Pars Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Pars Persian & Mediterranean Cuisine

“Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.”

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

The imagery inspired by this enduring poem–most notably “a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou“–can be read on so many levels–some literal and some allegorical.  In the literal sense, these few lines may evoke images of a romantic dalliance in an idyllic wilderness, its lines undoubtedly kindling intense ardor.  In the allegorical sense, some scholars believe one of the core themes of The Rubaiyat is a reiteration of a passage from The Gospel of Luke: “eat, drink and be merry.”  Others compare its outlook to Ecclesiastes: that life is vanity, our knowledge is limited, our time is brief, and the existence of another world uncertain.

Focusing solely on the literal translation, perhaps the modern day urban equivalent of a romantic outdoors tryst is a meal at Pars Cuisine which specializes in the Persian food Khayyam enjoyed during his time.  At Pars (synonymous with Persian), that cuisine is served in a milieu which may inspire a little romance in its own right.  The restaurant’s epicenter is one of the most opulent and classy settings in town, where families and couples sit together on a cushioned floor below a billowing silk tent and listen to the burbling fountain while they partake of exquisite cuisine.  Chair-backs on each cushion provide comfort and support.  This beautiful backdrop is visible from other more conventional seating areas.

One of Several Dining Rooms at Pars

When Pars opened its doors in 1984, it wasn’t exactly a restaurant which inspired romantic date night moments.  Ensconced in a tiny Montgomery Plaza storefront with a seating capacity of only 13 tables, few visitors lingered at the diminutive diner to look lovingly into their date’s eyes after a movie at the now defunct Montgomery Plaza Theater.  Most of their affection was directed toward the inspired Persian, Greek and Turkish cuisine.  When they first launched Pars Cuisine a quarter of a century ago, owners Mohammad and Shahnaz Tafti operated under a unique business model.  Mohammad worked as a teacher while Shahnaz worked for the city.  He ran the restaurant at night while she ran it in the daytime.  Their cuisine was too good and their drive to succeed too focused to be contained in a small setting.

In 2001, the Taftis moved to their current location adjacent to the Interstate (I-25). Now situated at 4320 The 25 Way, N.E., a sprawling office and retail complex exemplifying urban infill at its best, Pars Cuisine was transformed from a great place to grab a gyros to an upscale, fine-dining restaurant everyone in the city wanted to experience. When Pars launched at its new location, it was the toughest ticket in town (with all due respect to Lobo basketball which played to standing room only crowds back then).

The Dude’s Nemesis

After five years, Pars Cuisine expanded again.  A two-year, $150,000 expansion nearly doubled seating capacity to 120 guests and more importantly, made each meal experience even more memorable.  The luxurious offerings now include a banquet room available with a capacity of up to 50 for private or corporate parties. The private banquet room includes full bar, music, decor and some of the best service in town. An expansive patio comfortably accommodates those of us who like dining with our four-legged children.  Be forewarned, however, that roadrunners can easily scale the ten-foot wall to drink from the patio fountain and (like our Dude) your furry family members might not like that.  

The expansion also meant the inclusion on the menu of special green, white and black teas prepared at a Samovar bar (Samovar refers to the artful heating unit used to heat the tea).  The Samovar bar menu lists large premium tea leaves, espresso, specialty drinks, international and domestic beer and wine. You can partake of those teas out in the patio or in one of two private tea rooms.  If you’re looking for something even more exotic, you can move out to the hookah bar on the outdoor patio where you can choose from an assortment of shishas, tobaccos combined with fruit and molasses or honey.  Flavors include mint, jasmine, mango and the restaurant’s best-seller, a mixture of red and green apples.

Mazeh Combination

 Exotic, expressive, elegant entertainment is available on Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00PM through closing when belly dancers perform.  While some prudish Americans hold belly dancers in the same esteem as ecdysiasts writhing around a pole, others find it strangely mesmerizing–although most men will admit the challenge of keeping their eyes focused solely on the dancer’s undulating movements which are both sensual and artistic.

 The lunch menu is offered Monday through Saturday from 11AM to 3PM, but dinner entrees can also be served at any time upon request.  Both the lunch and dinner menu are ambitious, a wondrous compendium of Middle Eastern, Greek and Mediterranean delicacies prepared as wonderfully as you’ll find them anywhere in the city.  Whether you’re in the mood for familiar favorites or want to explore dishes you may not previously have heard of, much less sampled, you’ll find something to make you very happy.

