Seafood boil in the Duke City! If the notion conjures visions of heading to Tingley Beach and embarking on an unappetizing repast of catfish, rainbow trout and silvery minnows boiled together in a large pot of green chile seasoned broth, you’re in for a treat. As of September, 2013, it’s possible for expatriates from any of America’s coastal regions to indulge in authentic seafood boil…and it’s very good. So good, in fact, that since its launch, copycat restaurants have spawned throughout the Duke City.
Down N Dirty Seafood Boil was the first–often duplicated but never replicated. Albuquerque’s very first seafood boil restaurant launched to very little fanfare. The event should have been celebrated with ceremonial splendor and rejoicing. Think about it. Among the dozens of restaurant openings in the Duke City every year, very few actually serve an untapped market. Even fewer fill a real niche and offer a product unique to the marketplace, something that can’t be found anywhere else in the area.
Expats who’ve lived along coastal waters know of what I speak. As they read this, they may even be experiencing involuntary salivation at their memories of seafood boils in their past and the prospect of recreating that experience (okay, sans sand and surf) within easy driving distance. Others not fortunate enough to have ever experienced an authentic seafood boil may be scratching their heads and wondering just what a seafood boil is and why the launch of the Down N Dirty Seafood Boil was such a milestone event.
A seafood boil is, first and foremost, a social event, a gathering of friends and family to celebrate and luxuriate in succulent shellfish. In coastal areas, seafood boils are held on Memorial day to herald the start of summer and they’re held on Labor Day to wish summer a fond farewell. Optimally, they’re held on the beach where the heady aroma of briny seawater mingles with the smoke from the fire surrounding a large cauldron or stockpot of boiling water (or beer) in which the bounty of the sea is prepared.
Regional variations not only dictate what shellfish is prepared, but the spices and nuances that give that region its culinary personality. The seafood of choices in New England are clams, lobster and oysters served with Portuguese sausage. In Georgia and in the “Low Country” of South Carolina, it’s shrimp and smoked sausage while Louisiana seafood lovers prefer the triumvirate of crabs, crawfish and andouille sausage. Blue crab, Chincoteague oysters and clams are all the rage along the estuaries of Chesapeake Bay.
There is no one standard “recipe” for a seafood boil. Chefs and cooks have freelanced for generations, tweaking local variations with a pinch of this or a dash of that but never deviating too far from tradition. At its basics, a seafood boil is little more than seafood, water (or beer) and spices. The seafood is typically boiled whole and if you’re fortunate enough to experience it along the coast, extricated from the net or trap and tossed directly into a boiling pot. There is nothing like the just-caught flavors and brininess of fresh seafood.
Obviously, the Duke City and landlocked New Mexico are at a disadvantage when it comes to just-caught, fresh-off-the-boat seafood, but modern transportation has made next day delivery of fresh seafood a reality. The other elements–foamy waves crashing along the beach, pristine sands as fine as talcum, marine layers of soupy fog in the morning–we’ll just have to imagine. Though it does sport a thematic seaside decor, stepping into the Down N Dirty Seafood Boil restaurant on Wyoming won’t transport you back to the coast–even with the ferocious shark suspended overhead. The seafood boil just might!
The menu invites you to “get dirty by the pound” offering at market price all the seafood it takes to sate expats from coast to coast. Blue crab, clams, mussels, crawfish, scallops, shrimp, rock shrimp, Dungeness crab, snow crab legs, Alaskan king crab legs, crab claws and even lobster just might be available. While you’re free to mix and match to your heart’s content, it’s got to be in full pound increments. You can’t, for example, order a quarter pound of rock shrimp, a half pound of crab claws and three-quarter pounds of mussels.
After you’ve selected your seafood of choice, you’ll be asked to pick a spice flavor and degree of spiciness. The spice accents include garlic butter, lemon pepper, Cajun and “Down N Dirty” if you want it all. Spice levels range from none (garlic butter) to mild, medium and hot. Your server will explain the process in as much detail as you need. After your inaugural visit you’ll have the routine down pat.
