Once upon a time (how many of you remember when seemingly all ancient fables and stories began with these four words?) there was a family of six Chinese brothers, each with a unique and amazing power. One of the brothers committed an infraction against Chinese law and was sentenced to death by the emperor. By asking for one last night at home the brothers were able to take each others place and thwart the king’s executioner’s attempt to kill them. Eventually the executioner ran out of ways to run the execution and had to call it off.
There are no cuentos or corridos, sagas or stories in Mexico involving six siblings imbued with exceptional abilities. In fact, just about the most remarkable fact about “seis hermanos” is the number of small villages in the Land of Montezuma with that name. On 23 February 2019, 6 Hermanos Fresh Mexican Kitchen opened its doors on Camino Del Pueblo in Bernalillo. Not surprisingly, the restaurant is named for a family of six brothers who share ownership and cooking duties. It’s not just another Mexican restaurant. There are more than six reasons it’s a special place.
One of the more than six reasons this place is special is the sub-title “Fresh Mexican Kitchen” on the marquee. Your meals are indeed prepared fresh to order. Another reason is an enviable selection of pan dulce, Mexican pastries displayed under glass domes on top of the counter. Yet another reason is a freezer full of helados (ice cream) and paletas (popsicles). The menu is pretty special, too. It’s tailored for appetites of all sizes with combo plates (including rice and beans) for those of us with hearty appetites and smaller portions for caloric underachievers.
One section of the menu bears the audacious heading “Favorites,” but there are no indications whether the nine items listed are favorites of the owners or customer favorites. Several of them certainly are among my favorites. Another section of the menu is called “Originals,” but the items listed herein are pretty much standard fare. There’s also a section offering a limited number of “Vegetarian” options. Pozole is served daily while menudo is available on Saturdays and Sundays. Breakfast is served all day. Beverage options are plentiful, ranging from aguas frescas and Mexican Coke to Hi C, Fanta and Jaritos products. The agua fresca de melon is especially flavorful. When she had reached the bottom of her cup, my Kim noted that “there’s melon flavor all the way to the bottom.
A basket of crisp, lightly salted chips is ferried to your table shortly after you take a seat. A salsa bar includes several fiery salsas ranging in piquancy from napalm to hellfire. These salsas are the type into which you dip your chip. Only a massochist would try to scoop the salsa. Not that you can. The salsas are liquid fire with really nothing to scoop. Perhaps in recognition of the hellish nature of the salsas, you can only serve the salsas into small plastic pill cups. Our table was next to a table occupied by a squad of Sandoval County Fire and Rescue personnel. I prayed they wouldn’t have to put out the fire in my mouth.
Torta Al PastorIn January, 2013, self-professed “Mexican with glasses” and nationally syndicated columnist Gustavo Arellano was asked what he thought the next big Mexican food trend in America. His response: “I keep telling people that you could become a millionaire if you were to start selling tortas. I’m surprised that they haven’t yet blown up. Think about it, a torta is a Mexican sandwich with obviously Mexican ingredients inside that are familiar to most Americans.” Similar to Arellano, your humble blogger has been touting the torta for years, also wondering why the torta isn’t at least as popular as tacos and burritos.
9 October 2019: 6 Hermanos offers only one torta on its menu, but you can fill that torta with the protein you love most. Crammed with your choice of meat: asada (beef), cabeza (beef head), pastor (pork), barbacoa (beef), tripas (tripe), lengua (beef tongue) or pollo al pastor (chicken), beans, sour cream, mayo, tomatoes, onions, jalapeño and lettuce, it’s a two-fisted handful on crusty, golden-brown telera buns. Okay, that sounds like six tortas; call it a technicality. You can even make your torta a “super” torta by asking for guacamole, too. This torta has a great balance of ingredients which complement and counter-balance one another. No one ingredient dominates the flavor profile; all of them make their presence felt. That’s not easy to do with any sandwich.