Mazeh Combination Stew

9 June 2018: Many couples start with the Mazeh Plate, a bountiful combination plate for several hungry diners.  It’s a treasure trove of nine sumptuous appetizers: dolmas, feta cheese, Kalmata olives, falafel, shirazi salad, tzatziki, Kashk o’ Bademjoon, hummus and pita bread.  The dolmas are the sole appetizer not made on the premises, a fairly common practice in Mediterranean restaurants who don’t always have the time and inclination to perform the arduous, labor-intensive task.  The falafel is among the very best in the city, four moist oblong chickpea fritters seasoned very well.

The hummus is sprinkled liberally with sumac, the addictive spice with a tart flavor reminiscent of vinegar or lemon though not as overpowering.  It’s one of four diverse “dips” on the large plate.  The most exotic is the Kashk o’ Bademjoon, an eggplant dip made with caramelized onion and garlic.  When you have this dip, all you need is pita and the Mazeh plate is practically encircled by it.  While the Kashk o’ Bademjoon is exotic, the Shirazi salad is delicious simplicity alike, a healthy salad made with cucumber, tomatoes, onions mint and lemon juice.  Fresh and lively, the tzatziki is among the very best we’ve had.

Double Meat Gyros with Greek Salad

Combinations seem to work very well at Pars where an entree platter for one or two people is one of the restaurant’s most popular offerings.  The Soltani is a marriage of barg (skewered filet mignon or chicken breast) and kabob koobideh (skewered seasoned organic beef) broiled under an open fire.  Served with grilled tomato and the best saffron-tinged basmati rice in the city, it is plated artistically and covers a large platter. The filet mignon is perfectly seasoned, moist and tender.  Make that fork-tender.  So is the kabob which is also juicy and spiced very well with Mediterranean spices that don’t impart the piquancy New Mexicans tend to associate with spiciness.  If it’s not already on your table, ask for the sumac shaker.  Lavish it on the filet Mignon and the kabob and thank me later.

In 2009,  a veteran waiter with an encyclopedic knowledge of the menu pointed me toward the Fesenjoon, a stew made with sauteed walnuts in pomegranate sauce served with chicken and basmati rice.  Though the combination of pomegranates and walnuts is unusual in American dishes, it is a popular Persian combination.  The Fesenjoon, which is simultaneously delicate and rich, is often used as a meat condiment or dip.  As a stew entree, it is also unbeatable.  The chicken is three cut-up boneless breasts (or at least portions thereof) topped with a thick “gravy” of pomegranates and walnuts.  That gravy has a slightly tangy, but absolutely rich and delicious flavor.  It’s unlike any other stew in the Duke City with the characteristic heart and soul-warming qualities that make stew an endearing comfort food favorite.  It’s so good, you might have to force yourself to order something else in latter visits.

Tabouli

 9 June 2018: Alas, it took nine years for us to return to Pars where it was my goal to confirm that the fesenjoon was as good as my initial impressions believed it was.  Rather than focus solely on my desired dish, the Persian soups and stews section of the menu practically leapt at me with an offering called the Mazeh Stew Combination, essentially a three stew sampler featuring not only a vegetarian version of the Fesenjoon which had enthralled me, but Ghormeh Sabzi and Ghimeh served with saffron-enriched rice.  First things first–the Fesenjoon is unbelievably good, a very unique and delicious stew.  It’s not for everybody, but adventurous diners will at least enjoy trying it. 

Ghormeh Sabzi, which translates to “stewed greens,” is Iran’s most popular stew, usually made with parsley, spinach, leeks, coriander, kidney beans, dried lemons and either turmeric-seasoned lamb or beef.  It’s somewhat reminiscent flavor-wise of Indian saag paneer minus the farmer’s cheese, of course.  It’s a very good stew.  Ghimeh, a stew made from sautéed beef and split peas in a tomato broth topped with shoestring fries is where food meets fun meets flavor.  The shoestring fries are a delightful touch to one of the best, most interesting split pea soups you’ll have in this town.

Sohan (Pistachio Brittle)

 9 June 2018: For my Kim, sometimes only a gyro (always double meat) will do, never mind all the exotic offerings on the menu.  Available with your choice of chicken or the beef and lamb amalgam typically found on gyros, the double-meat gyros are served with a large Greek salad, several wedges of pita (if you don’t want your gyros “sandwich-style”), and ramekins of tzatziki and Greek dressing.  The Greek salad (or at least the large lettuce leafs) dominates the plate though there’s never enough feta cheese or Kalamata olives to suit us.  Don’t spare the Greek dressing; it’s the best we’ve had with sweet, tangy and savory notes melding together beautifully.  Both the chicken and the beef-lamb are fresh and delicious with a lightly seasoned profile.

