JC’s New York Pizza Department – Albuquerque, New Mexico

JC's NYPD on Central Avenue in Albuquerque

JC's NYPD on Central Avenue in Albuquerque

Gil’s immutable law of thermodynamics posits that the enjoyment of even the best pizza is correlative with the length of time which has expired since it was removed from the oven.  Pizza tastes best right out of the oven when it is steaming hot and the aromas waft upwards to provide an almost sensual olfactory massage.  That flavor and olfactory appreciation diminishes as the pizza grows colder and your belly fuller.  This law is absolutely immutable, but it also has an equally immutable corollary: the flavor of a great pizza actually improves after it’s been refrigerated overnight.  It helps, of course, if you wake up ravenously hungry and that the pizza was fabulous to begin with.

I developed this theory in 2003 after our inaugural visit to Al’s New York Pizza Department in Albuquerque’s Central Avenue after observing just how much we loved the pizza immediately after it got to our table and how that love, much like some relationships, diminished after two slices.  Fortunately the pizza was so large that we took about half of it home where we refrigerated it overnight.  Intending to nosh on only one slice of cold pizza for breakfast, we ended up devouring the remaining slices which we enjoyed almost as much as when they were first extricated from the oven.

This is not a typical experience.  Not all pizza seems to improve with overnight refrigeration.  In fact, some pizza is downright inedible when served cold.  We’ve learned that, in some cases, you can scrape off all the ingredients and cut the crust into pieces and not even the pigeons will touch it.  I have a feeling the pigeons would love the crust at Al’s New York Pizza Department (NYPD for short), but we’ve never been able to save any crust for them.

The Queens Pizza (Homemade Meatballs and Mozzarella), half with green chile

The Queens Pizza (Homemade Meatballs and Mozzarella), half with green chile

Al’s NYPD, not to be confused with the mediocre national chain that tried its hand and failed miserably at pleasing pedantic pizza loving Duke City diners, is now JC’s NYPD and it’s locally owned.  When it launched in 2002 on Central Avenue, it was owned and operated by a partnership triumvirate of three chefs: Al Bilotti (the impresario behind the fantastic fusion restaurant Kanome Asian Diner), Carrie Eagle and Joaquin Garofolo.  Bilotti, the Al on the restaurant’s name eventually left, hence the name JC’s (for remaining partners Joaquin and Carrie) NYPD.

Though Joaquin Garofolo reamins the sole proprietor and driving force behind JC’s NYPD, the name on the marquee seems to fit better than “J’s NYPD” would.  The restaurant’s logo depicts the New York City skyline dwarfed by a silhouetted Statue of Liberty standing over a round (like a pizza plate) logo reading JC’s New York Pizza Department.  A single slice of pizza is centered on the plate.

It’s only fitting that the logo for JC’s NYPD co-opted New York symbolism.  More than perhaps any other claimant to New York style pizza, JC’s NYPD actually comes close.  New York style pizza is characterized by its wide, thin and foldable slices, but there’s more to it than that.  Some attribute the unique flavor and texture of the New York style pizza crust to the minerals in New York City’s tap water used to make the dough.  While some pizza makers outside Metropolis transport the water across the country, JC’s bypassed that expense by installing a special water filtration process that ostensibly approximates New York City’s water.  Some would call that a miracle considering Albuquerque’s notorious hard water.

A pizza slice with homemade meatballs, mozzarella and green chile

A pizza slice with homemade meatballs, mozzarella and green chile

When it launched in 2002, Al’s NYPD on Central Avenue and Second quickly became one of the hottest new restaurants in town, beset by throngs packed like sardines into its smallish seating space.  Weather permitting, a spacious deck more than doubles seating capacity.  Whether as Al’s or as JC’s, it has remained a popular draw over the years and has consistently been one of the city’s most highly acclaimed pizzerias.

