2G’s Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico

2G’s Bistro on Central

In May, 2018, Yelp published its listing of the 50 best restaurants in Albuquerque. Only three of them came from the not-yet-done-revitalizing East Downtown (EDo) district. The two that won’t surprise anyone are The Grove Cafe & Market at number eight and Standard Diner at number forty-seven. Sandwiched between them is a relative newcomer named 2G’s Bistro which ranked twenty-first. Geographically, 2G’s Bistro is also sandwiched somewhere between The Grove and the Standard Diner on Central Avenue. My very preliminary assessment (one visit) is that it may be better than its EDo neighbors on Yelp’s list (gasp, the sacrilege). Even though 2G’s only had 43 Yelp reviews as of my first visit, they averaged five stars. 

Fourteen months later (August, 2019), 2G’s had 115 Yelp reviews while holding on to its lofty five star rating.  It was also named by Yelp as Albuquerque’s top kid friendly restaurant. Though respondent demographics weren’t reported, you’ve got to know it’s not just kids who esteem it so highly.  Parents appreciate that even though 2G’s doesn’t have a kids menu, it will custom make items kids love such as small sandwiches, grilled cheese and pancakes.  It’s likely if Yelp ever compiled a list of Albuquerque’s top dog-friendly restaurants 2G’s would rank at or near the top.  As dog parents, we love it.

A very interesting back patio

If you haven’t heard of 2G’s, you’re probably not alone. It’s only been around since mid-2017 which makes its exalted ranking doubly impressive. Not surprisingly, two other couples dining on the Lilliputian bistro’s charming dog-friendly patio during our inaugural visit were visiting because of 2G’s lofty ranking on Yelp’s list, once again demonstrating the power of crowd-sourced reviews. Both couples raved about their inaugural experience, enthusiastically concurring that they’d return soon. Our own visit was prompted by the lovely Vanessa, a faithful reader of Gil’s Thrilling…who called 2G’s Reuben “the best in town” (more on that later).

Chances are very high that during your visit, you’ll interact directly with the characters for whom 2G’s Bistro is named. When we asked about the name 2G’s, one jokingly said it stood for two guys drinking beer. Actually, he elaborated, the two G’s represent the last names–Gonzales (John) and Garragan (Casey) of the two very hands-on business partners who run the restaurant. Both are peripatetic presences at one of the most charming little restaurants we discovered in 2018. John inherited the entire (circa 1900) complex of which 2G’s is a part. That complex includes a maze of connected structures: private residences, offices and a small studio. The dog-friendly patio sits at the back of the restaurant, perhaps thirty feet away from the cacophony of bustle and noise that is Central Avenue. Beneath the canopy of leafy trees and shade-giving umbrellas, you might feel as if you’re not even in the Duke City. Who needs Calgon?

Pulled Pork Street Tacos

A very ambitious menu belies the diminutive diner. Though we usually order two appetizers to acquaint ourselves with a restaurant’s style, seeing humongous portions being delivered to neighboring tables dissuaded us.   Each of the five appetizers were certainly appealing. So were the salads, soups and salad-soup combos, numbering eight in all (little did we know when perusing the menu that the “side” salad was as large as some gardens). Five house specialties, three of them sandwiches follow suit on the menu, but there’s also a sandwich menu with nine more options. Since you can never have enough choices, the menu also lists four entrees and a bevy of bountiful breakfast items. For those of us who need caffeine in the morning, the featured coffee is New Mexico Piñon Coffee, increasingly one of my favorite “best parts of waking up” coffees.

19 May 2019: Among the appetizers are two taco plates–the blackened fish street tacos and the pulled pork street tacos (four fresh corn tortillas topped with slow-roasted pork infused with habanero BBQ sauce, in-house pickled jalapeños and onions finished with fresh feta cheese). It’s been our recent experience that when a menu boasts of a habanero sauce, the preeminent notes are sweet (which habanero peppers do have) with very little of the incendiary heat for which habaneros are appreciated by volcano-eaters like me. At 2G’s, the habanero BBQ sauce bites back–enough to gain my respect and my earn my Kim’s instantly ruddy complexion. With or without the sauce, these tacos are outstanding. Credit much of that to the slow-roasted, tender as my heart tendrils of porcine perfection. Moist and absolutely delicious, it’s a pork worthy of adulation.

Green Chile Meatball Sub

19 May 2019: Habitues of Gil’s Thrilling are undoubtedly familiar with (and probably tired of) my ad-nauseam whining about meatball subs. The genesis of my whining stems from two years of enjoying the best meatball grinders (what subs are called in Massachusetts) on the East Coast. Regardless of my pride in (almost) all things New Mexico, our meatball subs don’t have much of the enchantment. Still, your humble blogger persists. Wondering if perhaps a meatball sub pervaded with green chile might do the trick, I hesitantly ordered 2G’s Green Chile Meatball Sub (Grandmother’s recipe with a New Mexico twist, homemade meatballs infused with green chile cooked in a scratch marinara topped with melted provolone and basil on a fresh baguette).

