Paco’s International Smoked Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“If salt is the odorless spice, smoke is the ephemeral magical invisible spice. You can’t feel it, you can’t touch it, but you can taste it.” ~Chef Seamus Mullen, Tertulia Restaurant, New York City. Have you ever wondered why some people drool when they pass by a computer displaying a fireplace screen saver? They’re not thinking about romance. They’re thinking about barbecue. There’s just something about smoked foods that has excited humans across the millennia. It’s been that way since…

Ancient Spirits Bar & Grille – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“Ancient spirits dwell in New Mexico, since before the existence of humanity.” – The Husband: A Novel by Dean Koontz FROM THE ANCIENT SPIRITS BLOG ON JULY 17:  Due to unforeseen circumstances Ancient Spirits Bar and Grille has had to close its doors. We have lost one of our owner/investors and are searching for someone to take his place. We are hoping that this is only a temporary setback and that we will be able to open back up very…

The Smokehouse Barbecue Restaurant (CLOSED)

The very best restaurants–those we’re proud to call our favorites–aren’t always the swankiest and most elegant venues.  They’re not even usually the restaurants you visit on special occasions.  They’re our favorites because for the duration of our meal, all our cares dissipate and our faith that everything will be okay is restored as we’re fed comforting, delicious food by servers we know and trust.  The Smokehouse has been such a refuge to hundreds of Rio Rancho area residents for nearly…

Fratelli Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The ingredients with which you can top your pizza are limited only by your imagination. Crocodile and caviar? Been there, done that. In fact, a New York restaurateur will sell you a thousand dollar pie topped with four of the priciest caviars in the world. Blueberries, shrimp, cookies? That’s pretty tame stuff. A Swiss-based pizza chef laces his pizza with spiders and snakes (Jim Stafford, where are you now?). The Japanese propensity for invention is on display with a “mega…

Rey’s Place – Albuquerque, New Mexico (RELOCATED)

Rey’s Place has relocated and now shares space with La Familar, the terrific Mexican restaurant owned by Michael “Rey’s” lovely bride Luz.  La Familiar is located at 1611 4th Street, N.W.  Its menu includes all the wonderful foods you’ve loved for years at Rey’s Place: gorditas, enchiladas, caldo de rez and so much more.  Whether you visit for excellent Mexican food or Michael’s mellifluous guitar and sensational singing voice, Rey’s La Familiar will soon become one of your favorite restaurants.…

Prickly Pear Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield offered the following advice to his son: “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.” To Chesterfield, focusing on a singular task was not only a practical way of structuring one’s time; it was a sign of intelligence. “This steady and undissipated attention to…

Christy’s Food Factory – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

A few years ago at the urging of an obviously taste-deprived, chain restaurant loving colleague, I had breakfast at a misnomer of a restaurant named Goody’s, a now defunct restaurant on Yale. He bragged about Goody’s breakfast burrito being as good as Milton’s Family Restaurant, sacrilege if it was ever uttered. A business trip provided the opportune time to debunk my colleague’s blasphemy. Not only did Goody’s version of a breakfast burrito provide one of the most insipid breakfasts I…

Bobcat Bite – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Update:  In a twist of cruel irony, the Travel Channel’s May 13th airing of the Burger Land program celebrating the Bobcat Bite debuted just a few days after the announcement that the world-famous Bobcat Bite as we all know and love it will be forever changed.  An official statement from Bobcat Bite, issued on May 9th, announced the restaurant renowned for its outstanding green chile cheeseburger would shutter its doors in June, 2013.  The press release read: After 12 years,…

Timbuctu Bistro – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Growing up in bucolic Peñasco back when fires were still started by rubbing two sticks together and mastodons roamed the Earth, I distinctly remember hearing playmates uttering the term “going all the way to Timbuktu.”  Considering we all thought Albuquerque was a million miles away, we couldn’t imagine just how far away Timbuktu must be.  Some of us reasoned it  existed only as a figment of the imagination similar to Oz, Neverland and Atlantis (Hogwarts, Narnia and Jurassic Park for…

Piggy’s Hot Dogs & Hamburgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare Certainly as a lexicologist, the Bard of Avon should know darned well that what something is named does matter…or maybe not so much.  In Waco, Texas, a burger joint has eschewed politically correctness by calling itself “Fat Ho Burgers.”  Diners line up for as long as an hour for burgers with such culturally sensitive sobriquets as the Supa Fly…

Tomme – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)

As the end of an year draws near, the inclination to reflect on the closing year seems natural.  Auld lang syne practically resonates from the pages of most  periodicals as they reflect on the year that was with writers providing their year-end retrospectives.  Quite naturally my favorite reflections are of New Mexico’s continuously evolving, culturally vibrant and deliciously diverse culinary scene.  Several of my favorite writers–and readers–provided an year-end snapshot of the very best dishes they had during 2011.  You…

Cosmo Tapas – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Some of the world’s most elegant and refined cuisine has its genesis in very humble circumstances.  Today, Spanish tapas are widely regarded as sophisticated and exotic, but they didn’t start off that way.  In fact, Spanish tapas are an excellent embodiment of the axiom that when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade.  The words “tapa” (singular) or “tapas” (plural) are derived from the Spanish word “tapar,” which means “to cover.”  In Spanish, a tapa is also the literal…

Ezra’s Place – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

When it comes to food, most bowling alleys strike out.  Ardent keglers are subjected to such catastrophic “cuisine” as perpetually rotating hot dogs seared to a leathery sheen under a heat lamp inferno, soppy messes of nachos bathed in gloppy processed cheese topped with gelatinous jalapeños and greasy onion rings with the texture of fried rubber bands and as oily as well-slicked lanes.  Getting something edible at most bowling alleys is as tough as picking up a seven-ten split. Los Ranchos de…

India Palace – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

When many of us think of romantic destinations to visit or in which to honeymoon, our choices probably mirror closely those of US News & World Report which listed among their 22 best honeymoon destinations such exotic locations as Kauai, Maui, Florence, Crete, Santorini and even Las Vegas, Nevada.  The authors apparently didn’t think enchantment is synonymous with romance or wedded  bliss because no New Mexico locations made the list,  Surprisingly, neither did any destination in India.  Not everyone equates…

Lucia – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

There was a time the name “Hilton” didn’t conjure up images of a ditzy blonde airhead whose celebrity is based largely on promiscuity. On second thought, maybe not. More than 50 years ago, another ditzy blonde temptress, Zsa Zsa Gabor honeymooned at Albuquerque’s Hilton Hotel with her then husband Conrad Hilton, a New Mexico native and founder of the historic downtown hotel.  It was Hilton’s fourth hotel and the very first modern high-rise hotel in the Land of Enchantment. The…