Mariscos Mazatlan – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

A rotund, ripening, red tomato is featured prominently on license plates issued in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. This is indicative of the state’s prominence in growing the “love apples” from which its rich salsas are made. In 2013, Sinaloa exported nearly one-billion tons of vegetables–primarily tomatoes–across the fruited plain, netting (mostly industrial) farmers nearly one-billion dollars. More than half the tomatoes consumed across the United States during the winter season are, in fact, grown in Sinaloa. While Sinaloan tomatoes…

Desert Grows – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.” – Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels Had Jonathan Swift not uttered those words of sagacious cynicism, there’s a good chance Armand Saiia would have. It’s a sentiment that…

Vernon’s Open Door – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

However well-intended, the corporate world’s “open door policy” doesn’t always have the desired effect of establishing trust between employees and their managers. This became evident during my first corporate gig after leaving the Air Force. My boss, whom Jerry Seinfeld would describe as a “loud talker” spoke at a decibel level rivaling the University of New Mexico’s fabled Pit during a Lobo fast break. Compounded with the fact that our offices were housed in a pod of flimsy mobile offices…

Ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Nay-sayers, those nattering nabobs of negativism, have always had it in for hot dogs. First they plied us with horror stories and urban myths about what hot dogs are made of. Essentially, they decried, hot dogs are made of everything from pigs snouts and chicken feet to snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails. Then they ratcheted up our shock and awe by telling us how hot dogs are loaded with artery-clogging, cancer-causing saturated fats, not to mention those nasty…

Jhett’s Restaurant – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In its halcyon days, the Chamisa Hills golf course and country club in Rio Rancho was considered one of the city’s crown jewels. Its undulating 18-hole championship course with strategically placed deciduous trees and challenging water hazards once hosted the Charley Pride Golf Fiesta, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the state. Built in 1970, the 212-acre development was flanked by upscale gated communities and boasted of magnificent panoramic views showcasing the reddish hues of the Sandias at sunset…

Tratta Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a Louisiana native who attended Ole Miss, has no problem poking fun at himself…and at stereotypes. During his opening monologue on a 2012 episode of Saturday Night Live, the two-time Super Bowl most valuable player, told the audience he finally feels like a “real New Yorker.” Then as if to demonstrate his urban sophistication, he entertained questions from out-of-towners in the audience. When asked where to get good Italian food in New York, Manning…

Soul and Vine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” ~Thomas Keller A recent tweet from Ortega (yes, that purveyor of “high quality Mexican products”) posed the existential question “What’s your cooking style: cooking from the soul, from your taste buds, from a book or from your gut?” While most cooks and almost all chefs would contend they cook with their souls, their assertions are belied by the absence of the qualities and experiences diners…

Cafe Caribe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

When you’re on one of the Caribbean islands, sometimes it’s hard to picture how they fit in with the rest, but when you see them all joined together like a necklace from space, you see the natural geographic connectedness of them all. ~Chris Hadfield In virtually every sense, the Caribbean is a “melting pot.” It’s an amalgam, a hodgepodge, mishmash…a potpourri. It’s a gallimaufry, a confused jumble or medley of things. It’s a blend of African, Amerindian, European, East Indian,…

Mekong Ramen House – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In a 2009 movie entitled Ramen Girl, Abby, a wayward American girl unacculturated to life in Tokyo witnesses the radiant smiles on the faces of diners as they eat ramen and receives an epiphany that her life’s calling is to become a ramen chef. Over time she persuades a ramen restaurant’s temperamental Japanese chef to mentor her. Initially he assigns her to perform the most menial and degrading tasks, but she perseveres and eventually convinces her tyrannical mentor of her…

Kasbah Mediterranean – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind Had to get away to see what we could find Hope the days that lie ahead Bring us back to where they’ve led Listen up to what’s been said to you Would you know we’re riding on the Marrakech Express Would you know we’re riding on the Marrakech Express All on board that train – Crosby, Stills & Nash For decades, Hollywood has portrayed the ancient Moroccan city of Marrakech as a…

Heimat House and Beer Garden – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“We’re not normal people. We’re the Griswolds.” Laughs abound in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, the 1985 movie which follows the antics of well-meaning blunderer Clark W. Griswold and his equally inept family. In a television game show called “Pig In a Polk,” the Griswold family accidentally wins a trip to Europe where they leave a trail of destruction everywhere they go (who can forget when Clark knocked down Stonehenge by accidentally backing into it with a rented car?). The family…

Gioco – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Archaeologists in Spain have unearthed the original man cave. What is most remarkable about this finding is how very similar Neanderthal man and contemporary man are. Men, it seems, have not evolved much. Neanderthals were hairy and brutish in appearance, much like the New York Giants. They spoke in guttural grunts, similar to today’s politicians. Neanderthals scrawled their art on cave walls; contemporary man expresses himself artistically on bridges, underpasses and walls. Neanderthal man used tools: hammers and axes; contemporary…

Taste of Himalayas – Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

At 40,000 1/2 feet, the imposing Rum Doodle is the highest mountain in the world, surpassing even Mount Everest, its alpine neighbor on the Himalayas. Surmounted only by a group of audacious British mountaineers and their Yogastani porters in an odyssey fraught with misadventure, its ascent is the stuff of which mountaineering legends are made. As if scaling the perilous precipice wasn’t dangerous enough, the intrepid climbers had to endure the inedible culinary miscreations of Pong, the expedition’s sadistic cook.…

Patricia’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

For nearly twenty years–from 1954 to 1972–newspaper, magazine, radio and television advertisements for Winston cigarettes deliberated whether American smokers wanted good grammar or good taste. This was in response to catchy jingles (and if you’re over 40, get ready for an ear worm) claiming that “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” Grammarians took umbrage with the solecism, arguing that the word “as” was more appropriate than the word “like.” From 1974 to 1991 the advertising world introduced another vexing…

Adieux Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

For restaurants located in downtown Albuquerque’s Arts and Entertainment district, centered along Central Avenue and Gold Avenue west of First Street, downtown revitalization, a ten million dollar infusion of energy and creativity, has been both a dichotomy and a dilemma. Daylight hours bring a diverse swathe of white- and blue-collar diners to those restaurants, but after dusk, the downtown demographic is more of a “20-something” crowd, many of whom are more interested in the area’s bustling nightlife and youth-oriented clubs…