Gil's Thrilling (And Filling) Blog

Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico's Sesquipedalian Sybarite. 880 Restaurant Reviews, More Than 7000 Visitor Comments…And Counting!


You sure do eat out a lot. Don’t you ever eat at home?

We probably eat out less often than most people, usually three or four times a week. Some of my colleagues at work eat out every workday. The difference is they might eat at the same restaurant two or three times a week; we rarely visit the same restaurant more than once a month.

My Kim is a fabulous cook and I can handle myself in a kitchen very well, too, though we can’t cook together.  My idea of cooking is experimenting with every disparate ingredient there is.  There’s no such thing as “leaving well enough alone.”  As a consequence, I’ve invented the greatest macaroni and cheese ever made, but haven’t been able to replicate it because I didn’t write down what the ingredients were.  That’s fine, too, because it leads to more experimentation.

So what do you really have against chain restaurants?

Chain restaurants have their place in the world though not in mine.  To me, chain restaurants scream of homogeneity, the boring sameness some call the Wal-Martization of America.  Some people are comforted by that predictability.

Call me the Mike Roberts of local mom and pop restaurants, an unabashed supporter and cheerleader for the many great local dining establishments.  I love the fact that locally owned and operated restaurants can be unpredictable, that they prepare food to order instead of thawing something out which was shipped from corporate headquarters hundreds of miles away, that you can get to know the great families who own them, that those families have very personal investments and take immense pride in their products.

I have a friend and colleague I often refer to as the “Bizarro Gil.”  He’s my complete antithesis when it comes to eating out.  He practically drools at the first note of the Chili’s jingle and celebrates all family special events at places like the Outback Steakhouse and the Olive Garden.  I’ve come to the conclusion that his patronage of the chains has dulled his taste buds to the point at which he’s lost the capacity to recognize good food.  There are a lot of people like that.

Now, I will admit to being a captive of chains which fill a niche.  If mom and pop restaurateurs, for example, offered fried chicken or salad buffets, there’s be no reason to frequent chains which do.

What’s the best….?  What’s your favorite…?

When it comes to food, I find it impossible to be monogamous.  I have several favorites, maybe hundreds of them, but I also have no favorites whatsoever.  That might sound paradoxical, but I subscribe to the Mounds approach–sometimes you feel like a (your favorite food here), sometimes you don’t.  

Why was my experience at a restaurant so different from yours?

Any restaurant review is a “snapshot in time”–my experiences at the time of a particular visit.  A myriad of changes may account for differences of opinion— not ordering the same menu items, different chef or line cook, different menu, service degradation, things changing over time, etc.  Ultimately, readers should take a caveat emptor approach to any restaurant review, written by any critic. What matters most is your opinion.

Do you get paid to write reviews?

Not at all.  In fact, I won’t even accept advertising on my site.  That allows me to remain completely independent.

Why don’t you provide wine pairings with the restaurant meals you review?

It’s well established that New Mexico has a very serious drunk driving problem and I won’t contribute to that in any way.  We won’t even have a glass of wine if we’re driving.  At my age I need every bit of clarity I can muster and so does everyone who hits New Mexico’s roads.

  • Richard from Rio Rancho says:

    Hi Gil, Just wondering where would you recommend to get wonderful Fajitas in the ABQ area?

    December 8, 2013 at 5:15 PM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Hi Richard

      Chile Rio Mexican Grill on Pan American Freeway might just have the best fajitas in the Duke City area. What makes these special is the high quality of the beef skirt steak, optimally tender and perfectly seasoned. Every eye in the restaurant follows the steam trail from the kitchen to your table when the fajitas are delivered. Please let me know if you get to visit Chile Rio and sample them.


      December 8, 2013 at 9:22 PM
      • Richard from Rio Rancho says:

        Thanks for the suggestions. Had the lime-tequila chicken fajitas. Liked them very much. I heard some good things about Claim Jumper. Have you tried it yet? Thanks again.

        December 21, 2013 at 5:48 PM
      • Gil Garduno says:

        Alas, Richard, I don’t frequent chain restaurants, but you can read about one of my colleague’s impressions of Claim Jumper in this review:

        December 21, 2013 at 11:06 PM
  • SP says:

    Hi Gil –
    I am so glad I found your website. I will be moving to Albuquerque in June to start a residency program. I am told Nob Hill is a good area to live in but I am having a hard time finding an apartment and don’t even know where to start. Even though my question to you so unrelated to the content of this blog, would you be able to point me in the right direction? How safe is the bricklight district?


    May 16, 2014 at 3:32 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Yo SP…Bienvenido! Sorry can’t give you a better link. Go here:

    South of I-40 and East of I-25 find “Lomas”. Put your cursor on it and slowly rotate your mouse wheel to zoom in. Hopefully…LOL…you should see the UNM campus with Central Ave. (aka Rt. 66) as its southern border. South of Central, altho I stand to be corrected, is the ‘bricklight’ area. (Put your cursor in the middle of the screen and while holding down you left mouse button, move your mouse up/down/left/right.) It’s a mix of homes with probably rooms for rent or where students rent the whole house by pooling $$$ and apartments where houses have been razed. Some might describe it as ‘well worn’ with possible gems within akin to a geode as is the rest of NM…LOL Click on the icons to see the ‘offense’. Alas, note the zero icons on campus. I can only presume because it has its own police force, “crime stats” are not so listed.
    Along and off Central south of the U are a mish mash of mostly casual eateries with some being quite good.

    Nob Hill is roughly along Central from Girard east to Carlisle, some might say to Washington. It is “a melange of shoppes and restaurants/pubs” where Townies and Students share strolling or people-gawking ala sidewalk “patios” and casual and finer dining.

