Los Primos Mexican Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
When you’re young and dumb and have an inflated sense of invisibility, you commit some youthful indiscretions that often evoke pangs of regret and remorse during your wizened years. Invariably your reflections prompt the question “could I really have been that stupid?.” Sometimes, however, those indiscretions are mischievous and harmless, prompting pleasant memories, maybe even laughter. Indiscretions of the latter type invariably involved my favorite primos Edward and Lawrence. When my primos visited us in Peñasco, all their Duke City slickness and urban sophistication went out the window and they became rural ruffians like us.
One of my favorite memories of my primos involves an interloping herd of cows. Because Peñasco was open-range country and cattle didn’t understand either traffic laws or the purpose of fences, they often broke into our yard where the grass was most assuredly greener. Instead of chasing them back onto the street, we drove them (literally) over the river, through the woods and up a steep hill to a small hippie commune about two miles away. The cavorting cattle proceeded to trample the commune’s carefully tended crops (the type of which trigger the munchies camouflaged among the comestibles).
Driving past Los Primos Mexican Grill always inspires reminiscences of my primos, both of whom passed away in the bloom of youth. I imagine visiting Los Primos with Edward and Lawrence, the three of us putting a serious dent on the menu (especially when 99-cent tacos are offered). Like me, my primos were bona fide trenchermen who could wipe out a dozen tacos with the same enthusiasm as the Looney Tunes Tasmanian devil when he spun like a vortex and devoured virtually everything in his path. Those tacos wouldn’t stand a chance.
Los Primos is in the can’t miss location that previously housed the much-missed JJ’s Pizza which shuttered its doors in 2018. The familiar spinning four-sided signage which beckons motorists along Menaul now bears the name of the edifice’s new occupant. Windows on three sides of the mostly yellow dining room bring in plenty of sunlight. Seating is more functional than it is attractive or comfortable, but it’s spaced well. You can peruse the menu from any seat in the house.
It’s a pretty comprehensive menu offering a nice selection of breakfast burritos, hot subs, quesadillas, tacos, burritos, steaks and specialties such as chiles rellenos, flautas and enchiladas supremas. One entire section of the menu is dedicated to fajitas: grilled steak, chicken, camaron (shrimp) and combinations thereof. There are eight different fajita options. Papas rellenas (baked potatoes stuffed with grilled beef or chicken and cheese) are also available. Don’t look for any salads on this menu.
28 August 2019: Don’t look for tortas either. Surprisingly instead of the quintessential Mexican sandwich constructed in a crusty bolillo or a soft telera roll, Los Primos offers American style hot subs, four of them: a steak sandwich, grilled chicken sandwich, Philly cheesesteak sandwich and one called the Los Primos sandwich. Edward and Lawrence would have appreciated the girth and length of this sandwich. They would have appreciated its flavor even more. Imagine if you will a hefty, hefty, hefty sub stuffed with steak, chicken, pork and ham garnished with Thousand Island dressing, mustard and pickles served with French fries. My primos would have been disappointed to see I could finish only half of this foot-long behemoth between buns. My Kim was the recipient of the remaining half. She remarked at what a good “Cuban” sandwich it was save for the too thick chicken cutlet. That was a good observation. Really, the greatest difference between this “sub” and a “torta” was the bread. By any measure, it’s a good sandwich.
28 August 2019: You can’t visit Los Primos and not have at least one of the four tacos on the menu: carne asada, grilled chicken, carnitas and al pastor. What the menu lacks in variety, it more than makes up in value (especially on 99-cent taco day) and flavor. Each taco is generously glutted with the meat of your choice garnished with cilantro and onion. You’re free to add some of the incendiary salsa or a squeeze of lime if you’d like. If the taco al pastor (marinated pork) is any indication, you can’t go wrong with ordering a taco or ten. The grilled corn tortilla is redolent with the flavor of masa de maize. Your favored protein nestles nicely into the folded corn envelope.
Sadly I’ll never get to break tortillas with my primos at this family-owned Mexican grill, but Edward and Lawrence are with me every time I visit or drive past this homey restaurant.
Los Primos Mexican Grill
4711 Menaul, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 28 August 2019
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Los Primos Sandwich, Taco Al Pastor