MARY & TITO’S CAFE – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Mary & Tito’s, THE very best New Mexican restaurant in the world!

Old-timers whose opinions I respect consistently rate Mary & Tito’s as Albuquerque’s best restaurant for New Mexican food, a restaurant that has been pleasing the most savvy and indoctrinated palates alike since 1963. It takes a lot to impress some of those old-timers, none of whom see much substance in the flash and panache of the nouveau restaurants and their pristine veneer and effusive, over-the-top flamboyance. These guys and gals are impressed only by New Mexican food the way their abuelitas prepared it–unadorned, authentic and absolutely wonderful. If you want to evoke their ire, take them to one of the chains. Worse, try sneaking some cumin into their chile.

Travis Settles the Bill of Another Very Satisfied Guest

Just how good is Mary & Tito’s? In a span of two days, three people whose opinion on food I value weighed in, prompting me to ponder that question and not just take for granted that it’s “one of” the very best restaurants in New Mexico.” World-travelers Randy and Bonnie Lake experienced an epiphany during their most recent visit, marveling at just how much better Mary & Tito’s legendary red is than other red chile they’ve ever had. Bill Resnik who’s authored a cookbook on New Mexican cuisine was more to-the-point, asking why it hasn’t been accorded a “30” rating–the epitome of perfection in my rating system and a rating I have not bestowed upon any restaurant anywhere.

Mary Ann Gonzales for whom the restaurant is named passed away on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. She was a great and wonderful lady! Photo courtesy of Sandy Driscoll.

Just how good is Mary & Tito’s? In November, 2018, Mary & Tito’s was lauded by as one of America’s 38 essential restaurants, one of those rare eateries which transcends mere dining to become “indispensable to their neighborhoods, and eventually to their towns and whole regions,” to “ultimately become vital to how we understand ourselves, and others, at the table.”  This isn’t just another trite “best of” list.  Eater is a very highly respected online “source for people who care about dining and drinking in the world’s best food cities.”  Unlike many list-makers,  Eater doesn’t take a poll or perform all its research online to publish another trite list of “usual suspects.”   In 2018, eater’s national critic Bill Addison spent 34 weeks on the road, eating almost 600 meals in 36 cities. He knows great food and understands the cultural significance it has on a community.

The James Beard Award of Excellence. Photo courtesy of Sandy Driscoll.

Just how good is Mary & Tito’s?  In January, 2010, Mary & Tito’s was announced as the 2010 recipient of the James Beard Award’s “America’s Classic” honor. A James Beard Award signifies the pinnacle of achievement in the culinary world, the country’s most coveted and prestigious culinary award while the “Americas Classic Award” honors “restaurants with timeless appeal, beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community, and that have carved out a special place in the American culinary landscape.” Mary & Tito’s is the true, timeless American classic–beloved in the community with the highest quality food reflecting the character of New Mexico.

Just how good is Mary & Tito’s?  After earning the James Beard Foundation Award (for which Mary and Antoinette received medals at a ceremonial dinner on May 3, 2010 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City) Governor Bill Richardson celebrated the honor by proclaiming May 12th “Mary & Tito’s Day” in New Mexico, a well-deserved honor for an exemplary restaurant.  For those of us who love Mary & Tito’s every day is a potential Mary & Tito’s Day.

Chips and Salsa

Just how good is Mary & Titos?  It’s so good, it’s been my highest rated restaurant (27 out of 30) across the Land of Enchantment for decades.  So, why hasn’t it earned a perfect “30” rating?  A dining experience at such an ideal would have to be absolutely flawless with uncompromising standards and an obvious commitment on the restaurant’s part to providing a dining experience I would want to repeat over and over again. Obviously the food would have to be more than good; it would have to tantalize, titillate, enrapt my taste buds with every morsel. Every facet of the meal would have to be like a well synchronized and beautiful ballet in which each course is a prelude to the next and leaves me absolutely lusting for the next bite. Mary & Tito’s comes very close to fulfilling all of my criteria.  

Just how good is Mary & Tito’s?  It’s so good, it’s the ONLY restaurant in New Mexico on my “rotation.”  As with so many “regulars” who love the restaurant and the wonderful family who runs it, it’s not only my “go to” restaurant for every day, it’s my special occasion restaurant.  My friend Bill Resnik doesn’t need to ask me where we’re going to celebrate my birthday.  It’s always Mary & Tito’s.  As if the red chile isn’t reason enough to visit Mary & Tito’s, you’re bound to run into Friends of Gil.  Running into Sarita during my most recent 39th birthday made my day even more special.

Chicharron Burrito Christmas-Style

There have been times (many, in fact) in which a magical endorphin high from Mary & Tito’s red chile made my taste buds so unbelievably, deliriously happy that I’ve sworn nothing quite as good has ever crossed my lips. Immediately after each meal at Mary & Tito’s, I want to repeat it, usually right then and there. It is simply my very favorite restaurant in New Mexico, my highest rated restaurant of any genre in the Land of Enchantment and one of the highest rated across the fruited plain. More than any restaurant in New Mexico, Mary & Tito’s has come close to earning that elusive “30” rating.

I’m not the only patron this loyal to Mary & Tito’s. In truth, the restaurant’s walls could probably be covered with framed certificates and accolades feting it as the “best” in one category or another. Instead, you’ll find family photo montages along with photos of some of their loyal customers. For ambiance, this homey restaurant might not win any awards, but for outstanding New Mexican cuisine, it has secured a place in the hearts and appetites of their many guests. It’s so good that to compare any other Albuquerque-based New Mexican restaurant is unfair. None of them come close to achieving the standards Mary & Tito’s achieves every single day.

Guacamole, Beans and Rice Burrito, my Long-TIme Favorite

Although the legendary Tito passed away in 1990 and his devoted wife Mary Ann Gonzales left us in 2013, their effervescent daughter Antoinette and her sons Jordan and Travis continue to provide the hospitality for which Mary & Tito’s is renowned. Better yet, they oversee an operation that serves what is almost without argument the best New Mexican food in New Mexico (ergo the entire universe)–and unequivocally the very best red chile anywhere. Interestingly, Mary & Tito’s continues to win over lifelong New Mexicans who never heard of the restaurant until it was featured on the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods Dining Destinations program.