In 2009, serendipity had a hand in JC’s expansion into the burgeoning West side.  When a mediocre Florida-based franchise named New York Pizza & Deli (NYPD) failed to win over discerning Albuquerque pizza fanatics, Garofolo (obviously an enterprising entrepreneur) took advantage of the situation, leasing a fully equipped restaurant–pizza ovens, freezers, tables, decor and all.  The decor includes framed black-and-white photographs taken by Lewis Wickes Hine depicting the construction of the Empire State building in 1930.  Unfortunately, this location closed in December, 2009.

At 3,300 square-feet, the West side gem on Coors Boulevard was more than twice the size of its elder sibling with more than enough room for wall-mounted, high-definition televisions usually tuned in to sports programming.  An east-facing patio featured spectacular views of the cottonwoods surrounding the Rio Grande as well as the breathtaking Sandias.

Tiramisu (foreground) and a root beer float (background)

Tiramisu (foreground) and a root beer float (background)

The specialty of the house are 18-inch, thin-crust pizzas averaging close to a dollar an inch.  These prodigious pies are named for New York city boroughs and landmarks such as Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Da Bronx, Manhattan, Central Park and so on.   Calzones, about the size of a football, sport Italian-American sobriquets such as Joey Bag of Donuts (derogatory term for a fat guy), Little Louie, Jersey Girl and Mama Mia.  The menu also includes pasta dishes (chicken parmigiana, spaghetti and meatballs and more), heroes and a house salad.

As you walk in, you’re going to have to crane your neck upwards to peruse the menu which hangs over a counter.  Once you place your order and pay the bill of fare, you’re free to find an empty table.  Your order will be delivered shortly.

The pizza is waifishly thin–not like those fru-fru gourmet pizzas that are so thin they seem to have only one side, but thin enough that you can fold each slice vertically or horizontally (in fact, you have to brace it from the bottom of the wedge or it might droop onto your clothing or the floor).  You might think that because the slices are so thin you can eat more slices, but that’s not necessarily the case.  An eighteen-inch pizza cut into eight slices is still a formidable pizza.

It’s also a very good pizza whose outer edges are crispy and charred nicely.  There is no one component which dominates.  This pizza is a concordance of sauce (which tastes more like fresh tomatoes than any sauce in town), seasoning, cheese and ingredients.  The meatballs, sliced flat, are housemade and delicious.  The sausage from iconic local deli Tully’s is a must have.  The green chile has no discernible piquancy, but it does have a nicely roasted flavor.

Desserts are also quite good.  The tiramisu–made with ladyfinger biscuits dipped in espresso, layered with mascarpone and other ingredients then topped with cocoa–is excellent with a nice balance of flavors and none of the cloying qualities of too sweet desserts.  A simple root beer float made with Henry Weinhard’s root beer is refreshing and delicious with an adult root beer flavor and creamy, housemade vanilla ice cream.

For aficionados of New York style pizza, JC’s New York Pizza Department is about as close as you’ll come in Albuquerque to the pizza of Metropolis.  Moreover, it continuous to reenforce the immutability of Gil’s law of pizza thermodynamics.

JC’s New York Pizza Department
215 Central Avenue, N.W., Suite B
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 766-6973
Web Site
LATEST VISIT:  24 October 2009
COST: $$
BEST BET: Queens Pizza (Homemade Meatballs and Mozzarella), Brooklyn Pizza (Tully’s Italian Sausage and Mozzarella), Tiramisu, Root Beer Float, Homemade Ice Cream

JC's New York Pizza Department on Urbanspoon

Tabla De Los Santos – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hotel Saint Francis, home of La Tabla de los Santos

Hotel Saint Francis, home of La Tabla de los Santos

Professor Larry Torres, the brilliant historian, linguist and writer From Arroyo Seco is incomparable at spinning a yarn, especially when doing so in “Spanglish,” the without-a-pause blending of Spanish and English so prevalent among Latinos in the Land of Enchantment.  A few years ago in the Taos News, he told the story of a little South American boy staying with a family in Northern New Mexico who called home rather frantically begging to return home.  The little boy explained that New Mexicans are barbaric after overhearing that they cook and eat “chicos.