It wouldn’t be a seafood boil without the accompaniments which luxuriate in the fragrant stew of spices and herbs along with the seafood. Popular favorites include potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage and Andouille sausage. Down N Dirty will also fry up some of your favorites: chicken tenders, fish and chips, shrimp, catfish, calamari, soft shell crab and oysters, but let’s face it, you can get fried foods just about anywhere.
There are a couple of cautionary statements you should heed when partaking in a seafood boil: (1) it can get pretty messy as in buttery liquids running down your chin onto your shirt; and (2) you’ll want to use the bib provided by your server to protect that shirt. Better yet would be cutting a hole in a trash bag and putting your head through it. That would be fitting because the seafood itself is served in a clear trash bag (which really should be called “treasure bags” considering what they hold). Make that two trash bags (double-bagging). The inner bag is tied at the top. You’ll have to untie it then fashion it into a makeshift bowl before you can indulge in your seafood fantasy.
2 November 2013: While the seafood options with a carapace (an exoskeleton) are tempting, if your hunger won’t wait or, like me, you lack the manual dexterity to safely extricate the tender seafood from its craggy shell, you’ll opt for seafood sans shell. Scallops, the pearlescent beauties with a sweet flavor are a perfect choice. Because scallops are so delicate in flavor, you won’t want to overwhelm them with an assertive spice. The Down N Dirty spice, which can be made “mild” is perfect for scallops. The reddish, stewy liquid in which the scallops are served is rich and buttery with minced garlic and spices swimming around.
8 November 2013: Conventional thought is that most seafood boil seasoning mixtures come from a can, box, packet or decanter of some sort. There’s absolutely no shame in using Old Bay, Tony Chachere’s or Paul Prudhomme’s seasonings, all of which are good. It’s quite likely the good folks at Down N Dirty start with one of these pre-packaged mixes then “doctor” them to their liking, but they won’t reveal their “secret recipes’ to anyone. Who needs to know what’s in the seasoning as long as they enhance the flavor of the seafood. These seasonings do. The Cajun seasonings on a pound of rock shrimp, for example, brought me back to seafood boils of yore on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The accompaniment options are worthy of sharing trash bag space with the seafood. The thin-skinned new potatoes are boiled to perfection and soak up the buttery-garlicky mix. The corn-on-the-cob is sweet and succulent, perhaps the messiest component of the boil because it’s hand-held. At the opposite spectrum of the sweet, briny seafood is the Andouille sausage, a coarse, smoky and nicely spiced sausage. The only thing missing is a baguette which would be perfect for sopping up any remaining liquid. Alas, the owners don’t want diners to fill up on bread.
11 November 2013: While the boiled seafood travels well, the fried clams (no longer on the menu) do not. Instead of the plump, sweet and miraculously delicious whole bellied clams I had fallen in love with during the two years I lived in Massachusetts, the fried clams at Down N Dirty were of Howard Johnson’s quality. That is, they were passable (barely) in New Mexico, but wouldn’t pass muster in New England. Experience has taught me that not even in San Diego and Las Vegas are excellent fried clams to be found.
27 February 2022: Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes once said “you can’t teach a crab to walk straight.” Frankly, who cares if crab’s walk is as askew as a drunken lush as long as it walks straight into my plate…especially Alaskan king crab. When it comes to crab, there’s no comparison in terms of size, quality and appearance. Alaska King Crab is valued for its snow-white body and leg meat with its incomparably sweet, rich flavor and tender texture. Its distinctive red, slightly calcified exoskeleton with prickly spines over the meat helps to lock in moisture.
Averaging six to ten pounds, Alaskan king crab is available as individual legs and claws or as clusters (three legs and a claw). Down N Dirty’s menu offers not just king crab legs, but colossal king crab. If you’re prone to sticker shock, you might not want to take a second look at the market price on the day we visited. Bottom line, it’s worth the splurge, but not probably not something you’ll order every visit. Because of the spiny carpace, extricating the tender meat is a challenge, one my Kim decided I should undertake on her behalf (my hands are still sore). She rewarded my pain and effort with several hunks of succulent, sweet, oh so delicate meat. My hands may hate me, but my taste buds were grateful.
