Tap That – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tap That

In my review of the Corrales Bistro Brewery, you were introduced to “Le Cochon,” a self-professed God’s gift to women, lady killer, playboy, seducer, Lothario and otherwise philanderer nonpareil. To my knowledge, Le Cochon is still plying his cheesy pick-up lines on women and getting his face slapped a plenty in the Boston area.  He would undoubtedly giggle like the school girls of his dreams at the Albuquerque taproom named “Tap That” which dispenses libations by the ounce.  In its original context, the term “tap that” simply meant putting a spigot on a keg of beer or ale so that its contents can be drawn out. As with so many seemingly innocuous terms, chauvinists like Le Cochon have made “tap that” subject to double entendre (open to two interpretations, one of which is risqué or indecent). Cerevisaphiles understanding the intended connotation of the term probably won’t giggle, but they’ll get just as excited at the prospect of tapping into a keg or six.

Shortly after finding a vacant table in the dog-friendly patio at the back of Tap That, an eager server began very enthusiastically to explain the taproom’s unique-to-Albuquerque concept.  There was so much elan in his delivery that we couldn’t bring ourselves to interrupt and let him know that we don’t imbibe adult beverages when driving.  When we mentioned we had heard great things about the food menu, his enthusiasm renewed.  “The food here is great,” he assured us, recommending several items.  One item of which we couldn’t partake was the smoked pork ribs slated to be the evening special.  A light breeze ensured, however, we’d be enveloped in a mouth-watering smoky haze.

Bulgogi

Solely in the interest of public service, let me explain Tap That’s concept.  Essentially, Tap That sells beer, cider, nitro tea or nitro coffee by the ounce up to a three beer limit.  Your consumption is monitored electronically (yes, there’s an app for that).  To open a tab, you present your ID and credit card and are issued a bracelet that has a limit on how many ounces you can be served.  A wall of some 36 offerings on tap, including local craft beers and specialty beers, awaits you.  Simply find the tap you want and tap your bracelet on a tablet tied to the tap (not since Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven have there been as many taps in one sentence).  When it lights up green, give your glass to the bartender and let him or her know how much you want them to pour.  You’ll be charged based on the number of ounces.

Tap That is located in the same strip mall which houses South Bourbon Kitchen, Curry Leaf and soon Sweet Tooth, which will ostensibly sate our cravings for the sweeter things in life.  If you haven’t been to the area in a while, you’ll be impressed at how the entire retail center has metamorphosed.  It’s become a dining destination or more aptly, a restaurant row in which diverse eateries hold court.  Tap That’s menu is a melange of Asian fusion items, burgers, sandwiches and American fare.  The menu isn’t a multi-page affair, but it does offer a number of interesting and creative options.  There are three section on the menu: Starter, Lighter Side and Burgers, Sandwiches & More.

Fried Avocado

A predilection for potatoes was the first thing we noticed about the menu.  Perhaps Tap That realizes that salty, starchy potatoes will inspire thirst and thus the consumption of more ounces.  Seriously, there are so many potato items on the menu, we thought we were in Idaho.  First on the Starter menu is a “tray o’ fries,” one pound of freshly cut potatoes fried and served with your choice of toppings (four options).  Even one of the salads demonstrates the potential of the potato as a “lighter side” option.  Fries or house chips (outstanding!) come with every burger and sandwich option.

French fry fanatics craving something just a little different would be wise to order the Tray O’ Fries with Bulgogi, a France (or Belgium to be historically accurate) meets Korea surprise. Bulgogi is Korea’s signature dish, one Americans refer to as Korean barbecue. What could possibly go better with barbecue of any kind than a mountain of fries? Seriously, a pound of fries is intimidating. As if a pound of fries isn’t daunting enough, they’re topped with strips of local rib eye which have been marinated in a sweet sauce for 24 hours then sautéed and topped with chopped cilantro and toasted sesame seeds. The only thing missing is a sizzling hibachi which would have caramelized some of the beef strips. You’ll be ferrying home a doggy bag.

