Acapulco Tacos & Burritos – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Acapulco–just the name evokes images of pristine sandy beaches, translucent blue waters, a comfortable climate, luxury hotels, and world-class gourmet cuisine. There are many reasons Acapulco has earned its nickname of the “Mexican Riviera,” after the famous French resort area. It’s unlikely Albuquerque’s three Acapulco Tacos & Burritos restaurant will ever be mistaken for one of Acapulco’s pricey and sometimes pretentious three- and four-star restaurants. There’s absolutely nothing pretentious about Acapulco Tacos & Burritos. To the contrary, this humble denizen…

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?…

Krazy Lizard – Albuquerque, New Mexico

I count in almost equal measure, friends, family members and colleagues who label themselves as either militant liberals or staunch conservatives. Despite what they may think, they have more in common than they’d ever admit. Passionate ideologues, they all regurgitate political dialogue in talking point format. They’re uncompromising in towing their respective party line. They would never see merit in counterpoints from “the other side,” ergo, they never compromise. They’re all are passionate, almost to a fault. You could say…

El Agave – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

“Why, this here sauce is made in New York City!” “New York City? Git a rope!” No matter how broad-minded we may perceive ourselves to be, most of us are burdened by covert biases and prejudices that reveal themselves at inopportune times. One of mine was divulged during my inaugural visit to El Agave Mexican Restaurant in Rio Rancho. After being greeted warmly by effusive hostess Lilly Venegas (who could not possibly have been nicer), I began my usual “twenty…

Taqueria El Paisa – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“The immediacy of a taco, handed to you hot from grill and comal, can’t be equaled. You can stand there and eat yourself silly with one taco after another, each made fresh for you and consumed within seconds. A great taco rocks with distinct tastes that roll on and on, like a little party on your tongue, with layers of flavor and textures: juicy, delicious fillings, perfectly seasoned; the taste of the soft corn tortilla; a morsel of salty cheese…

El Taco Tote – Albuquerque, New Mexico

As we perused the colorful menu hanging on the wall at El Taco Tote, my friends Captain Tuttle, Bob of the Village Of Los Ranchos and I pondered the veracity of images depicting gargantuan tacos brimming with glistening meat and sundry toppings. Could these super-sized behemoths possibly be as large as pictured? Perhaps, as in “objects in the mirror may appear closer than they are,” these tacos only appear large in photos. Captain Tuttle, a semi-regular at Taco Tote, confirmed…

Los Compadres Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

In the vernacular and tradition of Hispanic Northern New Mexico, few–if any–titles were held in such esteem and reverence by elder generations as “compadre” (male) and “comadre” (female). In his Dictionary of New Mexico & Southern Colorado Spanish, Ruben Cobos defines a compadre as a “ritual co-parent; a term by which godparents address the father of their godchild and by which the child’s parents address the godfather.” With the societal dissolution of the family entity, the term compadre doesn’t hold…

El Cotorro – Albuquerque, New Mexico

There’s a scene in the 2006 lucha libre (Mexican professional wrestling) comedy film Nacho Libre in which Nacho’s ectomorphic tag team partner Esqueleto (“the skeleton”) orders two grilled, buttered and chile-dusted elotes (corn-on-the-cob) from a street vendor. Esqueleto graciously attempts to hand one to Nacho who rebuffs the offer, knocks the elotes to the ground and bellows “get that corn out of my face!” That antagonistic act so enraged Esqueleto that he leaped on Nacho’s back and attempted to throw…

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…

Taco Fundación – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Consider it sacrilege if you will, but some pundits believe the taco is poised to become the most ubiquitous and popular dish in the fruited plain. One such heretic is eater.com’s Nick Solares who made the audacious prediction that the taco will replace the hamburger as the American national dish within fifty years. He makes a great case for his conjecture, citing such factors as the rising Hispanic immigrant population, America’s hipster culture, and people in general embracing the taco…

Gabriel’s – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Located fifteen miles north of Santa Fe, just south of Pojoaque and within minutes of two garish native American casinos, Gabriel’s is a culinary oasis back-dropped by nearby cedar, cottonwood and pine tree-laden hills and the Santa Fe mountains further to the southeast. Gabriel’s entrance is flanked by unpeeled latillas, a “coyote fence” precursor to one of the best restaurant settings in the Santa Fe area. In the early spring and fall, weather permitting, the sprawling dining room and its…

B2B Tap Room – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“I’m a uniter, not a divider.” ~ George W. Bush, Governor of the Great State of Texas “No one wants to listen to politicians, but everyone wants to eat tacos. Tacos are the great uniter.” ~ John Fetterman, Candidate for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania Ideologically and politically, denizens of the land of the free and home of the brave seem incapable of agreeing on virtually anything, but turn the topic to tacos and there’s almost consensus. Americans love tacos! We…

El Maguey – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

On a 2010 episode of The Travel Channel’s No Reservations series, host Anthony Bourdain described pulque as “the sap of the maguey cactus” as well as “man juice” and “Mexican Viagra.” That may explain why so many aspiring middle-aged brewers across the fruited plain rushed to their local nurseries in search of the maguey plant. Although maguey may be plentiful even in the Land of Enchantment, extracting pulque is a laborious process involving four distinct steps, the first of which…

Andele’s Dog House – Mesilla, New Mexico

Put a savvy foodie from Las Cruces and a gastronome from Albuquerque in the same room (preferably not a kitchen well stocked with knives) and you’re bound to start a culinary civil war. Such was the case when I worked at Intel with a colleague who was born-and-bred in the City of Crosses. We were both adamant that the cuisine in our half of the state (mine being the upper half) was far superior to cuisine in the other (lower…

Señor Tortas – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In Albuquerque’s panoply of Mexican fast foods, the torta–despite all its heartiness and versatility–is the “Rodney Dangerfield” of cheap eats. It garners no respect, warranting nary a mention in annual paeans to the “best of” virtually everything else Alibi and Albuquerque The Magazine readers care to celebrate. Long overshadowed and under-appreciated, the humble torta presents a glaring contrast to its culinary cousin, king taco. While the taco has become a pop culture diva, the torta has been relegated to a…