27 February 2022: Sometimes timing is everything. Our February, 2022 visit transpired three days before Fat Tuesday. Down N Dirty was offering a Mardi Gras worthy special of crawfish meat, peeled shrimp, potatoes and corn. Lemon butter was the perfect seasoning for both sweet, delicate meats which just wouldn’t fare well with any degree of piquancy. Whether you call them crawfish, crayfish, mudbugs, yabbies or crawdads, these delectable fresh water crustaceans resemble small lobsters. They even taste like lobster albeit with less salinity and more sweetness.
27 February 2022: In the Deep South where we lived for eight years, home cooks know what they’re doing when preparing okra. After our first effort, we likened the results to mucus–gooey, viscous, sticky, slippery and gelatinous. Indeed, okra releases a mucilage that can be very off-putting. Down N Dirty’s fried okra is nothing at all like the okra we tried preparing in Mississippi. It’s every bit as good as some we had down South. Lightly coated and served with a ranch dressing, it’s an appetizer which brings us back to our humidity plagued days in Ocean Springs.
27 February 2022: We weren’t quite as enamored of another appetizer. The idea of Cajun edamame may be appealing, but in actual delivery it falls short. With all the seasoning on the shell of the young soybeans, the entire premise is poorly executed. None of the seasoning penetrates that shell. We had expected shelled edamame, out of the pod. Not only did the Cajun seasonings fail to penetrate that pod, we had to work to extricate the beans from those tightly sealed pods. This is one gastronome who doesn’t like to work for his daily bread!
The Down N Dirty Seafood Boil is located at the former site of several failed restaurants. There are enough expats from coastal regions and enough adventurous seafood lovers to make it a dining destination where they can make it a celebration of the seafood boil tradition as American as New Mexico’s red and green chile.
Down N Dirty Seafood Boil
4200 Wyoming Blvd N.E., Suite B2
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 27 February 2022
1st VISIT: 2 November 2013
# OF VISITS: 5
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET: Scallops, Alaskan King Crabs, Rock Shrimp, Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, Andouille Sausage, Lobster, Cherry Pepsi, Peeled Shrimp and Crawfish Meat
51 thoughts on “Down N Dirty Seafood Boil – Albuquerque, New Mexico”
We didn’t expect it to be as good as what we’ve had in Maine but what we got at DnD set a new low. We’ve had better lobster frozen from Albertsons!
Lot empty; seemed to have been having at least a “fair” number of cars in recent past, albeit down since times past.
Sign gone. Dark. Phone call=no longer in service.
While the location on 4th Street has closed, you can still visit Down N Dirty Seafood Boil at its Wyoming location (4200 Wyoming Blvd N.E., Suite B2). The 4th Street location has been the site of several restaurants, their common element being lack of longevity.
Kay and I went to Down N Dirty with great expectations and were profoundly disappointed. We had the worst lobster we’ve ever had. The meat in both the claws and the tail was tough and not very flavorful. We didn’t expect it to be as good as what we’ve had in Maine but what we got at DnD set a new low. We’ve had better lobster frozen from Albertsons!
The jumbo shrimp were huge in size but not in flavor. The dipping sauces didn’t do enough to make us want them again. They are now serving bread and it is really bad bread.
The only thing that was good was the andouillie sausage. That’s not much of a recommendation for a place that specializes in seafood boils.
We went on Valentine’s Eve and the place was jammed. The wait staff couldn’t keep up so service was mediocre at best. We were there for over one and one half hours for salad, a lobster and some jumbo shrimp.
Julia says: “I must be half assimilated now that I’ve been here for 20 years, as I have started giving directions by what _used_ to be where someone’s asking about! ? )”
Too Too Funny!
