Stone Face Tavern – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Stone Face Tavern

Boris Vallejo, one of the premier fantasy and science fiction artists in the world, might find the ambiance at the Stone Face Tavern inspirational.  He might even join the throngs of regulars who enjoy the ambiance, hospitality, libations and food at a tavern he could have designed.  The Stone Face Tavern is like an adult Disneyland for aficionados of the fantasy and erotica genres masterfully created by Vallejo.  The south-facing facade resembles a multi-turret stone castle complete with threatening gargoyles perched on the parapet.  The ominous countenance, flowing beard and piercing eyes of a Viking warrior or Norse god (maybe even Odin himself) looks down upon you from a vantage point high above the entrance.

Step inside and it may take you a few minutes to adjust to the capacious dimly-lit dining room (heaven help you if you wear transition glasses) where there’s something to see wherever you turn.  Once adjusted, your eyes will scan the room and maybe take in the banners suspended from the ceiling in much the way knights’ banners adorned the great halls of medieval castles. Perhaps they’ll fixate on the large flat screen televisions (which provide much of the venue’s illumination), all tuned to sporting events.  Patrons endowed with XY-chromosomes will likely focus on the menu and the waitresses, not necessarily in that order.

Banners Festoon the Ceiling

The Tavern is owned by Billy Baldwin, an Albuquerque entrepreneur who also owns other Duke City watering holes.  He’s a past president of the New Mexico Hospitality Retail Association and obviously knows a thing or two about hospitality. He also knows a thing or two about constructing a menu that appeals to his clientele.  Three salads–blackened chicken, fajita and chef–will appeal to lighter appetites.  Eleven sandwiches, ranging from a Philly Swiss (one of the tavern’s signature favorites) sandwich to your choice of bratwurst or Polish sausage are probably more popular than the salads.  The menu includes only one seafood entree, salmon, but it also includes a half dozen New Mexican entrees, all of which are big enough to share.  Appetizers include French fries, beer-battered mushrooms, chicken tenders, guacamole and chips, nachos, quesadillas, buffalo wings and chips and salsa. Non-sandwich entrees include chicken fried chicken or steak, steak fingers, New York strip and a hamburger steak.

Fridays and Saturdays rock at the Tavern when featured bands bring the house down.  For sports fans, volleyball season begins in March every year at the Tavern’s outdoor volleyball courts.  Then before summer temperatures begin to soar, the Stone Face Tavern hosts the annual Sandia Mountain Volleyball Classic, a pro-am event with players from New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and California.  Proceeds go to Albuquerque’s New Mexico Cancer Center.  If indoor activities are more your speed, the Tavern has a number of dart boards available.  Unlike some watering holes, the ambient noise isn’t so deafening that you can’t hold a conversation with your companions.

The Buffalo Chicken Sandwich (buffalo sauce on the side) at the Stone Face Tavern

29 September 2012: It takes two hands to handle the behemoth buns which wrap themselves around cheese, tomato, lettuce, a full fried chicken breast and a buffalo sauce as lethal as gunpowder in the legendary buffalo chicken sandwich.  Buffalo chicken wings have never seen a sauce quite as incendiary–or quite as good.  It’s a better chicken sandwich, by far, than you’ll find at any of the fried chicken chains.  My friend and colleague Fred Phillips loves this sandwich so much he’s earned the sobriquet “Four Bite Fred” for the ardor with which he attacks it.  He’s been responsible for introducing more people to this sandwich than most online dating services have made lifelong matches. 

Another among the five chicken sandwiches on the menu is the aptly named New Mexico Cordon Bleu chicken sandwich, a take-off of the classic French favorite with a New Mexico twist, our ubiquitous green chile.  This sandwich features a seared chicken breast topped with ham, Swiss cheese, green chile, tomato, lettuce and mayo.  It’s a humongous chicken sandwich, requiring both hands to hold.  With a more ardent green chile, it might compete with the aforementioned buffalo chicken sandwich for the tavern’s best.

