Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Ruth’s Cris House in Albuquerque’s Uptown Area

During a recent Friends of Gil (FOG) outing, a newcomer asked how my Kim and I can afford to eat out as often as we do (about three times week on average). The practice of “dating your mate” is something we began half a lifetime ago when we were stationed in Mississippi and my Air Force salary was, to put it conservatively, considerably less than one-thousand dollars for every year of my life. Despite the fact that I’d been handpicked for the only job of its kind in my career field, a position with significant responsibilities usually accorded to someone of higher grade and experience–not to mention the possibility of war and deployment every service member faces–by most standards we would probably be considered at the bottom rung of the middle-class.

Our date nights could hardly be considered extravagant or high-end. Fortunately the Gulf Coast had a multitude of reasonably priced restaurants serving high quality seafood, Southern cuisine and barbecue. During our frequent visits to New Orleans, we favored“second tier” (in reputation and price, but certainly not in quality) Cajun and Creole restaurants because we couldn’t afford the anointed restaurants that had made the Crescent City a world-renowned dining destination. For our tenth anniversary I was determined to do something special for my bride. It literally took months of scraping and going without, but eventually I managed to save enough of my weekly allowance to take her to dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Mobile, Alabama.

First Floor Bar and Seating

Even back then–long before the advent of social media and a connected world–Ruth’s Chris was regarded as the place to go for special occasions, albeit one that cost a king’s ransom. Mobile was actually one of the first cities across the fruited plain to boast of a Ruth’s Chris franchise and it was less than an hour from our Ocean Springs home. Praying ninety-five dollars (adjusted for inflation, that’s about two-hundred dollars in 2016 dollars) would be enough, I asked my Kim to don her finery and ferried her to the most posh dining establishment we’d visited during our years together. Ruth’s Chris was everything we had hoped it would be. The ambience—from subdued lighting to spacing and music—was one of comfort and intimacy, but it was the sizzling prime beef which took the spotlight and we were a rapt audience.

Fast forward twenty-some years to my most recent “Jack Benny” birthday. After years of chiding her for taking me to such paragons of mediocrity as Subway and Olive Garden for my birthday, my Kim decided to surprise me with our first return visit to a Ruth’s Chris restaurant in more than two decades. She wouldn’t have been able to do so even a month earlier because Ruth’s Chris didn’t grace the mean streets of Albuquerque until about a week before our visit. For some reason, the extravagant eatery didn’t deign to launch in America’s 32nd most populous incorporated city until 2016—more than twenty years after setting up shop in Mobile, the country’s 123rd most populated city. Even if that speaks to the widely-held perception that Albuquerque is a cow town, shouldn’t a cow town (especially a cow town) boast of arguably the most popular high-end steak house in America?

Bread

Fittingly Ruth Chris landed in the Uptown district, increasingly the city’s center of commerce. More specifically, it’s located in the Park Square shopping center in a three-story space previously occupied by Robert R. Bailey Clothiers. Few, if any, vestiges of the natty haberdashery remain. Nor are there any de rigueur abobe-hued touches or tributes to the Southwestern architectural design style that defines Albuquerque. Instead, Albuquerque’s Ruth’s Chris would fit in at every other city in which the 150-strong chain plies its craft. A large mural in the downstairs bar area depicts Tucumcari’s legendary Blue Swallow Motel, a Route 66 landmark, but there isn’t much else that bespeaks of the restaurant being in the Land of Enchantment.

Step into the restaurant and you’ll find yourself in the lap of opulence. A comfortable waiting area beckons, but waiting is wholly unnecessary if you’ve got reservations. Your hostess will escort you to your table which is bedecked in white tablecloth with place settings and glassware for your party. The lower level doubles as a capacious bar and dining room, but for more quiet and intimate dining, you’ll want to dine at mezzanine level which you can reach via a few winding stairs or you can take an elevator. A large circular skylight with dozens of dangling lights ensures the mezzanine is flooded with natural light and artificial light as needed.

House Salad with Blue Cheese

Even among the masses who’ve frequented Ruth’s Chris over its forty-plus year existence, the genesis of the name “Ruth’s Chris” isn’t widely known. Contrary to a widely-held notion, the steak house isn’t named for someone named “Ruth Chris.” More than forty years ago, “Ruth Fertel, a divorced mother of two, mortgaged her home for $22,000 to buy a small 60-seat restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana named Chris Steak House. Shortly thereafter, a fire forced her to change the original location and she renamed the restaurant, “Ruth’s Chris Steak House.” Her restaurant has since featured custom-aged USDA prime (only two-percent of all beef earn this distinction) beef broiled to your exacting specifications in 1800-degree heat and served on a 500-degree plate still sizzling when it arrives at your table.