9 June 2018:  Because a Greek salad George Costanza would describe as “a really big salad” isn’t enough for my Kim, she had to order Pars’ tabouli chopped parsley, tomatoes, onions, cracked wheat (bulgar), lemon and olive oil, served with pita bread), one of the most popular salads across the Mediterranean.  Actor Richard Dreyfuss was once quoted saying “tabouli is the best salad, but still you don’t win friends with salad.”  He never had the tabouli at Pars.  It’s the type of salad sure to appease old friends and win new ones.

Persian Dessert

Desserts also have a personality all their own.  With few exceptions, they’re made in-house.  They’re also not made in the cloying, sugar-overdosed manner of many American desserts.  Instead, desserts are sweetened by rosewater.  Sometimes known as rose syrup, rosewater is a by-product of the production of rose oil which is used in perfume.  Rosewater has a very distinctive flavor and is heavily used in Persian cuisine, especially in desserts.  The Pars menu includes traditional Persian ice cream which is housemade vanilla ice cream with pistachio, saffron and rosewater.  The savvy waitstaff will often offer a sample to children wanting to try it.

9 June 2018: Also among the dessert offerings are baklava–both the traditional Greek baklava and Persian baklava which is made with rosewater, but not with phyllo dough.  The Persian baklava is topped with ground pistachios and isn’t nearly as sweet as its honey-flavored Greek counterpart.  Order it as part of the Persian Dessert plate and in addition to the Persian baklava, you’ll enjoy sohan asali (honey, saffron and almond “caramels”), bamieh (Persian “doughnuts” flavored with rose water and saffron) and a terrific brittle.  It’s a great way to introduce your taste buds to some of the most unique and tasty desserts in town.

Omar Khayyam may not have written any his lyrical magic specifically for Pars Cuisine, but the spirit of his words live on with every dining excursion to one of Albuquerque’s very best Mediterranean restaurants–make that one of the best restaurants of any genre.

Pars Cuisine
4320 The Way, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 345-5156
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 9 June 2018
# OF VISITS: 5
RATING: 21
COST: $$$ – $$$$
BEST BET: Mini Mazeh Combination, Falafel, Fesenjoon, Soltani, Persian Paklava, Key Lime Pie, Persian Dessert Plate, Sohan (Pistachio Brittle), Tabouli, Double Meat Gyros, Greek Salad, Mazeh Combination Stew

Pars Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Toltec Brewing Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Toltec Brewing Co. on Albuquerque’s Burgeoning West Side

Vincent: And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
Vincent: No, they got the metric system there, they wouldn’t know what the #%*&! a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: What’d they call it?
Vincent: They call it Royale with cheese.
Jules: Royale with Cheese. What’d they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac.
~Pulp Fiction

265 “f-bombs,” copious racist slurs, torrents of extreme language and some of the most weighty dialogue ever spoken in an American movie.  That was Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 apotheosis Pulp Fiction, a low-brow pastiche the cognoscenti consider one of the most quotable movies ever made.  The clever banter and witty repartee between hitmen Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) is particularly memorable.  It was their dialogue which introduced this review.  It was what immediately came to mind when I espied the “Royale” on the “Breaking Bread” section of Toltec Brewing Co.’s menu.

“The Royale”

While no self-respecting gastronome would ever order a Quarter Pounder…er, Royale with cheese in Paris (or anywhere else, but especially not in Paris), Toltec’s Royale is an entirely different matter. Constructed from a patty weighing in at a whopping half-pound of blended brisket and crimini mushrooms, it’s the proverbial muscle-bound beach bully kicking sand in the face of  the four-ounce weakling Quarter Pounder.    Toltec’s Royale was first brought to my attention by a well-meaning colleague who asked me if I had ever tried Albuquerque’s James Beard award-winning burger.  Huh?

This Royale has not won a James Beard award of any kind, but Duke City voters can change that.  The Royale is one of many burgers entered in the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project national project.  Some of the other burgers entered in the competition are constructed by actual James Beard award-winning chefs so this is one formidable food melee.  You can vote once a day through 31 July 2018 (and we know how much New Mexicans love to vote).  If you’re of the mind that you won’t vote for anything until you find out what the candidate stands for, consider this: 1/2 Pound brisket and crimini mushroom patty with ancho and herb mayo, Young Guns green chile, aged white Cheddar, bacon, local-fried egg and heirloom tomato.

Local Cheese Plate

Okay, you’ve read the campaign promises, but how does it deliver on those promises?  Take it from at least two constituents, photographer extraordinaire Bruce Terzes and your gangling gastronome, the Royale warrants your support.  Not since the green chile cheeseburger at Alamogordo’s Rockin’ BZ Burgers has such a fantastic burger crossed my lips.   It made such a tremendous first impression on the Thursday of my inaugural visit to Toltec that I had to have another one the next day.  Quite simply, it’s one of the very best burgers in the Duke City.

