P.F. Chang’s China Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”…

Rock & Brews – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day.” ~Kiss For generations, American teenagers have undergone a rite of passage that has contributed greatly to their angst. That rite of passage is the ego-deflating criticism of the music they enjoy. Just as our parents hated the music we listened to, we hated the music our own children enjoy. It just seems ingrained in their DNA that parents will hate the music their children enjoy. Parental disapproval of their…

Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Albuquerque, New Mexico

During a recent Friends of Gil (FOG) outing, a newcomer asked how my Kim and I can afford to eat out as often as we do (about three times week on average). The practice of “dating your mate” is something we began half a lifetime ago when we were stationed in Mississippi and my Air Force salary was, to put it conservatively, considerably less than one-thousand dollars for every year of my life. Despite the fact that I’d been handpicked…

California Pizza Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. This is Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog, champion of the mom-and-pop restaurant, defender of the independently owned eatery, supporter of the family owned and family operated diner…and this is a review of a chain restaurant. No, this blog has not been hijacked by some corporate cabal bent on corrupting the American diet with homogeneous mediocrity…and no, this review was not written under duress or the promise of free food. It was written of my…

Fox’s Pizza Den – Albuquerque, New Mexico

There may have been no more amusing (or, tragically, accurate) depiction of the “meat market” that was the dating scene in the 1970s than a recurring Saturday Night Live skit about two wild and crazy guys named George and Yortuk Festrunk. The Czech brothers, portrayed brilliantly by Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd, dressed in tight pants and loud, unbuttoned polyester shirts with medallions singing over their chests. They lived for “swinging” in their bachelor pad.  The hedonistic Festrunk brothers especially…

The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. This really is Gil’s Thrilling (and Filling) Blog and you really are reading a review of  a (gasp) chain restaurant. It would be easy (a cop-out) to say my visit to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store was the result of brow-beating, cajoling, bribery or even torture, but the truth is I wanted to spend time with my friends Esther Ferguson and Henry Gabaldon who swear by Cracker Barrel’s Thursday special of turkey n’ dressing…

RedBrick Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The American culture of instant gratification may be precipitating the decline of the independent neighborhood pizzeria. In recent years, this traditional bastion of pizza preparation has been largely supplanted by ubiquitous pizza delivery companies with their gratuitous gimmicks, copious coupons and promises of breakneck deliveries. Pizzaiolis, the artisans who deftly toss and craft prandial perfection in the form of circular, precisely seasoned and superbly sauced oven-baked flat-bread have been unseated by pimply teenagers slathering ketchup on cardboard spheres then setting…

Zea Rotisserie & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Our first visit to Zea followed the day after it was savaged by an erstwhile Albuquerque Journal restaurant critic, but any trepidation we might have had quickly dissipated when we were greeted enthusiastically at the hostess station by Betty, the luminous former waitress at the incomparable and much missed (to this day, I dream of its timbale tuna) Nouveau Noodles restaurant in Tijeras. At Nouveau, Betty was a whirling dervish of perpetual motion and the restaurant’s consummate ambassador. As warm…

Fuddruckers – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The audacious proclamation on Fuddruckers door, logo and Web site, “The world’s greatest hamburgers available” may not be quite complete. Add the words “somewhere else” and most will agree, you probably have a more accurate description of this tremendously popular restaurant chain which actually trademarked the “world’s greatest hamburgers” logo. Founded in 1980 by Phil Romano (of Romano’s Macaroni Grill fame), Fuddruckers has expanded to more than 250 locations across the world including such purveyors of American culture as Saudi…

Bravo! Cucina Italiana – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Perhaps the most memorable slogan to surface during the politics “dirtier than usual” Presidential campaign of 2008 was the frequently used American idiom “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” That expression is intended to mean something akin to putting a fresh coat of paint on a piece of junk and selling it for full price. In other words, it aptly describes most political campaigns which tend to be exhaustingly negative repeats of previous campaigns.…

Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Shortly after Louisiana and Mississippi were ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, one of the local television stations in South Louisiana actually aired an interview with a woman from New Orleans. The interviewer was a woman from a Boston affiliate, so she asked the interviewee how such total and complete devastation of the churches in the area had affected their lives.  The woman replied,” I don’t know about all those other people but we get our chicken from Popeye’s.” The look on…

Fatburger – Las Vegas, Nevada

To its detractors, there are a lot of things about which to criticize California, but even detractors will give the Golden State its due when it comes to a national obsession–the hamburger.California is the state that gave America McDonald’s, In-N-Out Burger and my favorite, the Fatburger. (My Illinois in-laws will remind me with proud vehemence that the “original” McDonald’s restaurant location (launched on April 15th, 1955) was in Des Plaines, Illinois, but the “first” McDonald’s hamburger stand operated out of…

Copeland’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Having lived 90 miles outside of “The Big Easy” for almost eight years, we were naturally filled with the spirit of laissez les bon temps roulette (let the good times roll) when we found out the 48th Copeland’s restaurant in America was launching on our backyard in Albuquerque’s West side in November, 2001. We had been back in Albuquerque for six years and were experiencing withdrawal symptoms that only a fix of heartily spiced Cajun cuisine could quell. Copeland’s we…

A&W All American Food – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Family trips bore out the fact that my parents had saintly patience as their six kids sat in the back seat of the station wagon and belted out, “Let’s all go to A&W. The food’s just great at A&W.” As kids, we pestered our parents with Madison Avenue jingles for every fast food restaurant we knew. A&W was our favorite–and for good reason. In the 60s, before McDonalds began to dominate the fast food genre, A&W was THE drive-up restaurant…

Ben & Jerry’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Ben & Jerry’s is a different kind of restaurant–one with a social conscience–serving premium ice cream. Founded on and dedicated to a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity, its mission consists of three interrelated parts–a product mission, an economic mission and a social mission. Its product mission is to make, distribute and sell the finest quality all natural ice cream and euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth…