Saigon 2 Restaurant – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

In Chinese and Vietnamese cultures, numerology is very important. If you’ve traveled extensively, you may have wondered why the term “Pho” followed by a number is so commonplace. Often these numbers are considered lucky–and not necessarily across an entire culture. A number may be lucky on a personal level, perhaps marking a date that’s special to the restaurant owner. Espy…

The Cooperage – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Reading my sisters’ Archie comic books on the sly 30 plus years ago taught me two things. First, it taught me that teenage boys shouldn’t admit to ever reading Archie much less admit to preferring the girl next door Betty over the siren Veronica. Secondly, Archie comics taught me that a “cooper” (as in Betty’s last name) is a barrel-maker.…

Freight House Kitchen & Tap – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Many of us look at an unused and timeworn historical building and a wave of nostalgia sweeps over us as we imagine what life was like when that building teemed with activity. Some see such a building as a pig in need of lipstick, nothing a coat of paint and a few nails can’t fix up. Others see that same…

Rutilio’s New Mexican Foods – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Although its nickname may be “The Hub City,” Belen actually translates from Spanish to “Bethlehem,” which itself is a Hebrew word for “House of Bread.” Meander through the city and it’s not the aroma of freshly baked bread that will waft toward you. During  autumn, hazy smoke plumes drift upward from rotating steel-meshed drums, alerting your nostrils to the the…

Happy Chickenzz – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.” ~Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Two things came to mind when my friend Nader and I approached Happy Chickenzz. First, I mused, “if happy cows come from California (a 2002 marketing campaign for California cheese), where do happy…

Duran’s Station – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Homer Simpson: “Five-alarm chili, eh? (Takes a bite) One…two…Hey, what’s the big idea?” Ned Flanders: “Oh, I admit it. It’s only two alarm, two and a half, tops! I just wanted to be a big man in front of the kids.” One-alarm, two-alarm, three-alarm…since the 1850s, American fire departments have relied on alarm systems to alert firefighters to the severity…

Hurricane’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“What is it with you New Mexicans and your fascination for natural disasters?” my Maryland transplanted friend Jessie Miller once asked me. When I inquired as to what he was talking about, he elaborated that two of his favorite Duke City restaurants are named for natural disasters. “Natural disasters,” I asked. “I don’t know of any restaurants named “Forest Fire”…

Viet’s Pho – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“”Vietnam. It grabs you and doesn’t let you go. Once you love it, you love it forever.” ~ Anthony Bourdain Most of us have never been to Vietnam. It’s possible, maybe likely, that most of us will never make it to Vietnam…at least not in a corporeal state. That’s an important distinction because for years, we’ve already been visiting Vietnam.…