7 October 2023: Regular readers are probably tired of my ad-nauseum declaration that the torta de barbacoa from No Te Rajes in Rio Rancho is one of the best sandwiches in the known universe. I’ve never had a torta de barbacoa that comes close. Because most leave me unsatisfied and disappointed, I rarely order them anywhere but from No Te Rajes. When I asked our server at 6 Hermanos what the best torta on the menu is, he raved about the carnitas torta. You may have noticed that I never order carnitas. My Kim does. I dislike having the small cubed pork fall off my torta, burrito or taco. It’s an exercise in frustration to retrieve that pork candy. It’s for that reason I’ll never again have a carnitas torta. It’s not bad. In fact, it’s quite good, but too much work for me.
9 October 2019: My Kim’s choice (which she generously shared with me) was a five pack of carnitas tacos. Unlike the “everything but the kitchen sink” torta, these tacos were pretty basic, adorned solely with cilantro and onions. Though Kim didn’t douse the tacos with salsa as her avaricious lesser half would have, the hefty amount of moist, tender carnitas justified the two tortillas. One would probably have split and torn. These homemade tortillas are replete with corn flavor and provide a good tortilla to fillers ratio. The carnitas were a finely shredded mix of pork tendrils, some caramelized and others not. No amelioration is necessary for tacos these good.
7 October 2023: Culinary historians contend that a Mexican restaurant in San Diego California invented the word “taquito.” Traditionally, taquitos were known as “flauta” which translates from Spanish to flute. The new name took off and most Mexican and New Mexican restaurants have since used the adapted word taquito or little taco. The term “flauta” hasn’t necessarily been relegated to the scrapyard of discarded food names. It’s just not used any more. Los 6 Hermanos serves some of the best taquitos north of Española. Deep-fried taco shells rolled into a flute shape are stuffed with meat and topped with queso, guacamole and crema. The trio of toppings beats the heck out of the salsa most New Mexican restaurants serve with their taquitos. The richness of the combination is a wonderful foil for the crispy deep-fried shell and meat.
7 October 2023: Growing up in agrarian Peñasco with both grandmothers having hornos (mud adobe-built outdoor ovens), my siblings and I loved the autumn ritual of roasting and eating elotes. It almost made a hated autumn ritual–returning to school after a fun summer–tolerable. Los 6 Hermanos offers elote several ways. My Kim’s favorite is the elote en vaso (corn in a cup). Technically, when served in a cup, the appropriate term is esquites. Regardless of correctness of term, elotes are grilled corn. Los 6 Hermanos scrapes them off the cob and smothers them in a creamy mayo sauce topped with chili powder, and cheese. There’s almost (its almost sacriledge to use that term when talking about cheese) too much queso, but we didn’t leave a morsel of the salty, creamy stuff.
9 October 2019: Pan dulce, which translates from Spanish to sweet bread, is a bit of a misnomer. It’s a term which can be used to describe a variety of Mexican pastries. Among the most famous–recognized widely even under the fruited plain–are conchas (shells), so named for their shell-like shape and sugar shell pattern on top. Conchas are ubiquitous in Mexican culture, available at virtually every panaderia where they sell better than hot cakes. They’re not quite as sweet or rich as cookies baked under spacious skies and taste best when accompanying coffee or Mexican hot chocolate.
7 October 2023: Los 6 Hermanos recognizes the most delicious way to combat summer’s oppressive heat is with helado (ice cream) and paletas de hielo (popsicles). Made with real sugar (you can literally discern granules) and fruits, the helado isn’t as creamy or rich as American ice cream, but what you may not find texturally is made up for in deliciousness. Strawberry, chocolate, dulce de leche and cajeta flavored ice cream is so good you’ll want at least two (or six) scoops.
Once upon a time in the New Mexican town of Bernalillo, an authentic Mexican restaurant sated appetites of all types with a varied menu sure to please all discerning diners.
133 S Camino Del Pueblo
Bernalillo, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 7 October 2023
1st VISIT: 9 October 2019
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Torta Al Pastor, Carne Asada Tacos, Conchas, Strawbery Ice Cream, Chocolate Ice Cream, Taquitos, Elotes