There won’t be any hesitation the next time. Grandmother (John’s) certainly knew what she was doing. The meatballs are about the size of a golf ball with a nice ratio of meat to binder. The chile imparts a roasted piquancy that marries oh so well with the marinara. My search for a transformative meatball sub in New Mexico is over.  My opinion was validated when this sub earned a Hot Plate Award from Albuquerque the Magazine in 2019.  “It takes precision, quality and a certain unique flair to earn a Hot Plate Award” and the green chile meatball sub has “shown all those traits, and then some.”

Reuben

13 August 2019: A couple of years ago, an inquiry by BOTVOLR about Reuben sandwiches triggered an cavalcade of comments with respondents weighing in as to where the Duke City’s best can be found. If the Reuben at 2G’s isn’t the best, it’s on a very short list, in rarefied air alongside the Reubens at Bocadillos, The Farmacy and Vinaigrette. That’s what I’ve been telling Tom Molitor, that bon vivant and darling of sommelier society, for a while.  In August, 2019, he found out for himself when we both enjoyed Reubens and a very lively potato salad.

At 2G’s all meats are slow-roasted on the premises for four hours, the optimum time to ensure tender corned beef that can still be sliced without falling apart. If the corned beef was any more tender, it would be the consistency of chipped beef. As is, the slow-roasted corned beef is sliced thin but piled high and topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a house-made remoulade on marbled rye with caraway seeds. The remoulade (courtesy of John’s is fabulous, a worthy substitute for the traditional Russian dressing.  The sauerkraut is tangy, but it won’t purse your lips.  The corned beef is the star, delivering an Oscar-worthy performance that delighted our taste buds.  So did the creamy potato salad which gets a real kick from pickled jalapeño, cayenne and paprika.

French Onion Soup

19 May 2018: Sandwiches and house specialties come with your choice of potato salad, pasta salad, coleslaw or Ms. Vickie’s chips. For a pittance, you can upgrade to the soup of the day or a side salad. If the soup we had, an indulgent French onion soup, is any indication, upgrading to the soup of the day is akin to ordering a second entree. We expected a miserly cup, not a satellite-dish-sized bowl brimming with flavor and ingredients. Think I’m exaggerating about the size of the bowl? The image below shows how easily two bread slices blanketed in molten shredded Gruyere fit into that bowl where all ingredients swim placidly in a rich beef consomme with sweet caramelized onions and sliced mushroom pieces. Prodigious though the portion size may be, it was the big flavors of complementary ingredients replete with flavor that really impressed us.

A few weeks before our visit to 2G’s, my Kim ordered a salad entree that set us back more than a ten-spot. We’ve had side salads larger than the scanty portion of wilted leaves and under-roasted beets set before us. The side salad at 2G’s is the proverbial beach bully to that salad’s 98-pound weakling. Again, pictures are worth a thousand words. As shown below, this side salad is is what George Costanza would term a “really big salad.” It’s teeming with mixed greens encircled by sliced cucumbers and topped with red peppers, red onion, sliced mushrooms and crumbled feta cheese. Make sure you enjoy your salad with 2G’s signature Cajun vinaigrette dressing made with agave nectar, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Cajun seasonings. The sweetness of the agave tempers the fiery personalities of the other ingredients. It’s a revelatory dressing.

Side Salad with Cajun Dressing

The intimacy and personal space proximity of the patio meant we got to know our neighbors, all millenials (ergo, all probably smarter than me). That was demonstrated with each delivery to their tables of such New Mexican dishes as a carne burrito (described on the menu as “melt in your mouth”) and enchiladas. John explained that though both the red and green chile have a nice bite to them, he can add to their piquancy by sauteing the chile with a few drops of capsaicin oil. It’s a tactic employed by other restaurants which serve the incendiary chile New Mexicans love.

Alas, no one at the patio ordered the Southwest Benedict which Howie “The Duke of Duke City” Kaibel, Yelp‘s charismatic Albuquerque Community Manager, described in his own inimitable manner as “plenty of understated flavors balanced red and green chile that wasn’t overpowering, solid in-house ham and two of the most delightfully drippy, preggo poached eggos.” Add that to a growing list of “must try” items on my list.  That is “must try” if I can ever get past that Reuben.

The EDO neighborhood should be in any conversation about the city’s best dining destinations. 2G’s, the humble Lilliputian eatery with prodigious portions of wonderful food is one of the many reasons.

2G’s Bistro
414 Central Avenue, S.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 246-2040
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 13 August 2019
1st VISIT: 19 May 2018
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 22
COST: $$
BEST BET: Reuben, Green Chile Meatball Sub, French Onion Soup, Side Salad with Cajun Dressing, Pulled Pork Street Tacos
REVIEW #1042

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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11 Comments on “2G’s Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico”

  1. I was impressed, Gil. This is one helluva Reuben. Better than Vinaigrette’s? I’d have to sit down and do a side-by-side tasting (with you paying of course). But thank you for introducing me to 2G.s.

    When it came to our ordering our side (Gil had the Reuben, too) we both went for the potato salad. I don’t admit this to many people (my wife only, actually), but eating potato salad is for me the equivalent of saluting the American flag. You will never, ever catch me taking a knee on potato salad.

