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Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Perea's New Mexican Restaurant

Perea's New Mexican Restaurant

Tourists visiting San Francisco who wish to partake of the city’s most “authentic” Chinese food might be in for a surprise if they select their dining destination based on the number of indigenous diners they can see from a restaurant’s windows.

It’s widely reputed that in San Francisco such “window dressing” is at the least, a facade and at the worst, a bait and switch tactic.  Instead of authenticity, tourists might actually be in for a meal of Americanized Chinese food of which they’ll partake in an upstairs dining room not visible from the street and crowded with other tourists.

If the criteria for authenticity and quality includes the number of indigenous diners at an ethnic restaurant, Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant is one of the Duke City’s most authentic practitioners of New Mexican cuisine (with one deviation about which you’ll read below).

The signage “Perea’s Authentic New Mexican Restaurant” even tells you you’re in for authenticity, but the proof, as always, is in the eating, not just in the number of native New Mexicans seated at the restaurant.

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

Perea’s is one of Albuquerque’s most popular dining destinations regardless of genre.  Open only Monday through Saturday from 7AM through 3PM, it is usually crowded with ten to fifteen minute waits not uncommon, especially on Saturdays.

Perea’s is housed in a facade that was once one of the two Andy’s Restaurants serving Albuquerque back in the days in which Central Avenue was a cavalcade of chain restaurants and national hotel chains.

Perea’s is tailor-made for the beaten (and eatin’) path that is Central Avenue which bisects the city from east to west.  It has become so popular that parking is at a premium.  The parking lot fills early, requiring many diners to find a space to park in an adjacent street.

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the restaurant’s interior design which still bears traces of several Mexican restaurants that once occupied this site after Andy’s closed. There is, however, something almost musical in the clanking of spoons as they stir coffee all day long.  It’s also comforting to know you can get breakfast at any time of day.

A breakfast burrito stuffed with chorizo, potatoes and egg.

A breakfast burrito stuffed with chorizo, potatoes and egg.

Perea’s breakfast and lunch menu features American and New Mexican treasures, some of which are prepared very well.  Most diners seem to eschew burgers and sandwiches and focus their appetites on New Mexican comfort food favorites–essentially anything with red or green chile.  Both the red and green chile include ground beef (vegans are forewarned on the menu).

Burritos are one such comfort food favorite.  Perea’s burritos start with the best foundation possible–thick homemade flour tortillas.  You can pretty much pick what you’d like those tortillas stuffed with and can’t go wrong whether it’s ham, bacon, sausage or chorizo.

Only the chorizo at El Charrito’s comes close to the quality and taste of Perea’s version which is redolent with Mexican oregano and other spices.  Fold into your tortilla, chorizo, eggs and potatoes and you’ve got one of the best any time burritos in New Mexico, one which is made even better when served Christmas style (with both red and green chile).

By the way, you can purchase either fresh or day-old tortillas at Perea’s, but good luck in trying to craft a burrito nearly as good.

A carne adovada platter.

A carne adovada platter.

The Carne adovada (cubes of pork that have been marinated and cooked in red chile) is another Perea’s specialty.  This carne adovada is laced with garlic and oregano and is fork tender.  Alas, it is also dominated by cumin, a Middle Eastern spice that somehow found its way into Mexican and New Mexican cuisine.

Frequent visitors to my Web site are aware of my disdain for cumin in New Mexican food–my reason being that red chile needs absolutely no amelioration.  Cumin tends to give chile an astringent flavor and aftertaste and it removes the earthy, fruity sweetness inherent in great red chile.

The carne adovada at Perea’s was so overbearing that my rating for this popular restaurant plunged (from 21 to 17).  This portends ordering only green chile during future visits.

Fortunately, Perea’s has some outstanding green chile offerings including one of the two or three best chile rellenos in Albuquerque.  The relleno is creamy and cheesy, a combination we’ve found only in the Las Cruces area.

Perea's pancakes are outstanding!

Perea's pancakes are outstanding!

There are a couple of additions every diner should request.  One is the restaurant’s incomparable refried beans which have that cooked with lard taste that seems to set apart the very best refried beans.

The other is a bowl of the green chile, which is fabulous.  It is more piquant than the chile served at three quarters of the New Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque, but not overly piquant to real chile fanatics.

Hungry diners may want to try their hand at the large combination plate: a taco, chile relleno, enchilada and burrito along with beans and rice.  It is a prodigious platter replete with New Mexico treasures.

Unlike other New Mexican restaurants, Perea’s gives you tremendous latitude in crafting this combo plate to your exacting specifications.  That means beef, chicken or carne adovada on your burrito, enchilada and taco–your choice.  For me, it will no longer be “Christmas style” on this combo platter.  It’s green all the way!

Perea’s salsa is somewhat watery, not so much that it all runs off the chip, but enough that spillage is inevitable.  It’s not especially piquant and the chips are lightly salted.  Considering the quality of the chile, we expected a top-tier salsa and were a bit disappointed.

