Eli’s Place (formerly Sophia’s Place) – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Dennis and the lovely Sophia at the viewing of the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode featuring his outstanding restaurant
Dennis and his daughter, the lovely Sophia at the viewing of the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode featuring his outstanding restaurant (Photo courtesy of Sandy Driscoll)

NOTE: In March, 2018, Sophia’s Place reopened.  Please click here for the updated review.

Picture yourself as a first-year marketing student assigned by your professor to perform a marketing analysis of Eli’s Place and its enigmatic chef-owner Dennis Apodaca. Essentially you’ve got to figure out the rhyme and reason behind the restaurant’s success. “Easy assignment,” you think to yourself, “Eli’s Place is successful because it serves some of the best, most delicious food in Albuquerque.” Your research quickly reveals, however, that Eli’s Place actually violates many of the time-honored, trusted and fundamental marketing tenets of growing and successful businesses. From a marketing perspective, it just shouldn’t work as well as it does.

Any Marketing 101 student can tell you, for example, the importance of brand identity. A brand is one of the most valuable and important assets of a restaurant. It needs to be carefully cultivated to ensure it properly and authentically reflects the values, attributes and passions of a business. Eli’s Place received an enormous boost to its brand identity in 2008 when the Food Network came calling. Being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is generally worth a fortune to any restaurant. So what does Dennis Apodaca do? In 2015, he renamed his restaurant, eschewing the well-established and nationally known brand name Sophia’s Place in favor of Eli’s Place.

Eli’s Place may not be as visually appealing as other restaurants, but it serves beautiful food

Then there’s the restaurant itself. From an esthetic perspective, it isn’t nearly as inviting and attractive as those modern venues with their pristine veneer or the effusive, over-the-top flamboyance of the chains. It’s virtually homely. Heck, it doesn’t even have a sign telling you you’ve arrived at your destination. The parking lot can get muddy during inclement weather which can sometimes render the outdoor patio useless. Step inside the Lilliputian edifice and during peak hours, you’ll be challenged to find a seat. It just doesn’t make sense that Eli’s Place works as well as it does.

The main reason for its success, of course, is gifted proprietor and chef Dennis Apodaca, an accomplished restaurateur despite (or maybe in spite of) not following a tried-and-true template. Sure, he may be an enigma to any marketing student, but to savvy diners he’s one of the very best chefs in New Mexico. Dennis has a very impressive pedigree that includes stints at some of the best restaurants in San Francisco and Santa Fe, having worked for several world-famous, cutting-edge chefs in some of America’s most renown restaurants. Those include Mark Miller, the high priest of modern Southwest cuisine and founder of Santa Fe’s Coyote Cafe and the pioneering Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse, the original California cuisine (focusing exclusively on organic, locally produced foods in season) restaurant in Berkeley, California.

The interior of Eli’s Place. Note the poster signed by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host Guy Fieri

Apprenticing under luminary chefs may make apparent the genesis of some of his culinary influences, but it’s also obvious that Dennis loves his craft and plies it with enthusiasm and style. I heard him speak once of his annual pilgrimages to New York and of dining at such restaurants as Katz’s, a Manhattan deli I hold in reverential esteem. Like most great chefs, he is always in pursuit of new ideas and techniques. Dennis launched the restaurant he named for his then eight-year-old daughter Sophia on December 3rd, 2002 (and which he renamed for Sophia’s own son in 2015). It’s situated at the former site of the once very popular, but now defunct Fajitaville, a restaurant at which he served as chef before launching his own operation. As popular as it was, you don’t hear many former Fajitaville patrons lament the change. That’s because they’ve been completely won over by Apodaca’s inventive, eclectic and funky menu–a menu that includes a range of sophisticated salads and soups, extraordinary sandwiches and lots of pleasant surprises.

Dennis is also a stickler for using fine ingredients, many of which are flown in and delivered daily to his charming North Valley restaurant. He insists on the preparation of each meal to order; you won’t find anything sitting under a heating lamp here. You also won’t find a freezer in the premises. Dennis believes in ultra-fresh. His menu is replete with specials of the day which change frequently, usually crafted from fresh ingredients he procures from the farmer’s markets. Eli’s also does not have an oven or burners, just two grills, but sheer magic is created on those grills.

