Milton’s Family Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Milton's Restaurant--always open, always consistent, always delicious.
Milton’s Restaurant–always open, always consistent, always delicious.

In a 2002 column Jason Sheehan, one of the best in a succession of outstanding Alibi restaurant critics assembled a dream menu of the best foods he had ever eaten, a “desert-island top ten” from which he’d choose if ever asked the question, “If you could eat only one thing every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?”  His top ten list included the phenomenal red chile breakfast burritos from Milton’s Family Restaurant in Albuquerque. As a restaurant critic I’d flatter myself disingenuously if I compared myself to Sheehan, but at least in terms of our mutually high opinion of Milton’s breakfast burritos, we’re completely simpatico.

I first discovered those tortilla encased treasures when stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in the late 1970s.

Milton’s burritos are simplicity itself–grilled tortillas enwrapping eggs and potatoes then smothered in some of the best, most earthy red chile (or alternatively, a savory, fruity green chile that’s just as wonderful) as any served anywhere in New Mexico. Make sure to order these burritos “Christmas style” so you can have both red and green chile.

Eggs burrito, #13 on the menu, #1 in your heart!
Eggs burrito, #13 on the menu, #1 in your heart!

These breakfast burritos (pictured at left) are a truly mellifluous marriage of great ingredients prepared uniquely well and crowned with a chile that’s not adulterated and which has just the right amount of heat. They’re number thirteen on the breakfast menu, but even if you suffer from triskaidekaphobia, this will be your lucky number.  These burritos include a lettuce and tomato garnish which I save for last and have them as a salad with any remaining chile as a piquant salad dressing.

If the melding of eggs, potatoes and chile just won’t quell your carnal urges for meat, Milton’s also has breakfast burritos with a spicy Mexican chorizo or with bacon. They, too, are absolutely delicious. The breakfast burritos are served with pinto beans and the aforementioned lettuce and tomato garnish.

A short stack of Milton's delicious pancakes.
A short stack of Milton’s delicious pancakes.

There was a time the Duke City had two Milton’s Family Restaurants, both of which were founded by Milton Tzouvaras. The one in closest proximity to Kirtland opened in the mid-1970s, but changed hands and names several times and today exists as Roper’s. It is no longer owned by the Tzouvaras family.  The sole Milton’s is on the fringes of Albuquerque’s downtown area. The sidewalk on the restaurant’s northeast corner is inscribed with Milton’s name and the date in which it was opened (4-19-1988). This Milton’s is situated on the building which housed what is reputed to be Albuquerque’s very first Denny’s way back in 1964.

Milton’s Family Restaurant remains in the Tzouvaras family with the eldest son Issa ensuring the continuity and consistency that has made it my very favorite family restaurant in the city, albeit a restaurant from whose windows dining patrons can watch some of the city’s most down-in-their luck citizens walk by. Milton himself has spent most of the past twenty years in Greece.

The "Greek Breakfast"
The “Greek Breakfast”

What makes this anachronism the best? Milton’s is truly a throw-back; it is absolutely unpretentious, not bowing to nouveau trends in bathetic (yes, it’s spelled with a b; look it up) ambiance or the latest in haute cuisine. It relies on hearty portions of delicious, albeit unsophisticated cuisine at reasonable prices as its primary draw.

While many restaurants may lay claim to one menu item that distinguishes itself as truly memorable, Milton’s lays claim to several. Aside from serving the very best breakfast burrito in town, Milton’s makes some of the very best pancakes (and variations such as pigs in a blanket) I’ve ever had.  The pancakes are fluffy buttermilk orbs plucked out of the griddle at the right instant. A dollop of butter, some syrup and you’re in carbohydrate heaven. Who needs fruit or chocolate garnished pancakes when the simplicity of plain buttermilk is so good?

On occasion Milton’s showcases the family heritage with Greek specials such as the Greek breakfast, two eggs any style, gyro lamb, cheddar and goat cheeses, Pepperonici, Kalamata olives and your choice of pita bread or toast. The gods of Mount Olympus would have bypassed ambrosia for a plate of this delicious breakfast.

Milton’s breakfast is incomparable, a restaurant my late Chicago born and bred father-in-law (whose opinion I value even more than Jason Sheehan’s) said served the very best breakfast he had ever had.

Not just a breakfast joint, Milton’s serves some of the best comfort food favorites for lunch and dinner: meatloaf, roast beef, barbecue and even liver and onions.

In the dark thriller The Flock, filmed in the Albuquerque area, Milton’s was the favorite restaurant of the protagonist played by Richard Gere. I’ll bet he loved the breakfast burrito and pancakes, too.

