In the entire world, there may not be a national anthem that inspires as much heart-felt pride as the Mexican ballad Mexico Lindo Y Querido. It is a hauntingly stirring proclamation of the balladeer’s profound love for his native land–a love so intense that even his guitar awakens in the morning inspired to sing with alacrity about that land he loves. The song speaks to the country’s volcanoes, prairies and flowers serving as talismans for the love of his loves, the country of Mexico itself.
While the country of Mexico is indeed blessed with awe-inspiring wonders, its greatest beauty lies in the soul and character of its people. From the downtrodden descendents of its indigenous peoples to the scions of Cortez, most Mexicans remain God fearing, finding His presence in the simplicity of nature and glorifying His name in the way they approach life. There is also much simplicity in the daily bounty they receive with sincere reverence and gratitude. That simplicity is most often evident in the ingredients used to prepare Mexican food–corn, flour, peppers and beans being but a few staples.
Lindo Mexico (literally Beautiful Mexico), a restaurant which launched in 2005, celebrates the culinary heritage of Mexico. Its menu features many of the grilled Mexican food standards diners have come to know and love as well as mariscos (seafood) entrees. Initially situated on San Pedro in a building formerly occupied a once popular Chinese restaurant, Lindo Mexico now occupies a much more commodious, much more attractive edifice on Central Avenue, moving into its new digs in December, 2012.
While colorful Mexican blankets and sombreros festooned the walls of the original location, the new restaurant is much more smartly appointed, though no less vibrant. Personal space proximity seating is on equipales, the seats crafted from fibrous materials removed from maguey cactus and fixed with leather bands. The wait staff maintains a frenetic pace to keep up with the throngs of families waiting to be served.
A favorable first impression was quickly made by the restaurant’s horchata which would be among the best we’ve had in the Duke City were it not served at just above room temperature (even with ice cubes, it just isn’t that cold). The flavor and aroma of ground cinnamon made this refreshing rice beverage truly memorable. The aguas frescas menu also includes melon, pineapple and more.
Also inspiring instant affection is an appetizer sized Tostada de Ceviche, a crispy corn tostado smeared with a layer of guacamole then topped with diced shrimp, lettuce, white cheese, tomato and splashed with lime juice. There is just too much lettuce and tomato on the tostada to let the seafood taste really come through, but it’s not bad Ceviche by Albuquerque standards. Much better is Lindo Mexico’s salsa which, in its September, 2012 edition, Albuquerque The Magazine named the third best in Albuquerque from among 130 salsas sampled throughout the city. The salsa is superb with a nice level of piquancy.
We were elated to find parrillada de carne asada (marinated, grilled beef) on Lindo Mexico’s menu and even happier to find that it was pretty good. The waifishly thin cut of beef is more than a bit tough and more than slightly stringy (fairly typical in Mexican restaurants), but there is no mistaking the wonderful tastes and intoxicating aromas of well-seasoned beef. Served in a platter for two, the parrillada platter includes warm tortillas (flour, corn or both) just off the comal, sliced sausages, a bowl of queso fundido, two fried jalapenos and two baked potatoes, all of which were quite delicious. Also quite wonderful is a plate of charro beans, well-flavored with sausage and tripe.
By the way, if you’ve never had a baked potato Mexican style, you’re in for a treat. Mexican baked potatoes are wrapped in tin foil and baked until perfectly soft (not mushy and overdone) and served with a heaping portion of melting butter. These terrific tubers are surprisingly moist and an excellent side dish. The queso fundido complements everything well, but is a bit too elastic for chips. You may need to slice off a hunk or three.
Our sole departure into the nautical realm (the mariscos side of the menu) resulted in an anomalous entree–desiccated seafood. More specifically, the camarones a la fiesta (shrimp a la fiesta) was among the driest seafood entrees we can remember ever experiencing. At Mexico Lindo, this entree is a large shrimp stuffed with cheese and jalapeno then wrapped in bacon, an entree that is hit and miss at most Mexican restaurants. If the bacon isn’t too salty and overdone, the complementary surf and turf tastes are wonderful. Alas, at Mexico Lindo, the bacon is salty and crispy, completely overwhelming the shrimp.
The dessert menu includes such traditional Mexican favorites as flan and tres leches cake, but also features a couple of delicious departures from the standards. The dulce de leche cheesecake is befitting of its name which translates literally to “candy of milk,” but which is meant to describe the caramelization of sweetened milk by heating it slowly. Dulce de leche has many uses though cheesecake was a new one for us. The cheesecake was rich, creamy and delicious atop a Graham cracker crust. At the other end of the flavor profile spectrum is a volcano lava cake, a flourless cake with a molten inner core of chocolate ganache served with vanilla ice cream. Perhaps a better name for this cake would be chocolate overdose because it’s as rich as chocolate cakes come. It’s so good you’ll finish it, but the richness will challenge you to do so.
Lindo Mexico is such a beautiful restaurant that it just might inspire a ballad to be sung in its honor. It’s one of the most beloved Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque with near capacity crowds for lunch and dinner.
7209 Central Avenue, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 10 November 2013
# OF VISITS: 4
BEST BET: Parrillada de Carne Asada; Horchata; Tostada de Ceviche, Volcano Lava Cake, Dulce De Leche Cheesecake, Salsa and Chips