Chips and salsa at Eli’s

On August 25th, 2008 the Food Network’s Guy Fieri taped a segment at Sophia’s for his Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives program. On a signed poster which hangs on one of the restaurant’s walls, Fieri wrote “little place, huge flavors.” That pretty much says it all, not that Fieri didn’t say quite a bit more about Sophia’s. After that segment aired on Monday, November 24th, 2008 getting a seat at this fabulous restaurant became even more difficult. Guy Fieri pegged it correctly when he called him “a hands-on chef who’s doing things his own way.” That includes touches like making his own butter and crafting all his culinary creations by hand.

24 November 2012: One holdover from Dennis’s days at Fajitaville are some of the best salsas in town. An order of salsa and chips rewards diners with two salsas–a roasted tomato salsa and a pico de gallo style salsa coupled with housemade chips served warm. Neither of the salsas are especially piquant, but both are redolent with freshness and flavor. The chips are lightly salted and oversized for Gil-sized portions of salsa. Unfortunately you’ll run out of salsa before you run out of chips.

Grilled Sirloin and Green Chile Sandwich on Sage Bakehouse Bakery Bread with Shoestring Fries
Grilled Sirloin and Green Chile Sandwich on Sage Bakehouse Bakery Bread with Shoestring Fries

Breakfast and lunch entrees are served all day which is a great thing because you never know when the urge will hit for a world-class sandwich. Sage Bakehouse bread, a New Mexico treasure, is the foundation upon which those sandwiches are built. Each sandwich is served with your choice of potato salad, green salad or homemade shoestring potatoes (a must-have). Don’t desecrate those shoestring potatoes with ketchup. Ask instead for a small bowl of Eli’s red chile and dip your fries into that. Some of the best chile and some of the best fries in town–you can’t go wrong with that combination.

Eli’s grilled pastrami sandwich is a poor man’s version of the aforementioned Katz’s in which pastrami is piled on skyscraper high. Even though Eli’s doesn’t lay the pastrami on as thick as at Katz’s, it’s also not apportioned in waifishly thin shreds like the sandwiches the chains proffer. In Albuquerque only California Pastrami serves a better pastrami sandwich (although it dropped just a bit in my estimation when packets of mustard replaced the gourmet mustard once dolloped on the sandwich). Apodaca gets his pastrami flown in from Chicago where this brisket derivative is best made.

Chipotle Chile Bacon Cheeseburger
The green chile cheeseburger at Eli’s

30 August 2008: Also exceptional is the green chile bacon cheeseburger on hard-crusted Sage Bakehouse bread. As the hack comic Banya would tell Jerry Senifeld, “it’s the best, Jerry, the best.” In a city and state in which green chile cheeseburgers are a religion, Dennis Apodaca is a high priest, serving something just a bit different. This cheeseburger is a two-fisted edible piece of art with an explosively delicious taste. The green chile is not so assertive that it prevents the salty sweetness of the bacon to sneak out. Instead they meld together wonderfully. The texture of the lightly toasted Ciabatta bread is a nice departure from the traditional soft burger buns. The bacon is crispy and thick. There’s no iceberg lettuce in this masterpiece; it’s salad quality mixed greens. The hamburger patty hasn’t seen the inside of a freezer; it’s hand-formed and thick, prepared to your exacting specifications.

27 September 2016: Burger aficionados will also love Eli’s chipotle cheeseburger, a work of art and absolute beauty. It’s got the piquancy (maybe even more) of a green chile cheeseburger with the inimitable flavor of chipotle. If you’re not sure what a chipotle is, it’s merely a smoked, dried jalapeño. It’s a versatile pepper, adding depth, complexity and a kick to meats, and a savory counterbalance to sweets. At Eli’s, the chipotle doesn’t come out of a jar. It’s the real thing, smoked at home and rehydrated to textural perfection. This chipotle cheeseburger is simple, a thick hamburger patty, molten cheese and chipotle. That’s it…and that’s enough.

Sophia's Breakfast Burrito
The breakfast burrito, Albuquerque’s very best

The simply named Breakfast Sandwich on (what else) toasted Sage Bakehouse bread is a concordant composition of fried eggs, bacon, cheese and fresh salsa that will help make your day start off on the right foot. It may well be the best breakfast sandwich in Albuquerque, not that there is a plethora of competition in the breakfast sandwich arena.

