Several years ago, Major Larry Abraham (God rest his soul) of the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque called me out, reminding me that such restaurants as Sadie’s of New Mexico, Casa de Benavidez and Vernon’s Speakeasy were located not in Albuquerque as credited on Gil’s Thrilling…, but in the village he capably served for four terms. He politely asked me to correct my oversight. Ever since Mayor Abraham’s gentle prodding, your humble blogger has been much more diligent about ensuring the correct location of every restaurant reviewed–especially when at issue is whether the restaurant is in Albuquerque or in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.
In my defense, the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque is much like what New Mexico’s legendary best-selling author Tony Hillerman termed “the checkerboard reservation.” Hillerman was, of course, speaking of the Navajo Nation, a hodgepodge of lands owned by tribes (mostly Navajo and Zuni), privately-owned lands and lands controlled by the government or trusts. Similar to the challenge of knowing where which lands in the Checkerboard Reservation are Navajo-owned, it’s not easy to tell where the village of Los Ranchos begins and ends and when you’ve crossed in and out of the village into the Duke City. The village map helps a little.
Over the years, Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (BOTVOLR), the most prolific commenter on this blog and a dedicated volunteer at the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau, has been a huge advocate for the village’s restaurants (and for virtually everything else associated with his beloved hometown). Most recently, he gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to a relatively new (circa May, 2017) restaurant calling itself Dave’s Valley Grill. Bob described Dave’s as offering a “far-ranging menu from fine to casual dining.” He seemed confident the restaurant could become a “reservations suggested spot.”
Dave’s Valley Grill is located in the corner spot previously occupied by Papaburgerswhich closed unexpectedly after the passing of its owner. Nary a vestige of the previous occupant remains. The metamorphosis is amazing. Gone is the wall which separated two distinct dining rooms. In their place is one colorful, cavernous room with tables and booths arrayed in close, but not personal space proximity to one another. The booths do offer some sense that there are two distinct dining rooms, but not as much as before. Gone are the sports posters and bric-a-brac of a fast food venue, replaced by unframed artwork.
The “Dave” behind Dave’s is Minnesota transplant David Hanisch who mad it his mission to bring Midwestern-influenced comfort food to the North Valley. The menu invites you to “sooth your soul with something good and choose from a variety of mouthwatering plates…” with such classics as “ribs, burgers, seafood, steak and more.” It’s an ambitious menu segmented into appetizers, salads, soups, bowls, dinners, sides, gourmet burgers, burgers, sandwiches plus and desserts. Dinners, which include soup or salad, green chile Cheddar drop biscuits and two sides, include such chophouse standards as prime rib, London broil and steak Oscar (which Bob raves about). Even more intriguing is the “bowls” section of the menu which offers such interesting dishes as “Thanksgiving turkey,” tavern pot roast and Texas hash. It’s a menu which warrants exploration.
30 May 2018: “Soothing the soul” can mean different things to different people. For me, it often means a gourmet burger, preferably one unique in its creative composition. Dave’s offers the Brat Burger(a blend of ground chuck and bratwurst, fire-roasted corn relish, pickled red onions, stout beef aioli and Cheddar on a pretzel bun). This is a messy (four napkins at least) burger…in a good way. The most surprising ingredient is the fire-roasted corn relish whose smoky sweetness contrasts nicely with the stout beef aioli. Fortunately the pretzel bun is up for the job of holding all ingredients in place so you don’t have to wear them on your shirt. You’ll still lose some on the plate, but that’s what forks are for. The ground chuck and bratwurst blend is terrific, a melding of complementary proteins that seemed to bring out the best in one another. You’ll want to pay the up-charge for the onion rings. They’re some of the best in town.
30 May 2018: For my friend Bill Resnik, “soothing the soul” means ordering comfort food, something that reminds him of family meals. Perhaps the meal most often associated with comfort food is meatloaf. Granny’s meatloaf, described on the menu as “old-fashioned meatloaf and brown gravy” was his choice with fire-roasted corn and onion rings as his sides. The meatloaf was slightly overdone—at least on the outside—but the interior was moist and delicious. Both the mashed potatoes and meatloaf were smothered in dark brown gravy. Bill enjoyed the fire-roasted corn most of all.
1 October 2019: Admit it, your mental picture of Los Ranchos De Albuquerque is of capacious mansions on Rio Grande Boulevard with lavish green lawns, towering hedges and pools as blue as the Aegean Sea. You might expect that the village would be replete with high-end restaurants charging a steep bill of fare for fine-dining at exquisite and exclusive venues. In actuality, Los Ranchos is home to eateries serving terrific food at price points most of us can afford. Better yet, restaurants such as Dave’s Valley Grill offer high-end quality food at low prices without sacrificing quality or portion size.