The red chile has culled a legendary reputation among aficionados. Slathered generously on your entrees, it is a rich red color. At first impression it tastes great, but the more you eat more of it, the more the piquant heat builds up. Oh, the wonderful burn! At every visit, beads of perspiration glistened on my dearly departed friend Ruben Hendrickson’s forehead with every bite, but he persevered through that endorphin generating heat with what can only be described as a lusty fervor. Even when the particular crop of chile isn’t particularly piquant, Mary & Tito’s red chile is always wonderful, so good some frequent guests have no idea what the green chile tastes like. In fact, until a visit in July, 2018, I hadn’t sampled the green in a decade or two.  The red chile is available meatless for diners of the vegetarian persuasion.

Large Combination Plate with Red and Green Chile (Tamale Pictured Separately)

While writing an article entitled “Ode to the Chile Pepper” for the September, 2011 edition of New Mexico Magazine, I had the privilege, pleasure and honor to interview the owner of the Hatch chile farm which supplies Mary & Tito’s with their fabulous chile. Leticia Carrasco is justifiably proud of the Sandia chile her farm provisions to a James Beard award-winning restaurant. She could not have been nicer–a great person supplying great chile to a great family. How fitting is that?  

Ask the vivacious Antoinette what makes Mary & Tito’s red chile so uniquely wonderful and she’ll tell you that the chile starts off like the chile at most New Mexican restaurants. The difference is in what is done with it. Mary & Tito’s chile has been purchased from one Hatch grower for years and it’s ground from pods, not made from powder. Beyond that, the restaurant doesn’t adulterate the chile with other than salt and garlic (absolutely no cumin–contrary to what the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern once reported on Bizarre Foods: Dining Destinations). There is magic in this purity. There’s also purity in its almost mesmerizing red-orange color and if you look at the edges of your plate, you won’t see the tell-tale signs of the excessive use of a thickening agent such as corn starch. There’s none of that in this red chile!

Combination Plate (tamale pictured separately)

The green chile (as I rediscovered in July, 2018) isn’t quite as piquant, but it is very tasty and generously applied to your entrees. For the best of both, ask for your entree to be served “Christmas” style so you can taste both the chile rojo (red) and chile verde (green). Vegetarians can also ask for it without meat. My friend Lesley King, the wonderful writer whose monthly “King of the Road” column used to grace New Mexico Magazine, visited Mary & Tito’s for the first time in May, 2010 and recognized immediately that at this legendary restaurant, it’s all about the chile, finding both red and green as good as could possibly be made.

Tamale (Just look at that wondrous red)

My dear friend Ruben Hendrickson, who for more than a year was engaged in a Holy Grail type quest to find the best carne adovada in the Albuquerque area, was absolutely besotted with Mary & Tito’s rendition. It’s carne adovada the way it’s supposed to be with tender tendrils of moist, delicious pork ameliorated with the best red chile in the metropolitan area (er…universe). Cheryl Jamison, the scintillating four-time James Beard Award-winning author, calls the carne adovada “absolutely spectacular.” The Santa Fe Travelers Billie Frank and Steve Collins called it “the best carne adovada we’ve ever had.” As with most entrees, it’s served with beans and rice, both of which are quite good.

Two Beef Tacos

In New Mexico Magazine‘s “Best Eats” issue for 2011, Mary & Tito’s was recognized as having the best carne adovada in the Land of Enchantment. As one of the seven culinary experts who selected and wrote about New Mexico’s best, it was the choice with which I most agreed (although writing about it was assigned to another writer). Though every other honoree was worthy of “best eats” selection, Mary & Tito’s carne adovada stood out, the best of the best!   

Two Chicken Tacos

16 March 2020: The enchiladas are certainly the very best in town.  You’ve got to appreciate the fact that you can have them rolled or stacked (my preference). Stacked is the way they’re served throughout Northern New Mexico. Natives and newcomers alike ask for a fried egg on top of the enchiladas, a flavor-enhancer that improves on a New Mexican entree that doesn’t really need any improvement. An “extra beef” option means enchiladas with even more fantastically well-seasoned beef. You can also have them made with just cheese, with chicken and with carne adovada. The canvas for those enchiladas can be either blue corn tortillas or yellow corn tortillas. No matter how you have your enchiladas constructed, you’re guaranteed the best enchilada you’ve ever had…especially if it’s doused in red chile.

Blue Corn Chicken Enchiladas

4 June 2021: My very favorite enchiladas (yes, even over enchiladas with carne adovada) are the blue corn enchiladas with chicken. Considering just how often I’ve lambasted chicken as the “most boring protein,” that Mary & Tito’s blue corn enchiladas with chicken are my favorite will tell you just how good they are.  Though this means only two enchiladas instead of the three which come standard with the yellow corn enchiladas, the tender, moist stewed chicken and the distinctively flavorful blue corn tortillas just go so magnificently well with the red chile.  A fried egg (over easy) crowns the blue corn tortillas.

Carne Adovada Enchiladas With a Fried Egg

4 November 2022: Burritos are nearly a foot long and served overstuffed. One of the very best burritos anywhere features guacamole, beans and rice along with the aforementioned red or green chile. It is more than half a pound of New Mexican food greatness, especially when the guacamole practically erupts when you press your fork into the burrito.  This was the burrito I had to order during my return visit to Mary & Tito’s after a 17-month absence (my longest absence in 27 years).  It reaffirmed everything I love about Mary & Tito’s.  If it’s true that absence makes the heart go fonder, my heart was bursting with joy at the incomparable deliciousness of the red chile.  One thing is for certain and that’s that Mary & Tito’s red chile would be my last meal choice.

Beef Enchiladas with Fried Egg

4 November 2022: It’s probably no accident that the Tito’s Special pictured below may resemble a New Mexico version of yin and yang (the concept of duality forming a whole).  What better combination can there possibly be than refried beans and red chile.  That’s the Tito’s Special, emphasis on “Special.”  If Mary & Tito’s red chile is the best in the universe and the refried beans are the best in the universe, then you’ve got two “bests” in one plate.  They’re served with a flour tortilla so you can create New Mexican “spoons” and form flour tortilla scoops with a both beans and red chile in each.  Officially Tito’s Special may not be a combination plate, but this combination is absolutely unbeatable.