10 April 2008: Eli’s breakfast burrito has done something I had thought impossible. It supplanted Milton’s breakfast burrito as my favorite breakfast burrito in New Mexico. The primary reason is a wondrous red chile, a deep, earthy, sweet and utterly delicious chile of medium piquancy. This chile is in rarified company with Mary & Tito’s legendary red which I’ve long considered the best in the Duke City area. It’s the type of chile you might want to lick off your plate so as not to leave any of it behind. If Dennis were to offer New Mexican food exclusively, it would probably be the best in the city. Make sure you order your burrito “smothered” so you won’t be lamenting that there isn’t enough chile on your plate. In its September, 2011 edition, the staff of Albuquerque The Magazine undertook the enviable task of selecting the Duke City’s very best breakfast burrito. Eli’s was rated tenth best. To paraphrase the immortal words of former world boxing champion Max Schmeling’s manager Joe Jacobs, “they waz robbed!”

Huevos Mexicanos

There’s only one thing wrong with Eli’s red chile. It’s that the red is so good, many of us may never again order the breakfast burrito “Christmas style” (with both red and green chile). That would be sad because the green chile is outstanding in its own right. It’s a fruity chile with a comal roasted aroma and flavor. The breakfast burrito is crafted from organic eggs, potatoes, cheese and salsa. You can have it with your choice of bacon, pork carnitas, chicken, beef or vegetables.

23 November 2010: The daily specials on Eli’s menu truly earn the accolade “special.” Such is the case with a breakfast enchilada with turkey sausage, Cojita cheese and poblano chile. The melding of these ingredients make for an outstanding breakfast entree that I may have to bide my time to see returned to the menu. Fortunately, there’s always something else intriguing and invariably delicious to mollify my appetite.

Another special special, duck enchiladas with a green chile cream sauce
Duck enchiladas served with a green chile cream sauce

30 August 2008: Another very special special are the duck enchiladas served with a green chile cream sauce (pictured above). Somehow Dennis manages to segregate the least fatty parts of the duck while retaining all its characteristic flavor and he engorges corn tortillas with the delicious canard. A generous dollop of mildly piquant green chile sauce crowns the enchiladas with even more flavor. This special is served with black beans studded with Cojita cheese as well as a mixed greens and mango salad. This is just Dennis and his free spirited whimsy; he loves to play with ingredients and has a knack for making seemingly disparate ingredients meld together in perfect flavor synchronicity.

The Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives taping took place on a day in which the special of the day was another version of duck enchiladas, this time with tomatillo sauce. Watching the step-by-step construction of this entree revealed the depth of Dennis’s talent, but even more so, just what a perfectionist he is. Every preparation step is meticulous and well practiced, obviously the result of extensive experimentation until everything is absolutely to the chef’s exacting standards.

Scallop Tacos with beans, rice and a salad

The duck, which is left in the bone and skin, is seasoned and rendered in duck fat for several hours then is de-boned by hand and seasoned again (lime, cilantro, Mexican red chile, sugar, salt and other ingredients) on the flat top. Two legs per order of succulent duck meat are then placed on two soft corn tortillas with Asadero cheese then topped with the tomatillo sauce, toasted pumpkin seeds, scallions and queso fresco. Fieri uttered “really good” three times punctuated with “an explosion of flavors” and “you’ve got it going on with this one.”

10 April 2015: A Washington Post writer recently proclaimed, “Ok so who in the hell doesn’t do a scallop taco?” He obviously hasn’t been around the restaurant scene in Albuquerque where scallop tacos are a novelty. In fact, Dennis is just one of a handful of chefs in the landlocked Land of Enchantment I know of daring to depart from the de rigueur fish taco (which is rarely done well in New Mexico). His version starts with gigantic sea scallops which he tucks into soft, pliable corn tacos then garnishes with a mild salsa, avocado slices and Crème fraîche. There are two scallops per taco, two tacos per order and they’re at least twice as good as the best fish taco I’ve ever had.