Bacon & Potato Salad

You’ve got to appreciate a chef who realizes the potential of the avocado, who recognizes that you can do so much more with it than make guacamole. We’ve long believed Santa Fe’s El Farol had shown the most creativity in exploiting the avocado’s potential. Tap That tops that! Picture a fried avocado half placed on a bed of chimichurri slaw topped with fresh pico de gallo, Cojita cheese, bulls blood microgreens and a drizzle of spicy chipotle ranch. There’s a lot going on in this starter with explosions of flavor from the pairing of ingredients we hadn’t thought would go together. The unctuous, buttery avocado has a built-in cooling effect that tempers the heat of the pico de gallo and spicy chipotle ranch. Texturally the chimichurri slaw provides a delightful contrast to the avocado’s softness. Cojita cheese, of course, improves everything it touches.

It’s a bit ironic to find a bacon and potato salad (fresh Arcadian lettuce topped with apple wood bacon, seared fingerling potatoes, sliced eggs, Stilton blue cheese and toasted walnuts tossed in a light Dijon vinaigrette) on a “lighter side” menu…and because we were inclined to believe such a salad would be too light, we asked for the optional four-ounces of steak. Arcadian lettuce is actually a mix of four lettuce varieties of different textures and colors. It makes an excellent canvas for the other ingredients and because all the lettuces are rather mild, it doesn’t steal their thunder either. That’s the job of the Stilton, a creamy, rich blue cheese with a pungent aftertaste. It’s not as sharp as Roquefort, but turophiles love it. There are only about four fingerlings strewn about on the salad. Rather than eat them with other ingredients, we plucked them off and enjoyed them by themselves.

Green Gouda Goo with Chips

The first two burger options on the menu are aptly named. If you have a monstrous appetite, go for the Green Monster, twelve ounces of New Mexico beef served in six-ounce patties. For lighter fare, try the Green Gouda Goo, a six ounce patty with your choice of cheese and green chile stacked on a toasted potato (what else) bun with Boston bib lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle. My sole complaint—and because we’re in New Mexico, it’s a big one—is about the insipid green chile which had no heat. All other elements of the burger were fine, but without a modicum of heat, chile is just pretty green colored fruit. If you’re tired of fries by now (and even if you’re not), you’ve got to ask for chips instead of fries. The house-made barbecue chips are easily the best in Albuquerque (excluding Jay’s served at the AK Deli and which are actually made in Chicago)!

Tap that may be a haven for serious cerevisaphiles, but bona fide foodies will find much to like in a small, but interesting menu showcasing several inventive options…and lots of potatoes.

Tap That
6910 Montgomery, N.E., Suite E
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 433-3931
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 7 April 2018
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Green Gouda Goo, Bacon & Potato Salad, Bulgogi, Fried Avocado
REVIEW #1036

Tap That Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tia B’s La Waffleria – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tia B’s La Waffleria on Campus Blvd

While waffles may be forever associated with late nights at The Waffle House (the ubiquitous Southern chain which has served nearly one billion waffles since its inception), waffles have made significant inroads as a bona fide culinary trend, albeit somewhat under-the-radar.  That’s waffles singular…by themselves, not with chicken.  The chicken and waffles combination is even more yesterday than kale and poutine.  Gourmet waffles topped or stuffed with sundry, inventive ingredient combinations have inspired a sort of wafflemania across the fruited plain.  No longer are fluffy and crispy waffles boringly predictable (smothered with butter and dripping with syrup) or strictly for breakfast.

It’s often been noted that in New Mexico, trends–whether they be in fashion or in the culinary arena–move at the speed of mañana, a term which contrary to the Velasquez dictionary does not translate to “tomorrow” in the Land of Enchantment.  It translates instead to “not today’ which means if something can be put off until tomorrow or later, it usually will be.  George Adelo, Jr., an enterprising Pecos resident even coined (and copyrighted) a phrase to describe the New Mexican way: “Carpe Mañana”–Seize Tomorrow.   When it comes to the burgeoning popularity and inventiveness of waffles, however, the Duke City was actually at the forefront of the honeycomb-shaped culinary trend.

