FAQs

You sure do eat out a lot. Don’t you ever eat at home?

We probably eat out less often than most people, usually three or four times a week. Some of my colleagues at work eat out every workday. The difference is they might eat at the same restaurant two or three times a week; we rarely visit the same restaurant more than once a month.

My Kim is a fabulous cook and I can handle myself in a kitchen very well, too, though we can’t cook together.  My idea of cooking is experimenting with every disparate ingredient there is.  There’s no such thing as “leaving well enough alone.”  As a consequence, I’ve invented the greatest macaroni and cheese ever made, but haven’t been able to replicate it because I didn’t write down what the ingredients were.  That’s fine, too, because it leads to more experimentation.

So what do you really have against chain restaurants?

Chain restaurants have their place in the world though not in mine.  To me, chain restaurants scream of homogeneity, the boring sameness some call the Wal-Martization of America.  Some people are comforted by that predictability.

Call me the Mike Roberts of local mom and pop restaurants, an unabashed supporter and cheerleader for the many great local dining establishments.  I love the fact that locally owned and operated restaurants can be unpredictable, that they prepare food to order instead of thawing something out which was shipped from corporate headquarters hundreds of miles away, that you can get to know the great families who own them, that those families have very personal investments and take immense pride in their products.

I have a friend and colleague I often refer to as the “Bizarro Gil.”  He’s my complete antithesis when it comes to eating out.  He practically drools at the first note of the Chili’s jingle and celebrates all family special events at places like the Outback Steakhouse and the Olive Garden.  I’ve come to the conclusion that his patronage of the chains has dulled his taste buds to the point at which he’s lost the capacity to recognize good food.  There are a lot of people like that.

Now, I will admit to being a captive of chains which fill a niche.  If mom and pop restaurateurs, for example, offered fried chicken or salad buffets, there’s be no reason to frequent chains which do.

What’s the best….?  What’s your favorite…?

When it comes to food, I find it impossible to be monogamous.  I have several favorites, maybe hundreds of them, but I also have no favorites whatsoever.  That might sound paradoxical, but I subscribe to the Mounds approach–sometimes you feel like a (your favorite food here), sometimes you don’t.  

Why was my experience at a restaurant so different from yours?

Any restaurant review is a “snapshot in time”–my experiences at the time of a particular visit.  A myriad of changes may account for differences of opinion— not ordering the same menu items, different chef or line cook, different menu, service degradation, things changing over time, etc.  Ultimately, readers should take a caveat emptor approach to any restaurant review, written by any critic. What matters most is your opinion.

Do you get paid to write reviews?

Not at all.  In fact, I won’t even accept advertising on my site.  That allows me to remain completely independent.

Why don’t you provide wine pairings with the restaurant meals you review?

It’s well established that New Mexico has a very serious drunk driving problem and I won’t contribute to that in any way.  We won’t even have a glass of wine if we’re driving.  At my age I need every bit of clarity I can muster and so does everyone who hits New Mexico’s roads.

115 Comments on “FAQs”

    1. Jeff D, nice to see you joining the group. Alas, I’ve sadly badgered Gil over the years about Antiquity…obviously, without success.
      Here http://tinyurl.com/zcv87my if I may, pardon it is elsewhere, is a recent take of mine RE Antiquity. Because of ‘cookies’, you might need to scroll back 3 weeks for my ‘Dinner with G-Pa’. As I’ve also noted elsewhere, my Fav is Henry IV: Artichoke leaves splayed in a circle with a royal Filet sitting in the center, crowned with the artichoke heart, and drizzled with Bearnaise sauce (for a robe). (The hunk of meat by itself is comparable to Scalo’s & Elaine’s, IMHO)
      Full disclosure: One of my daughters doesn’t care for the place because she thinks it needs to be “dusted”.
      Lastly, reservations.

  1. Gil, you have to get yourself back here to Pueblo, Colorado. The only place you list for our town has been closed for years, but there are many other eateries that are worth checking out, especially in the renovated downtown. So don’t just wave from I-25 as you go by, stop in.