Bob, Gregorio’s went in after the Rodeo Grill incarnation failed. (Darn, I liked that place too.) The Rodeo Grill went in when The Range moved across the street to the old Carrows location. All of them were ventures of the Range Café owners. (I must be half assimilated now that I’ve been here for 20 years, as I have started giving directions by what _used_ to be where someone’s asking about! 😉 )
If anyone goes to D’n’D in the new location, what’s the seating like for disabled persons? (walker/wheelchair) The pictures on their website only show picnic-table style seating. Do they have regular tables as well? I have dinner regularly with several friends who would love this kind of food, but accessible seating is required. (The ramps at the entrance of the original location are a bit much for them to handle, I was hoping the new location would be easier to get into.)
Whoa…good to see you are out there El Brute!!! Alas, and meaning no disrespect nor trying for a (CAVEAT:) http://tinyurl.com/oxv4vpu * Indeed, while there was a linkage to The Range “in the background” of Gregorio’s, Gil https://www.nmgastronome.com/?p=13207 and Larry http://tinyurl.com/ouojcoc note Gregorio’s was formerly The Rodeo Grill, which I missed…dang it!…. checking out per its funky ambiance (Per funk and speaking of “Italian”, anyone remember The Spaghetti Machine on Wyoming?…LOL! And wasn’t there (besides the Caravan) a C&W dance hall once with a mega dance floor named The Rodeo? And wasn’t there a bar in the middle of that floor? And then there is a recent expression: “Eh! This ain’t my 1st Rodeeeo, or RoDayO as the case may be!)
Anyway…and while a ways off El Brute, any possible peeks at venues for a FOG Gathering you are mulling over?
*(Only dye colored water was wasted in this filming (i.e. no food was wasted) and plastic/cardboard containers etc. were later placed in the recycle bin! Remember, Recycle 2 more pounds a week so ABQ-Gov doesn’t have to pay thousands in fines for not meeting Recycle Goals!!!!)
Bobo, Gregorio’s was the failed attempt by the Range Group to be the Italian Restaurant destination.
I believe before it was Gregorio’s it was the Range before its location moved across the street.
Pardon Julia, and not meaning to be truculent, but the Journal had reported http://tinyurl.com/ojndez2 DnD was to move into the former Gregorio’s Italian Kitchen which was at/about 4200 Wyoming Blvd. NE which is a tad south of The Range on the opposite side of the street. That Range is still open according their website. Streetwise, Montgomery NE is the cross-street, given it splits with Montano which runs west from I-25. (:-(
For NE Heights folks, Down ‘n Dirty opened a second location last month. It’s in the ‘old’ Range Café location on the southeast corner of Wyoming and Montano, in the strip mall.
Have heard some good things about Crackin’ Crab near the Century Rio 24 theater. Gonna have to stop by and check it out sometime…
Looks like someone has noticed how well Down & Dirty has been doing. The Abq Journal is reporting this morning that Cracklin’ Crab Seafood Boil is to open at the new Winrock. Apparently it’s going to take them a year to build(!), but will be similar to the one by Century Rio. Other sites may follow on the west side and downtown.
SQ, I figured you for a nail biter……,
By the way, I, a happily married man, invited you to be my guest at our FOG dinner and you not only rejected the offer but you didn’t have the decency to inform me of the rejection. Having a manicure on those long nails?
Thanks for another clue as to your true identity, you’re a person who knows how to use a dictionary!
You gotta a lot of nerve to criticise my spelling when you cant even spell lobster. I looked it up! But I have long fingernials and i hit the g insted of the t. LOL So you are right to. LOL
Whoa, there is something fishier than the lobstah (lol) in SQ’s comment. This comment feels and reads like it has a ghost writer or has been authored by someone with a passport from either very foreign country or another planet.
There is no consistency to the bungled spelling and English as written.
It’s getting very old and is anybody really that challenged?
How about the SQ character coming clean?
It’s hard to tell ridiculously poor spelling from typos. Re Aunt and Aung.
I’m beginning to appreciate BOTVOLR’s comments the more I read Suzie Queue’s.
And a real SQ type wouldn’t know “queue” from “cue”.
