Hannah & Nate’s – Albuquerque & Corrales, New Mexico

The original Hannah & Nate’s on Riverside Plaza in Albuquerque’s West Side

There are just some restaurants at which the stereotypical Ralph Cramden hungry man shouldn’t dine. Hannah & Nate’s is one of them. It’s not that the food isn’t good. That’s certainly not the case.  It’s just that  it’s part of the troglodytic nature  of men to whine and complain when we have to wait more than two minutes for our meals and we become doubly obnoxious when the portions aren’t large enough to feed a small bull elephant. Thankfully, my Kim has been a great civilizing influence on me and I’m able to enjoy restaurants such as Hannah & Nate’s as much as she does.

Hannah & Nate’s is a home decor and market cafe ideally suited for gentrified ladies with a lot of leisure time on their hands. It’s not a restaurant at which a boorish lout will sit patiently then be satisfied with what he would consider “finger foods.” Take for example the “beef & bleu” sandwich featuring sliced roast beef, caramelized onion and sautéed mushrooms topped with bleu cheese on grilled sourdough. It’s not four inches thick the way such men would want it and the bleu cheese isn’t powerful enough to give them the belch inducing halitosis powerful enough to clear a room.

Tuscan Meatloaf Sandwich

Launched in 2002, Hannah & Nate’s is ensconced within the Riverside Plaza, a mixed-use development with convenient access from both Montano and Coors.  The plaza’s charming campus-like environment seems tailor-made for the home decor and market cafe which is named for the children of Beth and Phil Salazar.  Phil manages the food operations side of the business while Beth manages the decor operations.  The cafe is open from 8AM to 2PM while the home decor  operation remains open until 5:30.

The ambitious full-service breakfast menu belies the relatively small (call it comfy cozy) dining room which tends to get quite busy.  Many eyes are drawn immediately to the menu section entitled “Local Flavor” for Hannah & Nate’s take on New Mexican breakfast favorites such as huevos rancheros, breakfast enchiladas, breakfast quesadillas and the intriguing Eggs Benedict de Nuevo Mexico (two poached eggs served on top of an English muffin smothered with homemade carne adovada and melted Cheddar cheese.  This is the favorite breakfast entree of my learned friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate.

Rio Grande Turkey

More traditional eggs Benedict dishes are also available on the “Traditional Favorites” section of the menu where you’ll also find quiche and sourdough French toast.  A number of breakfast burritos and omelets are also available for the most important meal of the day.  The lunch menu is apportioned into several sections: Appetizers, Sandwich Board, Garden Fresh Salads, New Mexican Food Favorites, “Hot” From the Grill and The “Lite” Side (a half-sandwich with your choice of potato salad, fresh fruit, side salad or cup of green chile stew).

Lunch enjoyment might start with the carne adovada crisp, a quesadilla in which crisp flour tortillas envelope lean pork marinated in red chile and melted cheese. Why more quesadillas don’t feature carne adovada is beyond me, but even if they did, it’s doubtful they can duplicate this artfully crafted appetizer. Although the red chile isn’t especially hot, it’s very flavorful with a garlicky taste which complements the rich red chile.

In the Spring of 2005, Hannah & Nate’s Launched in Corrales

Among the many hot-off-the-grill sandwiches we’ve enjoyed from the sandwich board are:

  • Nate’s Melt (sliced beef roast, green chile, red peppers, caramelized onions, avocado and cheddar on grilled sourdough bread) in which the green chile has that pronounced roasted green chile aroma and taste New Mexicans love as much as life itself. This is an outstanding sandwich!
  • Tuscan Meatloaf Sandwich (rustic Tuscan meatloaf topped with caramelized onion, roasted red peppers and Jack cheese served on a grilled baguette). This is meatloaf at its comfort food best, the type your mother made for you as a child.  The meatloaf isn’t overly thick which means you’ll actually taste the other ingredients, a harmonious mix of complementary toppings.
  • New Mexico BLT (crispy bacon, fresh tomato, roasted green chile and lettuce on grilled sourdough bread). This isn’t the boring BLT you make at home. The bacon has a smoky taste; the sourdough bread a buttery, grilled texture; and neither the L or the T dominate as they’re apt to do.
Carne Adovada with a fried egg

Carne Adovada Breakfast Enchiladas

All sandwiches and grilled items are served with your choice of homemade potato salad (a  boring celery and dill pickle based potato salad that is the only thing we haven’t liked at Hannah & Nate’s), fresh fruit or ridged potato chips. Invariably, the fresh fruit seems to be in season no matter the time of year. We’ve had watermelon in November and it had a fresh flavor. The chips are always crisp and fresh and thankfully not the “bottom of the bag” bits some restaurants serve.  Eschew these sides altogether and ask for a cup of green chile stew.  It’s served warm and has a nice piquant bite of green chile complemented with just enough Mexican oregano.