    This one (and I’m surprised you didn’t mention it, Gil) was not sweet, or mayonnaise-y and featured a little heated kick. You asked one of the G’s who waited on our table (excellent service by the way), what was in the potato salad. He unguardedly answered, “chopped jalapeños and paprika.” The iced tea was freshly-brewed and good. Naturally as an irremediable wino, I silently paired the Reuben with a German Riesling that would harmonize with the sauerkraut better than McCartney and Lennon.

    1. Gaffe without a laugh: You did mention the potato salad and specifically listed the source of heat: pickled jalapeños, paprika, and cayenne. My mistake and my retraction. And I agree with you, my fellow “volcano-eater,” as you self-describe, the potato salad could be “kicked up a notch,” as Emeril says. All in all, still excellent.

  2. How can a train be a half hour early? Do they now benefit from ‘tail winds”? And what a disgrace is the ALBQ depot in terms of parking for picking up. Anyway picked up my G-Son doing one of several ‘road trips’ via LA, just in time to find a metered parking space right out in front of 2Gs with the City (aka you TaxPayers) still comping parking per ART being gone.

    (Whoa! how sad; “they” finally took down the sign kitty korner that stood as a lone Praetorian memorializing the Pop n Taco razed previously… http://tinyurl.com/y7x3cq7s Ain’t nothing sacred? At least that SUV is respecting the “footprint” of the PnT building!!!!
    Moving right along…we entered the ‘secretive’ passageway to the left of the front door to the patio Gil mentioned. Indeed, one gets to a quaint setting exposing what must have been, back in the day, a boutique plaza that I’m sure John, and I, would like to see restored/revived! (RE John: a convivial fellow; would be fun to hear his tales of his days when visiting his Abuelita here! Ya know, if ya need another reason to visit ‘this part of town’ a couple of blocks north at Roma, in the roots of Martineztown via Edith, the cross street here/there, is http://www.mrwmla.com/martineztown-park/ . Perhaps the most famous of Michaelangelo’s creations is The Pieta…here http://tinyurl.com/yc5uz4th is a SouthWestern “version”.)

    Upon leaving, I had to take a quick peek inside: Oh my…a chic noveau ambiance with pockets of semi-privacy(?)! I think it would be a hoot to sit in the front window.

    Drats!!!! French Onion was not soup of the day today! Am not really a lunch person, and while wavering about the variegated offerings, “settled”….LOL/inside joke…for the Reuben, half here/half for home later. Indeed, this rendition, like Bocadillo’s makes for a great change of pace any day of the week, but alas, I’m hung up on what I must’ve had first, plus at the former Stage Deli (of NYC) in Caesar’s Forum Shoppes…as noted elsewhere… http://tinyurl.com/ybylc6am

    Alas, I should’ve asked for a spoon: sampling my G-Son’s Green Chile Stew…eh, what do you get after a “road trip” of 3ish weeks? Elsewise, while sampling with a fork and knife is limiting besides being gauche and while my G-Son said the meat was tender….I’m thinking a combo serving, sequentially or viseversa, of Green Chile Stew (per 2Gs’ flavor and tang) and the French Onion soup as described by Gil, will be the way to go next time. (I.e. I’ll call for when the FO will be Soup-O-da-Day!)

    Lest it’s not mentioned, they have wine and a lengthy listing of beer including…are you ready for this…. a PBR!

  3. Tried it today. i had the Reuben and Zee has the meat pie. Both were really good and we will return. Another place we wouldn’t have known about but for this blog.

  4. Thank you, dear Gil, for mentioning me in your post. I’m so glad you liked the Reuben.

    I just read your review of Philly’s N’ Frys and learned that the restaurant has closed down. Steve and Cathy were wonderful and will be missed.

    1. No more Philly’s and Fries? That means no more Italian Ice! 😢

      After trying the Reuben at Bocadillos, I tried a few others. Sure, they were good, but they didn’t even come CLOSE to Bocadillos. I stopped trying other Reubens. But now y’all have got me intrigued with this one. Could it really be in the same league as Bocadillos?? I guess I’m gonna have to find out.

      1. What has always differentiated Bocadillos from other purveyors of sandwiches is that Marie and her crew slow-roast their corned beef in-house and they stack it high. 2G’s does this as well. It’s exceptional as is the house-made remoulade. I’m confident you’ll love it and look forward to your assessment.

        1. I’ve been delayed in posting this, but I did get around to trying 2G’s Reuben. The meat was tender and plentiful, the remoulade was delicious, and the green chile was a nice touch. Still, I like Bocadillos just a LIIIITTLE bit more. So, in my mind, it’s not the best in town, but it’s certainly darned close. I would order this one again, which I couldn’t really say about the other Reubens I tried.

          1. Thank you, Sarita. I’m so happy you liked 2G’s Reuben. Speaking of Bocadillos, have you had the green chile cheeseburger there? I see that it’s one of the contenders in the 2018 Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown in Santa Fe. If the burger is as good as the Reuben, it should fare very well in the competition.

            1. Hi Gil. As a matter of fact, I have had their green chile cheeseburger. I’m pleased to see Marie entered the contest because she has a very good chance of winning.

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