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. Gil, I am somehow gonna manage it

    this place will be my first meal in ABQ, if I ever make it there

    Then I am driving to Sante Fe for a GCCB at Sante Fe Bite

  2. Hey gil…..based on your reviews, this is my first stop in abq if I ever get to visit. But… family is spice-heat adverse. So I ask your similarly spice-adverse Kim: can my family, who loves a basic red-sauced enchiladas with rice as and beans combo, eat here? Help me out, Kim 🙂

    1. Hello TJ

      I’m probably the wrong guy to ask about the piquancy of Mary & Tito’s incomparable red chile. Napalm and lava fall within my heat tolerance levels. For many of us in New Mexico, pain really is a flavor.

      Lynn Garner, as a recent transplant to the Land of Enchilement, you’ve been building up your tolerance for NM chile. I know you worship Mary & Tito’s incredible red chile. Were you able to tolerate the heat from the get-go or did it take time?


        1. My apologies, TJ. You did ask for Kim’s opinion. Sadly, her heat averse taste buds are a recent phenomena resultant from a prescription change. Mary & Tito’s was her favorite restaurant for New Mexican cuisine until that prescription change. Now she struggles to enjoy any of it. She’s originally from Chicago and it took her taste buds a bit of time to become adjusted to New Mexico’s piquant foods. She really misses it.

          1. no apology necessary, GG

            I suspect my family wont be able to handle it, then. darnit. It all looks so damn good

            does any NM eatery in ABQ serve a low-to-no heat version of NM enchiladas that you (or Kim) could recommend?

            1. Tom, the one restaurant that comes to mind that will give you the deliciousness you come to expect from New Mexico’s chile without giving your taste buds and tongue third-degree burns is My Moms. Marie Yniguez, a James Beard Best Chef – Southwest nominated Chef and Food Network favorite can really cook. Her chile is mild but absolutely delicious.

      1. I have not built up a tolerance at all unfortunately. As much as I love Mary & Tito’s red chili, I probably put no more than three teaspoons on a burrito. I’m finding some new Mexican restaurants where I can not only tolerate the red chili but love it. The most recent example was at Los Olivos. I got chicken enchiladas with the red chili on the side like I always do, but quickly discovered I was able to dump the whole bowl on my enchiladas. They were the best enchiladas I’ve ever had in my life. Not sure where TJ has been eating Mexican food, but if he’s familiar with the way it’s prepared in Colorado, it’s totally different here. In CO I could always eat the red chili, though I wasn’t fond of the flavor and much preferred the green which I could also consume without pain.

    2. I am not kim but can assist! How adverse? There is the very meek n mild El Pinto off 4th street. they grow their own produce and their own chile, which is on the mild to a tad medium…I take “outa towners” there who have sensitive palates and are afraid to try NM chile ! Food is flavorful otherwise and the atmosphere is great.

      1. Thanks for the info AM. I can handle about a 3 or 4 on a 10 scale at most Thai and Indian Joints…..anything beyond that and I cant taste flavors anymore…..its just all pure heat

      2. Thank you, Ann. I’m curious as to what you believe might be the wide expanse of opinions about El Pinto. Some people love it passionately. Equally passionate in their dislike are detractors who don’t like anything about El Pinto. Surely there’s a middle ground.

    3. You gotta try their red chile, but you can get it served on the side and use as much as your heat tolerance can stand. I hope you enjoy it!

  3. Well. As any longtime fan of Mary & Tito’s knows, it’s hard to restrain one’s self when their highly anticipated meal arrives. The wait time was actually pretty short, but still. I dove right into my carne enchiladas with red chilé and didn’t come up for air until I was scraping up the remaining bits.

    So there went my photo op of my meal. Here’s the aftermath instead. As you can tell, I hated every bite of it. 😜

    1. I would normally be very upset with you for not having invited me to join you at Mary & Tito’s, but seeing that you used an accent on the word “chilé” I forgive you.

      1. 🤣

        In all seriousness, Sarita…here is a pro tip.

        Get the tortilla and clean up the plate! I swear, sometimes my plate looks like it never had any food on it… 😉

      2. I’m glad you approve of my use of the accent instead of the apostrophe or quotation marks like Ruben keeps insisting should be used. We should go sometime soon.

