NM Rodeo Burgers – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“Traveling with the rodeo It’s the only life I’ll ever know I started in New Mexico Must have been a thousand years ago.” ~Lyrics to “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” by Paul Davis Although my friends and I were all fairly accomplished horse riders in the svelte and carefree days of our youth, Peñasco didn’t have a high school rodeo team so we couldn’t show off our skills in the arena of competition. Instead we entertained ourselves with such non-sanctioned “rodeo” events…

Bouche – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Career paths do not always unfold as stereotypes might dictate. Heavily recruited out of Mission, Texas, a high school football hotbed, Frans Dinklemann, a 6’6″ 241-pound defensive end, signed with the University of New Mexico where his Lobo teammates included perennial National Football League (NFL) All-Pro Brian Urlacher. By his senior year, Frans had grown to 6’7″ and 270 pounds and moved to the offensive line where he set the team weight room record for offensive linemen with a 33-inch…

Back-Sass BBQ – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Every few years, the eyes of the world fixate on a tiny chimney perched on the roof of the Sistine Chapel as millions await the telltale plumes of white smoke which signify that a new pope has been elected. Since November, 2012, savvy Duke City area barbecue aficionados have been following plumes of smoke emanating from a mobile eighteen-foot grilling machine, a sign that great barbecue is imminent. Fittingly “Follow the Smoke” is the motto of the Back-Sass BBQ team…

Gullah Cuisine – Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (CLOSED)

No culinary tour of South Carolina’s Lowcountry would be complete without sampling Gullah cuisine at least once. In the Lowcountry, Gullah represents several things: people, culture and language. As a people, the Gullah represent a distinctive group of African Americans living along the island chains and coastal plains which parallel the South Carolina and Georgia coast. The Gullah people are directly descended from the thousands of slaves who labored on the rice plantations in the moist, semitropical country bordering the…

Terra Bistro Italiano – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

To some extent, people watch Anthony Bourdain for the same reasons they tune in to infamous shock-jock Howard Stern–to see what he’ll say next. Though Bourdain, the best-selling author, world traveler, renown chef and “poet of the common man” is hardly the potty-mouthed bane of the Federal Communications Commission that Stern is, his incisive comments are oft peppered with pejoratives and references to genitalia. They’re also laden with insightful, well-reasoned, highly intelligent and well articulated thoughts uncommon in the world…

Rafiki Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“Let us break bread and celebrate our diversity.” ~Desmond Tutu Peruvian cuisine…been there, done that!  Moroccan meals…that’s so yesterday.  Persian food…it’s had its day.  Pan Asian dining…erstwhile eating.  Never mind Italian regional cuisine and Spanish tapas.  Once fresh and nouveau, they’re now practically prehistoric.  Who would have thought ten years ago that the Duke City would become so cosmopolitan, so open to multicultural culinary elements from all over the world?  Who would have guessed that cuisine once considered exotic and…

Lumpy’s Burgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Of all the adjectives that can be used to describe something or someone, lumpy is certainly not one of the most complimentary.  Think of all the Archie Bunker-like tantrums thrown during holiday meals when lumpy mashed potatoes are served or the breakfast battles that ensue when the oatmeal is lumpy. In fits of pique, seven-time Academy Award nominated actor Richard Burton often called his voluptuous wife Elizabeth Taylor “lumpy,” perhaps one of the reasons Hollywood’s most volatile couple was twice…

Pho Hoa – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Though it ended in 1975, the Vietnam war was still very fresh in the minds of Americans when I enlisted in the Air Force two years later.  Many of my senior colleagues had served in Vietnam and regaled me with tales of their adventures.  It wasn’t man’s inhumanity to man they took away from the experience, but the goodness of people brought together by exigent circumstances.  It is very telling of the high character of my colleagues that despite the…

Taste of Peru – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Early in 2013, the National Restaurant Association took the pulse of more than 1,800 professional chefs and nearly 200 professional bartenders with its annual “What’s Hot” culinary survey designed to predict restaurant menu trends for the coming year. Considered the definitive forecast of culinary inclinations, the survey’s “Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors” category was topped by Peruvian cuisine which is not only hot, it’s cool. It’s hip, swanky and trendy. It’s so “happening” that even New Mexico, which is sometimes years…

Mint Tulip Vegan Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“Once a year during a certain holiday in November, meat-eaters use the hollowed-out rectum of a dead bird as a pressure cooker for stuffing. And people think vegans are weird because we eat tofu?” ~Gary Yourofsky In the spirit of the much debated question of “nature or nurture,” my inaugural visit to The Mint Tulip Vegan Restaurant prompted my own philosophical contemplation, “are veggie haters born or made?”  The answer is probably a little of both. Many of us were–as…

Paddy Rawal’s OM- Fine Indian Dining – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

It wasn’t New Mexico’s Chamber of Commerce winter weather that enticed Chef Pramad “Paddy” Rawal to remain in the Land of Enchantment. In fact, when he first landed at Albuquerque’s International Sunport, he wondered if he had gotten on the correct flight. Albuquerque was as frigid as his home in Michigan which he had left just hours prior. Attired in clothing more appropriate for a balmy spring day, Paddy had certainly not anticipated the winter snap that kept New Mexicans…

Chez Bob – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of a meal there, it’s hard not to like a restaurant named Chez Bob. Much as poetic French words are apt to do, the term “chez” seems to impart instant credibility, authenticity and just a touch of haughtiness to any restaurant sporting that appellation–even though “chez” is just a preposition which means “at the home of.” So, Chez Lucien is essentially “at the home of Lucien.”  On restaurants, the term “chez” usually prefaces…

Chile Rio Mexican Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In as delicious a dichotomy as you’ll find on any novel, the chapter from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which most terrorized and traumatized children actually provides glorious fantasy material for many adults.  In that memorable chapter, a gluttonous brat child named Augustus Gloop falls into a Chocolate River and is sucked through a pipe into a room in which fudge is manufactured.  By being squeezed through the pipe, Augustus’s once endomorphic body (described in the novel as “fat…

El Pollo Real – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Jay : I’m home! Mmm, what smells so good? Gloria : I’m making chunchullo, a traditional Colombian dish, for dinner with the family tonight. Chunchullo. Jay : What is that… like, uh, tacos? Gloria : Yes, like tacos. Manny : No, it isn’t. It’s the small intestine of a pig. Jay : Oh, geez. Why can’t we eat regular food like normal people? Understandably, to this gastronome, the funniest scenes depicting the cultural clash between Gloria Pritchett and her family…

La Sirenita – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

My good friend and frequent dining companion Bill Resnik is one of the most altruistic and selfless people I have the privilege of knowing. Every year he grows out his naturally white beard so he can portray Santa Claus at hospitals and nursing homes throughout the metropolitan area. Because he stands 6’5″ most of his friends look like elves standing next to him and there’s probably not a chimney he can slide down, but when he dons his padded red…