Pete’s Frites – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Pete’s Frites on Route 66 in the Nob Hill district

You might view my friend Schuyler’s insistence that his favorite vegetables are French fries, salsa and pizza as a fallacious premise, a non-sequitur fraught with absurdity. French fries are made from potatoes (botanically classified as a vegetable) so categorizing fries as a vegetable might not be a stretch, but pizza? How, you might ask, could any reasoning adult possibly consider pizza a vegetable? Schuyler’s argument is inspired from the beloved 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street. When ordered by the court to submit authoritative proof that Mr. Kringle is the one-and-only Santa Claus, Kringle’s lawyer Fred Gailey produced dozens of mailbags brimming with letters addressed to Santa Claus in care of the courthouse. Overwhelmed with this authoritative proof, the judge responded “Since the United States government declares this man to be Santa Claus, the court will not dispute it.”

By now you’ve probably surmised that Schuyler must have uncovered authoritative proof in the form of a governmental declaration that French fries, pizza and salsa are vegetables.  Indeed he has.  He points out that in 2011, the United States Congress passed a bill that allows pizza and French fries to remain on federally funded school lunch menus, essentially declaring that anything containing two tablespoons of tomato sauce (such as pizza and salsa) can be labeled a vegetable.  In truth, Schuyler doesn’t really subscribe to that (or almost any) Congressional premise. Being a cynic (or maybe wiser than us all), he believes decisions such as considering pizza a vegetable prove government is a Kakistocracy (the government of a state by its most stupid, ignorant, least qualified and unprincipled citizens in power).

Interior of Pete’s Frites

But he does love French fries..and he’d fight to the death to defend your right to eat them.  He’s not the only one.  Americans consume some two-million tons of French fries every year, an average of nearly thirty pounds per red-blooded American.  About seven percent of the potatoes grown in the fruited plain end up being sold by McDonald’s which sells more than one-third of all the French fries hawked in restaurants across the United States each year. In the early 1990s, as you may remember, McDonald’s acceded to customer demand for less saturated fat and converted the oil in which it prepares its French fries–from beef tallow to a “vegetable oil” amalgam.

Not everyone appreciated this change.  Schuyler certainly didn’t and neither did television chef and author Julia Child who did more than anyone else in the culinary arena to demystify sophisticated French cuisine for mainstream Americans.  Here’s what she had this to say about McDonald’s French fries:  “When they first started out, their French fries were very good.  And then the nutritionists got at them.  It turned out to be erroneous that tallow fat was bad and lard was bad and so forth.  So they changed it to some kind of nutritionist oil and they’ve been kind of limp ever since.  I never really eat them which is too bad and I always am very strong about criticizing, hoping maybe they’ll change.”

Oklahoma-Style Smash Burger with Fries and Garlic Aioli

While it’s probably too late for McDonald’s, Schuyler will be happy to read about an Albuquerque restaurant which hasn’t (as he would term it) “succumbed to pressure from nutritional Nazis.”  That restaurant is Pete’s Frites whose Facebook page proudly boasts “I think our fries are pretty special. We take a lot of time and pain in preparing them. We also have our not so secret oil, beef tallow, that takes them over the top.”  Schuyler will also be happy to learn that Pete’s Frites has the “Break the Chain” seal of approval from my friend Ryan Scott, one of my most trusted sources for recommendations on where to go (no, not in that way) and what to eat.

In between bites Ryan texted me to let me know about his latest find, a Santa Fe food truck turned brick-and-mortar enterprise on Nob Hill occupying the former home of Restaurant: Impossible alum Shade Tree Customs & Cafe just west of Carlisle.  He described it as “really, really good…worth a Gil review.”  Ryan’s not a man prone to hyperbole unless discussing the Denver Broncos or Texas barbecue, so when he uses “really more than once as a modifier for “good,” you can bet Pete’s Frites are almost as good as a Trevor Siemian touchdown.

Thrice Cooked Fries: More Than Twice As Nice!

Launched in September, 2016, Pete’s Frites specializes in the second part of its marquee–“frites” which you may know is what French fries are called in France and Belgium.  You wouldn’t expect a restaurant named Pete’s Frites to use some homogeneous out-of-a-bag fries.  Instead, Pete’s hand peels and cuts its potatoes daily then triple cooks them in the aforementioned beef tallow to achieve perfect Belgian-style frites.  Pete’s Web site boasts of house-cut fries which is “crunchy on the outside and mashed potatoey on the inside.”  Each frites order comes with one homemade specialty sauce: mayonnaise housemade with lemon; aioli, mayo for garlic lovers; spicy mayo with habanero-based pili pili sauce; spicy ketchup with a kick; and fry sauce (Ketchup and house-made mayo).

Few restaurants across the Duke City serve truly memorable fries worthy of adulation and certainly not worth an extra half-an-hour or more on the treadmill. Until Pete’s Frites, there hasn’t been a single restaurant intrepid enough to showcase French fries as its featured fare. So, does triple-cooking in beef tallow make that much of a difference? Absolutely! The time-intensive process is scientific in its approach, but artful in its delivery. Quite simply these are the very best frites (or fries if you prefer) in the metropolitan area, delivered as promised with a delightful crispy-crunchiness on the outside and cloud-like fluffiness on the inside. You’ll run out of the housemade sauce (the aioli is terrific) before you run out of fries, but these fries stand out on their own, needing absolutely no amelioration.