Obviously the little boy didn’t know that chicos is not only the literal translation of little boys, but a delicious favorite food of Latinos throughout Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado.  Chicos begin as an ear of field corn which is tied into ristras (strings) and hung to dry or alternatively roasted in an horno.   The kernels are then removed and stored until cooking time.  When cooked (boiled in water), they swell up to their former size and taste like freshly smoked corn.  In combination with pinto beans, they are magnificent!

Chicos were a staple in bucolic Peñasco in Taos county where I grew up.  Much of the field corn we raised was reserved for chicos which we enjoyed at many a meal.  Farmers who grew chicos in volume sold to their neighbors, normally commanding a princely sum considering the intense preparation required to make them.  Today in Taos county, you can find chicos in grocery stores such as Smith’s.

Inger's Swedish Pancakes

Inger’s Swedish Pancakes

It’s always surprised me that very few restaurants in Northern New Mexico offer chicos, many preferring instead to serve their more glamorous cousin posole, a hominy-based stew.  When chicos are on the menu, it doesn’t matter what else is because that’s what I’m going to order.  Unfortunately, it’s probably fortuitous that there are very few opportunities to order chicos at restaurants because they’d never compare to those made by my mom.

While perusing the menu at La Tabla De Los Santos at the Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe, my eyes stopped at an entree called “Pastel de los Santos de Santa Fe,” a breakfast entree of poached farm eggs with potatoes on a bed of spinach with chicos, pinto beans from Rose Trujillo’s farm and red or green (or both) chile.  But I digress.  Let me tell you about La Tabla De Los Santos, the venue in which the brilliant chef Estevan Garcia is now plying his trade as only he can.

Tabla De Los Santos translates to English as “table of the saints.”  A tabla, unlike mesa, the more traditional term for table, implies a simple plank of wood.  The term is befitting of the stark ambience of the restaurant which, like the recently renovated Hotel St. Francis, was inspired by the early presence of Franciscan missionaries who founded Santa Fe.  Rather than creating an ostentatious or flamboyant over-the-top hotel, design elements focused on peace and tranquility in which utter simplicity abounds.  Not everyone in historically correct Santa Fe is thrilled about the renovations which some consider exploitative and inauthentic.

Pastel de los Santos de Chimayo

Pastel de los Santos de Chimayo

The Hotel St. Francis is Santa Fe’s oldest hotel, built in 1880.  It is on the National Registry of Historical Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.  Its Victorian-style edifice includes such details as rough-hewn wooden armoires and floorboards, all taking their cue from the sandal-shod sons of Saint Francis of Assisi who planted the seeds of Catholicism throughout the expansive New Mexican territory by evangelizing to a large population of native Americans and to other colonists who migrated to the new country.

Chef Estevan Garcia who presides over La Tabla De Los Santos is a former Franciscan monk himself (for four years) who retains a passion for the saints.  He’s also passionate about serving organic food, especially food grown locally by specific farmers with whom he’s cultivated relationships.  A Santa Fe native who spent years in the agrarian community of Dixon, New Mexico, Garcia festoons his menu with personal anecdotes about cooking with his grandmother.  The menu also highlights the names of area farms and farmers who supply the fresh ingredients in his food–like chicos.

Alas, the chicos may as well have been niblets of fresh corn shucked off the cob and prepared as you might any corn out of a can.  The chicos did not look or taste like the chicos with which I was raised.  They did taste like good corn off the cob so either Chef Garcia has found an elitist strain of chicos or he’s taking some liberties with a traditional Northern New Mexican staple.  At least he’s not serving wasabi fried potatoes with chile, a favorite of some contemporary chefs.

