School cafeteria meals have probably traumatized more youth than John Carpenter’s horror movies. Lunch menus read like fine-dining, promising nutritious, healthy and delicious cuisine. Instead, they deliver what could pass for TV dinner rejects. Reject is an apropos term here. Slop buckets are overfilled with the much feared and cursed vegetable medley (also known as succotash, emphasis on the “suck” part) and the next day with chicken a la king, featuring whatever is left over of the dreaded vegetable medley. It’s no wonder America’s youth seeks sustenance and refuge in the calorie-laden comfort of vended snacks.
Bocadillos, a locally owned and operated, full-service school lunch and catering company is working to change the image of the dreaded school cafeteria meal. In 2012, Bocadillos prepared as many as 500 meals per day for three charter school clients. In 2013, those numbers doubled to 1000 meals per day and six charter schools. Bocadillos doesn’t do things in the tried and failed methods of the past. The serve children wholesome, balanced meals to support their cognitive development and physical health. All students will likely recognize is that it tastes delicious!
Launched in 2010, Bocadillos is the brainchild of owner and chef Marie Yniguez, a creative, high-energy dynamo who apparently can’t sit still. While many people would wind down during the summer lull between one school year and the next, Marie and co-owner Karla Arvizu instead launched a small grab-and-go operation which initially operated out of Bocadillos commissary at 1609 Indian School, N.W. Dubbed Slow Roasted: A Sandwich Shop, it has the geriatrically advanced among us wonder just how good Bocadillos school lunches must be (not that we’d ever want to return to school to find out).
The bad news for folks whose dining opportunities are limited to weekends used to be that at its original location on Indian School, Bocadillos Slow Roasted was open only for lunch and only Monday through Friday from 11AM to 2:30PM. The good news is that in December, 2015, Bocadillos relocated to the revolutionary Green Jeans Farmery, the community-oriented commercial plaza constructed entirely with repurposed shipping containers as modular, architectural building blocks. The new location means expanded hours. You can now have your favorite Bocadillos sandwiches well into the evening as well as burritos for breakfast.
Bocadillos is a Spanish term which translates to sandwiches while slow-roasted speaks for itself. The meats from which Slow Roasted sandwiches are constructed are indeed slow-roasted which makes them tender, moist and delicious. The menu currently showcases only five sandwiches, including the “Salad Shooter,” a vegetarian sandwich featuring grilled portabello mushrooms, roasted bell peppers and roasted tomatoes. Each sandwich comes with your choice of four sides: chipotle potato salad, macaroni salad or a small side salad with your choice of house dressing. In cold weather, soups are an optional side. Here’s to more cold weather!
In any season, however, the aromas wafting toward you from Bocadillos are absolutely intoxicating. By the time you place your order, you might be drooling as those aromas envelop you like an olfactory-arousing cocoon. The challenge of deciding what to eat is no less daunting because the menu is limited. You’ll be hard-pressed to decide what to have. Make sure you take a friend or loved one when you visit so you can share half a sandwich a piece. Either that or order two sandwiches.
29 July 2013: The chef’s choice…the sandwich of which Marie is most proud is the Duke City Ruben. Quite simply, it may be the very best Reuben sandwich in Albuquerque. It’s the embodiment of the slow roasting process, taking no less than twelve hours to achieve its tender texture and moistness throughout as well as a sweet caramelization on the surface of each tendril of the corned beef. The housemade sauerkraut doesn’t have the lip-pursing qualities of some sauerkraut. It’s made with a red cabbage tinged with the distinctive flavor of caraway seeds. The Thousand Island dressing, also made on the premises, is terrific, too.
29 July 2013: One of the consequences of splitting a sandwich with a friend is that one of you will have to share half of a superior sandwich. That was the case with the Ruben I split with my friend Paul Lilly. Rarely will you consider the sandwich he ordered (a Philly cheesesteak sandwich) a “Miss Congeniality” of sandwiches, but Bocadillos’ Ruben is just that much better than just about any other sandwich. Place it on a line-up of the Duke City’s best sandwiches and it might rise to the top. It’s on my list.
That “Miss Congeniality,” the 5-0-Philly is pretty terrific in its own right. Constructed with slow-roasted beef, Swiss cheese, New Mexico green chile, green and red bell peppers, mushrooms and onions, it’s a coalescence of ingredients and flavors that will delight you. There is so much going on, however, that the green chile doesn’t express itself quite as much as this New Mexico native would have liked. What does stand out is the slow roasted beef, as tender, moist and delicious as possible.
29 January 2014: One-track minded men with their minds in the gutter might do a double-take when they see T n A on the sandwich menu. T n A in this case stands for “turkey and avocado,” but this sandwich is so much more. In fact, just about every other turkey sandwich in town is a true turkey compared to this one. The T n A’s listed ingredients are slow-roasted turkey, avocado, green chile apple chutney, lettuce, tomato and Muenster cheese, but this sandwich isn’t about ingredients. It’s about the process of putting it together.
