Ana’s Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Ana’s Kitchen on Edith

Several ominous scenarios went through my mind when Ana told me, “I’m sorry.  We don’t accept credit cards.”  Would I be asked to wash dishes for a couple of hours to pay for my meal?  Would Ana ask me to leave my iPhone as collateral while I dashed to an automated teller machine?  Worse, would I be jailed?  Lest you think I’m joking, an Italian lawyer actually spent a night in a New York City jail because he didn’t have his wallet when his bill arrived.  Neither the New York Police department nor the restaurant would accept his offer of leaving his iPhone as collateral or sending a bus boy with him to retrieve the wallet.

I need not have worried.  Ever gracious and kind, Ana told me I could pay her the next day.  She wasn’t on duty when I returned the following day, but her chef remembered me having complimented her on my meal.  Still, she was both surprised and happy that I would return to pay off a debt and to leave a doubly generous tip for having inconvenienced Ana’s Kitchen.  It pained me that anyone would skip out on a bill at a small cafe which exemplifies the independently owned mom-and-pop restaurant genre.  It would serve such miscreants right not to ever be able to dine at such a gem.

Chips and Salsa

Ana’s Kitchen is one of those restaurants about which some diners might ask the existential question “if it’s got only four reviews on Yelp, is it worth visiting.”  The answer, of course, is most emphatically “yes,” soon and often.  It’s certainly not a restaurant on the well-beaten, well-eaten path.  Ana’s Kitchen occupies the space which previously housed Rey’s Place and before that Hot Diggity (which I believe is responsible for the electric blue guitar signage that points the way to the restaurant).  The space had been vacant for quite a while before Ana’s Kitchen moved in.  My discovery was somewhat serendipitous; while returning from a business meeting, I happened to glance at the long vacant space and espied a number of vehicles (mostly trucks) parked in front of what is now Ana’s Kitchen.

As for the relative scarcity of Yelp reviews, a quick analysis of the parking lot and all those trucks may have explained why.  On the day of my inaugural visit, all but two of the guests were blue-collar gentlemen–guys who possess specialized skills that require daily labors much more physical than desk jockeys like me will do in a month.  They perform hungry work and Ana’s Kitchen sates their hunger.  They’re regulars who know their way around the menu and are happy to recommend their favorite dishes.  These guys don’t need Yelp (or Gil’s Thrilling) to tell them what’s good and what’s not.  Ana herself is a peripatetic presence, a whirling dervish with a ready hug for the regulars.  She’s engaging and friendly.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

While perusing the menu, Ana ferried over a complimentary bowl of salsa and basket of chips.  As seems to be the case at many New Mexican and Mexican restaurants, the salsa may be the most piquant item on the menu.  It’s a thin, somewhat watery salsa, the type of which you can’t scoop up in Gil-sized portions.  It’s the type of salsa in which you have to dip your chips.  The chips are thin, crispy and low in salt. 

The menu features most of the familiar New Mexican and Mexican food favorites with which Duke City diners are familiar as well as burgers, sandwiches and even chicken fried steak (Sr. Plata is probably on his way there).  Because the foul demon spice cumin is used on the red chile, my choice was green chile chicken enchiladas with a fried egg (over easy) on top.  Three rolled enchiladas,  absolutely stuffed with tender, moist, mostly white chicken arrived at my table hot to the touch.  Beans, rice and a single flour tortilla were served on the side.  The green chile didn’t have much bite, but it had a nice flavor and there was plenty of it.

When I returned to make good on my debt, several of the regulars who had been so friendly the previous day asked me to pull up a chair and join them.  Sadly, I had to rush off to another meeting.  Whether Ana’s friendliness is contagious or that’s just the convivial nature of her guests, I’ll always feel welcome at Ana’s Kitchen and I’ll always bring cash.

Ana’s Kitchen
5918 Edith Blvd, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 341-0055
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 21 March 2019
COST: $$
BEST BET: Salsa and Chips, Enchiladas
REVIEW #1102

Ana's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

12 thoughts on “Ana’s Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico

  1. Gil, do you know when the building that houses Ana’s was built, and for what purpose? I see it’s been a restaurant at least twice before Ana’s.