Blue Corn Enchiladas (Beef)

The chile rellenos are also among the best I’ve ever had, far superior to their world-famous brethren served at Mesilla’s fabled La Posta restaurant. A thin, crispy batter envelops a piquant pepper stuffed with a sharp Cheddar cheese. Each bite produces an endorphin rush and taste explosion. The rellenos are available on the combination platter as well as a la carte. As with other entrees at Mary & Tito’s, they’re best smothered with that miraculous red chile.  Jordan recounted the day a stubborn diner wouldn’t listen to his sage advice and asked for his chile relents to be smothered in green chile and cheese then whined that his unholy combination wasn’t very good.  As all New Mexicans know, chile rellenos are meant to be enjoyed with red chile.

Officially Tito’s Special May Not Be A Combination Plate, But It’s one of My Favorite Combinations Anywhere!!!

My friend Sr. Plata had the privilege of first-time visits to both Chope’s and Mary & Tito’s within two weeks of each other. In his estimation, the chile relleno at Mary & Tito’s is far superior to Chope’s version (which is often considered THE standard-bearer for the genre in the Land of Enchantment). New Mexicans from the southern half of the state, in particular, might consider it sacrilege, but Sr. Plata reasons that Mary & Tito’s superior red chile is the difference-maker. He’s calls it the essence of purity and deliciousness.

Mexican Turnover (Stuffed Sopaipilla)

You won’t find sopaipillas with honey at Mary & Tito’s, but you will find a “Mexican turnover‘ resembling an overgrown empanada or Italian calzone. It’s made from sopaipilla dough stuffed with meat, beans, rice and chile then deep fried. It’s Mary & Tito’s version of stuffed sopaipillas and it’s (not surprisingly) among the very best in the city. The Mexican turnover is the most popular item at the restaurant, surpassing even the nonpareil carne adovada.

Entrees include some of the best refried beans anywhere…and I mean anywhere in the country. They have that “prepared with lard” taste all good refrieds have. Spanish rice also comes with every entree as does a tomato and lettuce garnish. Garnish is one of those plate decorations many people discard. With Mary & Tito’s fabulous red chile, it’s just something else with which to sop up every bit of that chile rojo. Along with Chile (capsicum annum L.) and frijoles (pinto beans of the phaseolus vulgaris family), New Mexico’s state vegetables, are a unique part of the New Mexico diet.  Some purists I know will only eat their pinto beans whole.  In doing so they’re missing out on the wonder that is refried beans.

Carne Adovada Omelet

Your first bowl of salsa is complimentary and it’s so good you’ll certainly finish it off quickly and order another. The chips, like the salsa, are lightly salted and crisp, the perfect size and texture to complement the tomato rich salsa. The salsa has a nice piquancy but other than tomatoes and chile, there are no discernible additives such as garlic and onion.  My favorite way to amp up the salsa’s heat is with a cup (or six) of hot coffee.  Honestly, it’s an unbeatable pairing.

Chicharrones with Red Chile

Only the con queso gets a less than outstanding mark at Mary & Tito’s. The cheese has that “melted Velveeta” feel and taste and is somewhat gloppy. Authenticity and utter deliciousness,however, aren’t spared on the chicharrones which compete with those at Cecilia’s Cafe for best in the city. Chicharrones are pieces of pork crackling cooked until crunchy and most of the fat is rendered out. A plateful of chicharrones and a bowl of that legendary red are a great way to start any meal. Better yet, have as your entree a chicharron burrito. It’s the very best anywhere!

Mary & Tito’s legendary carne adovada. Photo courtesy of Sandy Driscoll.

21 February 2020: Another excellent entree unique to Mary & Tito’s is a carne adovada omelet. Yes, you did read that correctly. It’s a multi-egg omelet folded over that outstanding carne adovada then covered in the red chile of my dreams. There’s no need for any of the usual omelet ingredients when you’ve got carne adovada.  Best of all, it’s not a breakfast entree as most omelets tend to be.  You can have this superb dish for lunch or dinner.

Mexican Pizza

27 February 2019: It took me 45 visits to sample everything on the menu at Mary & Tito’s, the very last item being a Mexican Pizza. Described on the menu as “fry bread, refried beans and cheese,” it’s so much more than that. It’ll remind you most of the fry bread tacos served at Indian Pow Wows and on reservations. The canvas for this unique pizza is a deep-fried sopaipilla similar to the one used on the Mexican turnover. The sopaipilla is topped with lots of refried beans, red chile, sprinkled with cheese and lined with lettuce and tomato.  Ask for a fried egg on top for an even more diverse flavor profile.  Unlike Indian-style fry bread tacos, the fry bread at Mary & Tito’s is crisp and crunchy, not soft and pliable. It doesn’t make the top ten list of items I’ve had at Mary & Tito’s, but you could put that red chile on a leather boot and it would be delicious.

Carne Adovada Flautas

7 December 2017: A deeper perusal of the menu (which by now I should have memorized considering the number of times visited) revealed one other heretofore untried item. That would be the flautas de carne adovada with beans and guacamole. Mary & Tito’s might be the only restaurant in New Mexico to stuff flautas with carne adovada. Surprisingly despite the deep-frying, the adovada retains its moistness and tenderness. Use the flautas to scoop up some of the rich, creamy guacamole for a wonderful combination of flavors.

Tortilla Burger

2 July 2019: Almost invariably when asked to describe their favorite burgers, most burgerphiles would mention hand-formed beef patties prepared to their exacting specifications, an optimum beef to buns to condiments ratio and throughout the Land of Enchantment, green chile with a pleasant piquancy and freshly roasted flavor.  Mary & Tito’s throws conventions out the window and still serves on the best burgers in the Duke City.  It’s called the tortilla burger and it’s the essence of simplicity–a flour tortilla wrapped around a beef patty prepared at about medium-well all topped with your choice of chile (always red for me).  It’s the antithesis of the hand-held behemoth between buns.  In fact you’ve got to cut it with a fork.  With red chile, it’s as good as any green chile cheeseburger in the state.  Nor will you find it served with French fries.  This burger is served with beans and rice, both so good you won’t miss fries at all.

