Copper Canyon Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“The Copper Canyon of northern Mexico–a place so huge and desolate that even today there are still some native people who have never seen an automobile.” ~Victor Villasenor Beyond Rain of Gold If you’ve ever watched the classic Humphrey Bogart movie Treasure of the Sierra Madre or read Victor Villasenor’s spell-binding tome, “Rain of Gold,” you’ve got at least a passing acquaintance with Mexico’s awe-inspiring Copper Canyon. Hidden in the Northern part of Mexico lies an astonishing system of gorges…

Tortilla Flats – Santa Fe, New Mexico

“Beans are a warm cloak against economic cold.” ~John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat In his 1935 novel Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck introduced the literary world to the downtrodden denizens of Tortilla Flat, an impoverished barrio on the shabby hillside just outside the respectable city of Monterey, California. The quirky inhabitants of the ramshackle community were a dichotomous lot–hedonistic drunks, adulterers and thieves on one hand; on the other, paisanos with surprisingly kind-hearts who asked nothing more from life than loyal friends…

Milly’s Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Until rather recently, if there was a wide diversity of opinion about Albuquerque’s restaurant scene, it wasn’t widely shared. Albuquerque’s two daily periodicals, the Albuquerque Journal and the Albuquerque Tribune as well as a number of alternative publications published weekly restaurant reviews, but opinions and observations expressed therein were rather one-sided. It wasn’t until about 2008 that crowd-sourced restaurant reviews really took off in the Duke City. Published in such online mediums as TripAdvisor (founded in 2000), Yelp (launched in…

MARY & TITO’S CAFE – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Old-timers whose opinions I respect consistently rate Mary & Tito’s as Albuquerque’s best restaurant for New Mexican food, a restaurant that has been pleasing the most savvy and unindoctrinated palates alike since 1963. It takes a lot to impress some of those old-timers, none of whom see much substance in the flash and panache of the nouveau restaurants and their pristine veneer and effusive, over-the-top flamboyance. These guys and gals are impressed only by New Mexican food the way their…

Little Anita’s New Mexican Food – Albuquerque, New Mexico

My friend Scott Pacheco may never forgive me for dining at Little Anita’s New Mexican Food in Old Town. Scott hates Little Anita’s, but not because of its food, ambiance or service.  He hates Little Anita’s for what he considers a traitorous act on the scale of Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot. To understand why Scott hates Little Anita’s so much, it might help if you know that there are two things in life he’s passionate about–the Denver Broncos and…

Stripes Biscuit Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Southern humorist Jerry Clower once quipped “One of the saddest things is the sound of them whomp biscuits being opened in more and more houses these days. Whomp! Another poor man is being denied homemade biscuits. No wonder the divorce rate is so high.” There’s more than a bit of underlying truth to Clower’s humor. Southerners take their biscuits seriously. “Whomping” or “whacking” biscuit cans on the kitchen counter to open them is akin to parents letting their children answer…

El Patio de Albuquerque – Albuquerque, New Mexico

For more than a quarter century, award-winning journalist Charles Kuralt had the type of job any aspiring sojourner would envy. He hit the road on a motor home, crisscrossing the fruited plains where waving fields of wheat passed in review and snow-capped mountains reached for cobalt colored skies. Observing that “thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything,” Kuralt avoided the interstates, instead traversing America’s back roads and byways…

Las Ristras Restaurant – Corrales, New Mexico

Based on interviews conducted with Hollywood luminaries who’ve starred in movies or television shows shot in New Mexico, you might think our state either doesn’t have a symbol of hospitality or that symbol is something as poorly representative of the Land of Enchantment as crack (Josh Brolin), tire stores (Jonathan Banks), shirtless drivers (Seth McFarlane), Walmart (Jessica Alba) or loudness (Tommy Lee Jones). With all the tax breaks and enticements afforded film production companies, shouldn’t its most visible beneficiaries at…

2G’s Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico

In May, 2018, Yelp published its listing of the 50 best restaurants in Albuquerque. Only three of them came from the not-yet-done-revitalizing East Downtown (EDo) district. The two that won’t surprise anyone are The Grove Cafe & Market at number eight and Standard Diner at number forty-seven. Sandwiched between them is a relative newcomer named 2G’s Bistro which ranked twenty-first. Geographically, 2G’s Bistro is also sandwiched somewhere between The Grove and the Standard Diner on Central Avenue. My very preliminary…

Sophia’s Place – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Exterior signage for Dennis Apodaca’s new restaurant venture sports the name of the previous tenant, a short-lived eatery named MIXX. In a February blurb announcing Dennis’s return, the Albuquerque Journal called his new venture “REMIXX.” A handwritten note scrawled on the front door, however, informs you that you’ve arrived at “Sophia’s – that you knew & loved on 4th St. NW.” Not taking any chances, Yelp lists entries for both “REMIXX by Sophia’s Place” and “Sophia’s.” So which is it?…

Casa Chimayo – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Chimayó is one of the most mythologized, misunderstood— and, some would say, maligned—places in New Mexico. On one hand, it holds a place in popular imagination as the Lourdes of America, a reference to the annual Good Friday pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayó, a nineteenth-century church. New Mexicans and visitors from afar also celebrate Chimayó’s weaving tradition, the potently flavorful chile grown there, and the local restaurant, where margaritas compete with the church’s holy dirt as a tourist draw.…

Cocina Azul – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Ever the lexicologist, my first inclination at seeing the mantra “panza llena, corazon contento” emblazoned on any restaurant’s menu is to ponder the veracity of the audacious claim that filling the belly can leave diners contented. The venerable New Mexican dicho which translates from Spanish to “full belly, happy heart” was, after all, conceived at a time when food wasn’t nearly as plentiful as it is today. Enchanting as it may be, New Mexico is a land which can be…

Teofilo’s Restaurante – Los Lunas, New Mexico

Several years ago award-winning Albuquerque Journal columnist Leslie Linthicum (since retired) penned a wonderfully evocative column entitled “Spanish Names Fade into History.” Leslie observed that if you frequent the obituaries, especially those published on the Journal North and Journal Santa Fe, you may have observed and lamented the passing of another great Spanish name. The lyrical names with which the scions of Coronado were christened–Leocaida, Elfido, Trinidad, Pacomio, Seralia, Evilia, Amadea, Aureliano and others– have become increasingly rare in the…

Chile Time Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.” ~Ecclesiastes 3 Autumn in New Mexico is indisputably chile time. The high mountain air is at its most crisp and salubrious. Foliage is adorned in a vibrant panoply of color. Magnificent cottonwoods and aspens gleam in the evening sun like the fabled cities of gold sought by Spanish…

Matanza New Mexico Local Craft Beer Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“At school, whenever I heard the word matanza, hog butchering, My face warmed up with joy and my heart beat a happy sound. It was a heavenly time for me. Images of sizzling chicharrones, crisp, meaty cracklings and Fresh, oven-baked morcillas, made my mouth water.” ~Hoe, Heaven and Hell by Dr. Nasario Garcia For young boys growing up in rural New Mexico in the 60s, one of the rites of passage signifying our transition from childhood to young adulthood was…