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

29 September 2012: The chicken Parmesan sandwich, an Italian-inspired creation has everything a brimming plate of chicken Parmesan might have save for a side of spaghetti.  The chicken breast is roughly the size of what you’d get in the Italian dish, maybe even in a Texas plate of chicken fried chicken.  It protrudes well beyond the bun at all sides.  It’s a thick chicken breast with a relatively light breading considering its size.  The marinara sauce is thick, too, and draped over by a generous amount of cheese.  The French roll isn’t nearly formidable enough to hold in its contents so you’ll probably have to eat this sandwich much as you would chicken Parmesan. 

My friend Captain Tuttle  raves about the New York Steak sandwich, a sandwich “so good, it makes me weep when I eat it.”   Ever the “homer,” my philosophy is anything named for New Mexico has got to be better than anything named for New York.  That means the New Mexico Steak sandwich for me.  Where the New York steak sandwich is served on a French roll, the New Mexico steak sandwich is served on a tortilla.  Alas, the tortilla is so thin and crispy that it cracks and you’re forced to eat the steak with a fork.  This is inexcusable.  There are plenty of purveyors of more pliable, thick tortillas that would hold up better.  It’s a pity waifishly thin, cracker brittle tortillas are the downfall of an otherwise terrific sandwich.

Side Salad with Blue Cheese

The Stone Face Tavern also serves a formidable, two-fisted burger menu–six burgers including a green chile cheeseburger which packs a punch…as does the jalapeno-based salsa which might have you reaching for water more than once. Almost uncharacteristic of this predominantly man’s man’s tavern, the burger menu also includes a veggie burger, your choice of black bean or garden. It is served with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and mustard. I have it on good authority from my friend, the professorial Randy Lake that this is a pretty good burger.

24 October 2018:  The Alibi staff doesn’t hold chicken fried steak in as high esteem as some of us do.  In the breakfast segment of the Alibi’s Best of Burque Restaurants for 2018, the Alibi prefaced the readers’ poll selection of the city’s best chicken fried steak thusly: “Going to a restaurant just because they feature a dish called chicken fried steak ought to be a sin, but it isn’t. Why, sometimes there is nothing better than a piece of cow coated in batter, fried up and served with thick country gravy. That’s called living the good life.”  If visiting a restaurant for chicken fried steak really was a sin, some of us would have to say a few thousand novenas as absolution.

Chicken Fried Steak

It might be argued that the real sin is the paltry portion size of some of the chicken fried steaks served in some Duke City areas.  You’ll never hear anyone complain about the portion size at the Stone Face Tavern.  The chicken fried steak (pictured below) is roughly the size of a car muffler.  It’s absolutely humongous, maybe the chicken fried steak answer to the Big Texan’s 72-ounce steak. It’s also huge on flavor with a crispy breading sheathing a fork-tender exemplar of the dish.  As if the savory slab isn’t enough, the steak is accompanied by your choice of potato (mashed, French fries, baked), Texas toast and a very fresh garden salad.

24 October 2018: Considering all the great chicken sandwiches on the menu, it stands to reason the Stone Face Tavern would serve a terrific chicken fried chicken plate. Indeed it does. More than most chicken fried chicken dishes, this one tastes like picnic worthy fried chicken, several orders of magnitude better than what the Colonel’s place serves. It’s easily an inch thick in places but beneath the crunchy, crispy breading, the chicken remains moist and juicy. The white pepper gravy isn’t especially assertive, but it’s got a nice flavor that compliments the chicken. The Stone Face Tavern is one of the few restaurants to offer a baked potato for lunch. Take advantage of it and ask for it to be fully loaded (bacon, cheese, chives, sour cream).

Chicken Fried Chicken

Even though my friend Four-Bite Fred will probably never deviate from the buffalo chicken sandwich, there’s something for everyone on the menu.