    1. Coincidentally Elizabeth Groening of Albuquerque The Magazine and I had a discussion about that building back in June. When I first visited the location in which Ana’s is now located, a small eatery called Hot Diggity occupied the space. I believe the Hot Diggity owners were the folks who put up the iconic guitar in front of the restaurant. After Hot Diggity came Rey’s Place which served New Mexican food. Elizabeth was planning to write a story about the location for Albuquerque The Magazine, but I may have missed it. Perhaps your local library will have a copy you can check out.

  2. I’m glad you had a chance to stop by and get a bite. Ana is my my mom. She’s the most giving lady I’ve ever met. Sometimes I get mad at her and say “you’re trying to run a business here!” She just rolls her eyes and says it doesn’t hurt, when she lets people come back and pay on their payday or gives the mailman a drink. Ana’s has become home to many. I was only 12 when she opened her first restaurant in the south valley (I’m now 28.) Her regulars have followed her from location to location and in some sense have become part of our family. A few years ago she purchased this property with the intention of expanding it. It’s a small place so she was hesitant to move. After a lot of convincing she finally made the move. Thank you for taking the time not to only stop by try her food, but for giving her your feedback. It made her smile!!!

    1. I’m so glad you shared my review with your mom. She is indeed a very gracious and kind lady. She treats her guests like family.

      Sadly I don’t ever carry cash and don’t want to repeat my embarrassing episode so I haven’t returned to Ana’s. I’ll have to ask my Kim for an allowance.

  3. Watery salsa, indeed. Gil, I’m glad you singled this out. Watery salsa kills the fun of salsa and chips faster than cumin according to you. I would’ve said faster than an early last call at my favorite bar. But I’m sure you’ll agree that a lovely salty corn chip is deserving of respect as a companionable transfer agent of perfectly prepared piquant, cumin-less salsa.

    Watery salsa bugs me more than robocalls, I swear. At least with robocalls, as obnoxious as they are, you are not expecting culinarily satisfaction and then are disappointed not to mention your salivary glands and stomach are not humiliated and desecrated.

    Watery salsa is the equivalent of watered-down drinks in a bar. A false promise. Restaurants get away with this offense because, as you say, it’s presented as *complimentary*. But would you accept stale bread and rancid cheese if it were *complimentary*?

    I think not.

    1. I’ve seen steam shovels scoop up great mounds of detritis not nearly as prodigious as the amount of salsa atop my chips. Dipping chips makes for a great Seinfeld routine, but it’s not something to which restaurants should subject their guests.

      1. ~ Steam Shovel!
        Steam Shovel!!!! Really? And I’m think I’m running as fast as I can AT MY AGE trying to keep up with today’s lingo !!! Please scan the first paragraph here:
        ~ RE Seinfeld: let us be apprised what’s that all about
        ~ Elsewise and PARDON, but as an expression of the past also: The devil made me do it!: I.e. to include herein this Food for the Soul: Just saw Green Book last eve (Whoa! might be Oscar worthy!): Fantastically, yes Funny!!! A must see, IMHO. Shirley’s been my FAV Jazz pianist since the ’70s: best pieces and and (that gets rocking at the 60″ mark).

  4. We had a similar experience at Pokiest Poblano Fusion Lounge several months ago when their credit card processing system broke down & the place was fairly full. After a while we said we had to leave but would be back to pay the bill. They seemed pretty sure that we would skip but decided they could not hold us hostage.

    When we returned with card the next day everybody seemed stunned. I fear that they actually had reason to believe they would not see us again and was very disappointed in human honesty.

    1. Sadly, restaurateurs have told me the despicable practice of “dine and dash” (a form of theft by fraud, in which a patron orders and consumes food and beverages from a restaurant or similar establishment with the intent not to pay) is fairly common in the Albuquerque area. In part, that may be why restaurateurs seem surprised and even shocked when honest guests such as you actually return to pay your just debts.

    2. We are moving toward a *cashless* society mainly because of governments’ hunt for taxes under the justification they are tracking * drug money*. I rarely have cash on me, largely because all of my credit cards are tied to airline miles. To governments now, cash is the untraceable enemy.

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