        The occasion was my friend’s birthday, who is also a longtime Mary & Tito’s fan. I didn’t want to embarrass her, which is what kept me from licking the plate. The tortilla arrived nice and warm, accompanied with a few butter packets that I just couldn’t bring myself to go to waste. Not many places offer butter with your tortilla anymore. Hence why the tortilla wasn’t fully utilized to wipe the plate clean.

  4. I agree that the food in general and the red chili especially are really excellent. However, neither the beans nor the beef has been salted enough to bring out their flavor. That’s what salt does. Once you slather on the chili or salsa you don’t notice it so much, but tasted alone, they are bland.

  5. Gil, since you haven’t posted in nearly two weeks I am worried. You mentioned reviewing take-out food during this period of “public health scare.” And yet, no reviews. Now, I’m speculating that you and your Kim have a second refrigerator in the garage filled with frozen food to last out this zeitgeist of panic buying at the grocery stores. I assume you will come out of hiding when your TP supply expires.

    1. Hi Tom:

      I hope folks everywhere will do what they can to support local restaurants with take-out and delivery and I’m looking forward to Gil’s reports. I live in in Western New York State where the restaurants are getting pretty creative. One local brewery gave away a free roll of TP with every takeout fish fry order yesterday. People loved it even though there was some speculation that perhaps the food initiated the requirement for the bonus gift.

      A restaurateur specializing in Italian food and located in an area with a clientele based primarily on office workers and theater-goers found takeout orders few and far between so he launched a successful “fill the freezer” delivery service. Full meals at reasonable prices are prepared, frozen, and delivered free of charge. People are not only ordering for themselves but for friends, relatives, and elderly people needing help.

      1. Hi back, Becky.

        That’s so cool “roll of TP with every takeout order.” The “fill the freezer” delivery service is a cool (no pun intended) idea, too.

        In my home town in Marin County there was a very well-respected chef at a highly-rated Italian restaurant who quit his job and opened a takeout operation of his signature dishes for takeout. He offered all the greats – Ossobuco, Ribollita, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, Risotto – ready to eat or freeze. He cooked all these dishes in, I swear, a 250 sq. ft. kitchen. No employees. Just him. I learned from him how well fat freezes. In fact, in some cases, one could argue certain dishes taste better reheated.

        Great to hear about all of these creative ideas during this temporary modus vivendi. Stay virus-free but don’t starve doing it!

    2. Worry not, my friend. As is often the case when one works at home, I’m spending more time on my laptop than is good for my wizened bones. We’ve actually only visited a handful of restaurants since the mandated shelter-in-place order, but I’ll try to get something done this weekend.

  6. Like Pavlov’s dog I am Gil’s dog when ever he updates a post on Mary and Tito’s I automatically salivate at his photos.

    My all-time favorite film writer/director is Preston Sturges. Between 1940 and 1946 Sturges wrote and directed eight films in five years. Such wacky screwball comedies as The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, and Christmas in July. I was reminded of Sturges’ Christmas in July when I searched my iPhotos for a photo of the last meal I had at Mary & Titos. It was a Christmas-style burrito time-stamped July, 2019.

    The red chile at M&T’s is so good I am willing to be pilloried to a wooden framework erected on a post mounted in the middle of the Old Town gazebo if anyone can prove to me the existence of a better red chile anywhere in New Mexico.

  7. “Marsha is indeed the daughter of Mary and Tito
    hence the wonderful chile dishes served for years at Ron’s Camino Real.”

    In the late 1970s and early 80s, a bunch of us UNM students were confident that we had found the most outstanding New Mexican food at Ron & Marsha’s Camino Real. I was especially lucky because I lived on the block and could walk out my door and into Camino Real. I must have had hundreds of meals there 🙂 The original layout and ambiance was quite nice, too. It was a converted house with an open floor plan and a nice fireplace. Afternoon light would beam into the room through stained-glass windows that depicted Southwest desert scenes, and the house artist, Mark Funk, always had some cool-funky art hanging on the walls. The place ran smoothly and the waitresses, kitchen staff, and owners were visible and friendly. Some years later they expanded the building and the seating , but not really in such a great way, as they created a bunch of chopped up rooms that were poorly lit. The small rooms resulted in small visual landscapes and less contact with the servers. They closed in 2003 🙁

  8. Please let folks know, Mary & Tito’s closes weekdays at 5:45, not 6pm and 7:45, not 8pm that is all over the internet. Help folks avoid the disappointment of not getting Mary & Tito’s delicious food. They have tried numerous times to get the time change, to no avail. At least let your readers, in on the real operating times and help them to avoid the disappointment of being 5 minutes too late…

    – Tom

    1. Thank you, Tom. I normally don’t publish restaurant opening and closing times because they change so often, but Mary & Tito’s is such a very special restaurant. The ONLY disappointment surrounding Mary & Tito’s would be in getting there too late to enjoy the transformative New Mexican cuisine.

