True to the restaurant’s name, Peppers chefs play tribute to chiles and peppers so ubiquitous to New Mexico cooking. In many of their creations, they incorporate New Mexico green and red chile, chipotle, Chimayo red chile, Habañero, Serrano, Pepperonici and red and green bell peppers (a chile icon denotes all items in which chiles or peppers are used in the preparation). Despite the often clever use of chiles and peppers, Marriot’s signature restaurant suffers from inconsistency that has kept us from patronizing this Pueblo themed restaurant more often.
Among the items we’ve enjoyed most is the hot spinach and artichoke dip served in a sour dough bowl with red, blue and gold tortilla chips. The salads are bounteous and the salad dressings are innovative, particularly the thick honey mustard dressing. Peppers version of this party favorite is among the best we’ve found in Albuquerque. Ditto for the crème brulee, a wonderfully light dessert done exceptionally well. Peppers specialties include a steak and enchiladas combination in which an eight ounce sirloin and three enchiladas fill your plate. The enchiladas, in particular, are pretty good in a city where everyone knows good enchiladas.
Not so good are the fajitas which–contrary to conventions–are made with prime rib not skirt steak. Worse yet, instead of fajita marinade, an au jus is used and it just doesn’t complement the accompanying peppers and onions. Also below par is the Spanish rice which appears bathed in cumin, an accursed spice which does nothing but detract from the native flavor of chile based entrees. Chops craving carnivores might enjoy the apple brandy pork chop, a bone-in 12 ounce pork loin chop marinated and fire grilled with a caramelized onion, apple, brandy demi-glace (which unfortunately has the consistency of gravy.
Peppers is a warm, inviting restaurant whose Pueblo theme includes formidable vigas from Jemez, chile ristras, pottery and bronze cast Kachinas.
Courtyard by Marriot
5151 Journal Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 16 December 2004
# OF VISITS: 4
BEST BET: Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Salsa & Chips, Crème Brulee