Sophia's shoestring fries with red chile
Eli’s shoestring fries with red chile

Eli’s scallop tacos are inspired–an amalgam of flavor combinations which work very well together. The pearlescent scallops are grilled so they have a nice char on top and at bottom while retaining an opaque clarity that means they’re absolutely perfect. I’ve tried in vain several times to duplicate Dennis’s wizardry with scallops, but have concluded begrudgingly that my scallop skills are rudimentary compared to the chef.

The Saturday and Sunday brunch menu features several items not available during weekdays. These weekend specials have made Eli’s an intensely popular dining destination. You might have to wait in line ten to fifteen minutes to place your order then another half hour for your order to reach your table. It’s worth the wait.


20 April 2008: One of the best reasons to get up on a weekend are Eli’s Special Pancakes, priced daily and served with fresh fruit and real maple syrup. Those special pancakes might be sour cream and lemon pancakes with a piñon butter topped with blueberries. The tartness of the blueberries and lemon create a palate pleasing harmony with the maple syrup. The sour cream changes the texture of standard pancakes by adding moistness while retaining the fluffiness inherent in great pancakes.

23 November 2008: Eli’s pancakes will cure the early morning blues (or anything else that ails you). A large stack (four) of pumpkin pancakes with pinon nut butter topped with assorted berries may be the very best pancakes you’ll ever have. They’re stick to your ribs pancakes, the panacea for cold mornings. Cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice emphasize the flavor of pumpkin while the berries provide a tangy contrast. The syrup brings together the complementary tastes of sweet, tangy and pumpkiny. Share these with people you love.

Turkey Sausage Enchiladas with Red and Green Chile

One of the things that makes Dennis’s pancakes a panacea is his homemade butter, a culinary rarity that blew even Guy Fieri away. Fieri who has probably seen just about everything on his road tours seemed amazed that Dennis would go to that extent. After sampling Eli’s homemade butter (made from separated heavy cream mixed with toasted pine nuts, dried cherries and honey), Fieri called it “outstanding.”

4 November 2012: Other brunch favorites include Eli’s version of chilaquiles and a very unique interpretation of Huevos Rancheros called Huevos Mexicanos. This dish is constructed from corn tortillas topped with two eggs prepared any way you want them then slathered with green chile stew. The green chile stew is terrific, the type of which you’d appreciate at any time, but especially on a cold wintery day. The chilaquiles are simplicity itself though its flavors are complex and delicious. Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish with which Eli’s takes a few liberties, topping the eggs and tortilla chips with red chile instead of the more conventional salsa.

Lemon and sour cream pancakes with blueberries
Sour cream and lemon pancakes with a piñon butter topped with blueberries

You’ve got to experience this gem for yourself to find out what so many diners know–Eli’s Place is one of Albuquerque’s very best restaurants of any genre. Overflow crowds and accolades don’t tell the whole story. That lies in each and every wonderful morsel of pure deliciousness fashioned by the inventive hands of the chef and owner. Eli’s Place and its superbly talented owner-chef Dennis Apodaca may be an enigma to marketing students, but to those of us who love great food, he’s a luminous star, one of the very best.

Pumpkin pancakes with pinon nut butter

6313 4th, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 27 September 2016
COST: $$
BEST BET: Grilled Pastrami Sandwich, Breakfast Sandwich, Chipotle Bacon Cheeseburger, Simple Noodles, Breakfast Burrito, Special Pancakes, Scallop Tacos, Chilaquiles, Huevos Mexicanos, Grilled Sirloin Sandwich, Pork Carnitas Tacos,

38 thoughts on “Eli’s Place (formerly Sophia’s Place) – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

  1. Looks like Sophia’s has a second life in a new location. Drove by the MIXX location on Thursday morning (on my way to Java Joe’s) and saw a sign in the window saying it’s the relocated home of Shophia’s. A couple of people looked busy working inside. The Open sign was lit (today as well) but no sign of activity at 7:45 am.

  2. Someone please tell me what happened to Sophia’s Place. We went for lunch yesterday and it’s gone. Is it somewhere else? Thanks

    1. Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos reports that Eli’s Place (formerly Sophia’s) will be reopening on 4th Street just across the street from Dan’s Boots & Saddles.

      1. Sorry lest I may have implied that reopening is imminent. I’ll keep a lookout to see any signage to when that will be.

        1. Josie is indeed Sophia’s grandmother and a very lovely, gracious woman as well. You can meet her when you visit Sophia’s reborn at 918 Central where she’s been helping Dennis out. You can check out my review for Sophia’s here.