  9. Interesting cross-play…to me anyway: Per a dining with G-Pa Date Night, took my G-Daughters to Cottonwood Garduno’s as the “new” broken water pipe deconstruction at Rte 66 and Rio Grande plus the ART shtick sounded too much hassle to get to the Monte Carlo just the other side of the river.
    Had the Carne Adovada Chimi…maybe it’s to be otherwise, but OMG the sweetness in this version tonight was to die-for! Never got to the Green Chile on-the-side! Service was hospitable; margarita was fine; salsa tweeked one’s palate!
    The next night, hit Mary & Tito’s to have the Combo with the ever famous Red. OMG, in contrast, this is indeed more of a manly-man red chile ….earthy,robust…you can literally taste it with your eyes in the deep…almost maroon like….coloring.
    At any rate, shouldn’t there be some “gradient” or whatever re Red or shall we just be tickled PINK to enjoy our “secret variations” in NM?! Same goes for Green, e.g. hot, but without flavor; flavorful without much heat.

    1. I’m sorry, but this is just begging for a reply…

      Do you know chichis better than Gil because you ARE a boob?

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

      1. Alas RE “Not sure how I missed this comment until now” who wont put a regular name to themselves for whatever reason: Indeed, I agree with your analysis RE Ruben is who however, puts a name to their supposed ID.
        Be all that it may, doesn’t anyone remember Chi Chi’s on San Mateo just north of Montgomery(?). Alas, I was married at the time and too timid to check it out as possibly being akin to some place like Twin Peaks or Hooters.
        Beyond that and to the basic point RE Chi Chis, I will stand by my more mundane analysis that the Chicharrones within a Stuffed Sopaipilla at Casa de Benavidez is Primo!

      2. Alas, I don’t put my name to posts because I don’t need my name out there cruising the information super highway. Let’s just say it would violate some previously agreed to rulings, er, I mean agreements… 🙂

        Henceforth you can call me Captain Tuttle (let’s see what kind of tiny url comes from that reference) if you *really* need to have a name to the post…

        And to answer your question (I think this was the gist of your comment), I believe Chi Chi’s was just a family chain Mexican restaurant. It wasn’t anything as nefarious as what the name implies. Having never been there, I can only guess that they wouldn’t have commercials of families enjoying themselves there if the waitresses were…shall we say…packing the heat…

        1. Roberto,

          In January, Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott and I had the great pleasure of breaking bread with "Captain Tuttle" who's been one of the most prolific commenters on Gil's Thrilling...for years. The good Captain is not only highly intelligent and well spoken, he's got an asbestos-lined mouth. He downed several jerk and habañero chicken wings without even breaking a sweat or reaching for water. Captain Tuttle is a tremendous asset to the blog and a super nice guy. I hope we can convince him to join us for a future Friends of Gil dinner.


      3. RE & To Capt. Tuttle: I understand perfectly your choice of using a pseudonym in making a Comment. (I.e., while I’ve been lured into Twitter, I am resisting setting up a FaceBook account for your reasons!) Certainly…and even so long ago….. we know of others like Diedrich Knickerbocker, Alice Addertongue, John Sedges, Agatha Christie, etc. who have/had concerns!
        – Elsewise, per your using a variety of “names”, it was hard to tell if you were a regular or just a drop-in/never-to-return Folk, altho certainly I’m thinking Gil and we’all are welcoming!
        Be all that as it may, nice to read Gil’s backfeed and, as such, as well as your long term familiarity with places Gil has chomped at, I would hope Gil might ask or that you might be prevailed upon to Honcho over the next FOG Gathering as it’s about that time! Say? 4/1/17 might be a fun date to target as we’ve never done that! But whatever is fine!

