Pho Linh Vietnamese Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

You always remember your first time…and if it’s good, it may set the standard by which you’ll forever measure every other time. I was a lanky lad of nineteen, away from home for the first time when “it” happened. As a precocious yet naive child growing up in bucolic Peñasco, New Mexico, I had been sheltered from the wiles and ways of the world and felt silly and embarrassed about being so inexperienced. All my new friends in Massachusetts seemed…

El Patio de Albuquerque – Albuquerque, New Mexico

For more than a quarter century, award-winning journalist Charles Kuralt had the type of job any aspiring sojourner would envy. He hit the road on a motor home, crisscrossing the fruited plains where waving fields of wheat passed in review and snow-capped mountains reached for cobalt colored skies. Observing that “thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything,” Kuralt avoided the interstates, instead traversing America’s back roads and byways…

Philly Steaks – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“I love the dignity in the name Philadelphia, but at heart, we’re Philly.” ~Lisa Scottoline New York Times Best-Selling Author “There are a couple of things you should know about Philadelphia,” my friend Vladimir “Speedy” Gonzalez told me before my first visit to the City of Brotherly Love. “First, Philadelphians are not rude. We may be blunt and direct, but that’s just passion.” Passion? I always thought he was a grouch. “Second,” he added, “you’ve got to know the process…

Big D’s Downtown Dive – Roswell, New Mexico

During a March, 2012 trip to Roswell, New Mexico President Barack Obama made the following opening remarks to his speech. “We had landed in Roswell. I announced to people when I landed that I had come in peace. (Laughter) Let me tell you – there are more nine and ten year old boys around the country when I meet them – they ask me, “Have you been to Roswell and is it true what they say? And I tell them,…

Stack House BBQ – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

One of my Psychology professors cautioned students about the danger of “amateur diagnosis,” the practice of assigning specific psychoses and neuroses to people we meet solely on the basis of our cursory familiarity with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. He explained that it often takes an experienced practicing psychiatrist several sessions to arrive at a diagnosis and many more sessions before treatment proves effective. His point–a little knowledge can be dangerous–applies in virtually every arena of knowledge…

Philly’s N Fries – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED: May 18, 2018)

Over the years, my Kim and I have had the privilege and honor of getting to know and love many wonderful restaurateurs who put their hearts and souls into feeding their guests and giving them a wonderful dining experience. Among our very favorites are Steve and Cathy Garcia who shuttered the doors of their fabulous restaurant Philly’s N’ Fries on Friday, May 18th, 2018. As Steve so graciously told us, “when God closes one door, he opens another.” He and…

Seared – Albuquerque, New Mexico

While you might not be able to judge a book by its cover, sometimes a book title will resonate deeply and you know you’re going to enjoy reading it very much. That’s especially true when a book title warmly reminds you of nostalgic memories long buried in your past. Such was the case when I espied Where There’s Smoke, There’s Dinner: Stories of a Seared Childhood by award-winning raconteur Regi Carpenter. That title aptly described daily life for the long…

Pollito Con Papas – Albuquerque, New Mexico

I think a rotisserie is like a really morbid ferris wheel for chickens. It’s a strange piece of machinery. We will take the chicken, kill it, impale it and then rotate it. And I’ll be damned if I’m not hungry because spinning chicken carcasses make my mouth water. I like dizzy chicken. – Mitch Hedberg Comedian Mitch Hedberg may have meant it in a funny vein, but it’s no joke that Americans are finding rotisserie chickens not only sexy and…

Counter Culture Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Counterculture. Growing up in rural Taos County four decades ago, I don’t know how many of us understood that the cultural and political upheaval of the big cities had moved into our isolated corner of the world. All we knew was that these unkempt and unwashed interlopers preaching free love and practicing it in communes had invaded our idyllic agrarian communities and shocked our quiet, small town sensibilities. They rode around in psychedelic school buses and wore multi-colored smocks. The…

Oak Tree Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

This isn’t Burger King! You can’t have it your way. You get it our way or you don’t get it at all. For some reason, human beings seem inclined to level criticism by the shovelful while apportioning praise and plaudits by the thimbleful. We seem genetically predisposed to put more stock into negativity than we are to believe the best of others. We consider compliments to be based on insincerity or ulterior motives. Even our television viewing preferences gravitate toward…

May Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

There are perhaps thousands of examples throughout the Duke City of immigrants whose path to the American dream involved rising above humble origins and surmounting extraordinary circumstances to achieve success. Those challenges are exacerbated by the fact that many of them arrived in America as refugees from war-torn nations with nary a modicum of English. One such example is Liem Nguyen, who along with wife Kim founded the May Cafe in 1992, a scant nine years after arriving in Albuquerque…

IKrave Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Please say it isn’t so! According to Nations Restaurant News, a highly respected trade publication “a new crop of restaurant chain entrepreneurs” believes “American diners will soon embrace the Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich as the next burrito or taco.” The notion of corporate chain megaliths setting their sights on the humble banh mi should send shudders down the spine of everyone who frequents the mom-and-pop nature of the banh mi restaurants we’ve come to know and love. Imagine a phalanx…

Pana’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The term “red or green” has connotations beyond New Mexico’s sacrosanct chile. For restaurateurs across the Duke City, red or green can spell the difference between a good or bad reputation and even success or failure. All food service establishments across the city must display the results of the most recent restaurant inspection conducted by the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department. Those results are displayed on a “current grade” sticker in a visible inspection, typically the front door. Savvy diners look…

Latitude 33 – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

“Of all places in the country where you could have opened a restaurant, why Truth or Consequences, New Mexico?” You can bet Joseph Schmitt has been asked that question many times, especially when people find out his previous address was in Palm Springs, California where he was an accomplished travel writer with a special affinity for cooking and dining. Schmitt’s introduction to T or C started off as business but wound up as pleasure. Assigned to write about New Mexico’s…

The Owl Cafe & Bar – San Antonio, New Mexico

7 March 2017: Over the past five years, the Owl Cafe in San Antonio, New Mexico has been the most frequently launched review on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog. From January 1st through April 7th, 2017, the review of the Owl has been launched more often than any other review on 37 occasions. It’s been among the top five most frequently launched reviews 95 times (out of 98 days) since January 1st. The Owl review is the third most frequently…