    You said you will be doing a residency, so I’m guessing it is in Medicine. If in healthcare, north of Lomas actually is the Med/Nursing/Pharm schools’ “campus” with the teaching hosp (highly so ranked in several specialties) and the Law school with its adjacent golf course. To its east, are mostly residences with only a few apartments. I’m thinking some houses might be rentals or have room rentals…perhaps. Northwesterly from the Med School complex near University Blvd and Indian School Rd. are a couple of…how shall we say….more upscale…at least looking…. apartment complexes Netherwood and Citadel. Go here:,-106.629198,3a,75y,29.23h,73.17t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s1fHKoY6kfogJWD5_0Cw4Zw!2e0 Put your cursor in the middle of the street a bit toward the traffic signal and click. It should move you east. Repeat as necessary. At Univ. and Indian School Rd is the Citadel complex (SE corner).

    No car/bike and want to look elsewhere? Go here for city buses Still can’t figure it out? Call 311 tell ’em where you are and want to go.

    Consider contacting the UNM or UNM Med School for their “Housing Offices”. Say, lest you don’t know about it and without meaning to insult you’re being independently wealthy, check out the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment program for healthcare practitioners

    Am now hoping Y’all will be back in a couple of weeks to tell us you found a place with a 32″ LCD-HD TV, weight room and hot tub with a bevy of guy/gals as the case may be, looking out at glorius sunsets over the watermelon shaded Sandias (pardon the redundancy!) or the volcanoes while enjoying Mai Tais, within 2 blocks of the med school/hosp for $399 a month! At that point I’ll be happy to say “Que Sapo!!!”

    May 16, 2014 at 10:26 AM
  • Roland says:

    Try this link. It should take you directly to the Off Campus Housing site on the UNM website. Hope this will help you get started.

    May 16, 2014 at 4:09 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    You managed to say in approx 2 dozen words what Bob-A-Loo said in 634 words.
    Amazing, and without one “LOL”.
    How did you manage it?

    May 17, 2014 at 8:04 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Yo El Brute…with no offense to Roland as indeed succinct can be good, but you must appreciate that at least I’m not cheap with words…LOL
    Alas, with your Beck’s Dark sufficiently ‘iced’, had it last night. As you didn’t say what kind of glass to use, I opted for a pilsner style. You didn’t say what’s it might go best with either, so I opted for KFC’s 5 Hot Spicy wings (with Ranch for dipping) and a side of their smashed potatoes with classic brown gravy. Aha! this “Dark” was not overpowerlingly sweet, but had a hearty/huskiness to it…’aggresive and robust’?… which along with its effervescence, was a perfect match to the hot spiceness! Certainly worthy to be drank/drunk this way or even for sipping watching Jack do his thing in/on ’24’!

    May 18, 2014 at 9:09 AM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the BOI and spicy wings seem to be the perfect food.
    Jack should be watched with both a libation in hand and a weapon in you holster. I did miss him and he is a welcomed addition in my home.
    Once while watching 24 Grayce shouted out at a very bad guy at a very tense moment, “Kill ’em, Jack. Kill the MF.”
    Not very lady like but quite apropos.

    May 18, 2014 at 12:09 PM
  • Roland says:

    My wife would say this is a rare event for me. My tendency is to be verbose, however, in an attempt to aid this person, I felt brevity was in order.

    May 20, 2014 at 10:35 PM
  • Allyson Penella says:

    Food trucks and local craft breweries are joining together for one great day! On Saturday, April 11th, the New Mexico Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival will be held at Balloon Fiesta Museum from 11-4. Over 20 local trucks will be serving up their best dishes, in addition to live music, children’s activities, and local craft beer for the adults.

    March 27, 2015 at 1:10 PM
  • NancyD says:

    Please consider adding Nagomi (2400 Juan Tabo) to your blog. It has Japanese Amercian ownership and has the definite feel of a mom and pop place. Just discovered it this week although it has been open almost a year. I have tried most Japanese restaurants in Alb and this one is by far the best. The sushi is wonderful, but what makes this place stand out is all the other menu items. Things like shabu shabu and Japanese curry that is just not seen on other menus. Give them a try!

    May 8, 2015 at 9:55 AM
  • Lawrence says:

    May I get content sent to me? I really like hear about what’s happening in our dining scene. you know who’s expanding who’s changing who’s closing who’s hot who’s not . Where’s Chef Rosa? I used to work for Chef Andre Diddy. I hope we can maybe share info opinions etc. Thanks.

    August 8, 2015 at 1:33 PM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Hello Lawrence

      You can get all new posts mailed to you if you subscribe to my blog. There’s a “Subscribe” Web part on the navigation menu. The “Year in Food” posts published monthly should keep you fairly well abreast about the dining scene in that it celebrates all the many mentions New Mexico’s restaurants, chefs and authors receive from national media sources. There’s also a section on the navigation menu for restaurants which are gone but not forgotten. It lists all restaurant closures (and there are too many of them) by year.

      The last I heard Chef Rosa lives in Santa Fe. Her Twitter account ( seems to be mostly retweets which is a shame because the former James Beard Award nominee always had so many brilliant things to say. Newcomers to Albuquerque missed out on a fabulous chef and personality. Chef Rosa was one of a kind.

      So was Chef Andre Diddy who coined the phrase “waitrons” as a gender-neutral term for his servers. Is he still in New York?

      Feel free to comment again and if you’d like for me to keep my response private, I’ll be happy to do so.

      Thanks for a stroll down memory lane.


      August 11, 2015 at 10:48 AM

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