At the turn of the 19th century, “Sex and the City” in Albuquerque may have meant a trip to the area near the bustling train station in which nearby “hospitality houses” catered to rail-riding clientele. The heart of the Duke City’s red light district was the area around Third and Copper where ladies of the evening entertained their guests in red light cottages, the most famous (and infamous) of which was Lizzie McGrath’s Vine Cottage.
Today the heart of the burgeoning area which once housed Albuquerque’s red light district is the posh Hyatt Regency hotel, a 21-story high rise with two distinctive pyramidal roofs that help make it the city’s second tallest building. The Hyatt’s signature restaurant, McGrath’s is named for the most famous madam in the city’s long-gone red light district.
Set in a contemporary atmosphere, McGrath’s is one of the city’s fine dining treasures even though it appears to be frequented more by visiting guests than locals (most of us don’t want to wait for a parking spot to become available and don’t want to pay to park). The lunch and dinner menus offer a wide assortment of seafood and USDA prime entrees as well as delectable desserts. For years, the restaurant earned accolades for the very best Sunday brunch in town.
The all-you-can-consume Sunday brunch featured “action stations” which offered up extensive selections of culinary treasures: fruits, muffins, breads, cheeses, salmon, gigantic shrimp, meats, waffles, and desserts to name a few. The brunch included the best omelets and blintzes in town (particularly the decadent chocolate blintz) for just over $22 per person (but well worth it).
The comestible smorgasbord also included your choice of two entrees (generally wonderful). Fresh squeezed orange juice (or at least it tasted like it) accompanied every brunch. In five visits, our sole point of contention with McGrath’s was the pitifully mild horse radish (a nit) served with the unfailingly spectacular steamship round.
You may have noticed the two previous paragraphs were written in the past tense. That’s because McGrath’s no longer offers its popular Sunday brunch. Instead, an all-you-can-eat breakfast is what famished guests and visitors wake up to. While the breakfast is one of the city’s best, it pales in comparison to the brunch.
The breakfast buffet includes scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, muffins, pancakes, French toast and more. Everything is perfectly prepared and seasoned well. The service is first-rate, among the very best in the city. The wait staff gets a kick out of serving “locals” who actually know what green chile is and don’t ask what a “kay saw dill yeah” is.
I must confess that we haven’t been to McGrath’s for dinner although we’re well acquainted with its innovative menu offerings. We hope someday the best brunch in town will return. That would be reason enough to bide our time and patience trying to find a parking spot in close proximity to the restaurant.
330 Tijeras, N.W.
LATEST VISIT: 30 April 2006
# OF VISITS: 6
BEST BET: Sunday Breakfast