For an additional two bits, make sure you ask for one of the five (chipotle, cucumber dill, cranberry, herb, olive) specialty mayonnaise offered. Even though the sandwiches don’t need any additional accoutrement whatsoever, the mayonnaise can be used as a dip for your chips.  The chipotle mayo and the cucumber dill (similar to the Greek tzadziki sauce but maybe even better) are our early favorites.

Steak burrito

Steak & Egg Burrito

Corrales Addition: In the spring of 2006, Hannah & Nate’s Market Shop launched a second Albuquerque area restaurant, this one in the former site of the very popular Calico Cafe which burnt down in 2004. If anything, the Corrales version of Hannah & Nate’s is even better than the Riverside Plaza restaurant.

For one thing, the Corrales restaurant has a full breakfast menu–three pages of traditional and New Mexican favorites. My early favorite would have to be the steak and egg burrito served Christmas style (red and green chile).  This burrito is engorged with three eggs, sautéed onions, roasted red peppers, cubed potatoes and steak–not a cheap cut of meat either, but grilled top sirloin. This is an excellent breakfast burrito made with high-quality ingredients and served hot.  Both the red and green chile at Hannah & Nate’s are very good with a slight nod going to the red chile which is almost burgundy in color and which possesses the rare earthiness I love in red chile. 

Breakfast Enchiladas with two fried eggs

Breakfast Enchiladas with two fried eggs

For my Kim, carne adovada is the standard-bearer against which she measures just how good a New Mexican restaurant is.  To her consternation, some restaurants which don’t use cumin on anything else (for some inexplicable reason) add it to carne adovada, bringing about the ruination of a delicate dish which requires no amelioration.  Hannah & Nate’s carne adovada is among her very favorites, especially when served on the carne adovada breakfast enchiladas plate: three stacked enchiladas stuffed with carne adovada and topped with red or green chile, Cheddar cheese and two eggs any style served with a side of hash browns and a tortilla.  If a breakfast dish can foretell a good day, this one will do it.  The carne is porcine perfection as tender as a mother’s love, marinated in chile that doesn’t shy away from its heat. 

There are a couple of perspectives about huevos rancheros. The “glass is half empty” perspective is that huevos ranchers are a rather uncomplicated dish constructed from a limited number of ingredients. Glass half full folks rave that having few ingredients allows those ingredients to shine.  At its essence, huevos rancheros are little more than eggs, corn tortillas, Cheddar cheese and your choice of red or green chile.  Both the red and green chile at Hannah & Nate’s are top tier, some of the best in the metropolitan area.  The corn tortillas have a pronounced corn taste, are relatively grease-free and are fried perfectly.  The eggs are prepared to your exacting specifications and have a farm-fresh flavor.  Count me among the glass half full folks.  Count the huevos rancheros at Hannah & Nate’s among the very best in the area.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros

Hannah & Nate’s also features a daily special and if the market smoked porchetta is any indication, the specials are indeed special. Porchetta generally refers to a boneless, rolled roast of pork studded with garlic and herbs.  Hannah & Nate’s takes the pork and stuffs it into a baguette then tops it with a roasted garlic aioli, green onion marmalade, sage and tomato. The flavor combinations are sensational!  

Hannah & Nate’s doesn’t have a long line-up of desserts (muffins, chocolate brownies), but who needs more options when you’ve got cranberry bread pudding.  It’s not on Larry McGoldrick’s Bread Pudding Hall of Fame, but it could be the professor with the perspicacious palate hasn’t tried this bread pudding.  Quite simply, it borders on spectacular, providing a balance of flavors most bread pudding can’t approach.  The tangy cranberries and savory almond shavings temper the sweetness of the sweet sauce surrounding the soft, spongy bread.  

Cranberry Bread Pudding

Cranberry Bread Pudding

Another plus in favor of the Corrales restaurant is its patio which allows you to watch expensive cars drive by while you dine under a sun-lit sky. During the winter months, sitting indoors and enjoying the fireplace is nearly as nice.

