Pho Lao – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

One definition of audacity is “the state of being bold or daring—particularly with disregard for danger, rudeness or pressure.” Audacity is nine-year-old fourth grader Akilan Sankaran (son of my friend Sridevi) unflinchingly spelling such words as “rejoneador” and “mnemonic” to win the New Mexico Spelling bee over eighth graders who’d participated in the annual event as many as six times.…

Counter Culture Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Counterculture. Growing up in rural Taos County four decades ago, I don’t know how many of us understood that the cultural and political upheaval of the big cities had moved into our isolated corner of the world. All we knew was that these unkempt and unwashed interlopers preaching free love and practicing it in communes had invaded our idyllic agrarian…

Maya – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

My precocious niece doesn’t miss a beat. Ever attentive to adult conversation, she often stumps my brother and me with her surprisingly deep and thought-provoking questions. Case in point, when she overheard me telling my brother Mario about the Mesoamerican-inspired cuisine at Maya, she asked what I have against Americans. Perplexed by her assertion, I gently asked what she was…

Olympia Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

For culinary diversity, it’s hard to beat the University of New Mexico (UNM) area in which restaurants with a broad socioeconomic appeal are congregated. Aside from academic enrichment, this area is nurturing a refreshing open-mindedness toward the cuisines of the world. That seems to be a commonality in areas within easy walking distance of large urban universities. Perhaps restaurateurs recognize…

Sauce Pizza & Wine – Albuquerque, New Mexico

To celebrate the 100 year anniversary of pizza in America, James Beard Award-winning food writer Ed Levine ate nothing but pizza for an entire twelve month period, taking a representative pulse of the best from among thousands of pizza purveyors. His terrific tome, Pizza A Slice of Heaven, published in 2010, provides a definitive guide to a beloved staple that…