    1. You’re absolutely right, David. We had every intention of taking a long overdue vacation in Colorado, but time…and snowy weather crept up on us. I’ve got three questions for you:

      (1) Are you this David Wagner? If so, your books have piqued my interest. They’re now on my reading list.

      (2) Who’s got the better slopper – Gray’s Coors Tavern or the Star Bar? Are there any better in Pueblo.

      1. When it comes to sloppers, there are really only two options (some decent ones, but really it’s a two horse race).
        Gray’s Coors Tavern and the Sunset Grill
        One has the better chile, and the other has the better burger, so really it comes down to what you really want from that slopper. I tend to favor Coors over Sunset, but by no means should Sunset hang its head in shame. It’s a very good slopper as well!

      2. Gil;

        Yes I am that David, formerly of Placitas and up here in Pueblo for three years now. Thanks for taking an interest in my mysteries, when you read them you’ll find that food is an essential part of each one. Rick Montoya is living in Italy, after all.

        On the slopper, the other comment hit it right, it comes down to Coors and Sunset, and I agree with him or her that Coors is the better of the two. Plus you can’t beat Coors’s atmosphere. Let me know when you’re coming this way and I can suggest other places in Pueblo.

        Was there a third question?

        1. Glad we agree on the slopper. Now how about your favorite grinder? I used to always be partial to PassKey, but then found that Dew Drop Inn had one with green chile, as did Ianne’s. Marie’s out in Pueblo West has a good one too – as well as a good green chile cheeseburger.

          Supposedly Ianne’s has really fantastic fried chicken if Frank is working the fryer…I have yet to be in town when he’s manning the fryer though, so am just going by what I’ve been told…I have an “in” when it comes to Pueblo cuisine…:-)…

          1. I trust you refer to the Italian sausage sandwiches for which the Pass Key is noted. Not a big fan of those, so I will not weigh in for that debate. As far as fried chicken, it seems to be a staple all over Pueblo, but my best experience has been the Hen House Cafe in Pueblo West. Their name says it all.

        2. Greetings David: I must admit that I was pretty excited to see your posts and that you are a writer. I enjoy reading Italian travel memoirs and I was intrigued by the Amazon reviews that noted your background and the inclusion of food, wine, and culture in your Rick Montoya mystery series. I immediately ordered “Cold Tuscan Stone” and enjoyed it so much that I have now ordered the remainder of your books.

          I won’t write a book report but suffice it to say that the historical and art references are fascinating adjuncts to the who-done-it investigation. I admittedly had to take a few minutes to refresh my memory on a bit of Etruscan history and check out Volterra and funerary urns in order to get a sense of place and the referenced artworks. With that said, “Cold Tuscan Stone” was a great read!

          I see a sixth book scheduled for release in May, and I’m hoping that maybe one of these days you’ll do a seventh mystery centered on a dastardly deed in a fine restaurant kitchen somewhere in Italy?

          Anyway, thanks for the great read – and more to come!

          1. Thanks, Becky, for the kind words about the book, and I hope you will enjoy the others. Each one features good meals and wine from the area where Rick finds himself involved in a murder investigation. No plans yet for a chef murder, but who knows where things will go. The one coming out in May, Roman Count Down, is in fact a prequel, taking place when Rick first arrives in Rome. This one has a lot of humor along with sleuthing and good food.

          2. I wholeheartedly echo my dear friend Becky’s comments on Cold Tuscan Stone. It was a magnificent read. I love how the plot integrated suspense and humor so seamlessly. Not only did Cold Tuscan Stone heighten my knowledge of Etruscan history and amp up my desire to someday return to Italy, it provided a wonderful escape and respite from a cold I brought back with me from Austin. I can’t wait to read the entire Rick Montoya series.

  2. Dear Gil,
    September 29, 2018 I Love Sushi in ABQ closed after 18 years of service. I have been going here for many years and was heartbroken to see it close yesterday . thank you for your honest and refreshing reviews.

