Blue Cactus Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In the early 80s I tried to impress my very traditional grandmother by taking her to a recently opened restaurant on Academy Boulevard.  What was not to like?  The restaurant shared the mellifluous name she had proudly worn for over fifty years.  It was a locally owned and operated and had earned several awards.  It boasted a multi-page menu.  Surely Garduno’s of…

Independence Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

NOTE: The Independence Grill became another casualty of the economy, shuttering its doors on Sunday, March 14th, 2010. Below this review is a photo retrospective of some of the many things which will be missed about this terrific restaurant. On January 6, 1941 as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt closed his state of the union address to Congress, he described his…

The Black Olive Wine Bar & Grill – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Perhaps in time, the Albuquerque-Rio Rancho metropolitan statistical area will be thought of in much the same vein as America’s two most famous “twin city” metroplexes–Dallas-Fort Worth and Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Don’t be surprised if Rio Rancho winds up being the Dallas to Albuquerque’s Fort Worth, the Minneapolis to Albuquerque’s Saint Paul. People have been selling Rio Rancho short for a…

Duke’s Steakhouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“Did you ever see the customers in health-food stores? They are pale, skinny people who look half dead. In a steak house, you see robust, ruddy people. They’re dying, of course, but they look terrific.” -Bill Cosby Bill Cosby probably didn’t have actor Robert Mitchum in mind when describing the type of people who visit steak houses. Heralded by movie…

Lotus Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Balance. The Diné, or Navajo, of America’s Four Corners Region have a word for it: “hózhó.” The word embodies the idea of striving for balance and harmony along with beauty and order. Every aspect of Diné life–whether spiritual or secular–is connected to hózhó, maintaining balance between the individual and the universe and living in harmony with nature and the Creator.…

Porky’s Pride Real Pit BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The genesis of America’s popular music–country, jazz and even rock and roll–is rooted in the soul and sounds of Mississippi Delta blues–sounds born in the disgraceful shadow of slavery and lyrics which echoed the grievous plight and painful lament of workers in plantations and fields.  It is a tribute to the resilience of a people that the music of their…

Mad Max’s BBQ – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

NOTE:  In March, 2010, Max and Fran Montano entered into a lease to buy agreement with an enthusiastic owner who continued to use the recipes which made Mad Max’s the very best barbecue in the Albuquerque area.  By September, 2010 the restaurant was closed.  Max and Fran will continue competing in competitions throughout the region and will also cater events. …

Charcoal Mediterranean Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

If comedian Jeff Foxworthy was Armenian, his repertoire of one-liners might include such gems as, “You know you’re Armenian if you have philo dough, string cheese or See’s candy in your freezer.”  Or perhaps, “You know you’re Armenian if you serve hummus and tabbouleh with your taco chips.”  Then there’s the classic, “You know you’re Armenian if you shovel food…

Noda’s Japanese Cuisine – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Note: On December 16, 2010, Noda’s Japanese Cuisine, a Rio Rancho institution for a dozen years, closed its doors.  Owners Masayasu and Setsuko Noda have retired and will be relocating back to Japan.  It was initially announced that their son, an accomplished chef, would be looking for a new home for the restaurant many consider the very best Japanese restaurant…