Hannah & Nate’s
6251 Riverside Plaza, NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 922-1155
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 26 April 2014
# OF VISITS: 9
RATING: 20
COST: $$
BEST BET: Carne Adovada Crisp, Nate’s Melt, Market Smoked Porchetta, New Mexico BLT, Tuscan Meatloaf Sandwich, Steak & Egg Burrito, Cranberry Bread Pudding, Huevos Rancheros

Hannah & Nate's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Weekdays Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Weekdays Restaurant on Fifth Street

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”  That weight loss axiom subtitles the signage at Weekdays Restaurant.  As its name implies, Weekdays is open Monday through Friday, but only for breakfast and lunch, making it easy to live up to the aforementioned axiom.  Located on Fifth Street just north of Lead Avenue, Weekdays occupies the site which previously housed Cafe Green, a 2012 casualty.

Weekdays has been in business for more than two decades, but isn’t widely known outside the downtown area south of Central Avenue.  Because it’s not open on weekends, it’s not as much a “destination” restaurant as it is a “neighborhood” restaurant, the type of which has a home-away-from-home feel.  Or at least that’s the case if playful banter is part and parcel of your homelife.  To say the wait staff has personality is an understatement.  From servers to cook, these folks make having a good time an inclusive process.

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Green Chile Cheeseburger with Fries

Another likely reason Weekdays isn’t the destination restaurant it should be–especially considering its quality and ambiance–is that its former home was within PNM’s Alvarado Square office complex on Silver Avenue just south of Central.  Lifelong Duke City residents can’t tell you where that is.  In its freestanding location on Fifth, diners who can break away on weekdays (apropos) are in for a treat.

Breakfast is served from 7AM through 10:45AM with a menu worth waking up to. New Mexican plates such as a quesadilla and sunrise tacos are a popular draw.  So are traditional favorites such as French toast and oatmeal or you could have an omelet or scramble.  There’s a section on the menu dedicated to breakfast burritos and sandwiches.  Then there are Patti’s Sweet Cakes, a pastry case with fresh baked daily treats like scones, muffins, cupcakes, cookies and more.  The lunch menu is segmented into four areas: New Mexican favorites, burgers, sandwiches and salads.

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New Mexican Cheese Steak

The green chile cheeseburger is tall and thick (half-pound of 100% natural USDA beef) with a single beef patty that’s larger than the two patties on the Big Mac (I’ve only seen them).  It’s the type of burger you have to squish to eat.  The next thing you notice about the burger after the shock and awe over its size is the presence of the green chile.  There are green chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico in which the green chile portion of the name is a misnomer.  This isn’t one of them.  The chile isn’t especially piquant, but it’s got a fresh roasted flavor.  The chile is blanketed by a slice of thick Cheddar and a crisp lettuce leaf.  The only downside to this burger is that it’s grilled to a very well done state.

The New Mexican Cheese Steak has similar qualities.  The green chile makes its presence felt immediately with the fresh, fruity, flavorful qualities that make green chile New Mexico’s favorite vegetable.  As with the green chile cheeseburger, the beef (described on the menu as “seared”) is served well done.  Instead of moist and juicy, it’s a bit on the dry side.  Served on a French roll with melted Cheddar cheese, it would also benefit from grilled onions and chopped green peppers.  Both the green chile cheeseburger and sandwich are served with your choice of sides: French fries, coleslaw, potato salad, chips or cottage cheese.  The French fries are quite good.

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Chocolate Cupcake with Strawberry Frosting and Coconut

From the pastry case it’s impossible to pass up those cupcakes.  The top of the cupcake (America’s most beloved part) completely obfuscates the bottom part, overflowing with buttercream icing.  The chocolate cupcake topped with a strawberry buttercream frosting sprinkled with coconut is big enough for two though you might not want to share it.  The buttercream is applied thickly, but isn’t as cloying as the frosting at grocery store cakes. 

If Weekdays is in your neighborhood, you’re in luck. If it’s not, visiting during a day off will have you wishing it was.

