried eggs

Breakfast Enchiladas with two fried eggs

For my Kim, carne adovada is the standard-bearer against which she measures just how good a New Mexican restaurant is.  To her consternation, some restaurants which don’t use cumin on anything else (for some inexplicable reason) add it to carne adovada, bringing about the ruination of a delicate dish which requires no amelioration.  Hannah & Nate’s carne adovada is among her very favorites, especially when served on the carne adovada breakfast enchiladas plate: three stacked enchiladas stuffed with carne adovada and topped with red or green chile, Cheddar cheese and two eggs any style served with a side of hash browns and a tortilla.  If a breakfast dish can foretell a good day, this one will do it.  The carne is porcine perfection as tender as a mother’s love, marinated in chile that doesn’t shy away from its heat. 

There are a couple of perspectives about huevos rancheros. The “glass is half empty” perspective is that huevos ranchers are a rather uncomplicated dish constructed from a limited number of ingredients. Glass half full folks rave that having few ingredients allows those ingredients to shine.  At its essence, huevos rancheros are little more than eggs, corn tortillas, Cheddar cheese and your choice of red or green chile.  Both the red and green chile at Hannah & Nate’s are top tier, some of the best in the metropolitan area.  The corn tortillas have a pronounced corn taste, are relatively grease-free and are fried perfectly.  The eggs are prepared to your exacting specifications and have a farm-fresh flavor.  Count me among the glass half full folks.  Count the huevos rancheros at Hannah & Nate’s among the very best in the area.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros

Hannah & Nate’s also features a daily special and if the market smoked porchetta is any indication, the specials are indeed special. Porchetta generally refers to a boneless, rolled roast of pork studded with garlic and herbs.  Hannah & Nate’s takes the pork and stuffs it into a baguette then tops it with a roasted garlic aioli, green onion marmalade, sage and tomato. The flavor combinations are sensational!  

Hannah & Nate’s doesn’t have a long line-up of desserts (muffins, chocolate brownies), but who needs more options when you’ve got cranberry bread pudding.  It’s not on Larry McGoldrick’s Bread Pudding Hall of Fame, but it could be the professor with the perspicacious palate hasn’t tried this bread pudding.  Quite simply, it borders on spectacular, providing a balance of flavors most bread pudding can’t approach.  The tangy cranberries and savory almond shavings temper the sweetness of the sweet sauce surrounding the soft, spongy bread.  

Cranberry Bread Pudding

Cranberry Bread Pudding

Another plus in favor of the Corrales restaurant is its patio which allows you to watch expensive cars drive by while you dine under a sun-lit sky. During the winter months, sitting indoors and enjoying the fireplace is nearly as nice.

Hannah & Nate’s
6251 Riverside Plaza, NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 922-1155
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 26 April 2014
# OF VISITS: 9
RATING: 20
COST: $$
BEST BET: Carne Adovada Crisp, Nate’s Melt, Market Smoked Porchetta, New Mexico BLT, Tuscan Meatloaf Sandwich, Steak & Egg Burrito, Cranberry Bread Pudding, Huevos Rancheros

Hannah & Nate's Place on Urbanspoon