Milton’s Family Restaurant
725 Central, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 22 June 2008
COST: $$
BEST BET: Breakfast Burrito, Pancakes, Huevos Rancheros

12 thoughts on “Milton’s Family Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

  1. I was looking for a Milt’s, which was actually the predecessor of Loyola’s. That’s right. Where the BB scenes were shot. Used to eat breakfast there for a buck on my way to class at UNM in the mid 70s.

  2. Excellent news, Ryan!

    Gil, Edward and I are pretty unreliable dining companions….you should feel free to check out Milton’s without us, because I don’t know when we’ll be able in the foreseeable future!

  3. I am happy to report that Milton’s is both open and still very, very good.
    The new location is clean, large and friendly.
    The menu isn’t exactly the same as the location on central, but still very similar. I had the half pound bacon cheeseburger, fries, a bowl of the lemon chicken & rice soup, and iced tea for lunch today. They even brought out a small chocolate pudding with whipped cream for dessert for no additional charge. The entire cost for this feast was $13.00. Glad Milton’s is back!

    1. Hello Edward

      It’s very likely this is Milton’s reborn. In December when Milton’s closed, the owner said he eventually revive the Milton’s brand at another location and that his search for a new location would begin in 2013. I hope you and Hannah make a “Drive to Place” or “We Have Eaten Well” visit to Milton’s as soon as it opens and let me know how it is.



  4. Milton’s is now closed. I found out earlier this week that Chris Medina, the owner of Holy Cow, has bought the Milton’s property and is going to launch a brand new restaurant there with plans of opening in March.
    Sad, really. I’ve always liked Milton’s food and our agency insured Milton’s for many, many years.
    I love Holy Cow, however, and can’t wait to see what Chris has up his sleeve.

  5. Milts use to be a great restaurant. I loved the food there. We use to go all the time and then meet up with all the regulars. Last time we went it was horrible i ordered what i usually order and it was bad. Place was empty. We use to meet up with a bunch of regulars but no one goes there anymore. Wont go back. Waitresses are on phone all the time or busy goofing off with one another.

  6. I ordered the coney Island dog. I could not get another glass of water or another soda. Te wait staff was to busy texting on theor phones. when i asked they told me ok and never came back with it. I asked a second time same reply and nothing i got tired of asking and then left. Went back in the evening the waitress waited on us but she was very rude. When i asked her for another soda she replied very rudely. My boyfriend and i will not go back.

  7. I was very disappointed in the waitresses there. They are either on cell phone or outside smoking. I ordered a great lunch there but i could never get catsup. Our waitress was on cell phone outside and other was of in the corner somewhere. The food was great but the help was just horrible. Oddly enough i left no tip. Will not go back unless i see different waitresses.

  8. I can’t disagree with Gil on Milton’s breakfasts—as I have not eaten breakfast there. However, the “23” rating seems quite high for lunch.

    To begin with, the ambiance, is more than unpretentious, I’d say it was bordering on shabby. While not expecting a fine dining ambiance, repairs were needed in several areas. Also, the TV was telecasting soap operas at an irritably high volume. Added to that, the wait staff decided 1:30 was a really great time to vacuum the floors.

    Still, had the food been of “23” quality, I would not complain. My companion and I both ordered the Soup of the Day which was a rice, beef and green chile soup. It sounded great—but that is all about it that was great. It was all but flavorless. In fact, I find it difficult to imagine putting together the above ingredients along with a few vegetables and and producing something so completely without flavor.

    Fortunately, things did get better. My companion’s tuna salad sandwich was fresh and flavorful. The only complaint was that it was placed between to slices of toasted brown bread. It was supposed to be whole wheat bread, but, like other cheap whole wheat breads, tasted just slightly different from white bread.

    I considered getting a fish sandwich, but after questioning our very friendly and helpful waitress, and being told that the fish was frozen and heavily battered, I opted for another choice.

    Being a Greek owned restaurant, I ordered the gyros plate. This was a large gyros sandwich with a side of French fries. It was a very good sandwich. The pita bread was warm and very flavorful, the meat was plentiful and tasty and the salad ingredients were fresh. It came with a side of “gyro sauce,” which was a substitute for tzatziki (or is the Milton’s tzatziki). This sauce was creamy in taste and texture, rather than yogurty and had some cucumbers in it. No taste of dill, garlic or mint, though, as I would have anticipated and preferred. The fries were quite good and delivered hot to the table.

    Milton’s may be great for breakfast, but, after only one visit, I’d say try somewhere else for lunch unless you particularly want gyro sandwich.

  9. I used to be a huge Milton’s fan, loved their Greek breakfast, would go several times a week for breakfast when I had to have working breakfasts and needed good food and wifi. Unfortunately, the last time I went was the last time I’ll ever go. I was exposed to food poisoning so severe that it put me in the hospital for three days. The source of the food poisoning was toxic contamination, onset was within 30 minutes of ingestion and there was unfortunately no question that the poison came from Milton’s.

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