I was in Maine once and I had to eat a lobster that my Aunt Betsie sayd that I would like, but it was gross. It was all jkust laying their on the plate starring up at me and when I turned it over, it looked like a big bug. They made me wear this plastic bib, but evereybody was wearing one so that wasn’ot so wierd. Then Aung Betsie helped me break open the claws and the meat was red and white and it had this white stuff on it it looked like egg white stuff. Then we cut open the tail and their was some mor white stuff and meat. It was chewie and I had to put some cetchup on it so It wasnt taste fishie. She told me to eat the green stuff in the body – it was like the guts and I couldnt do it. Then she tried to trick me and told me there was a temalie in there but there wasn’t. I just pretended that I was just opening up a can of something so I wouldn’ot remember it was alive. I couldn’t eat very much, so when I left, I stopped and got a cuple of chilie dogs and a fryed snikers bar becasue I was still hungary. I wished that I didno’t have to tuoch it becasuse by my hands still smell like lobsters. If I go to Down and’ Dirty sometime, do they have fish sticks? I like corn to.
Well, I finally got a to go bag from D n’ D on Friday. I got the jumbo shrimp (mini lobster is more like it!), clams, corn, and andouille sausage in Cajun Hot. WOW! I lack the skill of language to say how thoroughly enjoyable that meal was. From the first bite to the last I was in taste bud heaven. How I managed to eat the whole thing by myself, I don’t know (well, I do, it is because is was so good, but I was trying to say it is a lot of food).
Can’t wait for a return visit. Will have to try the Down n’ Dirty seasoning next. Will probably skip the andouille (just so there isn’t so much food…it was very delicious).
Can very definitely recommend this place!
Before I comment on my first visit to D&DB let me say that the commentor “Randall” is a schmuck, and the reason I know that is I just read some of his comments. Dumb as dirt is the best description.
Good, we have that out of the way.
Lunch at D&DB today, had the scallop boil with Cajun sauce with a piece of Andouille sausage and it was very very good.
Messy but good.
The scallops were perfectly cooked, the Cajun spice stopped just before crossing the line of heat to wow that’s spicy!
The sausage swas also terrific. Friends had the soft shell crabs and were very happy with their choice.
I would recommend diners splitting the boils and the add ons. They are very healthy portions with all boils being a minimum of 1lb of your choice of fish. Add some rice or corn or fries as sides and it is quite a bit to finish.
We had choices for the sauce based on heat. Our server told me the D&D sauce was very spicy so I went one level down to the Cajun, also spicy but not enough to melt the wax in your ears.
I had one issue with the bag of goodies. Needed the plastic knive to cut the sausage and eventually punctured the bottom of the bag which created a messy situation.
II would gladly pay a bit more and get the corn and other goodies as part of the boil and not ala carte. Would also like the option of half and half re the type of fish to be able to order lobster and scallops or any two items for a more Interesting boil.
All in all it was very good and I envision more visits.
I’m still hunting for real east coast steamers without having to special order 70 (seventy) pounds of the clams.
Might need a few volunteers to help eat them.
Except for Randall, we don’t allow fools and jackasses at our home.
A friend recommended Down and Dirty after reading this post, and I have to say that lunch was wonderful. The garlic butter shrimp with potato and sausage was killer. The guys that I went with both got fish and chips which looked OK, but the main event is the meat per pound! I will certainly be visiting this wonderful place again.
So, so excited to try this place. I am hoping and praying for the delicious scallops I have been yearning for in the Duke City. On the dinner list this week…
You ask for a suggestion ……..
Aye, there’s the rub.
I could steer you to many east coast joints from Brooklyn to Bayville to Babylon but since that’s not practical you and I and BOTVOLR and Gil are here and unfortunately we are at the mercy of Chef’s who are at the mercy of purveyors from Seattle and other West coastal cities.
I look at what menus call steamed clams and I shudder,
We are at the mercy of Chefs who may or may not know how to prepare shellfish.
I thought the clams pictured in the review of D&D looked pretty good
The calamari at M’Tuccis was very good.
If you have the good fortune of being on the east coast go for the gusto.
Albuquerque has come a long way in the 7 years I’ve lived here and it will only get better and better.