Guacamole, Beans and Cheese Tostada

3 August 2023:  Culinary historians believe the tostada originated in Oaxaca as a way to use leftover corn tortillas (tortillas too stale to eat, but not old enough to throw away).  Although tostadas may have started off as an afterthought, today they often come to mind when you want a quick and easy snack or small meal.  Forming a corn tortilla into the shape of a bowl then deep-frying it takes a little more work (as opposed to just piling toppings atop a flat, deep-fried corn tortilla) but boy is it worth it.  My favorite of Mary & Tito’s tostadas is formed that way then stuffed with guacamole, cheese and beans topped with magical red chile, lettuce and tomatoes.  It’s absolutely terrific, a tostada for people who think they don’t like tostadas. 

29 April 2013: In January, 2013 Food & Wine Magazine compiled a list of the nation’s “best taco spots.” The only New Mexico taco spot recognized was Mary & Tito’s Cafe”for which Food & Wine acknowledged the “famed secret weapon of this mother-daughter-run operation is its fiery red chile sauce–killer with succulent braised pork in the New Mexico classic carne adovada, or drizzled over beef tacos in crispy corn tortilla shells.” New Mexico’s best tacos at Mary & Tito’s? Why not? They’re fantastic!  Just as wonderful as the beef tacos are the chicken tacos.

The New Mexican Wedding Cake, One of the Best Desserts Under God’s Heaven (Photo Courtesy of Sandy Driscoll)

Compliment Antoinette on an outstanding meal and she’ll invariably credit “the guys in the kitchen.” For nearly as long as Mary & Tito’s has served serving Albuquerque, those guys, were the Arguello brothers–Patricio and Louis–who immortalized Tito’s recipes and kept his culinary legacy alive. They began as teenagers, schooled under the watchful eye of Tito himself. They were extremely versed at their craft, but both are now retired.  The kitchen is in the capable hands of Antonio who learned from the Arguello Brothers.  You won’t notice any difference in the quality and flavor of the chile with Antonio at the helm.  Antoinette will, however, take credit for the terrific dessert (that’s singular, but when you serve a dessert as wonderful as the New Mexican wedding cake, who needs anything else) available at Mary & Tito’s. Jordan Knight, Antoinette’s son jokes that Mary & Tito’s has sold enough New Mexican wedding cakes to pay for his mom’s Tesla.

For dessert, an absolute “must have” is Mary & Tito’s take on traditional New Mexican wedding cake, a yellow cake made with walnuts and pineapple and topped with a cream cheese frosting is spectacular. Antoinette has been making this cake for better than 30 years (though she doesn’t look much older than 30 herself) and says she’s made it thousands of times. You won’t find any better in New Mexico. You won’t find anything close. My friend Bill Resnik calls it “one of the ten best things I’ve ever put in my mouth.” In its February, 2013 edition Albuquerque The Magazine celebrated the Duke City’s best desserts. The fabulous Mexican wedding cake was recognized as the “to die for dessert to remember.” I’m not too sure what that means, but if it means the Mexican wedding cake is unforgettable, the honor is certainly well deserved. It’s certainly one of the very best desserts in New Mexico.

The cast and crew of This Old House, a Boston-based home-improvement and remodeling television show spent two days at Mary & Tito’s in April, 2013. While filming a segment in Hatch, purveyors of New Mexico’s best chile told the crew that the very best example of chile is served at Mary & Tito’s. The cast and crew proceeded to enjoy every item on the menu. More converts!

The inside of Mary and Tito’s Restaurant on Albuquerque’s 4th Street doesn’t look like much: vinyl tablecloths, walls plastered with family photos. But the kitchen produces some of New Mexico’s best chile—not the meaty stew, spelled chili, served across the border in Texas, but the pepper-based sauce that holds pride of place in New Mexican cuisine.” That’s how the Wall Street Journal began its feature “Why Doubling Down on the Chile is the Way to Go.” The feature boasted “New Mexico’s red and green chile sauces are so good, why not opt for both at once?” Red and green chile are precisely why the Land of Enchantment celebrates Christmas all year long. No one does it better than Mary & Tito’s.

Mary & Tito’s is one of those restaurants that elicits a craving only it can sate. It is the essence of red chile Nirvana.  It is truly one of America’s most essential restaurants and the very best in the Land of Enchantment.

2711 4th Street, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 13 March 2023
COST: $$
: Enchiladas, Chile Relleno, Taco, Natillas, Guacamole Burrito, Carne Adovada Burrito, Chicharrones, Mexican Wedding Cake, Carne Adovada Omelet, Carne Adovada, Combination Plate, Mexican Pizza, Mexican Turnover, Salsa & Chips, Carne Adovada Flautas, Tortilla Burger, Blue Corn Enchiladas with Chicken, Chicken Tacos, Tito’s Special

111 thoughts on “MARY & TITO’S CAFE – Albuquerque, New Mexico

  1. Boomer and Bruce, I will second your comments on that Wedding Cake! It was a treat after eating a wonderful meal a few weeks back for my initial rite of summer. Also, the Red was awesome and I too must return. This is quite a treasure found her in ABQ and I should bring Senorena Plata there soon…Thanks Guys, but save me some cake!!

  2. I must agree with “Boomer”.
    As good as the Carne Adovada is, as good as the Chile Relleno is, as good as the entrees are so is the Mexican Wedding cake for dessert.
    Even my wife who has a decidedly take-it-or-leave-it attitude when it comes to desserts
    loves the MWC.

  3. Last week was my first visit to Mary & Tito’s. I have heard from Gil in the past that I must give it a try and I was not disappointed. There are quite a few posts on this restaurant, and I would agree with most. I loved the red chilie (Thank you Gil for the recommendation) on my combo plate. After looking at the pictures Gil posted, and other comments, I think I would try the burrito or stuffed sopapilla next time. There will be a next time, and not only for the entrée, but I was the lucky recipient of a dessert (Mexican Wedding Cake). I don’t think I can rave enough about this dessert. I am typically more of a chocolate lover, but the Mexican Wedding cake dessert was heavenly. I can only describe it as a cross between carrot cake and pineapple upside down cake combined. It was moist, with wonderful flavor, and made me want to order more. I think I know what cake I will be ordering for my birthday this year!