San Pula's Plato de Carne

San Pula’s Plato de Carne

Despite my protestations about the chicos, the Pastel de los Santos de Santa Fe is an excellent breakfast entree, due in large part to the tongue-tingling red and green chile I requested.  The spinach is only mildly acidic, much like the quelites (which New Mexico resident and prolific author Deborah Madison calls a “happy green weed that we could also call a vegetable”) Northern New Mexicans consume with ardor.  It is a terrific complement to the poached eggs which were more firm and “meaty” than most poached eggs which tend to be runny and insipid.  The beans grown at Rose Trujillo’s farm are the real thing–prepared in the manner in which abuelitas have been preparing them for generations.

What surprised us most about our inaugural visit to La Tabla De Los Santos is that the menu not only appealed to my sense of tradition–something that’s to be expected in a New Mexican restaurant–but to Kim’s as well.  My lovely bride’s grandmother emigrated in the 1920s from Sweden to Chicago’s Andersonville district, but Kim has had little opportunity to enjoy traditional Swedish food in New Mexico’s restaurants.  Kim fondly remembers her sainted grandmother preparing pancakes with lingonberry butter for breakfast so it was a pleasant surprise to seem them on the mostly New Mexican menu at La Tabla.

Inger’s Swedish Pancakes are three thinly rolled pancakes with lingonberry butter.  Lingonberries, a very popular berry throughout much of northern Europe are sweet, but with a sharp, tangy edge similar to cranberries to which they are closely related.  Blended into whipped butter, they are perfect for slathering on the waifishly thin pancakes which are sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.  You don’t want much syrup on these delicious orbs because its cloying qualities might obfuscate the wonderful flavor of the berries.  This entree is served with two slices of that bacon only restaurants seem able to acquire and with fresh fruit.

Organic Goat Milk Flan

Organic Goat Milk Flan

Interestingly the breakfast menu’s most expensive entree is named for a rather obscure saint only a devout theologian would know.  San Pula’s Plato de Carne, comprised of one rolled cheese enchilada with red or green chile, two farm eggs, calabasitas and a six-ounce ribeye steak, is a breakfast entree in which Chef Garcia is well practiced having prepared it under a different name at his now defunct eponymous restaurant Cafe San Estevan.  The steak is so good you’ll wish it was six or more ounces larger.  Ask for it with salt, pepper and garlic on both sides and instead of the humdrum garlic salt other restaurants use, the steak is adorned with minced garlic that accentuates the flavor of the steak.

Calabasitas are most definitely a traditional New Mexican dish, best when served with chicos.  La Tabla’s rendition is authentic–sliced zucchini squash, white onions and those chicos whose authenticity is in dispute with me.  The cheese enchilada covered in green chile is delicious, the wonderful fruitiness of the green chile just resonating with personality and flavor.  At about medium on the piquancy scale, the chile is about as good as you’ll find in Santa Fe.

Signage from Water Street

Dessert isn’t always associated with breakfast, but at La Tabla it’s standard fare.  The “must have” is a Chef Garcia standard, organic goat milk flan, a dessert that happened by serendipity when he needed milk for flan and all he had was goat’s milk from Sweetwood’s Creamery.  The menu calls it “truly divine.”  Who can argue with divinity?  It’s my favorite flan in town.

La Tabla De Los Santos returns the highly skilled Chef Estevan Garcia to the kitchen where it seems San Pasqual provides divine inspiration.  His return to the kitchen means return visits on my part to a restaurant sure to draw in discerning diners craving New Mexican food that’s just about as good as it can be made.

La Tabla de los Santos
Hotel Saint Francis
210 Don Gaspar Avenue
Santa Fe, New Mexico
(505) : (505) 983-5700
LATEST VISIT: 18 October 2009
COST: $$
BEST BET: Inger’s Swedish Pancakes, Pastel de los Santos de Chimayo, San Pulo’s Plato de Carne, Organic Goat Milk Flan

Tabla de los Santos on Urbanspoon

Porky’s Pride Real Pit BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Porky's Real Pit Barbecue in its new home on 4th Street

Porky's Real Pit Barbecue in its new home on 4th Street

The genesis of America’s popular music–country, jazz and even rock and roll–is rooted in the soul and sounds of Mississippi Delta blues–sounds born in the disgraceful shadow of slavery and lyrics which echoed the grievous plight and painful lament of workers in plantations and fields.  It is a tribute to the resilience of a people that the music of their lament evolved over the centuries to bring succor, alacrity and pride to generations.