    1. I have it on good authority that the closure of Eli’s place is temporary and that owner Dennis Apodaca is scouring the 4th Street area for a new location in which to host his fabulous restaurant. In the meantime Duke City diners can enjoy Dennis’s outstanding culinary skills at his new restaurant Maya on fourth Street and Silver in the downtown area. If you enjoyed the food at Eli’s you will love the food at Maya.

      1. Wonderful, wonderful news that they plan to reopen. Eli’s (and Mary & Tito’s) are my two favorite restaurants in the state! I was pretty devastated to hear that they had closed.

  3. There are average tacos in town, great tacos at other places, and then there are special of the day red chile lamb tacos at Sophia’s. These were some of the best tacos I have ever eaten. I was pleasantly surprised to see they are open for dinner again and was able to try these out, so for those of you who haven’t been in a while you now have more hours in the day to make a visit. This remains one of the best restaurants in town.

  4. Gil, A lawyer friend, Mike Casey, introduced me to your site and I feature it as THE restaurant resource for Albuquerque visitors at my taxi website, Call-A-Cab.

    Now, I have to edit my website link from ‘759’ reviews to ‘783.’ Please consider linking me to your website.


  5. Lest folks have missed the addition of evening hours, SP’s hours are now:
    M-F 7 A to 9PM
    Sat 9 A to 9PM
    Sun 9 A to 2PM

    Had the Pastrami. Guess I really prefer the finely sliced version. Liked the string-fries.

  6. For Father’s Day, my daughters presented me with an invitation to several monthly ‘Just Us with Dad Breakfasts’ for several months. Sophia’s was my 1st choice specifically to try the pancakes…alas, for me, underwhelmed. Crisp bacon was fine; coffee was indeed wonderful! On the way out, I espied a patron linkering to begin, ala fork and knife at-the-ready, a Rubenesque breakfast burrito per its obviously beautiful presentation beckoning from a pool of deep red chile which had flowed from that on top which was drizzled with a strand of white cheese(?). I empathized…and was embarrassed to say the least as I noted the moisture welling up about my palate. Sensing my gawking, the patron looked up and grinned saying “There’s no Other!” Ergo, will have to try again.

  7. As I was driving around Albuquerque and getting hungry doing some Saturday chores, I found myself in need of pancakes and went back to the place that so far is the King of Pancakes in this fair city. Yes, Sophia’s Place. Being a Saturday and being noon meant pancakes would be offered. They had 2 choices: Mixed Berry or Blue Corn with Pinon Butter. I was confused. But when confused, I do what must be done. I had a 1/2 order of each which was 2 of each kind of pancake. It was truly excellent. The pinon butter was so rich and thick and made for a great preparation for the maple syrup. Ah, another delicious pancake morning. Now, if they had Turkey Bacon for us Sephardics, breakfast would be complete…

  8. Senorena and I stopped for brunch at Sophia’s Place yesterday. My mind was set on pancakes so finding out they only served pancakes on weekends made it difficult to change gears. I had the Tortilla burger which Mr. Bill would whine that it was too overcooked (it was). The red chile was very good though. I liked the shoestring potatoes and the side salad. Senorena had the shrimp tacos and felt they were lacking in the number of shrimp per taco (2) and flavor. This trip was as eventful as the last when we had a Sunday brunch and I had some awesome pancakes. I think the owner needs to focus on the theme of what’s served and make it the very best. I will return on some future weekend for those pancakes. Hint: Serve them 7 days/week…