    1. Thank you so much for letting us know…and for the kind words about my reviews. It’s always sad to learn of the closure of another mom-and-pop treasure, especially when the owners were so kind. I Love Sushi will be missed.

  3. Speaking of Pizza:
    Interesting…mysterious(?)…. that “they” put a Round pizza
    in a Square box and
    then “we” eat it in Triangles?
    One can’t but wonder if that was another one of da Vinci’s playful pranks.

    Best toppings at a minimum? IMHO: Pepperoni con diced Green Chile and lightly sprinkled with diced Anchovy with a small Caesar Salad accompaniment.

    Why is left over pizza often better than fresh? Isn’t salting one’s pizza unhealthily gauche?

    Did you know that you are not supposed to throw your boxes in the recyclables? Say what?…..Unless…. http://tinyurl.com/yb5garfj

    1. I believe it was da Vinci, owner of a small pizzeria in Rome who invented the helicopter to facilitate delivery of the pies.
      Green Chile on Pizza is to pizza what military music is to music..
      No self respecting pizza lover goes for the pineapple-green Chile- barbecued chicken toppings that sprung up in the 70’s in places like ABQ and Dallas, not exactly Italian immigrant strong holds.
      And leftover pizza simply put cannot hold a candle to fresh hot pizza right out of a coal or wood fired brick oven, period, end of story..
      Now I get why one might eat pizza with a knife and fork.
      By the way, unless you like pizza oil dripping down your chin folding it enables the eater to drip it easily back into the box or a paper towel.
      It’s neither an affectation nor only limited to self respecting NYers. and it conserves water that one would need for washing utensils.

  4. Gil,

    When are you going to have a night out again at a restaurant for friends of Gil? Wife and I want to attend.

    1. Hello Richard

      We should have at least one Friends of Gil dinner in the springtime. I’ve got a medical procedure coming up that’s going to incapacitate me for a few weeks. There is no rule, however, that I have to attend (and it may be more fun without me) so maybe a diligent FOGey will set one up sooner. In any regard, details will be published here.

      Gil

      1. Hi Gil, I am frequently hungry for local restaurant news. I like any news on openings and closings.For instance I noticed eli’s place on 4th is boarded up. I was surprised since they are on the cover of the current aaa publication.Also any word on why Le Cafe Miche on coors closed? any news on openings and closings and general info on food doings would be welcome . As a fellow gastronaut I would like to buy you lunch sometime and I hope your” procedure” goes well…I have worked as a cook and chef in this area for many years and like to keep up with the latest. Thanks Mucho

        1. Hi Lawrence

          As you can well imagine, it’s very challenging to keep up with all the openings and closings in the Duke City areas. Seasoned restaurateurs know how to get the word out about new restaurant ventures, but a lot of first-time restaurant owners aren’t media savvy and tend to open new eateries without fanfare or notice. It’s an unfortunate trend that some restaurants shutter their doors with nary a word to media sources or even their customers. Some keep their Web sites and Facebook pages active, but with no word on their closures. Worse, some of those who were active on Facebook don’t even take the time to thank loyal patrons who kept them in business.

          The Albuquerque Journal’s Jessica Dyer does a great job publishing news on restaurant openings and closures, but she can only write about events of which she’s made aware.

          The last word I have on Eli’s is that owner Dennis Apodaca is scouring the Fourth Street area for a new location in which to reopen his magnificent restaurant. Aficionados of Dennis’s cooking should visit his new restaurant Maya on Silver.

          Le Cafe Miche’s (the one on Coors) closure was somewhat of a surprise. The owners had actually moved back to Albuquerque from Taos to open the restaurant. It was well received and popular though the small space limited what they could do.

          My procedure–now 36 days ago–went well and I’m now “bionic.” Thanks for your good wishes.

          Gil

  5. Hi Gil,
    There is a new restaurant on San Mateo South of Katherine called Sheba’s. It is Middle Eastern and it is wonderful. You should check it out.

    Sincerely,
    Jennifer Schneider

      1. We agree that Sheba’s is wonderful and worth your attention. We also discovered Aya’s New Asian on Menaul and have been a dozen times since August. Would love to read yor take on them.

