Gil’s Highest Rated Restaurants

When asked “what’s your favorite restaurant?”, my answer is paradoxical: I have no favorite restaurant and hundreds of favorites. If asked “what’s the best restaurant,” my answer is similar. That attitude is pretty prevalent among adventurous diners who are always on the look-out for new restaurants to enjoy. When it comes to restaurants, I’m probably the least monogamous person you’ll ever meet. Any more than three or four visits in a year to any restaurant and restlessness sets in–no matter how outstanding the restaurant may be, I would rather be exploring a heretofore not previously visited restaurant, even if it’s not as good.

Still, it’s a pretty common compunction for writers to compile lists. Please enjoy the “highest rated” lists on this blog with a caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). These lists are subject to change based on the whims of a gastronome who’s always seeking out new dining adventures, uncovering new favorites and continuously looking for new ones.

20 thoughts on “Gil’s Highest Rated Restaurants

  1. Gil, Every October I come to Albuquerque for Balloon Fiesta and regional food. I travel from North Carolina and seek out to eat where the locals eat. I come for the food from the Rio Grande. This is my 13th AIBF and I have discovered some favorites like the patio at Casa De Benavidez and Mary and Tito’s. Can you steer a balloonist to good food since we can’t steer.

    1. Forgive me, Clarke, for not having responded sooner to your email. I’ve literally spent only about half an hour on my blog over the past five days or so. I hope you’re still in New Mexico enjoying your thirteenth Albuquerque International, our unseasonably warm weather and hopefully some of our wonderful restaurants.

      A few months ago, several athletes from the Senior Olympics asked me to put together a list of restaurants with a local flavor they might enjoy. After the event, one of them graciously reported back on the restaurants they enjoyed most. Here are their favorites:

      Pollito Con Papas, a Peruvian restaurant which literally translates to “chicken and fries” was far and away their favorite. Make sure to visit their Nob Hill location at 3200 Central Avenue, S.E. and try the coconut flan, chicken chimichangas and Peruvian ceviche.

      Vara Winery & Distillery, a secluded idyll about a mile from the Balloon Fiesta Park. Chef Javier Montaño prepares the very best Spanish style tapas you’ll ever have and pairs them with Spanish and American wines.

      Dia De Los Takos, one of the very best, most creative and fun taquerias we’ve uncovered in our travels. Enjoy takos first then take a few laps on the karts.

      The Safari Grill has a very unique and inventive menu of East African favorites, some of which incorporate New Mexico’s sacrosanct chiles. Ask for Shaina.

      Because you enjoyed the patio at Casa De Benavidez, you might also want to visit El Pinto for an al fresco experience under towering trees. El Pinto’s red chile ribs are legendary.

      The Kosmos not only serves great food, it surrounds you with spectacular art in a unique setting.

      For a variety of dining options within easy walking distance, try one of six food pods at the pristine El Vado multi-use complex on Central Avenue just east of the Rio Grande. Happy Chickenzz is one of my favorites.

      I hope you find this short list helpful and that you have a wonderful, safe time in the Land of Enchantment.


  2. Gil, I was and am so excited to find your blog. I will definitely use it as a guide, whether we are looking for the perfect place to entertain friends or just treating ourselves. I was just doing some browsing and was so thrilled then to find so many ethnic places in ABQ. However, I was disappointed to see that the German restaurants closed in 2016. I so hope we will have another open soon, I am hungry for sauerbraten! Thanks again for what you do!
    Shirley Sessom

    1. Hi Shirley

      Thank you for the kind words…and welcome to Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog…and thank you for reminding me it’s been more than two years since our last visit to Tao. As you discover new restaurants and cuisines, I hope you share your observations with readers.


  3. BOTVOLR (Dino Martin) and I (Jerry Lewis) have this love/hate relationship and we very well might end up like the famous twosome but for now based on that love/hate relationship, Dino loves to make comments that I hate to have to read 4 and 5 times to decypher them.
    I’m only assuming the Lewis persona because he is still alive and it has nothing to do with being a Jew although Jews are much funnier than our other brothers.
    Schuyler, your post was very funny and has me believing you are SQ.
    Wouldn’t it be great if SQ was indeed BOTVOLR!!!!!
    An alter ego just for those of us who don’t know the meaning of “per” as written by Dino.
    I would enjoy dining with other commentators.

  4. Thank you Bob of the Village People. Credit my comedic stylings to being the love child of Tiny Tim and Ruth Buzzi (hmm, that might also account for my prodigious proboscis). Nah, I’ve never played the Improv. I’m strictly a hack…as deadpan as Ben Stein, too. You and El Bruto, on the other hand, could be the next Martin and Lewis. Merry Christmas.

  5. 1st of all Suzie: Thank Y’all & Blush.
    2ndly: Indeed a Kumbaya Lunch of All Commentors and Lurkers (folks who have great things to say but are hesitant)!!!
    3rdly and Alas re The Brute & I: As they say at Nosh, ‘If ya can’t say something nice, say it in Yiddish!’ and so, The Brute and I, possibly because of left unspecified/unnamed subterranean, interpersonal phobias best known by Herr Doktor Freud, are fated to wallow in the eddy….well the schtick… possibly exemplified in the interfacings of Indiana (Jones) and Marion…I being the Indie of the pair… such that as Doris Day might say: Que sera, sera!!!! Otherwise we might say: “Waiter!!! Oy Vey!!! what’s a matzo ball doing in my zuppa??!!!
    4th and most importantly: Thanks for bringing us your Glad Tidings, as we, well I, didn’t know of your challenging times…Ergo…a Prospero Ano Nuevo!