One of three dining spaces at Tia B’s La Waffleria

In the Duke City, the diverse exploration of waffles began in 2012 (about three years before waffles were first declared a national culinary trend) with the launch of Tia Betty Blue’s, an excellent New Mexican food eatery which introduced sweet-and-savory blue corn waffle boats.  They were an immediate hit with Tia Betty Blue’s guests.  Two years later, owner (and burgeoning restaurant impresario) Daniel Boardman proved himself to be a culinary visionary with the launch of Tia B’s La Waffleria, an offshoot dedicated to the humble waffle.  Whether referred to as “Tia B’s” or “La Waffleria,” this unique restaurant has earned significant critical and public (4.0 rating on Yelp) acclaim.

Situated in a converted home on Campus Blvd. just west of Carlisle, Tia B’s preceded the third of Boardman’s terrific triumvirate of innovative restaurants by two years (when sibling El Cotorro, an excellent taqueria launched a few doors east).  Tia B’s is a cozy, intimate milieu which often serves to overflow crowds.  Weather permitted, shaded outdoor seating is available, but during inclement weather, it’s all two- and four-top seating in personal space proximity with seating by the fireplace coveted by most.  On display in several nooks throughout the restaurant are waffle irons of yesterday.  You may be surprised at how little they’ve changed.

Mocha Mexicana

Tia B’s will never be accused of being singularly focused or boring.  When you’ve got such a terrific canvases as wheat, buttermilk, blue corn/buttermilk, buckwheat/sour cream, rye/sour cream, multi-grain/milk and rice/coconut waffles prepared to order, possibilities are endless.  As explained on its Web site “Tia B’s offers an extraordinary array of fresh-baked, high-quality waffles, both sweet and savory, finished with an amazing assortment of house-made sauces, syrups, fresh fruits and coulis.”  The menu includes both sweet combinations (served with a small fruit garnish) and savory combinations (served with a dressed mixed green garnish).  Intrepid diners are invited to build their own waffles.  Vegetarian and gluten-free options a plenty are also available.

As if waffles aren’t enough to sate those of us who smile at the memory of greeting the sun at The Waffle House, Tia B’s offers separate all-day breakfast and lunch menus.  Breakfast options include such waker-uppers as biscuits and gravy and Waffles Rancheros.  For lunch, chicken and waffles are an option if for no other reason than to see just how a restaurant specializing in waffles does it.  Lunch also includes such teasing temptresses as smoked salmon waffles.  Premium coffees give you another reason to head for Tia B’s when it opens at 8AM.  The Mocha Mexicana (dark chocolate, red chile powder, spices, two shots of espresso and steamed milk) is the best coffee I’ve had in the metropolitan area outside Cafe Bella.  It’s got plenty of personality–a bit of capsaicin-induced fire coupled with luxurious dark chocolate and a heady coffee.

Salted Caramel and Apples Atop a Buttermilk Waffle

Fittingly, my inaugural visit was with my friend Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (BOTVOLR), one of the few people with whom I ever discuss politics.  That makes it all the more ironic that we never discussed the term “waffling,” which describes a politician who frequently changes positions for the sake of political expediency.  The term waffling, by the way, has nothing to do with the delicious griddled treats we were to enjoy, but comes from the Scottish term “waff” which means “to yelp like a puppy.”  (My apologies to any puppies who may be offended in being compared to politicians.)  In any regard, I invited Bob to describe his meal in his own inimitable style.