  6. Hello Gil,

    Please update contact info for El Chicken 100% Carbon to:

    Address: 212 San Pedro Dr SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108
    Phone: (505) 903-4537

    I am former owner and continue to get calls. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lori

      On a number of occasions, we’ve attempted to dine at Frank’s Famous during hours in which the restaurant was supposed to be open. For some reason, however, the restaurant always seems to be closed when we visit.

      Please, Lori, give me some advice on what we should order when we finally find them open.

      Thanks,

      Gil

  7. You should try curry leaf on Montgomery! Delicious Indian food. When my mom and I went there was no one there sadly. I’m afraid it might be struggling.

    1. Thanks for the great tip, Andres. The Curry Leaf is a terrific addition to Albuquerque’s rather limited Indian food restaurant scene. On the day we visited (for lunch on a Saturday), the restaurant was pretty crowded. During lunch only the buffet is offered. We look forward to visiting in the evening where a spectacular menu awaits.

  8. So sorry for being so disjointed/fragmented (What else is new?), but for those that are unfamiliar with Talin, here http://tinyurl.com/guwmlxz is an article about its interesting history and how “immigrants” attempted to make Albuquerque as cosmopolitan as it might be.
    In passing info on to a friend unfamiliar with “Talin”, I was perplexed to find it’s current website saying since “1978….”. (Elsewise, this ’04 article may make reference to “aisles” that are no longer part of their offerings.)

    1. Hello Richard

      Bone marrow is absolutely delicious, but it seems to be a rotational item that doesn’t stick around for long on restaurant menus. If you’re willing to travel to Santa Fe, you can find marrow at Radish & Rye, a farm-to-table restaurant. In fact, the banner on the restaurant’s menu page currently has a picture of the smoked marrow they offer.

      Chef Fernando Olea of Sazon has been known to serve bone marrow on occasion, but it’s not on the current menu. Ditto for Joseph’s.

      Alas, I don’t know of any Albuquerque restaurant offering bone marrow, but perhaps a reader might clue us both in. Bone marrow is well worth the drive to Santa Fe.

      Gil

    2. – Serendipity…as you know, finding something that you might want to find, but weren’t actually looking for at a given moment in time. I’ve never heard of eating bone marrow as it is apparently not served in the exotic/fine dining venues I frequent. Later Friday as I curiously/adventurously browsed the cavernous Talin market after having Yum Yums at Pop-up Dumplings therein, I happened by the fresh meat/fish display cases of things I’d never seen before. As such, it occurred to me to ask and was told they indeed sell bone marrow for Home-on-the-Range chefs who might like to give it a go!!!!

        1. Richard
          Major props to you for trying bone marrow at home. If you don’t already have a recipe, here’s one I recommend. It comes courtesy of Fergus Henderson, a nose-to-tail chef who really knows his way around bone marrow.
          Gil

  9. would find it more useful to have most recent restaurant reviews at top – I’ve been led astray by – by giving up – before I get to anything recent, the first “old” comments – sometimes 3-5 years old – are often not indicative of current eater opinions.
    thanks
    bjg

    1. Thank you, BJ. That was an excellent suggestion. The most recent comments on every blog post are now shown first. 50 comments per page are displayed with a link to older comments at the bottom of the page.

  10. Lawrence, I am in touch with Chef Andre Diddy and visited him in both Atlanta
    earlier and in Hammondsports where he is now. He is chef @ a winery in
    upstate New York. Marco running great restaurant in Taos. Andre has had
    multiple health problems but still same goofy guy.

  11. I am waiting for you to go, lol. BUT my brother went recently to the location in Old Town and loved it AND my parents when to the location on Pan American and also enjoyed themselves. I am thinking I will try it soon!

  12. Gil,
    I love your blog! I also LOVED Chile Rio and was so sad when they closed. I was wondering if you would ever considering going to the restaurant that took over…Hacienda del Rio. I know they have a restaurant in Old Town and now the Pan American location. You could try both and compare? I would love to see your review of them.