    WHOA! & The Schuyler!!! Those were Superb…not short of Exquisite! I hope you were The Bane of English school teachers who is now enjoying the spotlight of an appreciative audience. Seriously…do you do any gigs at the local Improv? Have you submitted to Leno before he’s gone?

  6. Oh, and my favorite commenter is Bob of the Village and Bruce – but they need to quit fighting. It would be good if we could all go to lunch and have peace.

  7. Have you been to Joe’s in Santa Fe? I’ve heard wonderful things, but I haven’t tried it, yet, either. I’m particularly looking forward to trying their roast duck with sweet=sour red cabbage and spaetzle. Sounds wonderful. Joe’s uses locally-grown produce, when possible, too.

    1. Hello Mara

      Joe’s is on my short list, but it’s moved up with your description of roast duck with sweet and sour red cabbage and spaetzle. That does sound wonderful!


      1. You did it! You reviewed Joe’s in Santa Fe! I was going to go today, but it was supposed to snow. I live in Las Vegas, a LONG way from Santa Fe, especially in snow. I would have liked to try the roast goose. I guess they won’t have it after Christmas. Boo hoo. Mara van der Pas

        1. Hi Mara

          After your first email about Joe’s then having watched the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol in which the Cratchit family had roasted goose for Christmas, we were determined to have it, too. Unfortunately, the goose is available only for dinner.

          If you have an iPhone, you can download a Web application for Joe’s Dining which lists all daily specials for lunch and dinner. It’ll tell you when goose will be available again.

          I hope you have a blessed and merry Christmas!


  8. Hi Gil

    I’m making my annual pilgrimage to Santa Fe again in late September.

    What I miss most in my lastseverak trips was not being able to buy bread baked in the hornos at Isleta. Some bread is sold outside the Pueblo but it’s not the same. Looked and tasted like bread machine bread and certainly not the same. I used to take a couple of dozen loaves home with me but sadly, no more. My grandmother Anita Avila had her own oven in Sabinal that I remember well growing up. The bread baked in the hornos was second to none. I’ve had bread purported to be the same at Taos Pueblo but it’s not the same. Is there anyone who still makes this bread the traditional way any where in New Mexico? I’ll drive a hundred miles from Santa Fe to buy it. Thanks! Suzanne Castillo Devlin born in Belen but now in Oregon.

    1. Hi Suzanne

      It’s so nice to hear from you again. The Land of Enchantment is just a bit more enchanting when you visit. Your timing couldn’t be better with the inimitable aromas of green chile roasting and autumn in the air.

      The good folks at Jemez Pueblo still bake and sell loaves of horno bread ($5) outside the Walatowa Visitor Center (575-834-7235). The drive through the Pueblo and onto Jemez Springs is one of the most scenic in New Mexico.


  9. Hola Gil and Kim,

    I hope you are well! I am hanging some chickens today. The first batch will be ready at about noon and the second at about 5:oo. Same marinade and brining process except slowly cooked over 100% mesquite charcoal. Peru is in Albuquerque for a short visit. Have a great day!

  10. The latest IQ magazine listed their choices for ABQ dining and drinking.
    Frankly I don’t know who made the choices.
    It wasn’t, or doesn’t seem to be the public.
    It seems to be the editorial board or perhaps even the business department of the magazine.
    When Budai Gourmet is left off the Asian category but Guang Dong in Bernalillois listed as a “notable” there is something drastically wrong.
    Guong Dong is as consistent as Mitt Romney., flip flopping all over the place,
    Or let’s take it one step further, Guang Dong is the UNM Football team of Chinese Restaurants, less than mediocre and inconsistent.
    It seems like the editorial board went by the restaurants who were willing to shell out $450 to be in the issue.
    When the public votes for Blade’s Bistro as Most Romantic Dining Spot but the powers that be classifies it as no better than “notable” along with one of Corrales’ true gems, Indigo Crow, someone has been bought.
    I wish IQ had owned up to the way the selection process worked.
    It wasn’t by popular demand, that’s for sure.
    It’s a shame the visitors during Balloon Fiesta have the current IQ as a dining guide.

  11. I also thank you for posting your list and wholly agree with many of them, specifically Budai Gourmet Chinese, Cafe Dalat, La Boca, Los Potrillos, Torinos @ Home, Blades’s Bistro, Il Piatto Cocina Italiana, San Pedro Middle East Restaurant, Savoy Bar & Grill and Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro. I have visited most of the others but not all.

    There is an old saying to the effect that “Great minds think alike” but even minimal examination will reveal that the opposite is true, small minds think alike. Also I notice that you have not visited the Coyote Rooftop Cantina in some while. I think that a revisit may completely change your opinion. Most of you recommended choices (with which I agreed) have been removed from the menu and completely destroyed by recipe changes prior to removal.

  12. Thank you for FINALLY posting the list of your highest rated restaurants. It’s nice to see there’s culinary greatness beyond Fanta Se.

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