3 March 2017:  From Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos: Met up with El Jefe mid AM in this semi-funky place which, combined with a great NM, clear blue sky and waning chill, reminded me of being seaside up in verdant Palos Verde, CA…a moment of delightfully “time traveling”! Salted Caramel and Apples: A buttermilk waffle topped with tangy sliced green apples, drizzled with decadent caramel cow milk (in lieu of the goat option) and sprinkled with sea salt. Aha, that’s something Californian in itself! The green apples were finely sliced wedges. While having tang, I could’ve gone a level or two higher, albeit maybe it was the not overly sweet (just right) caramel that mellowed them. While often eschewing salt of any kind, it too could have been amped up a tad, as some of us might so embarrassingly indulge in with apples/tomatoes….LOL. Waffles…nice; not too dense and not mushed out by the sauce. A nice setting to munch and blab as Yuppies might do…albeit of the older genre….while distracted by Lobo Lucies.

Sweet Goat Cheese and Port-Infused Cherries Atop A Buttermilk Waffle

3 March 2017: My own breakfast choice was decided to some extent by the fact that we visited Tia B’s on a Lenten Friday and my Catholic guilt wouldn’t let me indulge in any of the carnivorous options, but also by the lure of sweet goat cheese and port-infused cherries atop a buttermilk waffle.  Whether sweetened or in its natural state, goat cheese has a delightfully sour tang that couples well with cherries which are also naturally tart.  When infused with port, the cherries absorb the sweetness of the port while retaining just a hint of their tartness.  It’s a nice combination.  Though we were offered warmed syrup, adding it would have risked an overly-sweet dish.  The waffle itself, sliced diagonally into four wedges, was just slightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy inside.  It bore no resemblance nor did it inspire memories of The Waffle House.

7 April 2018:  You’ll never have to ask me to “Let go of my Eggos.”  The notion of reheated waffles sends shivers down my spine–and not solely because Eggos were previously frozen.  There’s just so much more than can be done with waffles than dousing them liberally with syrup.  Tia B’s proves this everyday with their standard waffle menu, but they amp up creativity with daily specials such as the Jalapeño Cornbread waffle (blue corn waffle with jalapeños cooked inside, black beans, red chile, Cheddar cheese, red onion and cherry tomatoes).  The waffle should also have included chorizo, but because the kitchen had run out, I asked for bacon instead.  Good choice as is anything to which bacon is added.  This is a mammoth entry, the type of which will put you in a food coma for the rest of the day.  Texturally, the blue corn waffle is a delight.  It’s light and fluffy where it needs to be and just slightly crispy at its exterior.  It’s a magnificent canvas for some of the most piquant and tasty red chile in town.  Not every restaurant has the gumption to pair jalapeños with red chile, but it’s a pairing fire-eaters will enjoy.  Counterbalancing the piquancy are two very complementary surprises: a rich, buttery guacamole and halved cherry tomatoes.

Jalapeño Cornbread Waffle

During future visits to Tia B’s La Waffleria, a make-your-own waffle adventure is in order, but first there are so many sweet and savory combinations to be tried.  It will be easy to waffle (be indecisive and change my mind frequently) in deciding which waffle to try next.  The options are all so inviting.

Tia B’s La Waffleria
3710 Campus Blvd, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 492-2007
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 6 April 2018
1st VISIT: 3 March 2017
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 20
COST: $$
BEST BET: Buttermilk Waffle with Salted Caramel and Apples, Buttermilk Waffle with Sweet Goat Cheese and Port-Infused Cherries, Mocha Mexicana, Jalapeño Cornbread Waffle

Tia B's la Waffleria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thai Boran – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Thai Boran at Village @ La Orilla on Albuquerque’s West Side

Many of us with a puerile sense of humor can probably recall giggling like silly school kids the first time we visited a Thai restaurant and perused a menu.  We went straight into the gutter the first time we came across such foods as phat prik and fuktong curry.  Even after learning that “phat prik” is actually a stir-fried chili dish and “fuktong curry” is a pumpkin curry, the sophomoric among us couldn’t order these dishes with a straight face.  It gets even worse when we actually learned how to pronounce the names of Thai dishes.  Not even Bob Newhart could order “cow pod guy” (chicken fried rice) or “cow pod moo” (pork fried rice) with his usual deadpan delivery.  That’s probably why so many of us will place our order by number instead of endeavoring to pronounce words we find a bit salacious or humorous. 

