School cafeteria meals have probably traumatized more youth than John Carpenter’s horror movies. Lunch menus read like fine dining–promising nutritious, healthy and delicious cuisine. Instead, they deliver what appears to be TV dinner rejects. Reject is an apropos term here. Slop buckets are overfilled with the much feared and cursed vegetable medley (also known as succotash, emphasis on the “suck” part) and the next day with chicken a la king, featuring whatever is left over of the dreaded vegetable medley. It’s no wonder America’s youth seeks sustenance and refuge in the calorie-laden comfort of vended snacks.
Bocadillos, a locally owned and operated, full-service school lunch and catering company is working to change the image of the dreaded school cafeteria meal. In 2012, Bocadillos prepared as many as 500 meals per day for three charter school clients. In 2013, those numbers will double to 1000 meals per day and six charter schools. Bocadillos doesn’t do things in the tried and failed methods of the past. The serve children wholesome, balanced meals to support their cognitive development and physical health. All students will likely recognize is that it tastes delicious!
Launched in 2010, Bocadillos is the brainchild of owner and chef Marie Yniguez, a creative, high-energy dynamo who apparently can’t sit still. While many people would wind down during the summer lull between one school year and the next, Marie and co-owner Karla Arvizu instead launched a small grab-and-go operation which operates out of Bocadillos commissary at 1609 Indian School, N.W. Dubbed Slow Roasted: A Sandwich Shop, it will have the geriatrically advanced among us wonder just how good Bocadillos school lunches must be (not that we’d ever want to return to school to find out).
Bocadillos is a Spanish term which translates to sandwiches while slow-roasted speaks for itself. The meats from which Slow Roasted sandwiches are constructed are indeed slow roasted which makes them tender, moist and delicious. The menu currently showcases only five sandwiches, including the “Salad Shooter,” a vegetarian sandwich featuring grilled portabello mushrooms, roasted bell peppers and roasted tomatoes. Each sandwich comes with your choice of four options: chipotle potato salad, macaroni salad or a small side salad with your choice of house dressing.
The lunch menu also includes two salads: the creatively named “Si Se Puede (yes, you can) Caesar salad and the Tres Frutos (triple berry) salad. Available dressings are raspberry vinaigrette, ranch, blue cheese and Caesar. Slow Roasted also serves breakfast Monday through Friday from 7AM to 2:30PM. The breakfast menu includes everything from biscuits and gravy to French toast and huevos rancheros. The vast majority of meals served are take-out because the sole seating space is outdoors under a canopy.
One word of caution about finding Bocadillos–all you have to watch for is the Blakes Lotaburger. Bocadillos is to the immediate east of the popular burger restaurant. Go past Bocadillos and you just might end up on Menaul or 12th Street courtesy of a round-about that seems to confuse some drivers (or at least me) looking for Bocadillos. It doesn’t help that Bocadillos doesn’t resemble a restaurant in the least. It could easily be mistaken for an industrial complex.
Unmistakable, however, are the intoxicating aromas wafting from the kitchens. By the time you place your order, you might be drooling as those aromas envelop you like an olfactory-arousing cocoon. The challenge of deciding what to eat is no less daunting because the menu is limited. You’ll be hard-pressed to decide what to have. Make sure you take a friend or loved one when you visit so you can share half a sandwich a piece.
The chef’s choice…the sandwich of which Marie is most proud is the Duke City Ruben. Quite simply, it may be the very best Ruben sandwich in Albuquerque. It’s the embodiment of the slow roasting process, taking no less than twelve hours to achieve its tender texture and moistness throughout as well as a sweet caramelization on the surface of each tendril of the corned beef. The housemade sauerkraut doesn’t have the lip-pursing qualities of some sauerkraut. It’s made with a red cabbage tinged with the distinctive flavor of caraway seeds. The Thousand Island dressing, also made on the premises, is terrific, too.
One of the consequences of splitting a sandwich with a friend is that one of you will have to share half of a superior sandwich. That was the case with the Ruben I split with my friend Paul Lilly. Rarely will you consider the sandwich he ordered (a Philly cheesesteak sandwich) a “Miss Congeniality” of sandwiches, but Bocadillos’ Ruben is just that much better than just about any other sandwich. Place it on a line-up of the Duke City’s best sandwiches and it might rise to the top. It’s on my list.
The 5-0-Philly is pretty terrific in its own right. Constructed with slow-roasted beef, Swiss cheese, New Mexico green chile, green and red bell peppers, mushrooms and onions, it’s a coalescence of ingredients and flavors that will delight you. There is so much going on, however, that the green chile didn’t express itself quite as much as this New Mexico native would have liked. What does stand out is the slow roasted beef, as tender, moist and delicious as possible.
As a young student, I disliked cold weather intensely because it meant summer vacation was over and school was back in session. As a seasoned citizen, I’m looking forward to cold weather because it will mean Bocadillos will be serving soup. Having served as a judge at the 2013 Roadrunner Food Bank’s SouperBowl fund-raising event, I’m well acquainted with Bocadillo’s soup. Its Southwest chicken corn chowder earned the Critics’ Choice award.
It’s highly likely Bocadillos will likely earn quite a few awards over the years. Within months after launching its grab-and-go operation, no less than Food Network glitterati Guy Fieri and the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives crew came calling. Fieri’s September, 2013 visit caused quite a stir and when the episode showcasing Bocadillos aired on Monday, October 28, 2013, viewers all over the country found out about the small unconventional restaurant which serves one of the world’s best Ruben sandwiches.
Bocadillos Slow Roasted: A Sandwich Shop
1609 Indian School Road, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 29 July 2013
# OF VISITS: 1
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Duke City Ruben, 5-0-Philly, Macaroni Salad