Despite the name on the marquee, Ruth’s Chris is about much more than USDA Prime beef. In addition to steaks and chops, the menu offers surprising variety, including seafood and specialties (chicken, fish or vegetarian fare). Appetizers and sides are internationally inspired, not only prepared to order, but guaranteed to complement any entrée. There are eleven starters on the menu, including a veal osso buco ravioli dish. The ala carte menu also includes numerous side dishes as well as soups and salads with soups and dressings all being made in-house. Bargain hunters will appreciate seasonal three-course meal offerings at prices substantially lower than some of the pricey steak entrees.

Sizzling Blue Crab Cakes

Much as we had remembered during our inaugural visit decades ago, personal and attentive service was a hallmark of our dining experience at Ruth’s Chris. Quickly noting our genial server sported a tie emblazoned with the Air Force logo, we struck up a conversation and discovered that Kenneth is, like me, an Air Force retiree. He’s also originally from New Orleans where we’d spent so much time during our eight years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Kenneth proceeded to guide us through the ordering process, sagely recommending dishes he thought we might enjoy based on preferences we expressed. Throughout our two-hour visit, the tandem service ensured our beverages and bread were faithfully replenished without us having to ask.

As we contemplated the menu, a small loaf of bread with whipped butter was brought to our table. A hard crust belied the soft, pillowy bread inside. The soft butter spread easily onto the steaming bread, a simple pleasure that seems somehow lost on fine-dining restaurants that insist on serving warm bread with cold butter. Good as the “staff of life” is with just some simple butter, it’s a bread whose purpose in life, other than granting pleasure, may well be for sopping up sauces and dressings. You’ll certainly want some of this inspired bread on your table to dredge up any of the steak house’s amazing blue cheese dressing (because licking your plate at a fine dining restaurant isn’t cultured.)

Loaded Baked Potato

The blue cheese is absolutely amazing, replete with sizeable chunks of picturesque blue veining and an earthy sharpness that characterizes fine blue cheese. It’s the highlight of an excellent steak house salad (fresh Iceberg, baby Arugula and baby lettuces tossed with grape tomatoes, garlic croutons and red onions). Don’t be shy about requesting a ramekin or three extra servings of the blue cheese because you’ll want some on every bite of the fresh, crisp greens, not to mention on the warm bread. Grape tomatoes are another highlight. Despite their diminutive size, they have a meaty texture with a thick skin and just enough sweetness and acidity for balance. The garlic croutons, red onions and blue cheese dressing will wreck your breath in the most delightfully delicious manner.

There are eleven starters on the Ruth’s Chris appetizer menu with ten of them featuring seafood. The only landlubber’s choice is the veal osso buco ravioli. A chilled seafood tower that includes Maine lobster, king crab legs and knuckles, colossal lump crab meat and jumbo cocktail shrimp sounds more like an entrée than an appetizer. We opted for sizzling blue crab cakes (two jumbo lump crab cakes served with sizzling lemon butter). Deposited on a sizzling pool of butter and surrounded by finely chopped red and green peppers, three generous, hand-formed lumps of crab meat looked good enough to eat…and they were. Alas, the lemon butter and peppers probably took away a bit too much of the crab’s natural sweet and briny flavors, but at least there was none of the “fishiness” you sometimes find in seafood served at landlocked locations.

Bone-In Filet

A baked potato (one-pound potato fully loaded “with all of your favorite fixings”) is but one of several inviting items on the thirteen-item signature side dishes menu. Frankly we haven’t had a truly excellent baked potato, especially one of such behemoth proportions, since the Great American Steakhouse closed in 2008. At Ruth’s Chris, “fully loaded” means chives, bacon bits, sour cream, melted cheese and butter, all of which are piled on where the potato is sliced open. Though the potato is baked well, not every forkful includes some of the fixings. On those forkfuls lacking fixings, we found the baked potato just a bit on the dry side (not an uncommon event considering the Duke City’s altitude).

Preliminaries out of the way, we were ready for the main event, ever curious to see if Ruth’s Chris steaks were as good as we remembered them to be so many years ago. From the Porterhouse for two, a whopping 40-ounces of prime beef, to the petite filet at four-ounces, there’s a cut for every appetite though price points can be a bit traumatizing. Eschewing the heftier cuts, I opted for the bone-in filet, a 16-ounce cut with a blend of marbling and mellowness near the bone. A perfectly pulchritudinous sear on the outside belies the medium rare degree of doneness on the inside (as per my exacting specifications). As advertised, the steak was still sizzling angrily on the 500-degree plate. Perhaps because of the plate’s heat retention properties, red steak juices didn’t drip off the steak onto the plate. By no means was this a desiccated slab of steak. It was one of the most delicious filets we’ve had in years.