Let’s face it, denizens of the fruited plain tend to find the names of some Thai dishes humorous because the way they’re spelled or pronounced is similar to English sexual references or swear words.  Perhaps that’s why Thai restaurateurs tend to use clever word play, typically puns,  to name their eateries.  Instead of christening an eatery for an honored grandmother or treasured daughter whose name is “Porn,” it’s less offensive (or funny) to name a restaurant something like “Thai Tanic,” “Thairanosaurus” or “Thai and Stop Me.”  Instead of naming a restaurant for a beloved son named Poo, wouldn’t it be more inviting to name a restaurant something like “Eye of the Thai-ger” or “Beau Thai?”

Interior of Thai Boran. Photo Courtesy of Larry McGoldrick, the Professor With the Perspicacious Palate

Indulge me for one more paragraph of pithy covfefes.  Song titles and lyrics in particular seem to lend themselves to clever wordplay using Thai names.  From the Beatles, you’ve got “All You Need is Larb” and “Can’t Buy Me Larb.”   Who can every forget Andy Williams’ immortal “Thai to Remember?”  Or Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons singing “Big Girls Don’t Thai?”  Then there’s Hank Williams “I’m So Lonesome I could Thai.”  How about The Temptations “Curry Tomorrow?”  Okay, by now you’re probably thinking “that (Thai word for chili) is probably going to hell for his politically incorrectness.”  What’s the point anyway?

My point is Thai restaurant in the Duke City tend to have rather boring and straight-forward names: Thai Curry, Thai Heritage, Thai, Orchid Thai, Pad Thai, Thai Kitchen, Thai Tip.   Zzz!  The most cleverly named Thai restaurant in town is probably “Hot Pink Thai” and even that’s pretty parochial.  Give me a “Thai Me Up,” “Been There, Thai’d That” or “Tongue Thai’d” anytime.  My friend Schuyler is no doubt paraphrasing a Winston cigarette commercial of the 1970s, “what do you want good punnery or good taste?”  My retort is why can’t we have both?

Thai Toast

Upon learning of a new Thai restaurant launching at Village @ La Orilla, we dared hope a clever pun would grace its marquee.  Alas, the name “Thai Boran” may as well be “Thai Boring” to the punsters among us.  At least I had to look up “Boran” to learn it translates from Thai to “old, ancient or historic.”  Thai Boran is owned by restaurant impresario Kathy Punya, a native of Thailand who’s amassed quite a portfolio of restaurants across the Duke City, among them five Sushi Kings, Crazy Fish, Noodle King and Asian Street Food.   It’s located next door to Albuquerque’s first cinema eatery, the not-so-cleverly-named Flix.

Thai Boran is somewhat on the small side and contrary to any notion of “Thai Boring” I may have had, it’s got a very exciting menu featuring some items heretofore unavailable in the Duke City.  Among the eight uncommon to Albuquerque appetizers are Mee Krob, Sheldon Cooper’s favorite Thai dish and Thai toast.  There are six salads on the menu along with five soups.  Five one-of-a-kind specialty dishes adorn the Chef’s Collection section of the menu.  These include a Thai Boran Beef Steak, grilled and sliced marinated beef steak served with a spicy tomato sauce. Other sections of the menu are dedicated to curry, rice, pan-fried noodles, noodle soups and entrees.  All total there are 53 items on the menu.

Ka Thong Tong

7 July 2018:  Sometime around 2010, toast become the latest artisanal food craze.  Yes, toast, the most popular of which is probably avocado toast (available at Cafe Bella in Rio Rancho).   The Washington Post believes in fact that “avocado toast has come to define what makes food trends this decade: It’s healthy and yet ever-so-slightly indulgent.”  Thai Toast may be Thailand’s answer to avocado toast, all indications being it’s a relatively new dish.  It’s certainly not a dish you find in other Thai restaurants across the Duke City.  Four small slices sans crust of egg-dipped white bread topped with ground pork, green onions, then deep fried are served with a cucumber salad.  At the very least, it’s a very interesting dish–not as good as other Thai appetizers, but good enough to try more than once.