    Save room for Dessert!

    Paul, AKA-Boomer

  4. Love the photo at the top of your blog, Gil.

    I think that reading your review (and seeing those delicious photos!) of Mary and Tito’s puts it at the top of my ‘places to visit’ list the next time I’m in NM! YUM!

  5. The red chile carne adovada is impossibly wonderful. I wish they were closer north. I ate there when I brought my sister in to visit from Texas last month. She was astounded and looked like she was going to pick up the plate and lick it. I had the empanada. The red chile is so smooth and delicious, and it’s one of the few chile dishes that doesn’t give me heartburn. I’m convinced that I did something wrong in a previous life to develop heartburn. Any way, Mary and Tito’s is a blessing to New Mexico.

  6. Yayyy! A very favorite place of mine; been going there for years. Thank you for featuring it. (And for the record, the red chile is awesome!!!)

  7. Finally made it to Mary & Tito’s; had heard so mucn about it as it is deemed to be a landmark of Albquerque, NM. Came on a Monday and had the Monday special which was excellent. It included a beef taco, enchilada, chile rellano, rice and beans. I was told I had to have the Red Chile and it was an excellent choice; the red was so rich in taste and in color, it really was good. For me, the chile wasnt hot and that is good but you could tell they made it from scratch and it included ground beef which made me happy (Red Chile w/Beef on Everything). I was asked to compare to comarable places in New Mexico but all I have to say is this is one tasty authentic mexican restaurant and was delicious. I wish they served Sopapillia’s, I still equate Mexican food in NM with it. They served tortillas which were ok but sure miss my Sopa. Sensei said I must have the wedding cake, I did, and it was awesome, very rich and very home made. Sitting now in my office thinking back to the aroma of red chile is a wonderful thought (even though very full). I look forward to returning here and having the burrito which I hear is a must.

  8. First off, I love this place!!!!!! Been going there for quite a while. It’s just fantastic, marvelous. That glorious velvet red chile is what all hispanic restaurants should be. I’ve lived my entire life in any given (Mexican) border state.
    Their refrieds are phenomenal; I could take a bath in them. Creamy, beany, lardy. The gold standard of refrieds. No place in TJ, Chula, Tucson, AP, Espanola, Mesilla or Laredo does beans better.
    Their red chile is truly, fantastically RED!! It wasn’t until I found Mary & Tito’s that I realized red chile actually could be red. Everywhere else, EVERYWHERE, is an orangey-brown. The red chile also isn’t greasy. For real. Go forth my foodies and really look at that slight layer of oil that covers most red chile sauces. Not here.
    I have one minor complaint. I usually go here on Mondays for their combo plate special. The relleno is crispy, the rice perfect and those beans, Oy! It’s just that cheese enchilada……. The red chile is outstanding but the cheese is never melted inside that enchilada. A minor fault to which 30 seconds in a microwave would make it a gooey treat.
    I’ll still return again and again. Service is good and consistent, especially with refills on tea and water. But plu-eeeeeeeeeze!!! Get that cheese melted. It really makes a huge difference.

  9. One more thing I wish they’d change:
    They serve store-bought flour tortillas with the meal instead of homemade like Duran’s.

  10. No question the red chile is great. Two picky complaints:
    1.) No beer
    2.) What is the point of Spanish rice? Ditch those and serve potatoes.

    Other than that, Mary e Tito’s is the best and so glad it’s still there.

  11. I’ll admit it. When I’m in the mood for New Mexican food, I tend to go for the green chile. No “Christmas” for me, thank you very much. But on the rare occasion when I get a hankering for red, Mary & Tito’s is where I go. I don’t think there’s anywhere in town that does it better. Hope they stay in business for very long time to come.

  12. I recently lived in Tucson, AZ for 2 years and in my best dreams about NM I frequently went to this restaurant.
    Now that I am back I can’t wait to spend my money at this amazing little restaurant where I always feel at home and get the best of NM food.

  13. Hi Gil, I know plan my trips by your website : )
    I have been eagerly awaiting my first trip to M&T for many months now. They were closed last time I was in ABQ, so we finally made it this weekend. I ordered red enchiladas, and the chile was tasty and a little hotter than I perfer. I don’t know if I would say the best but we do have a lot of choices in New Mexico and quality and taste can vary night to night. While they were spicy hot, they were not even warm all the way through : ( And they were had no natillas that night – so so sad, I was!

    My husband order a combo and is always so sweet to share bites with me. OMG!!! that is the best darn relleno I have ever ever ever had!!! I will go back and order just rellenos – like a dozen of them! and maybe they will have natillas next time too.

  14. Tuesday, I’m on my way to New Mexico for an all chicks’ family reunion and our first stop in Albuquerque will be Mary & Tito’s based on your recommendation.

    We’ll be staying in Santa Fe and one night in Taos but will treck down the Rio Grande Valley to Belen, the town of my birth then through Sabinal (our family stronghold on my mother’s side) then to San Antonio in Socorro County where my Great-grandfather Juan de Jesus Avila was born. We will be comparing the green chile cheeseburgers at The Buckhorn and The Owl Cafe to see which rates higher since these two iconic retaurants/taverns are supposed to have the best ones in the state. Of course, we’ll have to wash it town with a Santa Fe beer.

    I’ve not been impressed with the “supposed” tradional New Mexico cooking I’ve had in Santa Fe. Perhaps too much influence from people who don’t have roots in New Mexico.

    Cutting green chile with a knife instead of wearing gloves and squishing it though one’s fingers or adding cumin or oregano to red chile is a mortal sin. Shame on those who do these and call it tradtional New Mexico cooking.

    What do you think, Gil?

    Oh, and we all plan to take home 30 lbs. of fresh green chile back to Oregon, Utah, California and Texas so we can further enjoy this fabulous food from the Land of Enchantment.