Weekdays Restaurant
319 5th Street, S.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 842-8455
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 23 April 2014
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Green Chile Cheeseburger, New Mexico Cheese Steak, Chocolate Cupcake

Weekdays on Urbanspoon

Butcher & Bee – Charleston, South Carolina

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Butcher & Bee, a very unique and special sandwich shop and more in Charleston, South Carolina

I’m not a sandwich store that only sells turkey sandwiches.
I sell a lot of different things.
~Lady Gaga

You might expect that a restaurant selected for inclusion on a list of “The 21 Best Sandwich Shops in America” would have a signature sandwich, its chef d’oeuvre.  Pittsburgh’s Primanti Brothers, for example, is known for its pastrami and cheese sandwich. The Darwin Cafe in San Francisco is famous for its roast beef sandwich.  Every sandwich shop on the list exalting the best sandwiches from sea to shining sea has its magnus opus, a masterpiece for which it is best known.  All but one, that is.  The sandwich recommended at the very first sandwich shop on the list is “whatever’s available.”  It speaks volumes about that sandwich shop. 

The Butcher & Bee is unlike any stereotype or template of any sandwich shop you’ve ever frequented.  It doesn’t subscribe to boring and homogeneous conventions such as serving the same things day after day.  From the exterior, it’s relatively humdrum, unadorned by neon spangled signage, flash or panache.  Its most telling feature may be the lines of people snaking out the door.

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The one room Butcher & Bee restaurant

Step inside and even Better Homes and Gardens would be challenged to describe Butcher & Bee’s “decorative style,” a mishmash of eclectic and rustic meets thrift shop and tractor supply store.  Every table is different, but not as different as the chairs.  How different? How about tractor seats, bar stools of varying heights and styles and wheeled contrivances that defy description?  After placing your order at the counter and settling your tab, it’s up to you to find a seat.  It might behoove you beforehand to scope out seating  that’s both comfortable and utilitarian as well as diners with whom you share a table who appear friendly and welcoming. 

Suspended from high ceilings are cupboards stocked with preserves, farm-to-table bounty from local farms.  The menu hangs on the wall by the front (and only) entrance (and egress).  Hand-scrawled in chalk, it lists all featured fare for the day.  Savvy diners know they should visit Butcher & Bee’s Facebook page before visiting the restaurant because the day’s menu is posted there.  It’s not an overly ambitious menu in terms of size, but what it does offer may lead to the question “this is a sandwich shop?”

The Butcher & Bee menu on Friday, April 18, 2014

The Butcher & Bee menu on Friday, April 18, 2014

The restaurant’s operational statement reads “At Butcher & Bee, we lovingly craft sandwiches using time-honored preparation techniques. We source the finest local ingredients the region has to offer, our ever-changing menu is both adventurous and familiar.”  There’s that word again–sandwiches.   It doesn’t take much study to see the menu lists only a handful of sandwiches.  For Butcher & Bee to be acclaimed one of the best sandwich shops in the fruited plain says a lot about those sandwiches.

In a spirit of true inclusion, vegans and vegetarians should enjoy the menu as much as carnivorous types.  On the day of my visit, there were at least as many salad choices (and a vegan sandwich) on the menu as there were sandwiches.  In a head-scratching moment as inexplicable as the popularity of Justin Bieber, this restaurant essayist visited one of the 21 best sandwich shops in America and ordered…hold on to your seats…larb.  Yes, larb. Gasp!

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Larb

Larb is a very popular “cooked salad” typically found on the menu at Thai and Lao restaurants, not sandwich shops.  It’s essentially a meat dish, most often made with minced or ground meat with healthful elements of a salad.  Butcher & Bee’s larb is made with grilled chopped beef, mint, cilantro, Thai chiles, greens, lime juice and fish sauce.  To declare it the very best larb I’ve ever had probably still doesn’t justify not ordering a sandwich.  I can’t even use fasting and abstinence on Good Friday as an excuse because the grilled beef on the larb was so…meaty.

The dessert menu listed only two items, the most farm-to-table sounding of the two being strawberries and cream.  Strawberries grow throughout South Carolina are are always the first fruit to ripen in the spring.  That accounts for the freshness of these fresh and luscious strawberries which didn’t taste as if they’d been sweetened artificially.  The thick, slightly sour cream was a perfect foil for what has become my very favorite spring fruity indulgence.

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Strawberries & Cream

Butcher & Bee may not have the venerable pedigree and gentrification of its Peninsular neighbors, but in fewer than three years in business, it’s made a name for itself and now has a nation-wide reputation.  Whether or not it has one of the twenty-one best sandwiches in America will have to be determined by someone smart enough to actually order a sandwich.

Butcher & Bee
654 King Street
Charleston, South Carolina
(843) 619-0202
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 18 April 2014
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: 22
COST: $$
BEST BET: Larb, Strawberries & Cream

Butcher & Bee on Urbanspoon

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