        [As a FYI, complete, other aside!: Speaking of the health benefits of our New Mexican diets due to Green/Red Chile, I just stumbled upon this that might be of import to those herein who might be looking upon osteoporosis! Yo!, according to a study from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Mexico, tequila (aka Margaritas as a New Mexican FAV!) helps the body absorb calcium and magnesium, leading to stronger bones—making the agave-based spirit part of a healthy diet…kind of. Source

  10. My hubbys adovada was pretty good according to.him
    My tamale was the worst I’ve ever had
    anywhere, ever
    Did not finish
    The okay thing was the guacamole.which anyone can make and my coke
    The chips were my dinner
    If that’s the best in town , the town has a problem

    1. My wife and I lived across the street from Mary&Tit0’s for a little while. The recipe, especially for the carne adovada, changed after 2001. Sometimes it had “the taste”, othertimes not. We found out what the missing secret was, adding bay leaf to the marinade. That is not an expensive item. We stopped driving over 35 miles to eat there, seeing eventually it was not going to stop being disappointing.

      I understand completely about your disappointment — but that was not what the author here, nor its historic fans, adored. It is too bad they cheaped out after the parents passed on.

  11. I just realized I’ve never left a comment for Mary & Tito’s. I LOVE the red chile here. So much so, that I have never even tried the green. The chicharones are awesome as well.

    I’m perfectly content getting a couple of sides of chicharones, a side of red chile, and a couple of tortillas! Of course the carne adovada is amazing as well.

    Although, I have to admit, I have not gone in some time. It seems another visit is in order soon…

  12. Saw Andrew Zimmern on Food Destinations Albuquerque tonight. I am not at all certain that he was even here for the show, He seemed to be shot in front of a green screen and magically transmitted to an Albuquerque background and seemed to know absolutely nothing about his subject. He wasn’t actually shot in any of the restaurants. We cut out for a traditional New Mexico Sushi Palace rather than sit through it to the bitter end. Examples:
    1. He showed Mary & Tito’s and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in “Near North Albuquerque” rather than the “Near North Valley.”
    2. The chef at the The Church Street Cafe said he used cumin in his Red Chile so at Mary & Tito’s Zimmern announced that the Traditional Red Chile Peppers served there were made with cumin. Hunt him down and kill him Gil (your battle not mine).
    3. He announced that Albuquerque was known as the “Land of Enchantment”, not New Mexico.

    I wonder if all his other shows from around the world contain so much nonsense that I don’t spot.

    1. Jim, I too noticed all the little things you mentioned. Normally I wouldn’t care so much, but when I go around telling people that M&T’s has the BEST red chile in the state of NM, I don’t want them thinking that cumin is what makes it the best :-)…

      Yes, the green screen was very evident and distracting. As a norteno, #3 was a huge turn-off for me…

      BTW, I’m curious what restaurant was the background for the green screen. Looked familiar but couldn’t place it…

  13. Read your review…..went there today and it was as you described…….I had the carne adovada with red chile served in a sopapilla ……outstanding
    My friend had the chile rellenos with green chile…super
    Finished up with wedding cake and a take home order of red and green sauces and a quart of carne adovada …….will go back thanx

  14. Happen to run across this and it seems fitting to share on this otherwise nebulous day of celebration…as promoted by beer distributors as half way between St. Paddy’s Day and the 4th of July???…this honor as being one of the Top 10 Mexican restaurants in the US: Salud!
    (Indeed, as I might expound elsewhere, when will these rating Folks come to know the difference?)

  15. Nope. No booze at 11:30 in the morning. Not really a bad meal, just nothing spectacular. I have been hearing for years how sublime it is. Maybe an off day. We’ll try again.

  16. The Child Groom and I went to Mary and Tito’s for lunch the other day. We were so excited to experience the legend. We LOVED the looks of the place–just dive-y enough to promise authenticity and reassuringly populated with a lovely selection of definite non-tourists. “Real deal” was written all over the joint. Sadly, the food did not deliver. I had ground beef enchilada with an egg and my husband got a combination plate. We both had the fabled red. I took a bite and waited to be beamed up to red chile nirvana. That never happened. I felt so terrible that I thought I should fake it. The chile was gluey, almost flavorless, and tepid both in temperature and kick. I feared for my tastebuds. I thought they had quit on me. Maybe they had gone menopausal and were lacking some key hormone. Our server was a bit glum. It was hard to get a smile out of her. The bathroom was rather scuzzy. We so wanted to add Mary and Tito’s to our list of iconic dining experiences. I’m going to stop writing and cry into my pillow. I sense the passing of an era.

