Nexus Brewery – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Set in Albuquerque, Breaking Bad, AMC’s critically acclaimed television series may have left viewers with the impression that the Duke City is a haven for meth cookery and fried chicken joints.  Had the fair city been more accurately typecast, it would have have been portrayed as a mecca for microbreweries.  The Albuquerque Beer Scene blog says it best: “It’s like Portland, but with sun,”  a comparison which shows just how much the city’s microbrewery and brewpub scene has grown–and not…

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.…

Sherman’s Deli & Bakery – Palm Springs, California

Not everyone appreciated my friend Bob’s stark honesty as much as I did. For nearly twelve years, Bob was my most trusted source for information on the Santa Fe dining scene. He was also a huge advocate for my writing, even when his reaction to one of my particularly “long way around” missives was “what?.” From a style perspective, he was a “get to the point” guy while your humble blogger sometimes (okay, okay, always) takes a circuitous, raconteur’s route…

Monte Carlo Steakhouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Last night I broke the seal on a Jim Beam decanter That looks like Elvis.” ~George Jones Having spent much of his career in an inebriated state, Country music icon George Jones actually lived the life experiences that inspired much of his music. After one of his four divorces, Jones sat alone in a rather empty home, his ex-wife having absconded with almost everything–furniture, china, glassware and more. Among the few items left behind were a small table, a Jim…

Eli’s Place (formerly Sophia’s Place) – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Picture yourself as a first-year marketing student assigned by your professor to perform a marketing analysis of Eli’s Place and its enigmatic chef-owner Dennis Apodaca. Essentially you’ve got to figure out the rhyme and reason behind the restaurant’s success. “Easy assignment,” you think to yourself, “Eli’s Place is successful because it serves some of the best, most delicious food in Albuquerque.” Your research quickly reveals, however, that Eli’s Place actually violates many of the time-honored, trusted and fundamental marketing tenets…

Golden Crown Panaderia – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Although we pride ourselves on keeping a pulse on the local dining scene, it took a nationally syndicated Food Network cable program called Food Finds to introduce us in 2003 to the Golden Crown Panaderia, an Albuquerque fixture for nearly three decades. In an episode entitled Viewer’s Choice filmed entirely in New Mexico, hostess Sandra Pinckney visited several small-town shops, mom-and-pop stores and local vendors that pride themselves in creating specialty foods the old-fashioned way. The Golden Crown Panaderia is…

Bocadillos Slow Roasted: A Sandwich Shop – Albuquerque, New Mexico

School cafeteria meals have probably traumatized more youth than John Carpenter’s horror movies. Lunch menus read like fine-dining, promising nutritious, healthy and delicious cuisine. Instead, they deliver what could pass for TV dinner rejects. Reject is an apropos term here. Slop buckets are overfilled with the much feared and cursed vegetable medley (also known as succotash, emphasis on the “suck” part) and the next day with chicken a la king, featuring whatever is left over of the dreaded vegetable medley.…

Tecolote Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Everyone knows the most sagacious of all creatures in nature is the owl. The owl is to whom all other creatures go to get some of life’s most pondered questions answered–questions such as “how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?” After having posed the question to a cow, a fox and a turtle, a young boy decides to ask the wise owl. “Good question, let’s find out,” the owl retorts.…

Standard Diner – Albuquerque, New Mexico

While New Mexico is most assuredly the Land of Enchantment, most locals also accept that it’s also the “land of mañana” where things that can be put off until tomorrow usually are, where the pace of life is more relaxed and slower. George Adelo, Jr., an enterprising Pecos resident even coined (and copyrighted) a phrase to describe the New Mexican way: “Carpe Mañana”–Seize Tomorrow. The spirit of Carpe Mañana was certainly prevalent in the long-awaited, much-anticipated opening of the Standard…

Jambo Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Growing up in the 60s–the dark ages before the Internet was even a glimmer in Al Gore’s eyes and google, then spelled “googol” represented an very large number (currently being approached by America’s budget deficit)–even precocious children like me derived most of our knowledge of Africa from National Geographic magazines and Tarzan movies. We thought Africa was one large monolithic country comprised solely of stark, expansive deserts or lush, mysterious jungles. Africa’s indigenous people, we believed, had to compete for…

Back Road Pizza – Santa Fe, New Mexico

My brother George has the right idea! Rather than braving the motoring madness that is traversing New Mexico’s highways at breakneck speeds and risking life and limb contending with America’s worst drivers (according to a 2014 report by Wallet Hub), he’ll take the back roads every chance he gets. Not only does he avoid frazzled nerves and minimize potential encounters with distracted, drunk and demolition derby caliber drivers, he gets to enjoy the scenery of enchantment and arrive at his…

Torinos @ Home – Albuquerque, New Mexico

On Monday, October 21st, 2013 in a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode entitled “Aces of Authenticity,” the Food Network introduced Torinos @ Home to the world. Just four years earlier–on 22 December 2009–i was one of, if not the very first critics to see greatness in what was then a tiny Italian eatery coaxing amazing flavors from its humble menu. Then ensconced in diminutive digs, it was obvious Torinos @ Home was destined for far better things. During my many…

The Cube – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Timon: [singing] Luau. If you’re hungry for a hunk of fat and juicy meat Eat my buddy Pumbaa here, ’cause he’s a tasty treat Come on down and dine on this tasty swine All you gotta is get in line Are you achin’… Pumbaa: Yup, yup, yup. Timon: For some bacon? Pumbaa: Yup, yup, yup. Timon: He’s a big pig. Pumbaa: Yup, yup. Timon: You can be a big pig, too. Oy. From Disney’s Lion King Succulent swine. Porcine perfection.…

Tune-up Café – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dave Who? From 1981 until its closing in 2008, the converted residence at 1115 Hickox Street was the home of Dave’s Not Here, a quaint and quirky neighborhood favorite loyalist locals described as “unforgettable.” Perhaps “memorable” would have been more appropriate, because as the Eagles reminded us in their 1976 hit song New Kid In Town, “they will never forget you ‘til somebody new comes along.” That somebody new…the new kid in town… the usurper who made many of us…

Bert’s Burger Bowl – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The tee shirts worn by a nattily attired and enthusiastic wait staff at Bert’s Burger Bowl say it all: “Since 1954: One Location Worldwide.” Celebrating its golden anniversary in 2004, Bert’s seems to transcend time with a winning formula: great burgers, terrific service and reasonable prices. Generations of New Mexicans and visitors have made Bert’s a beloved Santa Fe dining destination.  It is such a beloved local institution that then-Representative Tom Udall entered it into the Congressional Record in September,…