Given poor quality meat, those plantation workers dug pits in the ground in which they cooked the poor cuts of pigs or meat they were allowed to raise. When emancipated, the pit masters introduced their prowess over the barbecue pit throughout the United States. The American epicenters of barbecue excellence–Texas, Memphis, Kansas City and the Carolinas–all owe their barbecue roots to the deep south.

Today, the term “real pit barbecue” rarely refers to a big hole in the ground. A barbecue pit is almost always above ground in a steel “oven” in which meat revolves on racks until just right.  The pit master’s prowess is showcased in the way he or she deftly manipulates indirect heat and wood smoke to produce the inimitable flavor that has made barbecue not only a national tradition, but a veritable piece of Americana.

Combination plate with sausage and rib tips

Combination plate with sausage and rib tips

Southern-born (Southern New Mexico) pit master Guy Nix has been “messing around with BBQ since I was a teenager…more seriously since about 1992’ish.”  As a 14-year old he bought his father a smoker for Father’s Day, but it wasn’t his father who was interested in the craft; it was Guy, who relates that he ruined thousands of dollars worth of meat in perfecting the smoking process.  Now that he’s got it down pat, he’s been plying his craft in restaurants throughout New Mexico, Oregon  and Arizona.

In January, 2008, he launched Porky’s Pride Real Pit BBQ in a 2400-square foot edifice in the barbecue-starved Northeast Heights. Five months later he opened a second restaurant in another barbecue deprived section of the city, Albuquerque’s far North Valley.  The worldwide economic malaise forced the closure of the original location on Juan Tabo while fortuitous fate precipitated a move about a quarter mile south of his initial Forth Street location.

Porky’s is now situated in a heavily trafficked section of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, an area quickly becoming a dining destination.  Clustered in a one block radius within easy walking distance of each other are Sadie’s Dining Room, Ezra’s Place, Sophia’s Place and Hurley’s Coffee, Tea & Bistro.  Porky’s Pride won’t take a back seat to any of them.

Combination plate with chicken and pulled pork

Combination plate with chicken and pulled pork

Porky’s Pride is down-home, down-to-earth and as American as Waylon and Willie whom you’re more likely to hear on the sound system than any Mississippi Delta blues. It’s only natural that country music be the music of choice at a Guy Nix restaurant. That’s because the affable proprietor has been making good country music even longer than he’s been making good barbecue. Guy has temporarily shelved his CMT (that’s Country Music Television for you sophisticates) ambitions to concentrate on his restaurant.  Admittedly a man of many passions (cars, music, motorcycles, etc.), Guy has shelved them all (at least temporarily) to invest all he’s got into his barbecue restaurant.  That’s how much he believes in it.

As good as his music is, his barbecue is even better. It’s the type of barbecue that transcends cultural and social divides; it’s white and blue collar food with nary an aspect of highfalutin to it. It’s slow-smoked and fast-eaten, the American way.  It’s the type of barbecue which can trace its genesis to the Mississippi Delta.  It’s barbecue that feels like the South, but it’s also barbecue that can’t be pigeonholed into one category.

Though the ambience and aromas may resonate stereotypical barbecue joint, Porky’s Pride has the most ambitious menu of any barbecue eatery in town.  It’s as diverse a menu as you’ll find anywhere, offering not only bodacious barbecue, but New Mexican food entrees in the style of Las Cruces where he grew up and steak so good Porky’s might just become your destination of choice for USDA choice or better top sirloin, flat iron, rib eye and even Porterhouse steaks (more on that later).