Oklahoma-Style Smash Burger with Green Chile

Much as he loved the fries, it was the burger which excited Ryan most. Pete’s boasts of premium, all-natural New Mexican beef with no hormones and antibiotics. Best of all, the proprietary blend with a beauteous balance of fat and lean is ground daily on the premises. Complimentary toppings include lettuce, onion and tomato, but for a pittance you can add Cheddar or American cheese and (or) green chile. Each burger is prepared “smash style” which means the beef is mashed onto the grill, a process which often leads to desiccated burgers. Not so at Pete’s Frites where each burger is a multi-napkin, chin-drenching affair. Bun integrity goes out the window if you order a double patty burger which is “release the floodgates” juicy. Four-ounces of beef make up a single patty burger.

Ryan recommended an “Oklahoma-style” smash burger (not on the menu) which I assumed was prepared in the manner made famous by Johnnie’s Grill in El Reno, Oklahoma. At Johnnie’s, a spatula wielding grill cook obviously well practiced in the craft mashes thinly sliced yellow onions with raw, thin, hand-formed patties, alternately grilling each side to ensure uniformity of onion dispersion. Caramelized onions adhering to the meat patty are then placed on a bun. Pete’s version is more akin to lots of grilled onions atop the beef patty. That’s a good way to go, too. Pete came out of the kitchen to ask if the green chile was too hot (you may as well ask the devil if Hell is too hot). For this volcano-eater, the green chile had a pleasant piquancy, but was certainly not too hot. Your opinion, of course, may differ.

Pete apprised me that the menu will be expanding soon with more options coming. Apparently diners can’t live on fries alone…though Pete’s are so good, you just might be willing to try, but then you’d miss out on a superb burger. You don’t want to miss out on the Pete’s Frites experience!

Pete’s Frites
3407 Central Avenue, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 200-0661
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT:
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Frites, Oklahoma-Style Smash Burger

Pete's Frites Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

10 comments

  • BOTVOLR

    As I previously asked elsewhere, I (blush) made my first of several efforts to support shoppes/waitstaff being devastated by the thoughtlessness of ART by girding my loins to make my way over here. Actually(!) traffic seemed lighter than anticipated; apparently, people appear to have caught on that Route 66 is a challenge. While there is “temporarily” no parking on their side of the street, I found a couple of spots across the street. BTW, meters offer 2 hours Free with the City boasting they got us covered. Actually, felt safe IF I were to Jaywalk….altho cars that do come by, whiz as if there is no construction. On the other hand, besides girding my loins, had to grit my teeth as dust swirled per a lack of keeping the dug up dirt, watered.

    Aaah, the place: simple/utilitarian in ambiance. Had the Basic Burger Combo: Fries: “…a delightful crispy-crunchiness on the outside and cloud-like fluffiness on the inside.” as Gil said. Alas, I can say that, and it seems more so of late, regarding what The Dog House has to offer! Had the burger sans cheese/chile. In addition to each being a buck extra, didn’t want to be distracted if the Green was exceptional. Bibb lettuce is a nice, uncommon touch. Alas, while juicy, I indeed concur that the The Toro Burger http://www.nmgastronome.com/?p=41477 is superior for that burgery taste and ‘feel’.

    • Thank you Bob. I appreciate that you not only read every review, you tend to visit many of the places I recommend then you provide detailed feedback in which you share your own impressions of those restaurants. My reviews tend to be more effective when they are validated by readers who comment on their own experiences. Every comment posted on this blog is read by dozens, if not hundreds, of other readers. Thank you for your loyal support over the years.

  • Dale McCan

    Drove into town from Corrales, found a parking place on Cental 1 block away, parked and got out at 5:00PM and walked to Pete’s Frites. Closed sign on the door what a let down. Saw a small sign saying they were preparing the kitchen and food and would open at 5:15PM, whew. Someone from the kitchen came to the door and let us and 4 other people in to get out of the cold. I’m glad we waited. Great, no, outstanding, GCCB and the fries were great also. Will definitely go back for more.

    • Good Morning Dale

      If you haven’t already done so, you and Shirley should make the drive up the hill to Rio Rancho and try the burgers at the Toro Burger Bar. They’re some of the most unique and delicious burgers in the metropolitan area, if not the entire Land of Enchantment.

      Best,

      Gil

  • Sarita

    Looks wonderful! About a block or two from Pete’s is a place called Tia B’s Waffleria. It’s owned by the same folks who own Tia Betty Blue’s. Four words: Brown butter bourbon sauce. YUM!!!!! Here’s their site: http://www.lawaffleriaabq.com

    You gotta check it out!

  • Schuyler

    I’m still waiting for the government to declare beer a cereal. And why not? It’s got many of the same grains as Captain Crunch. Nice review, bruh. I’m so there next time I return to Burque.

  • James

    I can’t wait to go back. The best burger in Nob Hill. Easily. (This will cut down on those treks out to Laguna Burger). The fries are amazing. It would be nice to see the burger topping selections expand… SLOWLY, Don’t rush. Take your time and get it right. Maybe grilled onions next month, bacon the next… work your way up to blackberry jam maybe?

  • It was worth a Gil review! Great job, and I’m glad you liked it as much as I did. I might even go back for lunch tomorrow.

  • Knute H Lee Jr

    Absolutely, hands down the best french fries ever anywhere!!!!!!!!!
    The burger was terrific also (double w/cheese & green chili).

    Right nearby is Two Fools tavern where the best fish & chips can be found.
    As good as TFT fries are, Pete’s are better.

    Pete’s is a must “go to” spot in Abq!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    FYI-love your blog

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