  9. First visit was on a Monday around 1115. Another party was in front of us and two tables were occupied. A young hispanic girl w/ black rectangular glasses was @ the counter writing the daily specials on a board. We stood there at least 3 minutes reading the menu board while the girl never acknowledged any of us. She repeatedly turned around to fetch new pens for her coloring project, but not a word to us. The people in front of us hadn’t been there before because they turned to us and said “I guess it’s table service???” We then sat down. Another five minutes passed and no other patrons came in and the girl finished her coloring. She then huffed out from behind the counter, came to our tables and said in that dramatic twenty-something put-upon voice, “You have to order at the counter.” Okaaaaaaaay. So both parties got up and ordered at the counter. Again dealing with the sullen help. We tried to have ice in our beverages but there was no ice. The sullen one mearly said, “It’s probably frozen stuck” and that was it. More customers had since been arriving; regulars since they ordered @ the counter. Again many mentioned to the sullen one that there was no ice. At no time during this did she bother to come look at the ice dispenser. When another customer complained, she handed him a steak knife and told him to break up the ice block. He succeeded, although it looked like he was giving the machine an enema.
    The sullen one delivered our food wordlessly. Plopped the burger and pastrami sandwich down and scurried off. I got up to get my own condiments from their fridge. The burger was OK, would have been better if Alex hadn’t smashed it so much when it was on the grill. Bacon was good; bun was good just the beef was dry. What is programmed into the DNA of 99% of burger cooks that they have to smash the burger when it’s cooking and therefore leaving it dry?
    My companion thought he had a ham sandwich instead of the pastrami. Minimal meat that was cut thick. It was dry and chewy.
    We’re not rushing back anytime soon. Very disappointed seeing as how this is not the owners first restaurant venture.

  10. Sr, Senorena and Sobrina Plata made it a must to eat at Sophia’s based on the recommendation of Sensei. I had the Blue Corn Pancakes with mixed berry, pinon butter and maple syrup (wow, best in the city and to prove it, most tables had at least an order of them with whatever they already ordered). My Senorena just now reminded me how delicious they were. I had a side of Turkey Sausage (the Sephardic in me) which was well done ground Turkey with some chili in it. I topped it off with excellent Brazilian coffee; very good and no acidic aftertaste. Senorina had the Fish Tacos (she gave a big 2 thumbs up!). Sobrina had the Roasted Pepper sandwich which she enjoyed a lot. Nice fresh shoestring potatoes came on her order and Sr Plata enjoyed taking them when not watched. This was an unassuming awesome place that was packed with people. We were able to place our orders while we waited for a table which meant when we sat down, we were served quite quickly. Its amazing the food you will find inside and the jumpiness of the clientele. This restaurant reminded the Plata’s so much of brunch in San Diego, CA. Now I have tried Jo’s Place and Sophia’s Place, next stop… Ezra’s. Sr Plata is looking forward to the chef having more children so there will be more restaurants to try! …

  11. I Love Sophia’s Place and try to take anyone I know there. It is original when Chains have taken over our Dining, SP has kept it authentic! Aside from my friend Eri’s house I don’t know a place I can order Chila quile Be patient, all good things take time, it will be worth the wait!

  12. I tried Sophia’s for the first time today. I took my friend from out of town there for breakfast. We both had the breakfast burrito with bacon, smothered christmas-style. It was a fantastic breakfast burrito. The red chile is easily some of the best in NM. I plan to return and try many other items. Do yourself a favor and give Sophia’s a try…

  13. Sofia’s is my favorite ABQ restaurant, bar none (well, maybe it’s tied with Artichoke Cafe).

    We eat there Sunday AM’s if we don’t eat at Ezra’s, the sister (brother) restaurant at the bowling alley a block south on Rio Grande, other side of street (where the food’s just as good but the ambience is, uh, different).

    Sofia’s duck enchiladas! The chef has cojones!

    Nobody in Santa Fe is as “celebrated” as Dennis is, by the people that count….and fwiw, Dennis, a kid from the neighborhood, is said to have worked for Alice Waters….

  14. This is a great place to eat!! The portions are huge though so I just eat off my husband’s plate. :):) We come to Albuquerque often from Houston and just love Sophia’s.

  15. Sami,

    Thank you for providing a nice contrast to Gil’s well-written reviews with insightful comments like “white people Mexican food.” It helps us all remember what it’s like to be in the presence of a moron and adds a very meaningful critique of the food at Sophia’s at the same time. Thanks.

  16. Sami,
    Perhaps the tacos at Sophia’s are Mexican, rather than New Mexican. Many Mexian (as opposed to New Mexican) foods do not use piquant spices. I think those at Sophioa’s are wonderful, especially the shrimp and scollop tacos.

  17. I love this website. I’ve only lived in Albuquerque for two years so this is my go to website when I’m in the mood to try something new. I tried Sophia’s about a week ago and I was not impressed. I had the tacos and I must say they tasted like white people Mexican food. I’m from Las Cruces, so maybe I’m just partial to southern New Mexican food.

