Chello Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Persian cuisine has been described as “poetry on a plate” and “a pretext to break into verse.” Persian history is replete with a large repertoire of literary quotes about food and drink. Even when the subject of a poem wasn’t about food, a poet’s appreciation for Persian cuisine often inspired the inclusion of culinary terms. Take for example fifteenth-century Persian poet Bu-Isaq of Shiraz who described his beloved as: “lithe as a fish, eyes like almonds, lips like sugar, a…

Pars Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse — and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness — And Wilderness is Paradise enow.” – The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam The imagery inspired by this enduring poem–most notably “a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou“–can be read on so many levels–some literal and some allegorical. In the literal sense, these few lines may evoke images of a romantic dalliance…

Mykonos Cafe And Taverna – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Jose Villegas, my friend and colleague at Hanscom Air Force Base, earned the most ignominious nickname. Everyone called him “Jose Viernes” which fans of the 1960s television series Dragnet might recognize is the Spanish translation for “Joe Friday.” We didn’t call him Jose Viernes because he was a “just the facts” kind of guy. He earned that sobriquet because he lived for Fridays. Jose kept a perpetual calendar in his head, constantly reminding us that there are “only XXX days…

Bayti Mediterranean Delicacies – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Ashlan Wa Sahlan” (Welcome) “Sahteyn” (Twice Your Health, Bon Apetit) “t’faddalou” (Welcome to the Table, Dinner is Served) How can you not love a culture in which there are numerous beautiful expressions associated with hospitality and with families welcoming guests to join them for a great meal? When it comes to warmth and hospitality, few cultures embody it so richly and genuinely as the Lebanese. Similarly, when it comes to utterly delicious food prepared with love and served in generous…

Olympia Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

For culinary diversity, it’s hard to beat the University of New Mexico (UNM) area in which restaurants with a broad socioeconomic appeal are congregated. Aside from academic enrichment, this area is nurturing a refreshing open-mindedness toward the cuisines of the world. That seems to be a commonality in areas within easy walking distance of large urban universities. Perhaps restaurateurs recognize that students–especially the oft-maligned millennials–are not only willing to open up their minds to new knowledge, but their wallets and…

Middle Eastern Food & Kababs – Albuquerque, New Mexico

What do you do when you’ve just finished saving the world? Because warding off a vicious onslaught of alien invaders is bound to make you hungry, you just might have shawarma. That’s what the Avengers, Earth’s mightiest superheroes did. Lying on his back amidst the rubble of a demolished building after helping vanquish a phalanx of evil extraterrestrials, Iron Man doesn’t revel in victory or proclaim “We’re number one!” He asks his superhero colleagues “You ever try shawarma? There’s a…

Gyros Mediterranean – Albuquerque, New Mexico

It’s not easy being a gastronome about town when you make less than a thousand dollars a month and have a car payment, rent and a social life. Stationed at Kirtland in the early 1980s, my Air Force salary pretty much dictated that most of my meals were at the base’s chow hall (which thankfully was legions better than the Peñasco High School cafeteria). The little that was left of my meager monthly take-home pay meant social outings were pretty…

Aura European and Middle Eastern Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Countries and states may recognize borders but food doesn’t, especially today in an increasingly connected world where it’s possible to enjoy the cuisine of many of the world’s diverse and distant cultures without crossing a single border. Attribute the modern world’s dietary diversity to improved agricultural, transportation and preservation methods as well as rampant imperialism throughout the history of humankind. Consider the culinary influence of invading forces on the ancient nation of Armenia. During the course of its storied history,…

Alqud’s Middle East Grocery Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Magdalena, New Mexico is adorned with ceramic statues, most familiar and easy to identify…at least for lifelong Catholics like me. After Sunday Mass one September, 2010 morning, we espied a statue of a saint clutching a curious implement to his chest. None of the parishioners we asked had any idea who the statue represented. Father Andy Pavlak, the parish vicar, confirmed the statue depicted Saint Lawrence of Rome and the curious device he…

Petra Restaurant & Times Square Deli Mart – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

As the clock approaches midnight every year on December 31st, the eyes of the world are focused on a single geodesic sphere some twelve-feet in diameter and weighing nearly six tons. Covered with nearly 3,000 Waterford Crystal triangles, that sphere descends slowly down a flagpole at precisely twelve o’clock, signaling the transition to a new year. The event is witnessed by more than a billion people across the world, including more than one million who crowd the area to bid…

Olive Branch Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The depiction of a dove in flight with an olive branch in its beak is common in early Christian art and tradition. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit while the olive branch is seen as a symbol of peace. Christian tradition, as chronicled in Genesis 8:11, describes a dove carrying an olive branch to signal the cessation of flooding throughout the world after forty days and forty nights of rain: “And the dove came in to him in the evening;…

Anatolia Turkish & Mediterranean Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

In the mid 80s when my Kim and I lived in rural, agrarian England, a “sandwich” meant one of three things: a warm, fresh floury bap with butter, Cheddar cheese and Branston’s Pickle from our favorite bakery in Lechlade; a grilled ham and cheese sandwich (with chips (fries), of course) from The Plough in Fairford; or a doner kebab from a jankety kebab house in Banbury. There just weren’t many other sandwich options (not to mention burgers and pizza) in…

Ali Baba – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Legends recount that in his quest for immortality, Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh visited a tavern where a divine barmaid gave him the advise: “Eat and drink your fill, Gilgamesh, and celebrate day and night. Make every day a festival; day and night dance and play.” Because of the fecundity of their land, the people of Mesopotamia could indeed afford to eat, drink and be merry until they died–even if they were denied immortality. The rich culinary legacy of ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day…

Yanni’s Mediterranean Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The now defunct Albuquerque Monthly magazine titled a May, 1995 article “Yanni Come Lately,” heralding the arrival of a new Greek restaurant on Nob Hill. More than a decade has elapsed since that article and Yanni’s Mediterranean continues to more than live up to the lofty accolades it has earned over the years. Yanni’s has been recognized by other national, regional and local publications for its outstanding cuisine. It has also earned the unwavering devotion of teeming masses who patronize…

Yasmine’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Never mind an Emmy.  If the Hollywood Reporter and the Huffington Post have their way, comedian Larry David might qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize.  That is if a 2011 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm can do what diplomats and politicians have failed to do over the years.  In the episode, entitled Palestinian Chicken, Larry discovers a Palestinian restaurant that serves the tastiest chicken in Los Angeles.  The problem is that the restaurant is owned and operated by anti-Semitic Palestinians…