    No one does it better then “old school New Mexico cooks”

    We’ve done our family genealogy and traced all sides back to Santa Fe in the 1500’s and even further back to 1480, España. What do you think of that?

    “Boo!” to cumin and oregano in red chile. Why would anyone want to adulterate the flavor of this food of the gods???

    Suzanne Castillo Devlin in Oregon

  15. Went to M+T last night. Had to stop myself from licking the plate. Carne Adovada simply delicious. The wait staff is just fine. Don’t understand the criticism. Maybe we are just nice people. Then again we go regularly.

  16. Love Mary & Titos! Great review and photos. My favorite is the adovada too….I do love the red chile (but have other personal favs “mannnies” and “san marcos cafe”), and the major perk of M & T’s is that I live just a few block away! My husby and I like to sit at the counter and soak in the chile.

  17. We just returned to SoCal from our annual Spring trip to New Mexico…and once again we dined at Mary and Tito’s three times in six days…I still believe it is the best New Mexican in the world. The carne adovada was ethereal…as were the chile relleno and the stacked enchiladas. Why there is not a line out the door to dine here escapes me. We talked to Mary and Antoinette…and Antoinette’s son about the James Beard award…they are all very excited about going to New York…but, as always, remain very humble.

    As always, we ordered six quarts of the carne adovada and a couple of quarts of red chile sauce frozen…we picked them up and with the help of a little dry ice, my freezer here in Los Angeles is well stocked until our next trip to New Mexico!…it will not be long!

  18. I will certainly try Mary and Tito’s next time I’m in ABQ. Wish I had seen this before yesterday when I drove south and home from Santa Fe. I must make one correction in this review, Gil. La Posta is in La Mesilla, not Mesilla Park. I don’t want your viewers to get lost trying to find a famous tourist stop.

    By the way, I love your website and visit it frequently just to see where you have been recently!
    Come try Andele’s green chile enchilada next time you’re in Las Cruces, if you haven’t already. Different but, oh, so good!

  19. Congratulations to Mary, her family, and employees on winning the coveted James Beard Foundation award! I predict a visit from Guy Fieri in the future…. then more business than you can shake a stick at!

    Well Deserved!!!

  20. I’ve been going to Mary & Tito’s since it opened. I must have been 17 years old. My grandfather introduced me to Mary & Tito’s. It is truly one of the best New Mexican restaurants anywhere. I lived in California for 15 years and when I’d come home, Mary & Tito’s was the first place I would go to for my chili fix.

    Congratulations to Mary on receiving the James Beard award. It’s been long overdue.

  21. I’ll admit it, I’m not a fan of New Mexican food. (I prefer Mexican) But OMG the stuffed sopapilla with a side of red chile at Mary and Titos!!! Soooooo good! One of my favorite things to eat in Burque =)

  22. Three years ago I found out about Mary & Tito’s through this website. I was new to New Mexican food and searched around for quality, authentic places to try. Most of those places are reviewed on this website. So far, I’ve tried fourteen restaurants in the “New Mexican” cuisine category. Mary & Tito’s is the place I frequent the most. I often crave their red chile for days until I give in and eat there. My first meal was the Two Taco Plate Thursday special. The beans were savory and unlike anything I’ve ever had. For someone who never liked beans, Mary & Tito’s changed me. I remember the rice tasting light and fresh. The tacos with red chile was equally as savory as the beans. Although I have no family in New Mexico, my first impression was feeling like I was eating a piping hot homemade meal at my New Mexican grandma’s house. I awaited a second visit after telling everyone I knew about this place. Rereading Gil’s review, I went for the Carne Adovada Enchilada with red. Frankly, the only “words” I have are OMG. The best New Mexican meal I’ve ever had. It quickly became my new comfort food as my spirits were uplifted for the rest of the day. Lately, I’ve been ordering the Carne Adovada Chimichanga Wednesday special. Anything with Carne Adovada and red is satisfying to me.

    After 20 something visits, the Carne Adovada and beans are still as satisfying as the first time I tasted it. Maybe it’s just me, but something seems to be different about the rice, which I usually order meals without rice now. Instead, they give me double beans. During the first few visits, Mary and Antoinette were always there whenever I had lunch. Mary is always warm and friendly, which adds to the feel-good atmosphere to go along with my new comfort food. The past year or two seems different when Mary or Antoinette is not there. I agree that the service is indifferent and rather stand offish, in which I get a weird vibe and started ordering take out instead. The warm welcoming feel has been missing during recent visits lately, but that does not keep me away from great food.

  23. Visited this place for the first time this evening. I’m not sure why I hadn’t been years ago, but better late than ever. Some of the best red chile I’ve ever had! Mary made the rounds and was very friendly and welcoming, but the service was so-so (another writer referred to it as “indifferent,” and I think that’s an accurate description). Still, I’ll definitely be back. Excellent carne adovada and chicharones. Gil, you always lead me to great food; thanks so much!

  24. When paying the bill after my fifth visit here last Friday evening, Jane and I noticed a letter taped to the cash register. The letter was from the James Beard Foundation congratulating Mary Gonzales and Antoinette Knight on being selected as one of the five recipients of the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics awards. This is a huge honor. The awards will be announced in New Orleans on March 22, 2010, and the presentations, with videos and more, will be made during a festive gala at the Avery Fisher Hall of the Lincoln Center in New York on May 3.

    We spoke with Antoinette for some time after our meal, and to say that she and Mary (her mother) are excited would be an understatement. Mary has never been to New York, and Antoinette is anxious to show her around. We are excited for them, and offer our heartiest congratulations.

    Our meal for this visit was, as usual, superb. Carne enchiladas, flat, with Red and a fried egg on top was the best version of a classic New Mexican dish that I have had. Perfectly prepared. Jane’s Chile Rellenos were fine as well, and she had them with Red on top. She now agrees with me (and many other reviewers) that their Red is legendary.

    A year ago, Gil told me that this place is great. Now I keep telling anybody that will listen to me (I stop strangers on the street) that Mary and Tito’s is the best New Mexican Restaurant in New Mexico (and therefore, this universe and all parallel universes).

    And now, the James Beard Foundation validates my opinion.