    1. Hi Sami

      The taco has become one of the most versatile foods in the world with corn or flour tortillas becoming a veritable canvas for ingredients that stagger the imagination. In the past two years, two wonderful books have been written that celebrate the taco. The first is called simply Tacos. It was written by Mark Miller, former owner of Santa Fe’s Coyote Cafe who has been called “the high priest of Southwestern cuisine.” The second book, Taco Table was written by Lois Frank, one of New Mexico’s most celebrated chefs and authors. I encourage you to check them out. They certainly opened my eyes as to the infinite possibilities of the taco.


  18. They dont wait on you, instead you stand in line. We both ordered the Green chile cheeseburgers and when they finally got them to us, there was no cheese. Its not like we ordered the cheese as an after thought, it was the special of the day. Hey, the cheese makes it a Green Chile Cheese Burger. The fries are very thin and very greasy and gave me indigestion. I sure miss Sissys Cajun Catfish that used to be at this address. I wouldnt go back.

  19. We’ve been to Sophia’s twice and had the scallop tacos, the shrimp tacos, the sirloin tacos, the green chile bacon cheeseburger, and the mixed berry pancakes. The tacos were all super, accompanied by a great salad and flavorful beans. Neither of us cared much for the rice that also came with them. It was OK but with no distinctive flavor. I guess beans and rice with everything is a New Mexican tradition. The pancakes were very good topped with yummy berries. We got a half order and that was more than enough. The burger was interesting but we’ve had ones we like better elsewhere. Over all Dennis does a great job. We’ll be back trying to score some duck enchiladas.

  20. Gil, your review was so convincing that I had to go down to Sophia’s for a look see. I was not disappointed. I had the huevos rancheros with carnitas. I went with the christmas tree. Outstanding meal. I’m not sure if I’m ready to annoint Sophia’s as the queen of Red Chile, but it’s very darned good. I can’t wait to get back there. Thanks for the great recommendation.

  21. I saw your place on the Food Network, with Guy Fiere. I loved the way your presentations looked! And the combinations of food items! I can hardly wait to visit.

  22. I just watched Diners and Dives and was excited to see the artistry of Dennis and his itty bitty, fabulous kitchen and what comes out of it – WOW, the sauces, the fresh ingredients, I really could smell what was going on!

    thanks Dennis and Guy for the tip – I am headed to NM and will stop in at Sophia’s
    Happy Holidays!

  23. Hey Gil, you hit the nail on the head – Sophia’s Place is wonderful. As a regular out-of-town visitor, one of the things I’ve liked about the Albuquerque dining scene is the profusion of quirky, authentic, friendly, neighborhoody places. Some of my favorites over the years have been Mary and Tito’s, M&J Sanitary Tortilla Factory, Christina’s, Perea’s in Corrales, Barelas Coffee House (more for the vibe than the food), Duran Central Pharmacy, Gold Street Caffe, Perea’s and Loyola’s on Central, and Fajitaville, in this very same spot, as you mention above.

    We visited Sophia’s again yesterday for breakfast. Everything was top-notch–a warm welcome, good strong coffee, and everything made fresh to order. We ordered the huevos rancheros Christmas – organic eggs over easy, just right, thin-sliced fried potatoes dusted with red chile powder, and those wonderful red and green chile sauces – and the french toast – good Sage Bakehouse bread with some texture to it, fresh berries on top, and warm maple syrup on the side.

    If you haven’t been to Sophia’s yet you should go as soon as you can. This place is an Albuquerque treasure and probably my favorite spot in town right now.

  24. Thank you for the kind words about my Web site. During basic training in the Air Force, my drill sergeant made me march with a rock in my left hand so I could distinguish the difference between right and left. I guess it’s time to look for that rock again. Dennis is the gentleman on the left.

  25. First off, I love your website and have been perusing it for years. I find it an invaluable resource whenever I want to explore outside my set routine in search of new gastronomic delights here in The Duke City.

    One quick question regarding your Sophia’s review. Is Dennis really the one “on the right” in the picture? I always thought the gentlemen on the left was the owner – but am too shy to have ever actually asked when I visit (which is a minimum of twice a week recently).

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