Pulled pork deliciousness wrapped inside a tortilla

Pulled pork deliciousness wrapped inside a tortilla

Porky’s Pride makes it possible to enjoy three square meals a day with little semblance among each of the three (though the commonality will be deliciousness).  The breakfast menu includes as impressive a line-up of breakfast burritos as there is in the city as well as a stuffed French toast the likes of which are rarely seen in these parts. It’s casserole style French toast with the syrup built in along with bits of bacon and cream cheese. It’s dusted with confectioner’s sugar and includes a side of maple syrup.  This is a popular breakfast entree and if you don’t get to Porky’s early, the restaurant may have run out.

If you’re feeling a little bit country and a little bit New Mexico (with apologies to Donnie and Marie), lunch options include Porky’s Q-Ritto where you can wrap up any meats in a “big ole flour tortilla” burrito style. There’s a little bit of irony here since the first Porky’s Pride 4th Street restaurant was on the former corrugated steel edifice that once housed the Albuquerque Tortilla Company.  At any regard, the O-Rittos are terrific–eight-inch tortillas enveloping nicely smoked pulled pork and, if you request it, green chile.

Build your own combo platters for lunch and dinner will satisfy even the most rapacious of carnivores. One, two, three and four meat platters can be crafted from pulled pork, pulled chicken, hot links, beef brisket and rib tips. All platters are served with triple baked beans and your choice of coleslaw, potato salad, garlic mashers or fries and garnished with diced onion and a dill pickle spear.  In addition to these sides, the menu includes a creative array of appetizers: fried mac-n-cheese, pop-a-tops (breaded jalapeno halves stuffed with cream cheese), peel and eat shrimp, jumbo wings, catfish nuggets and corn fritters, rib tips and more.

Meaty rib tips are also off-the-bone tender and juicy. Each rib tip has a nice crusty outer core just above the smoke ring that typifies great barbecue. There’s a lot of meat on them there bones and it’s absolutely mouth-watering.

Onion rings at Porky's Real Pit BBQ

Onion rings at Porky's Real Pit BBQ

In his Dilbert Blog, nationally syndicated cartoonist Scott Adams questions why “so-called natural meat eaters feel the need to disguise their food by cutting it into steaks, cooking it, and covering it with barbecue sauce.” He posits that “if eating meat is natural, you would expect it to make you hungry in its natural condition. Looking at a cow should make you salivate when you are hungry.”

He does make one salient point in that few, if any of us, would salivate at the sight of fatted cows grazing on green grass, but you’ll need extra napkins to wipe your mouth upon receipt of a Porky’s Pride combination platter. You’ll immediately dig in lustily.

The hot links, stuffed in a natural casing, snap when bitten into and release their tangy spiciness. The links are sliced diagonally into slightly larger than bite-sized chunks. With or without sauce, they star.

Porterhouse steak, a powerful piece of meat!

Porterhouse steak, a powerful piece of meat!

Porky’s meats are the antithesis of the type of meat to which I refer as Ivory Snow in that they’re NOT 99 and 44/100 percent pure. You’ll find a fatty or sinewy sliver of meat here or there and plenty of dark meat, but that, too, is Americana. The pulled pork falls apart at the touch of a fork. It’s a moist and tender pulled pork imbued with more than a hint of hickory smokiness.

That smokiness is also imparted on the barbecue sauce which is slathered generously on your platter. The sauce hints more than subtly at being spicy, smoky and sweet, an unbeatable barbecue sauce combination.  You’ll want to take home a bottle of that sauce which Guy is in the formative stages of bottling and distributing (not only the sauce, but his salsa and more).  The sauce, by the way, is served hot.  That’s because Guy knows if you serve smoked meats hot, they have a tendency to dry quickly.  To keep them moist and juicy, he serves the meats warm and the sauce hot.  It’s a fantastic sauce which you won’t find sitting on the table.  It’s served to order so you can get it hot, the way it should be.  It’s a sauce that’s very complementary of the dry rub Guy uses which isn’t always the case at barbecue restaurants which offer five or six different sauces but use only one dry rub.

