Expansive Outdoor Seating at Meraki Coffee + Market on Eubank

I saw Sisyphus in violent torment, seeking to raise a monstrous stone with both his hands. Verily he would brace himself with hands and feet, and thrust the stone toward the crest of a hill, but as often as he was about to heave it over the top, the weight would turn it back, and then down again to the plain would come rolling the ruthless stone. But he would strain again and thrust it back, and the sweat flowed down from his limbs, and dust rose up from his head.” ~Homer, The Odyssey

Even those among us most satisfied with our jobs sometimes feel work is our personal Sisyphean ordeal.  That’s especially true on days in which work seems monotonous and meaningless, when it truly does feel as if we’ve been sentenced to push a boulder up Sandia Peak only to see it roll back to the Rio Grande at the end of the day then to repeat that ordeal the following day.  The drudgery of the incessant and assiduous labors of Sisyphus is one of life’s metaphors with which most of us can sometimes relate.

Lavender Lemonade and White Cinnamon Mocha

Greek mythology is replete with the manifestation of vices, flaws and hubris in the Greek gods and goddesses.  Though it may seem perpetual interference by the petulant and spoiled deities doesn’t warrant the worship they crave, every once in a while one of the Olympians will actually do something beneficial for their human charges.  Of course, such acts of benevolence are usually limited to their favorite humans, typically a bastard son or a pulchritudinous woman.  Only in soap operas and modern politics do you find such pettiness and shallowness.

Though Greek mythology is seemingly teeming with tragedy, leave it to Friedrich Nietzsche to find something life-affirming about all those tribulations.  Nietzsche believed tragedy is valuable because it allows us to affirm life.  Maybe that means you can only appreciate happiness if you’ve experienced tragedy.  As someone who long ago abandoned Nietzsche’s esoteric moralism for the more life-affirming wisdom of Jack Handey, I would have loved to read Greek myths with a more joyful theme, some positivity…maybe read about some god or goddess who exemplified the spirit of “meraki.”

Cinnamon Roll

Meraki is the Greek word that describes the soul, creativity or love put into something; the essence of yourself in your work.  Not surprisingly, meraki is a Modern Greek word.  It’s derived from the Turkish “Merak” (labor of love, to do something with pleasure).  It’s highly unlikely (despite what Albert Camus wrote) that Sisyphus experienced a labor of love while trying to roll that rock up a steep hill.  The optimist in me hopes each and every once of us who occasionally experiences a Sisyphean task approaches most of the things we do with the spirit of meraki–that we love what we do and do it well.

A labor of love is an apt description for the transformation of an unused space at the northwest corner of the edifice which houses Mykonos Cafe, one of Albuquerque’s most venerable and popular Greek restaurants.  That formerly unused space now houses Meraki, a coffee shop and so much more.  Meraki is the love child of restaurateur Nicole Kapnison who long ago ceased being thought of solely as “Nick Kapnison’s daughter” and established a presence as a formidable force in Albuquerque’s culinary scene.  

Clams

In her website’s “About” page, Nicole gushes “I feel like I have never worked a day in my life because I truly love what I do, sounds so cliche, but seriously, my job rocks, even during the hard moments, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”  With that attitude and energy, there was only one name for her coffee shop: Meraki.  We arrived at about half past twelve on a Sunday morning and found only one available table.  We also found that (in our late 30s) we were probably the oldest diners (though The Dude was the youngest) in the high-energy place with a vibe that bespeaks the spirit of meraki.  

Meraki is a beautiful space.  More expansive interior patio than true restaurant space, its exterior walls are really garage doors that–weather permitting–recess to provide an open area.  Because the space faces west, Meraki provides sun-shielding shade–instant relief from summer’s vengeful heat.  For al fresco dining, few Duke City eateries are as attractive or as much fun.  There is no table service, but there is a counter at which you place your order.  When the kitchen (shared with Mykonos) has prepared your food, one of the friendly servers will ferry it over to your table.  The process is efficient and easy.

Basic Breakfast Sandwich

The menu is everything you might expect from a coffee shop cum eatery.  Specialty and traditional coffees are just the beginning.  You can also get your “morning buzz” from such brunch favorites as green chile bloody Marys, mimosas and lavender margaritas.  Wine and spirits–all either female owned, sustainably sourced or bio-dynamically formed free from additives or chemicals–round out the adult beverages.  My Kim enjoyed a white cinnamon mocha while your humble blogger had a lavender lemonade that wasn’t too sweet (just the way I like it).  Meraki also features a surprisingly ambitious eye-opening menu of “eats.”  

Because of our late arrival, loukoumades (Greek donut holes soaked in honey, crushed walnuts and powdered sugar), we had to settle for a cinnamon roll.  Well, maybe “settle” isn’t the right word.  It was a cinnamon roll that made my Kim happy which means it actually had plenty of cinnamon and lots of tooth-decaying frosting.  Being late also meant no “Betty bowl,” a smoothie bowl with fresh berries, banana, chia sunflower mix, house granola, local honey, coconut).  Also not available were fresh Prince Edward Island (PEI) mussels.  Lesson learned–next time we’ll get there early.

Meraki Burger With Fries

Although Meraki had run out of mussels, fresh clams were available.  Served with toasted ciabatta was a small netful of clams steamed in a broth of white wine, minced garlic and scallions.  We don’t often have fresh clams for breakfast-brunch, but these certainly had us asking why not.  Not only were they absolutely delicious, there was no discernible “fishiness.”  As with many white wine-based broths, we longed for more bread to sop up all the broth.  Though it can be lapped up like a good soup, there’s just something satisfying about broth-soaked bread.  