12-Ounce Ribeye

My Kim ordered a Ribeye, described on the menu as a 16-ounce cut of USDA prime beef that’s well marbled and deliciously juicy. After struggling to cut the steak, she asked me when sinewy and tough became synonymous with well marbled. Sure enough, the Ribeye was far more chewy than we’d expected, too much of a challenge to enjoy. We sent the steak back and ordered another filet in its place. Staff and management apologized profusely and more than “made it right” with our second filet of the evening.

American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was once quoted as saying “take care of your memories, for you cannot relive them.” While that may be true, our return visit to Ruth’s Chris did rekindle memories of when we couldn’t afford such a meal and made us appreciate that we can now splurge every now and then. Ruth’s Chris is the perfect memory-making, occasional splurge restaurant.

Ruth’s Cris Steak House
6640 Indian School, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 884-3350
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 30 May 2016
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$$$$
BEST BET: Bone-in Filet, Baked Potato, Bread, Sizzling Blue Crab Cakes, House Salad with Blue Cheese

Ruth's Chris Steak House 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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15 Comments on “Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Albuquerque, New Mexico”

  1. I had dinner with my sister and brother for his birthday with her ordering the filet, him the cowboy ribeye and me the NY strip.
    The steaks were all cooked perfectly and served on very hot plates.
    The salads are good size, very fresh, all side dishes are plentiful and done well. The baked potatoes are huge, I would suggest sharing. We all enjoyed our meal and plan go back. I’m looking forward to taking my 4 grandsons for ribeyes. I’ve eaten at all the high end steak houses in town and RC does it the best. You have to go, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

    1. Yo Michael…nice Review as it is sometimes so disappointing to go to a “hi-end” place only to be disappointed.
      Alas, as a Volunteer for https://www.visitalbuquerque.org/ I’m looking forward to CLS Transportation orienting us to their service when they drop us off at RC’s for “Happy Hour” this month as I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing RC while living in Vegas for a couple of years!
      Lest anyone herein would like to tell Tourists where to go, give Roxane a call at 222-4304 to see what fun you can have by subbing or being at a permanent site for 4ish hours a shift at Olde Town, The Sunport, or other venues catering conventions! Been doing it for 9ish years and there are Folks doing it since…OMG….the “80s”! 

    1. Ha ha….always too funny to walk 4 steps and then thinking….”Do I know that Guy? Yes! I’ve only seen him in pictures, but only…but where?” Alas, I was lost in thought wondering if there had been any new developments about the new vagaries of the election of this AM; wondering if I picked up all I was supposed to on an errand there, while also going over meeting my newest of 3 PCs of the past year for an annual OK physical!…LOL Anyway…hope to see you and Senora at the next FOG to “jaw” about your days of California beyond a referrence to Ships http://tinyurl.com/h642a2z ..LOL!

      1. Roberto, Sr. Plata must not have made a good impression on you. Back in January, both of you (and Shawne) broke tortillas with me at Mary & Tito’s. I’ll bet you can still remember what Shawne wore.

      2. OMG! Must you point out (LOL) I am one or two clicks (morphed from Klicks, e.g. http://tinyurl.com/zqzlgow) away from qualifying for assisted living. You are right! Indeed Shawne’s top with a unique (Scandinavian like??) design of geometricish blues/browns along with her blondish tresses and effervescent smile on a wintry day may have caught me up in reverie to forget Sr. Plata after she had to leave early to pick up her yougun. My apologize to Sr. Plata!!!!
        -Alas, that was the meeting with the Journal Reporter Brizeno whereby I was also trying to wrangle her into doing an interview about the Volunteers of ‘Visit Albuquerque’, which she nicely did later.
        Oh, the agony of it all! Too funny!

  2. Had Cowboy Ribeye on the big 61 birthday and was well pleased! RC sets the bar on steaks but Mastro on Thousand Oaks/Beverly Hills is a very close 2nd. It was a highly generous piece of meat served medium+ And lightly seasoned. One thing though, it came back sizzling but I didn’t see the mass amount butter melting in that I am accustomed to, perhaps because we are up 5000+/- ft or they knew I should eat healthier. We had creamed spinach and it was GREAT. Enjoyed the wedge, of course no bacon, extra blue cheese and with blue cheese crumbles. This may become the Annual birthday celebration for Senor Plata, Senorena Plata, Hita and Sobrina De Sr Plata. Any thoughts to Mom and Pop Steak houses in Albuquerque area??