Stone Face Tavern
8201 San Pedro, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 822-8855
Facebook Page

LATEST VISIT: 24 October 2018
# OF VISITS: 8
RATING: 20
COST: $$
BEST BET: Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, Chips & Salsa, Quesadilla, Enchiladas, Chicken Parmesan Sandwich, Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich, Green Chile Stew, New Mexico Steak Sandwich, Chicken Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Chicken

Stone Face Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

About Gil Garduno

Since 2008, the tagline on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has invited you to “Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.” To date, nearly 1 million visitors have trusted (or at least visited) my recommendations on nearly 1,100 restaurant reviews. Please take a few minutes to tell me what you think. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd love to hear about it.

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6 Comments on “Stone Face Tavern – Albuquerque, New Mexico”

  1. After a hiatus, the NY Steak sandwich is back!!! I mentioned this when Ryan Scott had his radio show and had Billy Baldwin as a guest. I wanted him to ask Billy why this had gone off the menu. Don’t know if he heard, or just had enough people ask about it, but it is back!!!

    You have to try this wonderful piece of carnivore heaven. This is a huge (has to be about 14 oz.) NY Steak on a hoagie with cheese and Green Chile. MMMMM. This sandwich is so good, it makes me weep when I eat it!

    Why they took it off the menu in the first place I’ll never know (I’m sure it had someting to do with price, because now that it is back, it is higher priced than it was before, but definitely well worth it)!

  2. I have to write – we have been visiting Stone Face regularly – friendly folks in bar/restaurant and package.

    I must recommend any sandwich – mine: Reuben – wife: any burger.

    Always add green chile – tip: try basket of fries and onion rings with ranch and chopped green – too much

    Any New Mexican dish is great

    My new “Best of NM Green”

    We leave our “service” dog in car!!!!

    Brian

  3. I used to like going to Stoneface for yummy good food and cold beer but after last night I will not ever go back until the owner, Billy Baldwin apologizes to my friend Valerie and her SERVICE ANIMAL, Zendo. Last night we were planning to meet for a few drinks and munchies. I was waiting for her to show up and when she walked in with her walker and her SERVICE DOG the bouncers and the MOD refused to let her in with her “dog”. Do you not know that this is against the law??Service Animals
    28-11-3 NMSA 1978

    In accordance with New Mexico law, qualified assistance animals or an assistance animal being trained by a recognized school for training animals to assist persons with disabilities, shall be admitted to any building open to the public and all public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, hospitals, pools, stores, apartments, common carriers and theaters, provided the animal is under the control of a person with a disability or a trainer.

    Fees 31-19-1: No person shall be required to pay additional charges for his qualified animal but is liable for any damage done by the animal.

    Penalty 28-11-4: Any person who violated any provision of Section 28-11-2 NMSA or 28-11-3 NMSA shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and can be fined up to $1,000.00.

    You can download a Qualified Assistance Animal Act Wallet Card using the link provided. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print the document.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals

    Q: What are the laws that apply to my business?
    A: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

    Q: What is a service animal?
    A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

    Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. “Seeing eye dogs” are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

    * Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
    * Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
    * Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

    A service animal is not a pet.

    Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?
    A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.

    Q: What must I do when an individual with a service animal comes to my business?
    A: The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.

    Q: I have always had a clearly posted “no pets” policy at my establishment. Do I still have to allow service animals in?
    A: Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your “no pets” policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability. This does not mean you must abandon your “no pets” policy altogether but simply that you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.

    Billy I hope you get a chance to read this and contact me so you can correct this issue~oh and by the way after we left your place we drove up to Chilis and had NO PROBLEM.
    Thanks for your time~
    Loreena Ogas

  4. I do not recommend this place. I had been going there for over 15 years but this place has really gone downhill and is not worth your time. The food is terrible; there is no service and the waitresses are morons. It was a great place for good food, good beer and hot waitresses with some brains. This is no longer the case. Do NOT go here!

  5. this place a very nice place i have been to quite a few bars and never and i mean never have i met people so welocoming at a bar i walk in they greet me with a hello and a smile and they check on you frequently they intruduced themselfs to me so when i needed something i wasn’t looking around i just had to say a name! i like this place

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