  13. My wife and I for several reasons, would rather eat lunch out than dinner.
    We will often go to a restaurant that has been favorably reviewed and we find that our lunch doesn’t live up to the review.
    Is there a lunch chef and a dinner chef? Is the former usually less skilled than the latter?
    We have been impressed by the reviews of Budai. Will our lunch be the same that is served for dinner?
    Thanks

    1. At Budai there is no surcease in quality between lunch and dinner. Chef Hsia Fang, whom I consider one of the three or four best chefs in Albuquerque, delivers remarkably consistent meals (the hallmark of a great restaurant) at every meal. If you’re an adventurous diner, place yourself in the hands of Elsa, the hostess and co-owner. She has an amazing knack for recommending the perfect dish every time.

      Gil

  14. May I get content sent to me? I really like hear about what’s happening in our dining scene. you know who’s expanding who’s changing who’s closing who’s hot who’s not . Where’s Chef Rosa? I used to work for Chef Andre Diddy. I hope we can maybe share info opinions etc. Thanks.

    1. Hello Lawrence

      You can get all new posts mailed to you if you subscribe to my blog. There’s a “Subscribe” Web part on the navigation menu. The “Year in Food” posts published monthly should keep you fairly well abreast about the dining scene in that it celebrates all the many mentions New Mexico’s restaurants, chefs and authors receive from national media sources. There’s also a section on the navigation menu for restaurants which are gone but not forgotten. It lists all restaurant closures (and there are too many of them) by year.

      The last I heard Chef Rosa lives in Santa Fe. Her Twitter account (https://twitter.com/parisiancowgirl) seems to be mostly retweets which is a shame because the former James Beard Award nominee always had so many brilliant things to say. Newcomers to Albuquerque missed out on a fabulous chef and personality. Chef Rosa was one of a kind.

      So was Chef Andre Diddy who coined the phrase “waitrons” as a gender-neutral term for his servers. Is he still in New York?

      Feel free to comment again and if you’d like for me to keep my response private, I’ll be happy to do so.

      Thanks for a stroll down memory lane.

      Gil

  15. Please consider adding Nagomi (2400 Juan Tabo) to your blog. It has Japanese Amercian ownership and has the definite feel of a mom and pop place. Just discovered it this week although it has been open almost a year. I have tried most Japanese restaurants in Alb and this one is by far the best. The sushi is wonderful, but what makes this place stand out is all the other menu items. Things like shabu shabu and Japanese curry that is just not seen on other menus. Give them a try!

  16. Food trucks and local craft breweries are joining together for one great day! On Saturday, April 11th, the New Mexico Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival will be held at Balloon Fiesta Museum from 11-4. Over 20 local trucks will be serving up their best dishes, in addition to live music, children’s activities, and local craft beer for the adults.

  17. Bruce,
    My wife would say this is a rare event for me. My tendency is to be verbose, however, in an attempt to aid this person, I felt brevity was in order.

  18. I’m glad that you enjoyed the BOI and spicy wings seem to be the perfect food.
    Jack should be watched with both a libation in hand and a weapon in you holster. I did miss him and he is a welcomed addition in my home.
    Once while watching 24 Grayce shouted out at a very bad guy at a very tense moment, “Kill ’em, Jack. Kill the MF.”
    Not very lady like but quite apropos.

  19. Yo El Brute…with no offense to Roland as indeed succinct can be good, but you must appreciate that at least I’m not cheap with words…LOL
    Alas, with your Beck’s Dark sufficiently ‘iced’, had it last night. As you didn’t say what kind of glass to use, I opted for a pilsner style. You didn’t say what’s it might go best with either, so I opted for KFC’s 5 Hot Spicy wings (with Ranch for dipping) and a side of their smashed potatoes with classic brown gravy. Aha! this “Dark” was not overpowerlingly sweet, but had a hearty/huskiness to it…’aggresive and robust’?… which along with its effervescence, was a perfect match to the hot spiceness! Certainly worthy to be drank/drunk this way http://tinyurl.com/nye9mo5 or even for sipping watching Jack do his thing in/on ’24’!