5 April 2018:  Another interesting appetizer whose name (with a little imagination and thought) will make the sophomoric among us giggle is Ka Thong Tong (crispy golden cups filled with ground chicken, mint, shrimp, peas, carrots and corn) served with cucumber salad.  If it’s offered at any other Thai restaurant in town, neither my friend Bill Resnik nor I could recall having seen it.  There are elements to this starter that seem to bespeak of other than Thai influences.  First, the pastry cups are vaguely reminiscent of layered phyllo Greek pastries though not quite as flaky.  The other influence was American with the trio of peas, carrots and corn, a combination neither of us had seen on Thai food.  Sadly, the accompanying cucumber salad was too cloying to add to the golden cups which we both thought needed a bit more flavor push.

Mee Krob

5 April 2018: My friend Bill is much more averse to the melding of sweet and savory flavors than I am so it was a surprise to me that he suggested mee krob as our second appetizer.  Aside from being Sheldon Cooper’s favorite Thai dish, mee krob is a dish often made as sweet as some breakfast cereals.  “It’s all about texture,” he reminded me about mee krob.  Indeed, mee krob which translates from Thai to “crispy noodles” are deep-fried rice noodles that crisp and puff up when fried.  They are then tossed with a sweet-and-sour-flavored stir-fry.  Alas, the emphasis on Thai Boran’s was more sweet than sour.  The stir-fry included chicken, shrimp and bean sprouts.  Texturally the noodles are reminiscent of Quaker’s Puffed Rice cereal.  Despite being almost as sweet as Puffed Rice, this is a fun (but messy) dish to eat.

7 July 2017: The curry section of the menu includes three curry dishes not all that common in Albuquerque: eggplant curry, pineapple curry and duck curry.  Duck curry (red curry, cherry tomato, grapes, bell pepper, basil, and coconut milk) has been among my very favorite curry dishes since first enjoying it at the transformative Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, Nevada.   Thai Boran’s version is quite good showcasing tender slices of slow-cooked duck breast with enough fat for rich, unctuous flavor.  The combination of acidic cherry tomatoes and sweet grapes is especially intriguing, but what brings it all together is a rich red curry prepared at Thai hot (not for the faint of heart).  This dish is served with your choice of steamed Jasmine rice or brown rice. 

Duck Curry

5 April 2018:  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  Though it’s always been my practice to avoid seafood mixed with elements that detract from its natural briny sweetness, I ordered Thai Boran’s seafood curry special at the “New Mexico hot” level.  Heat levels tend to vary from one Thai restaurant to another.  “New Mexico hot” can be either incendiary and tongue-scorching or rather on the mellow side.  Thai Boran’s New Mexico hot is about as piquant as a bell pepper, rendering the red curry too sweet for my tastes.  That’s a shame because the netful of seafood (New Zealand green-lip mussels, catfish, shrimp and squid) swam beautifully in the curry.  The seafood was perfectly sweet and succulent, but the sugary-sweet curry just didn’t cut it for me.  Next time it’ll be Thai hot.

Seafood Curry

There aren’t many Thai restaurants in Albuquerque’s burgeoning west side.  Thai Boran is within a mile or so of Thai Cuisine, a long-time favorite.  Boring names not withstanding, both are good options for Thai cuisine.

Thai Boran
3236 La Orilla Road, N.W., Suite B
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 492-2244
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 5 April 2018
1st VISIT: 7 July 2017
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING:  18
COST: $$
BEST BET: Duck Curry, Thai Toast, Seafood Curry, Mee Krob, Ka Thong Tong

Thai Boran Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1 2 3 4 367