  17. Another great meal at Mary & Tito’s on Monday with our humble Blogmeister Gil. The Monday special is the large combo plate that includes a taco, chile relleno, cheese enchilada, beans, and rice, all blanketed by their wonderful red chile. We also enjoyed a bowl of fresh crispy chicharones – bad for the body, but good for the soul. Sometimes you just have to feed the soul!
    Now that my new job puts me within 7 minutes of Mary & Tito’s, I am in foodie heaven. (I used to have to travel nearly 1/2 hour each way.)
    Happy eating, y’all

  18. Gil,

    Thanks for this enlightening and very useful (to me anyway) blog. While I do find the food at M&T to be good, I would not rate it as high as you do.With that said the issues I have with M&T don’t necessarily revolve around the food, but more the atmosphere and the approach to business. I can’t remember the first time I went to M&T, but do recall going there in the 70’s with my parents. M&T is stuck in that 70’s in terms of atmosphere and approach to business. Turn offs for me as to why I do’t frequent more often are when you order a soda the bring you a can with ice and charge for additional soda. I don’t like having to monitor my soda intake and it kind of lessens the experience for me. A fountain soda machine would end up saving M&T $$ and would probably save time and reduce efforts to manage cans. My other issue is that they have not (I dont think) remodeled ever and it is like stepping back in time. For me as I am sure it is with many of you part of the dining experience is to eat and relax in a friendly comfortable atmosphere. M&T in my opinion does not provide that. I liken it to shopping at Kmart. Thanks for the great blog

  19. Thank you guys for all info on mole sauce!!
    I am going to try out all restaurants you guys mentioned.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  20. Dear Mole Lover, Los Equipales has Pollo en Mole for $13.00 which they describe as
    Chicken boiled in a Vegetables and Aromatic Spices Broth, Smothered with a Delicious Authentic Poblano Mole Sauce served With Rice and Frijoles de la Oll. I have never ordered it but I can’t imagine anything from this restaurant not being good. While there you might also try the Tostadas de Huitlacoche or some seafood which I will guarantee are great. Jo’s Place also has a mole burger which is also in the list of things I have never tried.

  21. Does anyone know where I can eat a dish with mole sauce?
    I had a great mole sauce at Tune-ups in Santa Fe, and I just could not forget how beautiful it was and have been looking for a place that serves a dish with mole sauce in Albuquerque.

  22. Fabulous news. I’ll check out the magazine. I have the modest claim to fame that I was actually born in Hatch, so I’m a true chile! My grief over the demise of the Camino Real is replaced by joy–I can’t believe that I lived in ABQ for 10 years and didn’t know about T&M.

    Thanks so much, Gill. You are a gem!

  23. We are native New Mexicans (temporarily misplaced in Pennsylvania) who lived in ABQ for 10 years, and were big time fans of Ron’s Camino Real on Yale (at one time Ron and Marsha’s but now closed). Someone told us that Tito and Mary were Marsha’s parents, and the originator of the Camino Real recipes. Our very favorite dish at Ron’s was green chile enchiladas with carne adovada (blue or yellow corn tortillas). The green was not a creamy sauce, but essentially just chopped green in a broth, and the carne was to die for. I’m wondering if T&M’s is really the culinary predecessor of Ron’s, and if this dish is on the menu. We are headed there in September (chile season!!!) and I can’t wait to check out T&M’s—can you tell me if my taste buds will be satisfied of their long sad absence from my favorite meal in the entire world??

    1. Hello Deb

      The combination of red chile marinated carne adovada topped with green chile is a wonderful marriage of two different, but very complementary chile flavors. No one does it better than Mary & Tito’s. Marsha is indeed the daughter of Mary and Tito hence the wonderful chile dishes served for years at Ron’s Camino Real.

      If you subscribe to New Mexico Magazine, you might enjoy the September, 2011 issue which includes an “Ode to the Chile Pepper,” an article I wrote which features the Hatch, New Mexico chile farm which supplies Mary & Tito’s with its incomparable red chile.


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