My Kim is probably tired of me describing her food choices as “boring,” but how else can you describe a basic breakfast sandwich (bacon, Cheddar, fried egg, green chile aioli, Meraki hot sauce on a brioche) when there are so many more interesting items on the menu? Sure, quality ingredients made it a cut above most breakfast sandwiches and that Meraki hot sauce is liquid dynamite, but to eschew such intriguing items as feta lamb meatballs (tomato vodka sauce, grilled ciabatta) and an open-faced chicken salad sandwich is (to me) a criminal act.  My Kim enjoyed her sandwich very much so my little rant (as usual) didn’t go anywhere.  

Front View of Meraki

Although one of the ingredients of the NM Burger is fire-roasted green chile, my choice was the Meraki burger (bacon fig jam, melted brie, green chile aioli, arugula) with fries.  You can have a great green chile cheeseburger anytime (oh, my gosh, did I really say that?) but how often do you see such unique ingredients on a burger, especially sweet and savory elements that maybe should go well together?  The Meraki burger was a surprise in the most pleasant and mouth-watering ways.  Those perceived disparate ingredients actually went very well together, melding into a cohesive, delicious whole.  Especially notable was the one-two flavor punch of bacon fig jam and green chile aioli–sweet, savory and piquant notes throughout.  A thick beef patty made up for the buns being only four-inches.  

Here’s betting Sisyphus would have made it over the hill if Meraki Coffee + Market awaited on the other side.  To say Meraki serves coffee and food good enough for the Greek gods and goddesses would be giving them esteem they don’t deserve.  Albuquerque does deserve  deserve a coffee shop like this one.

Meraki Coffee + Market
5900 Eubank, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 291-1116
Website | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 5 June 2022
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Meraki Burger, Fries, Cinnamon Roll, Breakfast Sandwich, Lavender Lemonade, White Cinnamon Mocha, Clams
REVIEW #1277

By Gil Garduno

Since 2008, the tagline on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has invited you to “Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.” To date, nearly six million visitors have trusted (or at least visited) my recommendations on more than 1,200 restaurant reviews. Please take a few minutes to tell me what you think. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd love to hear about it.

15 thoughts on “Meraki Coffee + Market – Albuquerque, New Mexico”
  1. 👍to Ryan, Sarita, Sr Plata, Schuyler and Foodie Star. Gil is truly blessed to have friends like you. We know he rocks and the others…well, one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies of all time says it all.
    Butch Cassidy is talking to the Sundance Kid:  “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

    1. I’ve always thought readers of Gil’s Thrilling… are among the best and brightest people in the universe. That’s not solely because a lot of my readers are MDs and PhDs–including a number of college professors. (By the way, I traced “History Professor’s” IP address to a university in California. Thank goodness he wasn’t a professor at UNM where I work and know quite a few history professors.) Readers of Gil’s Thrilling tend to be very well read, adventurous and funny (Captain Tuttle’s “It’s all Greek to me” comment was classic).

      I’m definitely blessed to call Ryan, Sarita, Sr. Plata, Schuyler, Captain Tuttle, Foodie Star and so many others champions of Gil’s Thrilling. They come to my defense every time someone impugns my observations or character. Then there’s Ruben who’s taken the term “food porn” to a new level.

  2. There are so many things that compete for our reading eyeballs daily. The news, fake and authentic, is typically pretty dismal. That novel you haven’t finished yet; do you even want to? I pull up Gil’s blog because following “the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite” is entertaining and informative. On top of that, I get to find out about some good restaurants that I might not have found on my own. Sure, now and then I eat at a place Gil has raved about only to wonder if The Dude was the ghost writer on that one, but it’s all part of the joy of discovery. I’ve come to look forward to some of the comments from the blog’s regular contributors, and occasionally get a laugh from the more moronic entries. You all know who you are! Any criticism of our local beloved Sesquipedalian Sybarite, especially unwarranted, is going to be struck down as soon as it hits the page. As others have said before me, we have choices for what draws our attention and sometimes decide to “pass.” It also bears repeating that sage advice from an animated character in 1942:
    Rabbit: What did your father tell you this morning?
    Thumper: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.

  3. Hi History Professor-
    Welcome to the blog!
    Now &*$& off.
    Go enlighten another blog. We love Gil.

  4. Five paragraphs! 463 words! That’s how long it takes for you to even mention the restaurant. Does anybody even read your introductory gibberish? We just want to read about the food, not your condescending academic ruminations. You’re not nearly as smart as you think you are!

    1. Oh History Professor, the bottom line is, did the review all or in part help you decide if the restaurant review was something that influenced you to eat, not eat or stay undecided to partake in that establishment! I find it sad that Gil does his best to share food in multiple ways meeting all people and all styles; it sounds like he provided what you needed to know and apparently more., It would be more helpful for you to provide feedback on the restaurant you tried and comparing the data found in Gil’s review for all, this way we can decide if a restaurant is worthy of our attendance.

    2. ****Does anybody even read your introductory gibberish?****
      Apparently you do…if you know that it took 5 paragraphs and 463 words…as well as probably 90% of the blog’s readers. Just saying…
      I personally have not read it yet, because I haven’t gotten around to it. I hope I can get it, because it all seems Greek to me, but guess we shall see…

    3. Hi History Professor,
      What did you hope to accomplish with your comment? I think the readers whose attention you captured would like to know, so please share.
      Since you graced us with your opinion, allow me to share mine: If you don’t like Gil’s blog or his reviews, exercise your right to “change the channel” and never trouble yourself with reading it again.
      Cheers

    4. Gil isn’t as smart as he thinks he is? He’s actually a lot smarter than he thinks he is! He wouldn’t call himself a polymath, but I would..as well as raconteur, genius, gentleman and my best friend for 43…er, 39 years. Most of his loyal readers recognize that the uniqueness and instructiveness of his reviews are unlike anything out there and he doesn’t charge a cent for his selflessness.

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