Sugar Nymphs Bistro – Peñasco, New Mexico

Peñasco has always been the beautiful stepsister ignored by the dutiful suitors who prefer the company of Taos, its more glamorous sibling. Taos, the mystical art colony to which new age subscribers seem preternaturally drawn is the terminus of the high road, starting and end point of the enchanted circle and one of the most beautiful communities in the country, if not the world. Sugar Nymphs Bistro is helping Peñasco lure some of those suitors away…at least for a spectacular…

M’Tucci’s Moderno – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere It’s up to you, New York, New York.” ~Frank Sinatra Jeff Spiegel, managing partner of the insanely popular M’Tucci’s family of restaurants has described flagship restaurant M’Tucci’s Italian Restaurant (previously M’Tucci’s Kitchina) as “as good as anything we did in New York City.” That is really saying something considering over the course of 23 years, Jeff and his wife, life and business partner Katie Gardner owned and operated eleven restaurants…

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?…

Torinos’ @ Home – Albuquerque, New Mexico

I love Italian food but that’s too generic a term for what’s available now: you have to narrow it down to Tuscan, Sicilian, and so on.” ~ Lee Child, Author “You don’t want to be the guy who follows a legend; you want to be the guy who follows the guy who follows the legend.” That tried and proven sports adage applies in every walk-of-life. Indeed, if you’re the person who has to succeed a beloved living legend, you’ll invariably…

Danny’s Place – Carlsbad, New Mexico

For some reason, national print and online publications and even the Food Network can’t seem to fathom that the Land of Enchantment has outstanding cuisine outside the shining pinnacles of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. To some extent the media may be justified in perceiving the City Different and Duke City as offering the quintessence of what makes New Mexico a culinary Mecca. Obviously, Santa Fe and Albuquerque enthrall hungry visitors armed with voracious appetites (especially for our incendiary red and…

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…

Maya – Albuquerque, New Mexico

My precocious niece doesn’t miss a beat. Ever attentive to adult conversation, she often stumps my brother and me with her surprisingly deep and thought-provoking questions. Case in point, when she overheard me telling my brother Mario about the Mesoamerican-inspired cuisine at Maya, she asked what I have against Americans. Perplexed by her assertion, I gently asked what she was talking about. “First you said Americans are ugly (obviously remembering a discussion Mario and I once had about the “ugly…

Ming Dynasty – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was renowned as one of the greatest periods of governmental and societal stability in the history of mankind. At its peak, the Ming dynasty made China a global superpower, influencing the known world in trade, culture and might. During this dynasty, agriculture developed significantly, dishes became more sophisticated, cookbooks were widely proliferated and noontime banquets became popular. Dishes such as sweet potatoes, corn, potatoes and sorghum were imported into China during this period while such local…

Pad Thai Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain likened his first experience tasting Thai food to “like discovering a color I never knew existed before. A whole new crayon box full of colors.” With so many vibrant colors available, most people don’t settle for one fairly basic color (let’s say black) in a box full of crayons. Unfortunately, settling is precisely what many diners tend to do when eating at Thai restaurants. Although the menu may be replete with dozens of exotic options, many…

Seasons Rotisserie & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 Despite America’s woeful economic situation, new restaurants continue to sprout faster than New Mexico’s unofficial state flower (no, not the ubiquitous orange traffic cone; the almost as omnipresent tumbleweed). Rarely does a week go by without some sparkly…

The Artichoke Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“These things are just plain annoying. After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps. Have the shrimp cocktail instead.” – Miss Piggy Miss Piggy, that shrill and garrulous walking side of bacon, may not appreciate the humble artichoke much, but among both health conscious and discerning diners, the artichoke has long been a healthful and delicious dining option. Considered…

SweeTea Bakery Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In some metropolitan areas, legions of restaurant bloggers dissect and report on every facet of the area’s dining scene. These bloggers have a significant impact on the restaurant choices diners make. That fact isn’t lost on savvy restaurateurs—particularly young entrepreneurs active in social media–who solicit feedback on their restaurants from the dynamic food blogger community. Some restaurateurs who understand the power of online reviews even engage in “food blogger outreach campaigns” and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with food bloggers. Alas,…

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…

M’Tucci’s Italian Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Sometimes the spaghetti likes to be alone..” —Stanley Tucci as Segundo in Big Night With a name like M’Tucci’s Italian Restaurant, you might wonder if the Italian restaurant on the intersection of Coors and Montano is named for Academy Award nominated actor Stanley Tucci. After all, Tucci co-starred in Big Night and Julie & Julia, arguably two of the very best food movies in recent years. Initially christened M’Tucci’s Kitchina, the “Kitchina” part of the restaurant’s name was obviously a…

Namaste Restaurant – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Several years ago while leading my organization’s e-business marketing and communication effort at Intel, I had the great fortune of hiring a phenomenal Web developer recently arrived from India. In the process of filling out one of our complicated employment forms he transposed his name, writing his last name then his middle initial and first name instead of the way hinted at on the complicated form. As a result, during the entire time he worked for us we all called…