    1. Sr. Plata, the closest establishment that one could call a Mom & Pop steak house seems to be the Monte Carlo Steak House. I’m not sure a restaurant can survive on steaks alone. If I read Gil’s review accurately even Ruth’s Chris Steak house has a menu that has much more than just Steak.
      Likewise the Monte Carlo restaurant. I’ve eaten at Marcelo’s a few times and have been overwhelmed with the selections (too many) and underwhelmed by the consistency.
      I have eaten at what is in my opinion the quintessential steak house, the great Peter Luger’s. Everyone, or more accurately, 99.62% of folks who walk in the door order porterhouse steak. Why? Easy, consistency. I’ve eaten at Lugers 50+ times and never once was disappointed. When a Duke City eatery can claim the mantle of consistency, and serves dry aged prime beef then we will have a really great steak house.
      While I think RCSH did the right thing with Ms. Kim’s replacement steak a really great steak house wouldn’t have let the errant piece of meat out of the kitchen.

    2. “Any thoughts to Mom and Pop Steak houses in Albuquerque area?”
      Not a steak house, but not a chain, I dined with family at Scalo’s Wednesday night; it was packed. My daughter had my beloved Filetto and gave Thumbs Up that superb taste and tenderness continue. No offense to RC (which I’ve had in Vegas), but price wise……
      Alas, I was tempted away to the Salmon Special by Jenny’s description of the veggies and sauce which were excellent, albeit a slighty tad, wine sweet. My G-kid gobbled up the chicken and my S-i-L almost ate the lamp chops’ bones. As an aside, found that Jenny’s been there 9 years which might attest to owner Paternoster’s doing something right with staff as well. (Lastly, RE ART: Ok, I wont go down the road…LOL.)
      – Haven’t been in a few months, but would also give a Thumbs Up for Antiquity’s Henry the IV’s (filet ala artichoke/Bernaise) over many years in Old Town as well!
      – (Saw lights on at JJ’s across the street, but forget to check if open. Talk about that block having a Fine Dining Dominance with Elaine’s a few doors down. Too bad they don’t synergize by offering a Valet.)

  3. As an employee of Ruth’s Chris and a constant reader, although not commenter, of this blog, I feel obligated to point out the criminally awful management of RC.

    I have worked in various restaurants in ABQ for nearly a decade. While the industry as a whole is a bit notorious for bad management, Ruth’s Chris management takes the cake. I’ve never worked for a team who is so utterly rude, both in words and body language, to their employees. Management makes it abundantly clear that we are so far below them as not to matter.

    If I could make what I do at any other restaurant in town, I’d leave. I think the patrons of Ruth’s Chris deserve to know how horribly the staff, from dishwashers and cooks, to server assistants and bartenders, are being treated by the management team. Next time you’re there, watch the staff more closely. Everyone is unhappy.

  4. Thanks for the review Gil. My husband Steve and I have spent many a happy hour in Ruth’s Chris and look forward to partaking of it in the Duke City. Thank’s to BOTVOLR for solving the mystery of why they have not been here before. BTW, we owe you great thanks for turning us on to Budai. We eat there (take-out given that we live in the mountains) almost every Friday. Keep up the great work!

  5. Indeed and Seconded: Happy Birthday…..and Bravo for Kim not waiting to hit the place!
    Why, as well might you ask, had Ruth’s Chris (there be chains and there be chains!) overflew ABQ . Upon my return to ABQ about 02, it is one of the first things I looked into having been spoiled in Las Vegas. Alas, my “Princess” at the time, who, because I had fronted her recently getting her MA as a Nurse Practitioner and then CNM (amongst other thingies), was feasted by drug companies for her ability to Rx and thus I, as a Guest in tow, could join her for educational dinners at creme-de-la-creme venues of which RC’s, Morton’s, Aureole(?), Andre’s (downtown) etc. were haute at the time. Upon contacting RC way back when, I was advised they were blocked because of Trademark restrictions from entering NM given Dee’s Cheesecake Factory on Menaul across from the venerable American Furniture. DCF retired and released the trademark rights several months ago for you to now enjoy. I also tried to entice Sandia Casino to give it a shot given they’re being a “sovereign entity”, but they (per never hearing back) may not have been familiar with RC or been too early into their own development.
    So sad to read Kim’s Ribeye was not up to par albeit satisfactory amends were made. On the other hand, glad to hear RC may give Scalo’s Filetto a run for it’s money! From your review, I can’t help but to anticipate we may be FOGGING @ RC? Please let me know ahead of time so as I can get my jeans to the dry cleaners for a nice crease!
    OMG…you actually made out what was being sung by Dylan? (On the backside of his reflection: he once visited The Grotto http://tinyurl.com/z8dj9dj that contrarily vexed Jack Kerouac as related in his Dr. Sax.)

    1. OMG….WTH was that blathering all about? I’m so mixing restaurants.
      Indeed!!! I know see why Folks might have reason to complain they don’t know what I’m writing about….Too Funny!!!
      Bottom line: I guess R’sC must’ve thought we didn’t have enough Folks of Means to support it. Time will tell!
      Pardon, I’m off to take a shower and then see my therapist!

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