So, what makes it a burger for the people (at least the non–vegan people among us)?  Well, it delivers on what was promised about Wendy’s burgers by 1970s commercials.  Wendy’s spokesperson Clara Peller, for example,  often asked “where’s the beef.” That question doesn’t apply with the Royale. There’s a whole half-pound of brisket blended with crimini mushrooms.  The combination is hot and juicy, another Wendy’s promise of yore.  It’s a multi-napkin affair with moistness sure to run down your arms and make a glistening mess of your face.  The fried egg is over-medium which means the yolk is only slightly runny (like the Rio Grande).  The bacon is crisp and plentiful, the aged Cheddar sharp and complex, but it’s the green chile from Young Guns which brings it all together.  The green chile actually bites back, increasingly a rarity in the Land of Enchilement. Though the buns are formidable, they’re no match for the juiciness of this fabulous burger.  Bravo, Toltec!

Side Salad with Blue Cheese

It may surprise some that Toltec, a west side brewery which launched in May, 2018, would serve such a superb burger though the surprise quickly evaporates when informed the genius responsible for this chef d’oeuvre is David Ruiz.  Albuquerque knows David from his days as executive chef at Pueblo Harvest, a gig that earned him a 2017 appearance on the Food Network show “Guy Fieri’s Family Road Trip.”  It wasn’t the chef’s only appearance on the Food Network. In 2016, he competed on the network’s popular cooking show “Chopped.” In 2017, David won the “Duke it Out” challenge, earning both people’s choice and critics’ choice for best entree.  David was the co-founder of 505 Food Fights, a grassroots chef competition intended to fonder community in Albuquerque’s culinary industry.

8 June 2018: Toltec is by no means a one-trick pony when it comes to dining. Its menu might be small, but it’s mighty.  Save for “Green Eggs and Ham,” Toltec’s name for deviled eggs (with spinach and agave glazed pork belly), the “Beer Bites” section of the menu is pretty uninteresting.  That doesn’t mean it’s not good.  Take, for example, the Local Cheese Plate (local cheese, cured meat, flat bread, local honey and candied pepitas).  It’s a turophile’s dream, celebrating Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory‘s fantastic fromage: (wonderful wedges of green chile and aged Cheddar and charcuterie meats (prosciutto, salami, capicola).  The greater surprise, however, were the candied pepitas and the local honey from a bee-keeper of the chef’s acquaintance.

Sausage and Peppers

8 June 2018: With every burger or sandwich on the “Breaking Bread” menu, you have your choice of seasoned fries, cinnamon fries, cinnamon sweet potato fries, tortilla chips or side salad.  The side salad (mixed field greens, candied pepitas, fresh apple slices, white cheddar and sweet red onions) is superb, pairing magnificently with the blue cheese dressing with its plenitude of cheese crumbles.  This is a salad constructed of complementary ingredients; they all go well together.

8 June 2018: For my Kim, sausage and peppers evokes memories of Italian restaurants throughout the Chicago area where that combination is part and parcel of one of the best sandwiches you’ll find in the Windy City (and that’s saying something).  Sausage and Peppers at Toltec is something entirely different: house-made lemon capellini topped with turkey, lemon and thyme sausage, a trio of bell peppers, roasted marinara and Parmesan.   The capellini, a thin pasta whose name translates to “little hairs” is perfectly al dente.  Strands of this light pasta wrap around red, yellow and green peppers, a coarse sausage and lots of red sauce.  The dish was recommended by two servers, both of whom indicated it was the best thing on the menu.

Service at Toltec is terrific.  Make sure to ask for Nate, an ambassador for the restaurant’s menu who’s on-the-spot with whatever you need, whether it be a refill or an answer to a question about the menu.  Toltec’s dog-friendly patio is only about fifteen feet away from a heavily trafficked and often noisy street, but it’s well-shaded (except right before sunset) and relatively cool.  Were Vincent and Jules to ever visit Toltec, the ensuing dialogue would probably be laced with colorful epithets, all complimentary.  They would love Toltec’s version of the Royale with cheese.

Toltec Brewing Co.
10250 Cottonwood Park, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 890-1455
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 7 June 2018
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: The Royale, Local Cheese Plate, Sausage & Peppers, Side Salad
REVIEW #1045

Toltec Brewing Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

El Patio de Albuquerque – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico

El Patio on Harvard Avenue

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

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

Chips and Salsa

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

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

Frito Pie

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

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

Carne Adovada Plate (Beans on the Side)

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

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

Carne Adovada Taco

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

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

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

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

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

Combination Plate

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

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

Fajitas

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

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

Sopaipillas

El Patio at Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

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

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

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

Fish Tacos, a Friday Special

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

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

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

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

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

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