  25. How could I have lived in NM for 17 years and never heard of this place before? Lordy, I need to get out more. As always, thank you for this marvelous blog.

  26. Mary and Tito’s Facebook page.

    Mary & Tito’s wins the 2010 “American Classics” award from the James Beard Foundation! Mary & Antoinette will travel to New York for the awards ceremony at Lincoln Center…Congratulations!

    Not on the James Beard Foundation website yet since it’s for 2010.

    We ate there on Saturday. I wanted to eat something I have never eaten. It was the Carne Adovada enchilada dinner. All I can say is WOW!

    Can’t understand the other people’s negative comments.

    I always get double beans no rice because I like beans. We always have very good service, too. The red chile EXCELLENT and so is the green.

  27. I had never eaten at Mary and Tito’s (in fact I had never heard of it) until this recent review but the Child Bride and I dashed down. For many years after I moved here from Dallas 34 years ago I said that I could eat “Mexican” (New Mexican) food three times a day because I loved it so much. This was even though I (pure blasphemy) regarded it and Tex-Mex as minor variations of the same thing. New Mexican was just less dry and more interesting. Of course back in these ancient times the only decent restaurants in town were “Mexican.” Hobo Joe’s, Denny’s, Lotabuger and a few awful Italian places just didn’t cut it. Eventually, in the late ’90’s I tired of it and there were many other really good restaurants in town. I now ate “Mexican” food every few months and liked it but not as much as I had formerly. Thus simply as a matter of taste I would be expected to rate Mary and Tito’s lower than you would.

    I had the enchilada plate , red & my Bride had the Carne Adovada Chimichanga, mainly because I couldn’t find Carne Adovada on the menu. Her Carne Adovada was the best I had ever tasted. My enchiladas were ok. The red chile was not the best I had ever tasted but pretty good. In most restaurant I really hate the Spanish rice as it reminds me of Minute Rice with red flecks and coloring. Here the rice looked like the Spanish rice I make but it was tough and chewy as when I screw up by undercooking.

    I did not really dislike the restaurant but I would not again drive all the way down to 4th Street to eat it.

  28. Based on the preceeding glowing reviews, I have to wonder if we are talking about the same Mary and Tito’s. The first time we went there, the service was indifferent, my enchilada side turned out to be a cold tortilla rolled around cold cheese. When I asked about the possibility of getting it heated, I was told that a lot of their customers liked it that way. After a couple of people mentioned it to us again, we tried once more. This time the food was hot, the red chile was quite good, not excellent, and the service was still indifferent. It sounds like it may have been great once, but I would certainly not say it was great now. There are too many really good Mexican restaurants in this town to put up with a mediocre restaurant coasting on it’s past laurels. If you read the list of awards on the menu, they are almost all very old. It’s time for them to get back on track.

  29. sirs
    As a long-time albuquerque nm resident and NM native, I can attest that Mary and Tito’s is a long-time albuquerque restaurant. I remember past days when it could be considered among the best.
    Lately I have notice that the old “Mary and Tito’s” is not the Mary and Tito’s in existence today.
    Whatever the difference iti s not the same. Whether the chile is now more procssed or the inputs have just changed through time is unknown; but I know for sure that some processes have definetly changed over the years.
    Nowadays, although the pics above are quite stunning, I don’t believe they are truly reflective of all dining experiences at the restaurant.
    Try Mary and Tito’s and like many others, you may like it. If you like it, go back – again, again and again. Others may not have the same experience, and, like myself, have moved on, and try Mary and Tito’s only occasionally.

  30. Quite the endorsement by travelpath. I’ve got to get down to M&T for some adovada and maybe some chicharrones as well – that pic has my mouth watering. Thanks for the review and pics, Gil.

  31. I came to the conclusion that it was the best New Mexican in New Mexico a couple of years ago…one taste of their carne adovada and their red chile sold me! As residents of SoCal, we must stock up on the frozen product to tide us over between trips. This year we ran out of our Mary and Tito’s frozen stock last month…it necessitated a quick trip last weekend (cheap air fares helped) to bring home six quarts of the red and six quarts of carne adovada. We arrived in ABQ at 10:30a, took a cab to Mary and Titos for a wonderful lunch…packed the pre-ordered stash in dry ice and went back to ABQ for a 4p flight…$75 airfare that was well worth it!!

  32. When I first moved to Albuquerque a couple of years ago, it took me a little while to discover Mary & Titos. I’m not sure how I lived without it — my favorite restaurant anywhere. Consistently excellent meatless chile options, and a simple menu where instead of offering a lot of flash, they just do what they do very well.

  33. Absoutely delicious. The red chile is absolutely delicious. Pure, fresh, unadulterated, piquant and flavorful. The heat not only caused a few beads of sweat on my brow, but seemed to open up the pores in my tongue (if my tongue has pores) so that the exquisite chile flavor came fully through. I had beef enchiladas and asked for lots of “red” and got lots of “red.” It nearly covered the rice and beans as well as the (flat) enchiladas, which was exactly what I wanted.

    We came here after reading your review. I love good red chile. This equals The Shed’s in Santa Fe, which in my opinion is the best I have tasted in NM (and as you say, ergo … in the universe!). Thanks for turning me on to Mary’s and Tito’s.

    We are regulars at Padilla’s, which is near my mother’s house. Got in a rut I guess, though Padilla’s is a pretty good rut to get in.

    My 93 year old mother had the combination plate with green chile, which she loved. The tamales, she thought were especially fine. My wife got a beef burrito with green (she seldom orders red), and was somewhat disappointed. It did not look anything like the picture on your web site. There were some cut-up roasted green chiles on the burrito, but zero liquid. It was very dry. And there was no cheese, either, which was somewhat disappointing to her. She also did not find much flavor in the meat. I may need to work some to convince her to come back.
    Que Lastima! (I have no idea where the upside down exclamation point is.)

    Still, I—or we—will return!

  34. Hi Gil!

    I thought of you this week when I got my 40 lbs. of green chile my cousin, Lorraine, in Los Lunas sent me from Sichler Farms and thought I’d drop you a note. In the last week, I’ve roasted and frozen most of the chile like a chipmunk storing acorns for the winter….then….then….had green chile on my fried eggs, made and ate a crock pot of green chile stew, had a cheeseburger with green chile and for lunch today, I had a warm torilla with green chile and crisp chicharones.