1 October 2019: You would certainly expect to pay premium prices for a charbroiled USDA choice certified Black Angus ribeye topped with blue cheese butter and onion rings served with two sides. At Dave’s, you’ll pay about half of what you might expect. As of this writing, all of this is yours for under a double-sawbuck (twenty-dollars). The choice quality ribeye is very tender, juicy and flavorful with the distinct “campfire” deliciousness imparted by a grill. Prepared to your exacting specifications, it’s ten-ounces that will sate carnivorous cravings. The only nit we could pick was with the blue cheese butter which appeared to have been extricated from a cold refrigerator. It didn’t melt onto the steak as we would have liked. My Kim’s sides were fire-roasted corn and green beans Almondine, both of which she enjoyed
1 October 2019: Perhaps inspired by the lyrics of Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” my Kim and I are trying to “amend our carnivorous habits.” That’s not easy to do when you peruse a menu offering pork chop and Irish whiskey mushroom sauce, a ten-ounce Frenched pork chop with Irish whiskey mushroom sauce and two sides. My willpower faded like attendance at UNM Lobos football games after their first loss. The brawny hunk of porcine protein is “Frenched” (when the meat is cut away from the end of a rib or chop, so that part of the bone is exposed) which means it has a built-in “handle.” You’re not likely to pick it up, however, because there’s so much rich, thick gravy with lots of gravy. This is the type of gravy you could drink up by the cupful.
21 December 2019: For Christmas, 2019, my thoughtful baby sister Anita treated my 90-year-young mom to lunch or dinner at a restaurant of her choosing. Wisely, mom deferred to us to pick a restaurant she would like. Our deliberation started with whittling down her list of favorite foods, ultimately selecting steak. Ambiance at the anointed restaurant would have to be cozy and casual, preferably with the dulcet tones of her era playing on the sound system. The logical choice, of course, was Dave’s Valley Grill where Spotify is usually tuned to something soothing such as the Bobby Darin channel. We knew mom would love Dave’s…and she did.
21 December 2019: Sultry Mexican actress Selma Hayek is like a sexy E.F. Hutton. When she recommends something, people (especially men) listen. Selma probably had more to do with the popularity of albondigas as all Mexican chefs combined. In the romantic comedy Fools Rush in, she and Matthew Perry were discussing their favorite foods. While Perry’s character waxed poetic about hot dogs, Selma’s choice was albondigas: “And if we were in Mexico we’d be eating Albondigas. They’re this sort of meatball soup. My grandmother was famous for them.” We may never know whether Dave’s albondigas are as good as Selma’s grandmother’s, but you will know you’re having some great ones. This spicy soup has a lot of personality and doesn’t spare the meatballs, gumball-sized meat orbs served with carrots, onions, queso and crema.
21 December 2019: Shrimp, salmon, and tuna are the most popular seafood products across the fruited plain. The top ten list of seafood also includes such favorites as crab, clams, catfish and cod. Though it didn’t make the list, wahoo, a wild-caught fish prized for its delicate white flesh is my favorite. It’s a rare delicacy and not just because it’s not caught as often as some other fish. Dave’s rendition is among the very best you’ll find anywhere. It’s grilled Hawaiian wahoo with champagne cream sauce (a delicious blend of crawfish meat, garlic, heavy cream, champagne, Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and smoked paprika) and it’s fabulous. The sauce is a perfect complement for the mild-flavored wahoo, enhancing its flavors while imparting a richness that makes the dish shine.
21 December 2019: In our dozens of visits to London restaurants, I don’t recall ever having seen London broil on the menu. Despite its name, London broil was “invented” in North America, not in London. The term “London broil” has come to mean a tough, lean steak that’s marinated, prepared at medium-rare and sliced thinly across the grain of the meat, making it easier to chew. Despite the tougher cut of beef, a well-prepared London broil can be so flavorful that you might not even notice…or might even enjoy any additional chewing. The London broil at Dave’s is one such steak. That’s because Dave’s uses a USDA choice black Angus flank steak marinated in soy sauce, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, liquid smoke and minced onions. It’s a carnivore’s delight!
21 December 2019: Desserts at Dave’s are (as President Trump might say) “Yuge” and that’s not hyperbole or understatement. Each one is a caloric overachievers fantasy–a dessert so large you can feed your entire family with it. The biscochito peach cobbler (puff pastry crust, biscochito cookies, vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche sauce), served in a cast iron skillet is as big as a whole pie at some restaurants. Of course, size wouldn’t matter if ingredients didn’t coalesce into a delicious whole. It’s a bit sweet for me, but sweet-tooth-inclined diners will love it. The biscochitos are made on the premises and are quite good.
21 December 2019: As an aficionado of bread pudding, my eyes wandered no further on the menu than the bourbon apple pecan bread pudding (a cast iron skillet bread pudding made with French bread, heavy cream, vanilla, brown sugar, bourbon, Granny Smith apples, cinnamon and pecans). It’s a great bread pudding in that it provides a nice balance of sweet, savory and tart flavors. Unlike some bread pudding, it’s not cloying. It might even make it onto Larry McGoldrick’s bread pudding hall of fame and no one knows bread pudding as well as the professor with the perspicacious palate.
While some of us may never really know when we’ve crossed out of Albuquerque and into Los Ranchos or vice-versa, Dave’s Valley Grill is fast becoming a dining destination which will bring people from all over the metropolitan area into the village Mayor Larry Abraham helped build.
Dave’s Valley Grill
6601 Fourth Street NW
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 21 December 2019
1st VISIT: 30 May 2018
# OF VISITS: 3
BEST BET: Brat Burger, Onion Rings, Granny’s Meatloaf, Pork Chop & Irish Whiskey Mushroom Sauce, Grilled Ribeye, Albondigas, London Broil, Grilled Hawaiian Wahoo with Champagne Cream Sauce, Biscochito Peach Cobbler, Bourbon Apple Pecan Bread Pudding