And I have had some excellent fish preparations, really top notch, but fish is not shellfish.
If you are a home cook try the clams from Nantucket Shoals and ask Nancy for a copy of her recipes.
She is a terrific source.
Aye, Woodman’s of Essex. That be the place! http://www.woodmans.com/restaurants/menus/
Yo Foodie Star Alert! Sorry lest I’ve misled Ya.
a) Only meant to say if worse came to worse for a Fried Clam Strip Urge, I’d then choose Red Robin. (I.e. everyone herein has selfishly kept an excellent place to themselves!!!) Secondly, RR’s are sans bellies. I.e Caveat Emptor re rubber bands…LOL
b) Presumably, we are talking about the same Woodman’s in Essex, MA where, unfortunately, I’ve only been once, but to have reached the Nirvana of the Fried Clam sans bellies, albeit 5 years ago. Are you from the environs or just a tourist?
c) My Sis has never mentioned ‘chicken-fried lobster tails’ per possibly her preference for doing the whole Lobstaah which I never managed (blush) The Art thereof….I’ll have to ask her! Alas, one thing I must acknowledge about an EX, she did make a stupendous ‘crusted’ kind of tail eons ago which however I think was a bit different, albeit to die for!. Oooeee, now I’ve got to suppress giving her a call!
By the way, BOTVOLR, I am a huge Woodmans fan. Did you ever try their chicken-fried lobster tails? It sounds like a real waste of good lobster, but I think it was one of the best things things I ever put in my mouth! Cheers.
Thanks BOTVOLR and Bruce Schor! I think I’m just one of those folks who have not had a good experience with fried clam strips and got spoiled when I had the whole belly variety I’ll give the ones a Red Robin a try, and stay away from “Dead Lobster.” Any other places you can recommend that might have decent fried clam strips locally?
One last off-topic comment (from me, anyway!) about squid: I recently enjoyed, for the millionth time, the salt & pepper squid from Budai. Now *that’s* some delicious tender squid.
And seeing it pass by them on the way to our table made the neighboring table order it too!
Re Foodie Star’s comment equating clam strips to rubber bands: The fault lies in the cooking not the clams.
I have the same feeling about calamari strips vs. rings and tentacles.
Calamari must be sautéed quickly or for a long time in a sauce. Breaking heavily is also a no no because to get that much breading crisp requires the over cooking of the delicate clams or calamari.
The middle ground produces the “rubber bands”.
It may just be a lack of experience cooking these tasty buggers.
Fried Clams: Disclaimer: as I’ve belabored, I ‘grew up’ till 17…LOL… in New England and therefore enjoyed a variety of places serving splendiferously delicious, hearty-in-body Fried Clams strips. (As an ‘aside’, those who savor them with the ‘bellies’ are…with all due respect!!!! real sickos, IMHO…sorry Gil/SteveH/FoodieStar…They’re Oooeee!)
I’ve now succumbed to making a comment lest people take a vacation ‘back East’ and avoid getting a plate based on experiences out here. Admittedly, until 5 years ago, I never had FCs where they were invented at Woodman’s https://www.nmgastronome.com/?p=5408 which almost made those served elsewhere in NE approach paling in comparison or… maybe it was just a memory thing.
The closest I came to NE FCs away from NE was in Topeka while living in KS a few years. We’d drive the 30 miles there to a Howard Johnson’s which apparently had some distributing affiliation with Woodman’s in years past. Lo, we even hunkered down and munched through a horrendous, direct tornado hit in the late ’60s one eve! Alas, suppressed gustatorial yearnings break forth in ABQ causing me to always search, but always end up empty handed: While Red Lobster’s previous short lived mini Lobstaah Rolls gave me goosebumps, there FCs are pretty much a shell of Fried Breading/coating. If worst comes to worst, I’m gonna have to go with Red Robin’s per being just a tad plumper (ya right) and per price, albeit it has been more than ½ a year. Sorry.
Fried Clam Strips usually = fried rubber bands. Give me fried whole-belly Ipswich clams any day!
The seafood deal in NM, especially ABQ seems to be sketchy at best.