A large combination plate

A large combination plate

Inexplicably, Albuquerque diners which serve the best breakfast burritos (Milton’s and Murphy’s Mule Barn come to mind) also serve some of the very best pancakes in the city.  That holds true as well for Perea’s where a “short stack” is a must.

The batter for these golden orbs includes a bit of cinnamon as well as vanilla.  The taste of both coalesce to form some of the very best pancakes in town.  They would be even better if served with hot syrup instead of syrup from a squeeze jar.

Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant is indeed a genuine treasure serving authentic (albeit laced with cumin) New Mexican cuisine.

Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant
9901 Central Avenue, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM
232-9442

LATEST VISIT: 1 March 2008
# OF VISITS: 3
RATING: 17
COST: $$
BEST BET: Salsa & Chips, Pancakes, Chile Relleno

Perea's New Mexican on Urbanspoon

  • Amanda Lovato says:

    Hello!
    My name is Amanda and I am a family member of the Perea’s owner. I would like to report to you that I know for an absolute fact that there is absolutely no use of cumin in anything made at Perea’s. The owner does not even know what cumin is and has never used the spice. I think it’s a funny thing but it’s true.
    I would also like to give you our warmest thanks for your review! I’m glad you enjoy the food and we will take your comments and reviews and use them to improve even more!
    I hope you have a wonderful day and I love reading your reviews! My husband and I dine out a lot and it’s nice to have something to warn you before eating at a place that will leave you disappointed.

    Amanda Lovato

    May 4, 2009 at 11:57 AM
  • Tony Hawes says:

    Perea’s is hands down the best (new) mexican food in the entire world! I first ate at Perea’s back in the early 80′s and have been a fan ever since…. I highly recomend the huevos rancheros with the flour tortillias! I now live in Texas and try to make it to Albuquerque and least once a year and Perea’s is one of the biggest reasons why!… Much better than TexMex. Viva la Green Chile!

    May 5, 2009 at 4:14 PM
  • Rick says:

    We love Perea’s! First discovered it when they were over on Juan Tabo, I tried the Carne Adovada omelette and was hooked! It’s a huge 3-egg omelette filled with their awesome Carne Adovada. The Adovada has plenty of oregano in it (which I like), contrary to what Gil says I’ve never tasted any cumin in it. I’ve never been able to eat more than half of the huge portion and always take the rest home. Very reasonably priced. The Hash Browns are to die for too! Nice crunchy exterior with a soft moist interior.

    November 4, 2010 at 4:56 PM
  • Will4Dill says:

    The best Carne Adovada breakfast plate. I always said, for my last meal I would order this and nothing else. Mouthwatering perfect meat that melts under your fork, makes your body shiver, and lifts you to the heavens. Absolutely the best, bar none. Because of this breakfast item, I could never go vegetarian.

    November 21, 2010 at 4:21 PM
  • John & Lavon Newell says:

    I love Perea’s! When we lived in Albuquerque we ate there at least weekly. Breakfast was always my favorite, always ordering the breakfast burrito with chorizo and eggs – it can’t be beat anywhere. We have been back in Oklahoma for over 20 years but still look for any excuse to return and Perea’s is our first stop.

    June 12, 2011 at 1:30 PM
  • Anthony says:

    Gil, I have to say that I was very much disappointed with Perea’s. I do know Mexican and New Mexican food and unfortunately, Perea’s does not qualify for either.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:50 PM
  • Michael says:

    I had breakfast with a friend and we both ordered coffee and eggs, hash browns, bacon/sausage and toast.
    They heat their plates to the point that you could brand a steer with them. So the over medium eggs we both ordered were hard as a rock. The hash browns I had remembered from previous visits were hard and too greasy. The bacon was passable but the sausage links (2) had a strange spice in them. The bread offered for toast is whole wheat, white or rye. We both had the whole wheat and its the kind of bread that you’d buy if you were going to feed the ducks at Tingley. The toast was oiled up pretty good and the jelly they offer is the cheapest stuff you can find. I feel that for 23 dollars and change they could at least give you some decent bread and maybe jam or preserves. The coffee was ok, and the waitress would come by every two minutes and refill the cup so we were constantly having to adjust for cream and or sugar. My friend called it a drive by. Three other people in the place on this visit. There are a lot of other places in town with better food.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:09 AM
    • Ronnie says:

      I totally agree with the above two posts from Anthony and Michael regarding Perea’s. If your taste for New Mexican food leans more toward restaurants like Padilla’s, Garcia’s or The Shed in Santa Fe, Perea’s is not the place for you. They serve what I would call “Big Food”, everything (refried beans, hash browns, eggs) piled on the plate one thing on top of another, smothered to the rim of the plate in green chile sauce and cheese. You could not distinguish one item from another. We ordered juevos ranchitos. When I finally dug down far enough and found the hash browns, they were just as Michael described above, some hard and others glistening with oil. The refried beans had an overpowering flavor of lard. We could only eat about 3 small bites and asked for the check. I explained why we could not eat the meal, but they didn’t offer to forgive, or even adjust the bill, which was very pricey, $23, compared to other New Mexican restaraunts. All in all, it was very unappetizing and unhealthy food.

      April 24, 2013 at 4:21 PM

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