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 isn’t named for a family of six brothers who share ownership and cooking duties. It’s just a name, but this isn’t just another Mexican restaurant. There are more than six reasons it’s a special place.
One of those reasons 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.
In 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.
6 Hermanos offers only one torta on its menu, but it’s a good one. 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. You can even make it 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.
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.
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.
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: 9 October 2019
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Torta Al Pastor, Carne Asada Tacos, Conchas