    By the way, I use white potatoes in my green chile. I only use Yukon gGold or Russetts if I can’t fined the whites, AKA. New Potatoes or White Rose.

    I didn’t go to New Mexico this year but next year, I’m dragging my Boston born husband home to do the chile tour. He loves even hotter chile then me. Mary and Tito’s will be the first restaurant we’ll try.

    All is well in Oregon but am looking forward to visiting next year.


  35. Great New Mexican food! The service is always competent and fast. Lots or great items on the menu, but I especially love the Carne Adovado. I am usually there for the Carne Adovado Chimichanga special on Wednesdays.

  36. Thank you so much for introducing us to this wonderful food! Wow, just plain wow. I love places like this, simple, clean, dedicated to the food not atmosphere. We had the fabulous chicharrones and then a burrito and a turnover, both smothered in their mouth-watering red. Yummm

  37. A chile relleno made correctly should be enclosed in a fluffy egg white/egg yolk coating. To make the batter, the eggs are seperated and the whites whipped until stiff. Then the yolks are folded in lightly and carefully so the batter remains fluffy. After the cheese stuffed chile is dusted with flour, the relleno is then dipped in the batter then fried. The end result should be a fluffy relleno with a slightly crisp exterior. Some restuurants just beat the eggs together and dip the cheese stuffed chile into what is essentially, a scrambled egg mixture…….then fried. This is done because it’s much, much easier and quicker to do for restaurants…….. but it’s not the correct way to do it. Also, don’t forget to add salt to the batter. Still, my favorite chile relleno is the original sweet New Mexio meat chile rellenos made with a pork and a beef roast and ground after being roasted. Green chile, sugar, cinnamon, salt and raisins are added and the misture is then made into patties which are then dusted with flour then dipped in the light egg white/yolk batter as described above….. then fried. A light syrup made of sugar is then poured over the rellenos. If you’re familiar with this chile relleno, you’re family probably goes back a few centuries and came from Spain as mine did. I was born in Belen but moved when I was five but I grew up eating real New Mexico style cooking rather then eating what is mostly now, simply Mexican cooking. Delicious but not real New Mexico cuisine. I’ve yet to see “coles con carne seca” (cabbage and onions sauted with pounded beef jerky) on any menu where I’ve eaten in New Mexico although I do see calabacitas, Natillas, sopapipillas, tortillas, carne adovada (my mother used to often call this carne enchilada but it’s the same thing), etc. and other traditional dishes but not the old sytle rellenos, biscochitos, pasetlitos, empanadas (mostly sweet meat, pumpkin, apricot, apple, peach), coles con carne seca and a few other dishes that were served in most Spanish/American homes. My mother made sopaipillas or tortillas every single day even after we moved to So. Calif. I now live in Oregon but love to return to my place of birth and the culture that I most relate to. I love my New Mexico roots. Truthfully, most of the food we associate with New Mexico is probably a mixture of Spanish, Indian and Anglo with the emphasis on Spain because that’s where my family migrated from way back. I have my great-grandmother’s rolling pen for toritillas that she got as a wedding gift in around 1860. It’s my most prized possession.

  38. First visit tonight. Carne adovada red-smothered stuffed sopaipillas—perfect. Best I’ve ever had.


  39. I got hungry tonight when I read your review, Gil. Nice job. Yes, this is your friend Ruben, the friend you referenced in your article. What can i say? The red chile at M&T is incredible. M&T and Duran’s Pharmacy make the best red chile of any place we’ve visited. Their adovadas are outstanding. Right now it’s a dead heat for best adovada between the two, although the Rancho de Chimayo adovada is also quite good.

    Sorry to read about Christina’s sub-par experience. I’ve always stuck to the carne adovada, so I can’t comment on the chile relleno. Sadies is one of my favorite restaurants – I love their green chile enchiladas. It’s the best I’ve had anywhere. But their red chile just doesn’t stand up to M&T or Duran’s. Every restaurant has their specialties. I’m sure Christina has a strong, valid case for her pick.

    We’ll have to try that restaurant over in Bernalillo sometime in the next couple of weeks, Gil. And I still have to try Sabrosos over on San Mateo. I’ll try to get there this weekend. I’ll send you a quick review after I visit. Talk to you soon.

  40. I’ve eaten there with a friend I’ve know for 30+ years and she treated me there this summer, the Green chile is very good!! I’ve been more then a few times and treated myself.

  41. My husband and I love both Mexican & New Mexican food. My husband grew up close to the border, and his family has grown chile on their farm. He also spent some time testing chile at an NMSU lab. Based upon your review and rating, as well as your readers’ comments, our expectations were really high when we visited Mary & Tito’s on a recent Saturday night. When we arrived, the restaurant was empty, which in many cases is not a good sign. The staff (the family who owns the restaurant, I believe) were friendly, and the prices were extremely reasonable. My husband ordered tacos and a chile relleno, topped with green chile. I usually favor green chile, too, but I figured I had to try M&T’s red chile atop a combination plate. I agree that M&T’s red chile is excellent (definitely visit M&T’s if you’re a fan of red chile!), but I can’t say that I was very impressed with anything else. The batter on the chile relleno, for example, was thick and therefore ended up fluffy rather than crispy. I think Sadie’s New Mexican food beats M&T’s by a long shot.

  42. I couldn’t agree more. I clearly remember the first time I had the carne adovado chimichanga. It was one of the best, and most affordable food moments of my life.

  43. Hands down my favorite New Mexican food in Albuquerque, maybe anywhere, and you can’t beat the atmosphere.

    My wife and I are there at least once a week, I can’t stay away from the stuffed sopapillas, and the red chile could teach a lot of bigger restaurants a thing or two.

  44. It’s Tuesday and we ate at M+T’s for the umteenth time. We died again and went to heaven for the umteenth time.

    Chile Rellenos were spectacular!!! Tonight red hotter than green.

    Muy Delicioso!!!!! The best in NM.

    martin, cari and nick

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