  20. Roland
    You managed to say in approx 2 dozen words what Bob-A-Loo said in 634 words.
    Amazing, and without one “LOL”.
    How did you manage it?

  21. Yo SP…Bienvenido! Sorry can’t give you a better link. Go here: http://tinyurl.com/d2hkhvb

    South of I-40 and East of I-25 find “Lomas”. Put your cursor on it and slowly rotate your mouse wheel to zoom in. Hopefully…LOL…you should see the UNM campus with Central Ave. (aka Rt. 66) as its southern border. South of Central, altho I stand to be corrected, is the ‘bricklight’ area. (Put your cursor in the middle of the screen and while holding down you left mouse button, move your mouse up/down/left/right.) It’s a mix of homes with probably rooms for rent or where students rent the whole house by pooling $$$ and apartments where houses have been razed. Some might describe it as ‘well worn’ with possible gems within akin to a geode as is the rest of NM…LOL Click on the icons to see the ‘offense’. Alas, note the zero icons on campus. I can only presume because it has its own police force, “crime stats” are not so listed.
    Along and off Central south of the U are a mish mash of mostly casual eateries with some being quite good.

    Nob Hill is roughly along Central from Girard east to Carlisle, some might say to Washington. It is “a melange of shoppes and restaurants/pubs” where Townies and Students share strolling or people-gawking ala sidewalk “patios” and casual and finer dining.

    You said you will be doing a residency, so I’m guessing it is in Medicine. If in healthcare, north of Lomas actually is the Med/Nursing/Pharm schools’ “campus” with the teaching hosp (highly so ranked in several specialties) and the Law school with its adjacent golf course. To its east, are mostly residences with only a few apartments. I’m thinking some houses might be rentals or have room rentals…perhaps. Northwesterly from the Med School complex near University Blvd and Indian School Rd. are a couple of…how shall we say….more upscale…at least looking…. apartment complexes Netherwood and Citadel. Go here: https://www.google.com/maps/@35.098147,-106.629198,3a,75y,29.23h,73.17t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s1fHKoY6kfogJWD5_0Cw4Zw!2e0 Put your cursor in the middle of the street a bit toward the traffic signal and click. It should move you east. Repeat as necessary. At Univ. and Indian School Rd is the Citadel complex (SE corner).

    No car/bike and want to look elsewhere? Go here for city buses http://www.cabq.gov/transit/bus-routes-and-schedules Still can’t figure it out? Call 311 tell ’em where you are and want to go.

    Consider contacting the UNM or UNM Med School for their “Housing Offices”. Say, lest you don’t know about it and without meaning to insult you’re being independently wealthy, check out the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment program for healthcare practitioners http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/loanrepayment/

    Am now hoping Y’all will be back in a couple of weeks to tell us you found a place with a 32″ LCD-HD TV, weight room and hot tub with a bevy of guy/gals as the case may be, looking out at glorius sunsets over the watermelon shaded Sandias (pardon the redundancy!) or the volcanoes while enjoying Mai Tais, within 2 blocks of the med school/hosp for $399 a month! At that point I’ll be happy to say “Que Sapo!!!”

  22. Hi Gil –
    I am so glad I found your website. I will be moving to Albuquerque in June to start a residency program. I am told Nob Hill is a good area to live in but I am having a hard time finding an apartment and don’t even know where to start. Even though my question to you so unrelated to the content of this blog, would you be able to point me in the right direction? How safe is the bricklight district?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Richard

      Chile Rio Mexican Grill on Pan American Freeway might just have the best fajitas in the Duke City area. What makes these special is the high quality of the beef skirt steak, optimally tender and perfectly seasoned. Every eye in the restaurant follows the steam trail from the kitchen to your table when the fajitas are delivered. Please let me know if you get to visit Chile Rio and sample them.

      Gil

      1. Thanks for the suggestions. Had the lime-tequila chicken fajitas. Liked them very much. I heard some good things about Claim Jumper. Have you tried it yet? Thanks again.

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