The Chili Stop – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

NOTE:  On November 15th, 2008, Ron Chavez sold the Chili Stop a mere four months after making green chile a religious experience.  I have not visited the Chili Stop since it changed hands and have heard mixed opinions on the Chili Stop post Ron.  I will update this review after my next visit. Over the years it’s been my experience that almost invariably, New Mexican restaurants which violate traditional New Mexican grammar don’t prepare the object of their grammatical faux…

California Baja Grill – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Several years ago, I introduced my good friend John Bennett to the exhilaration of verbal sparring with the shopkeepers at the mercados of Juarez, Mexico, a vibrant border city in which aggressive bartering is considered not only an honorable sport, but the only way to ensure any semblance of a fair exchange. The shopkeepers expect it and will respect your attempts to purchase their baubles, bangles and trinkets at the price you believe is fair. When John decided to bring…

The Old House Gastropub – Corrales, New Mexico (CLOSED)

There’s a European joke that uses stereotypes to deride British cooking, one of the most maligned cuisines in the world culinary stage. As the joke goes, in the European conception of heaven, the French are the chefs, the British are the police and the Germans are the engineers while in the European conception of hell, the Germans are the police, the French are the engineers and the British are the chefs. When it comes to the culinary arts, England is…

The Cup – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Buxom silent screen siren Mae West was so renown for her use of double entendre that she once said, “If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would ask for the double meaning.” When my wife suggested we have breakfast at The Cup, I wondered what she really had in mind. The Cup, after all, did not impress her in the least during our inaugural visit in January, 2007. It was even worse for me as The Cup’s emptiness…

Downtown Gourmet – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“People who know nothing about cheeses reel away from Camembert, Roquefort, and Stilton because the plebeian proboscis is not equipped to differentiate between the sordid and the sublime.” – Harvey Day I don’t know whether or not Mr. Day intended his quote as a condescending affront toward those lacking appreciation for some of the world’s most fetid fromage, but the truth is, not everyone really “gets it” when it comes to stinky cheeses. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. That’s…

Have Your Cake Bakery & Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Leave it to the wonderfully irascible and irreverent comedian George Carlin to put things in perspective in his retort to a popular English idiom. “When people say, ‘Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too.’ What good is a cake you can’t eat? What should I eat, someone else’s cake instead?“. The idiom “to have one’s cake and eat it, too or simply have one’s cake and eat it” actually means wanting more than one can…

Tocororo Cafe – Madrid, New Mexico (CLOSED)

New Mexico is a dichotomous land, a land which welcomes contrast and diversity, where the state-of-the-art trappings of modern society are juxtaposed against ancient cultures with traditions that have gone largely unchanged for centuries. It’s a land in which the sophisticated and the rustic are equally at home. It’s a land in which the best New Mexican cuisine might just be found in Cuba (that would be El Bruno and the best Cuban food could well be the one served…

Cafe San Estevan – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In 1598, don Juan de Oñate led an expedition of Spanish colonists–including eight Franciscan friars–to the east bank of the Rio Grande near its confluence with the Chama River. There they founded San Gabriel, New Mexico’s first capital at a site close to present day Okay Owingeh, one of New Mexico’s great Tewa speaking Northern New Mexico Pueblos. Nine years later Don Pedro de Peralta, established as New Mexico’s capital, “La Villa Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de…

Cafe Voila – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Mon ami Francophile who spends months vacationing in France likes to talk about his dining experiences in the land of haute cuisine and haughty waiters, regaling anyone who will listen with tales of surliness, scorn and condescension the likes of which Americans are unused to. His favorite tales of woe involve a churlish waiter at a sidewalk cafe in Paris adept at ignoring customers to the full extent of their patience then tossing menus at them. When taking their order,…

Tawan Thai Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Note: This review was written about a Tawan Thai Cuisine location in Rio Rancho that no longer exists. The original Tawan Thai at 200 Wyoming Blvd, S.E., also closed in late 2008. For Rio Rancho’s Thai cuisine aficionados the sky was bleak only briefly. The despair they felt after the closure of Hong Thai was replaced scant weeks later by elation at the August, 2007 launch of Tawan Thai Cuisine. With that launch, the sun began shining brightly as City…

Deli Mart West – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The human capacity for developing attachments can be a bit of a conundrum. Although my very being is eternally rooted in New Mexico, returning to America in 1987 after three years in England made me feel as if I had left my home behind. Similarly after two years in Massachusetts, I returned in 1979 to my beloved New Mexico with a huge hole in my heart, pining for so many things about my first home as an adult. One of…

Mariscos Culiacan – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

As a precocious product (some might say victim) of the American public school system, I learned more about the geography of old Mexico from one song than from twelve years of the best education our tax dollars can buy. Legendary Mexican crooner Jose Alfredo Jimenez immortalized the city of Culiacan in his hauntingly stirring ballad El Caballo Blanco which recounts a bareback rider’s journey from Guadalajara to Tijuana astride a noble white horse. In that journey, rider and horse traversed…

The Cup – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Back in the mid 70s, anyone in Albuquerque’s southeast quadrant who wanted privacy knew they could find it at the Burger Chef restaurant in the Gibson and San Mateo area. It was the place in which employees from nearby Sandia and Kirtland conducted one-on-one meetings when they didn’t want to be disturbed. Once a burgeoning franchise second only to McDonald’s in the fast food arena, Burger Chef was in a state of rapid decline and even during lunch hours, few…

Hot Diggity – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Oh, hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me How my future will shine Hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me From the moment you’re mine HOT DOG!! In an age of auditory bombardment, we all occasionally experience a phenomenon known as an “earworm.” Earworm is a literal translation of a German term for a song (particularly an annoying one) stuck in someone’s head. For some it’s the Gilligan’s Island theme song. For others, it…

Asado Brazilian Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

When it comes to diplomatic coups, one of the least known for which President George Herbert Walker Bush is credited is the introduction to the United States of the popular Brazilian Churrascaria (steakhouse) Fogo de Chão (literally Fire of the Ground). During a visit to São Paulo, Brazil, the 41st President of the United States was so impressed by the unique dining concept that he told the owners a restaurant like theirs would go over big in his home state…