The process starts with real turkey, not a ubiquitous Boar’s Head offering. First, a dry rub of relatively simple ingredients (crushed peppers, garlic, salt, etc.) is lovingly applied followed by a smear of a housemade honey mustard. The turkey then goes into the oven for twelve hours at low temperature (250 degrees). When extricated, the turkey pulls apart easily. At this point, almost every restaurant would serve, but not so at Bocadillos which nestles a generous amount of this amazing turkey between a hoagie bun, tops it with a magically reduced green chile-apple chutney, heirloom tomatoes and ripe avocados. It’s eight-ounces of absolute deliciousness, turkey being all it can be. The green-chile apple chutney is sweet and tangy but has a bit of fire which will sneak up on you.
17 February 2015: Not that very long ago you could use the adjective “unique” to describe any non-standard preparation of the ubiquitous Cubano sandwich, but nowadays it seems every sandwich shop has its own unique take on this popular sandwich. In time, only Cubanos prepared in time-honored, traditional ways will be unique. That said, Bocadillos take on the Cubano is vastly different (unique) from any other I’ve had. First, it’s made on a sub roll and not on a pressed panini. Secondly, the slow-roasted pork is accompanied by bacon instead of ham (like substituting a BMW for a Ford Pinto). Thirdly, it’s made with homemade sweet pickles, not the dill variety. It’s also made with Muenster cheese and sweet chile sauce. Aside from the tender tendrils of pork and smoky ham, the star of this sandwich is the pickles which seem hardly more than freshly canned, crispy cucumbers with a sweet pickling sauce that elevate them to a sublime level.
25 February 2016: It’s only natural that there would be one sandwich on the Bocadillos menu I wouldn’t esteem as highly as the others, a fifth place sandwich out of five so to speak. That sandwich is the 505-Filthy (slow-roasted chicken, green chile, bacon, Asadero cheese, chopotle mayo, lettuce and tomato). Elsewhere it would probably be the best sandwich on the menu, but at Bocadillos, it’s the one sandwich which wouldn’t be on my sandwich rotation if I believed in such a prosaic notion. The “Filthy” is constructed with unfailingly fresh ingredients that go well together. That slow-roasted chicken is moist, tender and delicious. There’s nothing wrong with this sandwich. It’s just not (in my honest opinion) as wonderful as others on the menu.
As a young student, I disliked cold weather intensely because it meant summer vacation was over and school was back in session. As a more seasoned citizen, I’m looking forward to cold weather because it means Bocadillos is serving soup. Having served for six years as a judge at the Roadrunner Food Bank’s SouperBowl fund-raising event, I’m well acquainted with Bocadillos soup. In 2013, Bocadillos earned the Critics Choice Award for its Southwest chicken corn chowder. In the 2014 soup soiree, Bocadillos green chile chicken corn chowder earned third place in the Peoples’ Choice category. In the 2015 SouperBowl, Bocadillos earned third place for its New Mexico Clam Chowder. Better than both of these is a smoked sweet potato-chipotle soup reminiscent of the phenomenal soups prepared in Santa Fe’s Jambo. It’s one of the very best soups this veteran soup judge has enjoyed.
It’s highly likely Bocadillos will continue to earn quite a few “best of” and “peoples’ choice” awards over the years. Within months after launching its grab-and-go operation, no less than Food Network glitterati Guy Fieri and the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives crew came calling. Fieri’s September, 2013 visit caused quite a stir and when the episode showcasing Bocadillos aired on Monday, October 28, 2013, viewers all over the country found out about the small unconventional restaurant which serves one of the world’s best Ruben sandwiches. Even more remarkable is that the best Ruben in Albuquerque may not even be the best sandwich on the Bocadillos menu.
Marie proved to be far more than a sandwich chef when the Food Network asked her back, this time as a competing chef on Chopped. In an episode which first aired on February 28th, Marie competed against three other chefs in a episode entitled “Raw Deal” which required that each chef create an appetizer from a deconstructed sushi burger which she converted to a tuna and pork taco with logan berries and wasabi pico de gallo, followed in the entree round by a grilled buffalo steak with porcini mushroom hash. Her dessert, a butter-braised polenta cake with bechamel ganache, proved to be the difference-maker, earning her the title of Chopped Champion.
In its annual “Hot Plate Awards” edition for 2019, Albuquerque the Magazine bestowed a well-deserved award to Bocadillos for its “hot hybrid sandwich.” “It takes precision, quality and a certain unique flair to earn a Hot Plate Award” and the Cuban named Reuben has “shown all those traits, and then some.”
Bocadillos Slow Roasted: A Sandwich Shop
200 Lomas Blvd., N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 25 February 2016
1st VISIT: 29 July 2013
# OF VISITS: 4
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Duke City Ruben, 5-0-Philly, T n A, Macaroni Salad, Roasted Sweet Potato Chipotle Soup, Green Chile Chicken Corn Chowder, Cubano, 505-Filthy