Several so-called grill masters I know wonder if I’m smoking something when I explain it’s possible to smoke a great burger.  Rio Rancho’s Smokehouse Barbecue Restaurant has proven me right several times with a smoke burger that has prompted nearly a hundred visits to that restaurant.  At the risk of being accused of heresy, Porky’s Pride makes a better smoke burger than the Smokehouse.  Porky’s smokey cheese burger is a half-pound Angus all-beef patty smoked then broiled to order and topped with two types of cheese.  It’s available in single, double, triple and even quad sizes.  You’ll want yours with green chile and bacon with barbecue sauce on the side for baptismal style immersion of bite-sized portions of the burger.  This smoked burger has both a smoky flavor from the smoking process and a charbroiled flavor from being heated on the grill upon order.  It’s the best of both worlds.

Porky's Smoke Cheese Burger and Fries

Porky's Smoke Cheese Burger and Fries

The most worthy accompaniment to any barbecue is baked beans and Porky’s Pride shines in that department with triple baked beans, the likes of which I last had at Hap’s Pit Barbecue in Phoenix, Arizona.  It didn’t surprise me that Guy developed the concept and menu which has made Hap’s one of the most highly regarded barbecue restaurants in the Phoenix metropolitan area (Porky’s Pride is better).   The trio of Navy, kidney and lima beans joins ground beef and bacon in a sauce of equal pronouncements sweet and savory. This isn’t a triple; it’s a home-run, some of the best baked beans in town.

Available for either lunch or dinner are steaks and chops the likes of which you might find at a Chophouse in Chicago.  All chops are cooked to order on a Montague Steak Broiler which broils with infrared radiant heat which sears in all the juices and flavor.  The temperatures on this broiler reach 2,500 degrees which means the heat intensity penetrates all exposed surfaces of the meat.  This broiling process, by the way, is the same one used at high-end, high-dollar steakhouses such as Ruth’s Chris.

The Duke City won’t pay Ruth’s Chris prices for an outstanding steak at Porky’s Pride.  In fact, at under $23, an outstanding steak can be had at Porky’s Pride for about a third of what you’d pay at Ruth’s Chris.  The most expensive cut of steak offered is the Porterhouse, a beefy behemoth at 20-ounces of glorious, perfectly seasoned and perfectly broiled meat.  This is a very tender, very juicy steak which explodes with flavor.  If you love a great steak, this is one you’ve got to try.

Enchiladas with fire-roasted chile

Enchiladas with fire-roasted chile

Exemplifying just how much Guy Nix wants his cuisine to stand out is his willingness to pay almost a dollar a pound more for the green chile he uses on his New Mexican food.  If you’ve ever noticed a boring sameness among the green chile at many Albuquerque restaurants, it’s because many of them obtain their chile from the same supplier.  Not Porky’s Pride which pays a premium for fire-roasted chile which has a discernible flavor that stands out.  Not especially piquant, it accentuates the fruitiness and flavor of chile.  An excellent way to sample it is on enchiladas, three corn tortillas stacked with beef, pork or chicken then topped with Cheddar cheese and that terrific green chile.

Porky’s Pride exemplifies the type of barbecue that has become as American as barbecue and country music, a combination that can’t be beaten.

Porky’s Pride Real Pit BBQ
6136 4th Street, N.W.
Albuquerque, NM

LATEST VISIT: 16 October 2009
1st VISIT: 1 July 2008
COST: $$
BEST BET: Combination Platter (pulled pork, chicken, rib tips, hot links), triple beans, Porterhouse steak, onion rings, Porky’s Smokey Cheese Burger & Fries, Q-Rittos

Porky's Pride Real Pit BBQ on Urbanspoon

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