I assume there are certain transportation costs that have great impact on what restaurants can carry while passing the cost onto their customers.
I always had a hard time with reviews that rated the late, not so great (IMHO) Desert Fish as the best in ABQ.
It seemed to be the best by default, the leader of a one or two man army.
For instance, the $54 in mangled oysters that looked good in the case on ice but got to the table looking nothing like something you would want to eat.
When I want say clams posillipo I go to Nantucket Shoals ask for 2 dozen of their smaller littlenecks and make the dish myself.
Ditto with fried calamari, although M’ Tucci has a very good version of it.
I’m still hoping for some real east coast steamers, that would indicate a real advancement in the seafood served here in ABQ.
The lobster boil at D&DB looks especially good, my wife being the ultimate lobster eater able to find every morsel of meat there is to be had.
One more dish that shouldn’t be missed is the black cod marinated in miso by Chef Kevin at Blades Bistro. It could change the minds of folks who don’t like fish. It should not be missed.
One more thing, mussels can be pried open or cooked until the give up and open on their own, clams on the other hand should be discarded when they don’t open.
You went back, Gil??? It must be love!
Interesting comments about the fried clams. I admit I’ve had very little experience with them. Before I met Hannah, I had only encountered them as little afterthoughts on the side of a fried seafood platter, so I don’t know what a true aficionado would consider a good example. These were the best I’ve had so far, but that isn’t saying much! Now I’m very curious to find out what they’re supposed to taste like.
You provided the impetus for my third visit when you mentioned fried clams in feedback below. Admittedly I’m a clam snob.
According to a New York Times article in 2005, the clam strips served at Howard Johnson’s were “made from the tongues of enormous sea clams whose bodies were used as the base for the restaurant’s famous clam chowder.” I suspect the clams at most restaurants outside New England have the same genesis.
From Connecticut to Maine, clam shacks and huts serve whole belly clams. Michael Stern describes them as “ocean-sweet with a salty snap to the meat inside their brittle crust.” Served fresh out-of-the-water, they’re absolutely addictive, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I would marry a basket of fried clams if it was legal.
Haven’t had a good Cajun Boil since Steamworks in Durango, CO. I am so looking forward to trying this place out. I don’ think I’ve ever been more excited after reading a review as I was after reading this one.
Gotta agree, if Gil went twice in one week, it is definitely worth a look ;-).
WHY? WHO’S GIL?
Gil, is Gil Garduno. Someone whose culinary opinions I, and many others, respect. I would think a troll would know under what bridge he is currently residing under.
I knew if I engaged, I would only feel less intelligent for my troubles…oh well. Such is life in the new internet age.
I found this on the Australian Mussel Industry Association website:
“Mussels that don’t open are OK to eat – sometimes they just hang on harder!!
A strong urban myth has been telling us since the 1970s to “discard mussels that don’t open – that they are unsafe to eat”. Mussel growers know – as do most good chefs, there is nothing wrong with a mussel that refuses to open while being cooked. Australians have thrown away around 370 tonnes a year of good mussels because of an old wives tale!
The advice to “throw away mussels that refuse to open”, began in the 1970s when there were concerns over some European mussels being dredged from polluted mussel beds. This advice has been repeated without question by chefs and in many ‘how to cook fish’ cook books since then.
Just over 10% of mussels will stay closed after being cooked and depending on cooking time. As it is steamed, the mussel opens when the adductor muscle inside the shell breaks. If that adductor muscle does not sever or separate from the shell, then the mussel will not open. Closed mussels can be cooked a little longer or the shell prised open with a knife.”
Thank you., Foodie… I found a few other web sites that echo the Australian position. Still, old habits are hard to overcome!
Stopped by for an early dinner Sunday evening. Arrived about 5PM and there was only one other table occupied, but by the time we left there were at least a half dozen tables filled.
The various seafoods we ordered were great, and the medium Down n Dirty seasoning was spot on for heat and flavor. A pound of the crab claws along with corn on the cob and potatoes sides make more than enough for one person. They really do need to serve bread though.
