Cafe Bien – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

My friend Hannah, a brilliant linguist who’s become rather expert in the etymology and evolution of languages, speech patterns and morphology would find it dismaying should she hear someone attribute the term “Romance language” to the seductive sweet nothings spoken by such onscreen Lotharios as Ricardo Montalban. With the mere utterance of “Corinthian leather,” Montalban could make women (and some men) swoon, but while his smooth intonations and thick, sophisticated accent may sound “romantic,” “Romance languages have nothing to do…

Loving Vegan – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

My adovada adoring amigo Ruben likened the irony to an episode of Seinfeld. Two weeks into his experiment with an ostensibly healthier vegan diet, he was craving sushi and needed his sushi-specific pangs of hunger sated. No sooner had we finished a very satisfying sushi soiree at Albuquerque’s only vegan sushi restaurant than our waitress apprised us the restaurant would be closing for good two days later. “Serenity now,” we cried, mimicking Frank Costanza when faced with a stressful situation.…

Gravy – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“Gravy is the simplest, tastiest, most memory-laden dish I know how to make: a little flour, salt and pepper, crispy bits of whatever meat anchored the meal, a couple of cups of water or milk and slow stirring to break up lumps.” ~Dorothy Allison, American writer Some would say that the discovery (invention?) of gravy is one of mankind’s crowning achievements. Others would deride it as the work of the devil, likening gravy to a beguiling temptress which bends the…

New Yorken Cafe & Bakery – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“Some folks like to get away Take a holiday from the neighborhood Hop a flight to Miami Beach Or to Hollywood But I’m taking a Greyhound On the Hudson River Line I’m in a New York state of mind.” ~Billy Joel Perhaps only in New Mexico does the term “New York state of mind” evoke images of a desert hamlet atop the mesa overlooking the largest city in the state. Such was the effectiveness of the slick marketing campaign by…

Witch’s Brew – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake;“ ~Macbeth Act 4 Scene 1 Each of the lunch ladies at the Peñasco Elementary School cafeteria undoubtedly earned a pair of wings, a harp, and a halo for all they were subjected to from the recalcitrant kids who lined up for our daily gruel. Whenever (and it was quite often) something unappetizing was served, we would burst into a…

Shade Tree Customs & Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

For at least the past seven years, the most famous “biker cafe” in the Land of Enchantment has been the fictional Maggie’s Diner in Madrid on the Turquoise Trail. Constructed in 2007 for the made-in-New-Mexico comedy Wild Hogs, Maggie’s Diner was frequented by bikers of all ilks, whether they be white collar executives in the throes of mid-life crises or the stereotypically rowdy, raucous bikers who terrorize the Madrid’s citizenry and demand food and adult beverages gratis. After January 14th,…

Viet Q – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“When helicopters were snatching people from the grounds of the American embassy compound during the panic of the final Vietcong push into Saigon, I was sitting in front of the television set shouting, ‘Get the chefs! Get the chefs!’” Calvin Trillin, American writer, New Yorker Magazine It’s unlikely Trillin, a humorist renown for his love of food, was entirely serious about his seemingly callous reaction to the poignant imagery of thousands of South Vietnamese fleeing their besieged city. In his…

The Stumbling Steer – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

There are ranchers throughout New Mexico who might not think there’s anything even mildly amusing about a brewery and gastropub called The Stumbling Steer. These robust ranchers would likely equate the term Stumbling Steer to the clumsy gait exhibited by their precious livestock after they consume locoweed, a poisonous plant found in every one of the Land of Enchantment’s 33 counties. Ultimately leading to paralysis and death if not controlled, locoweed accounts for millions of dollars in livestock loss each…

Ali Baba – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Legends recount that in his quest for immortality, Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh visited a tavern where a divine barmaid gave him the advise: “Eat and drink your fill, Gilgamesh, and celebrate day and night. Make every day a festival; day and night dance and play.” Because of the fecundity of their land, the people of Mesopotamia could indeed afford to eat, drink and be merry until they died–even if they were denied immortality. The rich culinary legacy of ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day…

EPAZOTE ON THE HILLSIDE – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Epazote. That’s a word that can make an intrepid chef’s toque blanche resemble the white flag of surrender. If you’re a culinary savant and haven’t heard of epazote, it’s probably because the chefs at restaurants you frequent might just be afraid to use it. Would you want to use an ingredient also known as “skunkweed” and “wormseed”…a word derived from a Nahuatl term for an animal with a rank odor…an ingredient perhaps best known for reducing the after-effects of eating…

Tara Thai Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The Internet is replete with personality assessments. Some–such as a personality assessment based on your choice of pizza toppings–are created by psychologists ostensibly intent on obtaining scientifically valid results, but many others are intended solely for fun and have no real validity. In the latter category, most assessments can easily be manipulated to achieve the results you want. As you’re responding to questions, an inevitable conclusion becomes transparent. You can usually tell by the way you’re answering those questions what…

El Norteño – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

No Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque has a pedigree that approaches that of El Norteño, a venerable elder statesperson in the Duke City’s burgeoning and constantly evolving Mexican restaurant scene. El Norteño has been pleasing local diners for more than a quarter of a century as evinced by its perennial selection as the city’s “Best Mexican” restaurant. Respondents to the Alibi’s annual “best of” poll accorded El Norteño that coveted accolade against increasingly more formidable competition every year for seven consecutive…

The Spot Cafe – Corrales, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Big Bang Theory wunderkind Sheldon Cooper has a spot he describes as the “singular location in space around which revolves my entire universe.” That spot is the left side of his couch, a location he has placed “in a state of eternal dibs.” In scientific terms, Sheldon relates his spot as “a single point of consistency in an ever-changing world.” His attachment to that one spot borders on obsession, but he’s not the only television character that possessive of his…

Ahh! Sushi – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED: 2015)

The year was 1997. Recently thawed from a thirty year cryogenic state, Dr. Evil addressed the United Nations about his diabolical scheme to hold the world ransom: “ In a little while you’ll notice that the Kreplachistani warhead has gone missing. If you want it back, you’re going to have to pay me…one million dollars.” After the United Nations officials erupted in laughter, Dr. Evil quickly corrected himself “sorry…one hundred billion dollars.” When our mere pittance of a bill arrived…

Badlands Burgers & Tortas – Grants, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Out through the back door of Rosa’s I ran, Out where the horses were tied. I caught a good one. It looked like it could run. Up on its back and away I did ride, Just as fast as I could from the West Texas town of El Paso Out to the badlands of New Mexico. ~El Paso by Marty Robbins From the Texas cowboy immortalized in the Marty Robbins ballad to Walter White, Albuquerque’s favorite meth maker, through time…