Note: In the twenty years or so in which Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has worked hard to earn your trust, I’ve shared with you my impression of many different dishes. One that hadn’t crossed my lips until rather recently is a rather foul-tasting, hard-to-swallow dish called crow, an odious carrion that no chef can transform into a palatable dish.
Several years ago on my review of Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant, I whined with my usual rancor about the foul demon spice cumin on the restaurant’s red chile. Suffering from severe nasal congestion at the time, my usually trustworthy olfactory palate thought it had discerned the repellent cumin. It was a false read that led to a denouncement of Perea’s red chile. For that I apologize to the Perea family and any readers who may have held off in ordering what is actually a very good, very pure red chile…– Gil
Tourists visiting San Francisco who wish to partake of the city’s most “authentic” Chinese food might be in for a surprise if they select their dining destination based on the number of indigenous diners they can see from a restaurant’s windows. It’s widely reputed that in San Francisco such “window dressing” is at the least, a facade and at the worst, a bait and switch tactic. Instead of authenticity, tourists might actually be in for a meal of Americanized Chinese food of which they’ll partake in an upstairs dining room not visible from the street and crowded with other tourists.
If the criteria for authenticity and quality includes the number of indigenous diners at an ethnic restaurant, Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant is one of the Duke City’s most authentic practitioners of New Mexican cuisine The signage “Perea’s Authentic New Mexican Restaurant” even tells you you’re in for authenticity, but the proof, as always, is in the eating, not just in the number of native New Mexicans seated at the restaurant.
Perea’s is one of Albuquerque’s most popular dining destinations regardless of genre. Open seven days a week from 8AM through 2PM, it is usually crowded with repeat customers making up a significant portion of the restaurant’s guests. How do you know they’re repeat customers? The staff greets so many of them by name that you might think they’re family. Over its 35 years of serving Albuquerque, Perea’s has moved numerous times. It’s currently situated in a facade that previously housed a Long John Silvers restaurant.
There’s nothing especially remarkable about the restaurant’s interior design though you might never even pay attention to the artwork on the walls as you watch plates brimming with deliciousness being delivered to other tables and take in the aromas of sopaipillas in the fryer. There’s also something almost musical in the clanking of spoons as they stir coffee all day long and it’s certainly comforting to know you can get breakfast at any time of day.
Perea’s breakfast and lunch menu features American and New Mexican treasures, all of which are prepared very well. Most diners seem to eschew burgers and sandwiches and focus their appetites on New Mexican comfort food favorites–essentially anything with red or green chile. Both the red and green chile include ground beef (vegans are forewarned on the menu). Burritos are one such comfort food favorite. Perea’s burritos start with the best foundation possible–thick homemade flour tortillas. You can pretty much pick what you’d like those tortillas stuffed with and can’t go wrong whether it’s ham, bacon, sausage or chorizo.
21 April 2007: The chorizo at Perea’s is redolent with Mexican oregano and other olfactory-arousing spices. Fold into your tortilla, chorizo, eggs and potatoes and you’ve got one of the best any time of day burritos in New Mexico, one which is made even better when served Christmas style (with both red and green chile). By the way, you can purchase either fresh or day-old tortillas at Perea’s, but good luck in trying to craft a burrito nearly as good.
21 April 2007: The Carne adovada (cubes of pork that have been marinated and cooked in red chile) is another Perea’s specialty. This carne adovada is laced with garlic and oregano with fork-tender tendrils of porcine perfection. The carne adovada is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes as Yelp contributors will attest (as will my adovada adoring Kim).
Perea’s has some outstanding green chile offerings including one of the two or three best chile rellenos in Albuquerque. The relleno is creamy and cheesy, a combination we’ve found more often in the Las Cruces area than in the metropolitan area. The green chile, by the way, was named Albuquerque’s very best by Alibi readers in the 2014 “Best of Burque” poll.
There are a couple of additions every diner should request. One is the restaurant’s incomparable refried beans which have that cooked with lard taste that seems to set apart the very best refried beans. The other is a bowl of the green chile, which is fabulous. It is more piquant than the chile served at three quarters of the New Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque, but not overly piquant to real chile fanatics.
2 March 2008: Hungry diners may want to try their hand at the large combination plate: a taco, chile relleno, enchilada and burrito along with beans and rice. It is a prodigious platter replete with New Mexico treasures. Unlike other New Mexican restaurants, Perea’s gives you tremendous latitude in crafting this combo plate to your exacting specifications. That means beef, chicken or carne adovada on your burrito, enchilada and taco–your choice. For me, it will no longer be “Christmas style” on this combo platter. It’s green all the way!
Perea’s salsa is somewhat thin, not so much that it all runs off the chip, but enough that some spillage is inevitable. It’s got a very pleasant piquancy and the chips are lightly salted. Even better, the chips are thick enough for Gil-sized portions of salsa in each scoop. This is the type of salsa and chip combination of which you’ll want a second portion.
21 April 2007: Inexplicably, Albuquerque diners which serve the best breakfast burritos (Milton’s and Murphy’s Mule Barn come to mind) also serve some of the very best pancakes in the city. That holds true as well for Perea’s where a “short stack” is a must. The batter for these golden orbs includes a bit of cinnamon as well as vanilla. The taste of both coalesce to form some of the very best pancakes in town. They would be even better if served with hot syrup instead of syrup from a squeeze jar.
Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant is indeed a genuine treasure serving authentic New Mexican cuisine.
Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant
9901 Central Avenue, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 8 June 2015
# OF VISITS: 4
BEST BET: Salsa & Chips, Pancakes, Chile Relleno, Stuffed Sopaipilla, Sopaipilla