Two small critiques – it’s almost criminal that they do not serve beer (soft drinks only), even if it was only in a can or bottle. Second was that one party ordered mussels and there were far too many that were not opened. When we called this to the server’s attention, we were told to use a shell cracker to open them. While there appears to be a great deal of controversy over whether or not closed mussels are safe to eat, it was a little off-putting.
It is rare that a restaurant opens in Albuquerque that offers food that is both so unique and wonderfully delicious! I knew I was in for a treat when I walked the front door and that savory garlicky aroma hit my nostrils. Oh, my goodness! Oh, the humanity. This is some good grub!
I met up with our patron gourmands Gil for lunch Friday. I had the rock shrimp, corn on the cob, potatoes, and andouille in the down and dirty sauce – hot, of course. I immediately surrendered to the realization that my hand, face, and snow-white Santa beard were going to be slathered in this buttery messy red sauce. Not a pretty sight, but my soul was singing. It was so good I couldn’t get it in my mouth fast enough. Those shrimp were cooked perfectly, yielding to my teeth with a perfect pop.
I agree with Gil – they need to serve a nice hunk of chewy, crusty French bread to soak up the sauce.
Enjoy this place while you can, because when the word gets out about it, you can expect long waits. In the immortal words of “Ahnuld” Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back.”
Well, H and I couldn’t wait — we had dinner here tonight, the excuse being that it was a reward for having a productive Saturday (I did my own oil changes for the first time, on two cars — TODAY I AM A MAN). They unfortunately were out of the blue crab that I was hoping to have, and the rock shrimp that Hannah wanted (the only two items they were out of, natch), so we settled for snow crab legs (with Down & Dirty seasoning) and regular shrimp (with Cajun). We also wanted something fried, so we ordered the clams.
Everything was terrific. The sauces were buttery and garlicky (all of the sauces have a butter/garlic base) and the medium heat was indeed medium. I had some trepidation about the fried clams, but they were very good. I don’t know if these are battered in-house or a pre-made product, but they’re good-sized clam strips. Our sides were corn and andouille sausage, and we ended up dumping the fries that came with the clams into the Cajun sauce (delicious). The sausage is fine, but I don’t think I’ll bother with it next time.
It’s absolutely the messiest meal I’ve had in a long time — do not wear anything expensive here, you cannot count on the bib to protect you completely once the crab legs start cracking and sending juice everywhere — but a lot of fun to eat. The price is right and the food and service were solid. I love that there’s a place like this in town, where you can get a bag o’ reasonably priced seafood in a super casual setting. (I hear there’s a Joe’s Crab Shack opening up here soon?) CAN RECOMMEND.
Yeah Edward, once Joe’s opens say goodbye to Down and Dirty! “Can Recomend” killing the little guy?!!!
Oh…and thanks for the two new words, You, Sesquipedalian Sybarite! Now I know I’m one too.
OMG I couldn’t believe my eyes when this came to my email, Gil. I can’t wait to go. So funny you tell me what’s going on in my neck of the woods. For that I am truly grateful!
I’m still looking for East Coast steamers served with a bowl of broth to cleanse the clams of sand and grit,, a bowl of melted butter and an empty bowl for the shells.
I’ve watched folks drink the broth after letting all the “stuff” settle to the bottom, something I haven’t tried yet.
I’ve found nothing close to those favorite clams.
I wonder if they would special order some, between my wife and me, we could do about 2 pounds.
Also one of our favorites from numerous trips to Charleston, SC is a low country staple,shrimp and grits.
Excuse me while I do some drooling.
Yeah, they’ll order them special just for you! Oh,and we’re not talking about Charleston either…..
Nancy at Nantucket Shoals will order steamers for you in season, or you can get them on line (Mainely Lobster is a good source). Very simple to steam with a little H2O. My daddy had me sipping that wonderful broth when I was a toddler – delicious!
I should give them my Maryland Crabcake recipe.
Yes, i love your crab cakes. Like Tangier Island!!
Hannah: “You know Gil likes a place when he goes twice in one week!”