ABQ BBQ – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico

“It was Kansas City but it was North Carolina I wanted; whole hog smoked low and slow over fruit woods and doused liberally with a vinegar-based sauce. It was North Carolina but it was Texas I wanted; king beef sliced into juicy brisket prepared over post oak and glistening with a sweet tomato-molasses based sauce. It was Texas but it was Memphis I wanted; unctuous pork slow smoked over hickory and served “wet” in a tomato and vinegar-based sauce. It…

Rudy’s Country Store & Barbecue – Albuquerque, New Mexico

I first sampled Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q’s products in 1993 in Leon Springs, Texas, a San Antonio suburb on the fringes of the magnificent Texas Hill Country. At the time Rudy’s was just beginning to make inroads toward becoming a significant barbecue presence in Texas where beef and brisket are king. Back then Leon Springs appeared to be a test ground for new restaurant concepts–and in fact, it is the site of the first Romano’s Macaroni Grill and the…

Red Chimney BBQ – Carlsbad, New Mexico

Depending on your lifestyle choices and temperament, some of the slogans emblazoned on bumper stickers or tee-shirts seen over the years at Rio Rancho’s annual Pork & Brew will either make you laugh or rankle your ire. “Meat is murder – tasty, tasty murder.” “Animal rights – Animals have the right to be tasty.” “Gardening: Cultivating a piece of land in order to barbecue.” “If you can’t stand the heat, go get me a beer!” Obviously no similarly themed bumper…

Danny’s Place – Carlsbad, New Mexico

For some reason, national print and online publications and even the Food Network can’t seem to fathom that the Land of Enchantment has outstanding cuisine outside the shining pinnacles of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. To some extent the media may be justified in perceiving the City Different and Duke City as offering the quintessence of what makes New Mexico a culinary Mecca. Obviously, Santa Fe and Albuquerque enthrall hungry visitors armed with voracious appetites (especially for our incendiary red and…

Stack House BBQ – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

One of my Psychology professors cautioned students about the danger of “amateur diagnosis,” the practice of assigning specific psychoses and neuroses to people we meet solely on the basis of our cursory familiarity with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. He explained that it often takes an experienced practicing psychiatrist several sessions to arrive at a diagnosis and many more sessions before treatment proves effective. His point–a little knowledge can be dangerous–applies in virtually every arena of knowledge…

TFK Smokehouse & Art Barn – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Every summer, a predictable ritual takes place. After hibernating comfortably since the previous autumn, men attired in aprons emblazoned with the slogan “kiss the cook” will selflessly volunteer to “cook” a meal. This, of course, means barbecue, a decidedly masculine affectation and the only type of cooking most men can be entrusted to do. When this ritual is completed and guests are sated, lavish praise and thanks are heaped upon the “chef.” In truth, the only aspects of this ritual…

Marley’s Barbecue – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“In Central Texas, Barbecue is more than a way to cook meat – it’s a way of life, a path to salvation, and a sure-fire way to start an argument at the dinner table.” ~Central Texas Barbecue Texans hold certain truths to be self-evident: everything is bigger (and better) in Texas, the Dallas Cowboys are America’s team (who can argue with that?), George Strait is the king of country music, Nolan Ryan was the greatest baseball pitcher who ever lived…

The County Line Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

If you believe alcohol Prohibition, America’s federally mandated fourteen year social experiment with sobriety, ended with the passing of the 21st amendment in 1933, you would be wrong. As of January, 2016, there were still about 200 “dry” counties (particularly in the Bible Belt) across the fruited plain with what most would consider excessively stringent liquor laws. Residents of dry counties who want to indulge in their favorite adult beverage have but to drive to the county line of the…

Sandia Chile Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

If perspiration is (as the proverbial “they” have declared) the mother of invention, Mickey and Clinton Coker may just be two of the most glistening guys in the Duke City. Since 2004, the Cokers have “reinvented” their restaurant four times. If you’re thinking, they’re just try, try, trying again until they get it right, you couldn’t be more wrong. Mickey Coker, the entrepreneur behind the four make-overs, started with a culinary concept that was so wildly successful, it prompted almost…

Pepper’s Bar-B-Q & Soul Food – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Like many Americans, Daniel “Pepper” Morgan has two passions in life–baseball and barbecue. While these two passions seem inextricably bound in American culture, what separates Daniel from so many of us is that we excel at watching baseball and eating barbecue. Daniel excelled at playing baseball, having made it to the Houston Astros Triple A farm club. His barbecue is also par excellence, big league stuff–as good as any barbecue you’ll find in the Duke City area. Though he has…

Mr. Powdrell’s Barbecue House – Albuquerque, New Mexico

If you believe in forever Where baby backs are never bland If there’s a barbecue heaven Well you know Mr. Pete is lending a hand, hand, hand. Shortly after Arthur Bryant died in 1982, the Kansas City Star published a cartoon depicting St. Peter greeting Arthur at the gates of heaven and asking, “Did you bring sauce?” A quarter of a century later, I can imagine St. Peter asking Pete Powdrell if he brought the secrets to his extraordinarily tender…

The Alley Cantina – Taos, New Mexico

In April, 2014, Gallup conducted a poll to determine state pride across the United States. More precisely, the Gallup poll surveyed people in all 50 states to find out what percentage of residents say their state was the very best or one of the best places to live. Sadly, New Mexico was rated the six worst state to live with only 28 percent of respondents indicating the Land of Enchantment was one of the best places to live. New Mexico…

Whole Hog Cafe – Santa Fe & Albuquerque, New Mexico

While the etymology of the expression “whole hog” appears to be American, its progenitor is actually an English slang word. Americans in the new world employed the slang use of hog as a word for dime, intending the term to mean “spend the entire coin at once.” The word hog had been previously used in the Mother Country as slang for a shilling and came from the depiction of a hog on one side of the English coin. To barbecue…

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…

Melvin’s Legendary Bar-B-Q – Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

In a 2007 pageant, Miss South Carolina Teen became a YouTube sensation after butchering the answer to a question about U.S. geography. Within three days, the video clip had attracted nearly 3.5 million views. The befuddling question she was asked was “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the United States on a world map. Why do you think this is?” Her now famous response: “I personally believe the U.S. Americans are unable to do so because,…