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.

153 thoughts on “FAQs”
  1. Hi Gil! Thanks for the great reviews, my hubby and I have found some wonderful restaurants by following your blog! 🙂

    I’d like to submit a review suggestion – I think you should visit The Daily Grind, at Cutler & Washington, next door to Calibers. We think it’s awesome!

  2. Gil,

    I made a great local discovery and am surprised not to see them on your list; I recently built a website for the Deli-Berry restaurant on Juan Tabo; one of the nice things about doing restaurant websites is being able to EAT what you photograph. I saw quite a few people in uniform on my visits there. You should work them into your schedule; their ‘tart’ frozen yogurt is something I can’t find anywhere else in town. Say hello to Kathleen and Brennan at http://www.deli-berry.com

    Louis Bledsoe

    1. Hi Louis

      Thank you for alerting me to what appears to be a wonderful dining option in the Northeast Heights.

      Many congratulations on creating a very user-friendly Web site. It amazes me how many business Web sites fail to provide rudimentary, but essential information–address and hours of operation. You display both prominently on the home page. Your photographs on the food gallery are mouth-watering.


  3. Gil

    Love you blog/website and have used you/it as a reference for years. Thanks.

    As a Chicago native with a place in Taos, I get the most value out of your NM reviews in ABQ and those off the beaten path. However, I believe some of your readers would really appreciate it if you reviewed a few more spots in Taos. I would recommend a long weekend where you eat at El Meze, Old Martina’s, and The Taos Dinner (preferrably the local hang out on the North side).

    I think Fred Muller at El Meze is something of a genius. The restaurant is comfortable and historic, and the food creative and incredibly well executed. This would be a special spot in Chicago or Boston, but in Taos? We are very lucky. He is doing something unique and special, and deserves all the recognition we can throw his way.

    I just ate at the new Old Martina’s Hall last night, and was surprised and pleased. It was more upscale than I expected, but once again a gorgeous facility, and really tasty, well executed food. For all the grief she went through to open this place, I would love to see it really take off.

    Finally, The Taos Dinner is a real treat. They have killer grass fed beef burgers, huge portions, biscuits the size of dinner plates, but for me it is the red and green. The recipes are older than the current owner, and both are quite frankly outstanding. This is a great, local, honest, family owned “dive” and just the kind of spot that you like to feature.

    Thanks for reading, hope to see some of my local Taos jewels reviewed when you have a chance to head North.



    1. Hello Bill

      Thank you so much for the kind words about my blog.

      My mom still lives in Taos County (within walking distance of Sugar Nymphs) and we visit her quite frequently, but she’s of the “practical” generation who grew up after the Depression and can’t see spending money dining out. Fortunately she’s such a great cook that we still manage to eat very well.

      As subscribers of the Taos News, we’ve followed the controversy surrounding Martina’s Hall (and the soap-opera/reality-show quality shenanigans of the Taos County Commission and Questa School Board). It’s great to hear Martina’s is finally open after all she went through.

      There’s no doubt Fred Muller is a genius. He’s been nominated for the James Beard “best chef Southwest” award numerous times and might just win someday.

      I’ll do my best to visit more restaurants in Taos.

      Happy New Year!


  4. Just recovering from a really bad meal last night and wanted to know if others have had the same experience. We’d intended to visit Ragin’ Shrimp for years and finally made it only to be disappointed by tasteless sauces, a relatively long wait for a table when there were 4 tables available and a less than informed waitress. When we asked her about the difference between cajun sauce and etoufee she said the latter had vegetables. Well neither was good and the cajun sauce was just a lot of oils swimming in the bowl. Our neighbor at the next table asked for more parmesan for her Alfredo and was told they only had Monterey Jack. Huh? What’s Alfredo? She said hers was tasteless as well.

    A personal gripe; a waitress, obviously quite pregnant in a shirt and skirt that left her “baby bump” hanging out between the two. Maybe on personal time but not while serving food. At least slap on an apron.

  5. Thanks everyone for all your ideas! I haven’t been to many of them, and look forward trying a better fare than where I’ve been : ). Feel free to keep um coming.

  6. Hello Karen

    Bob, Roland and Morgain have provided some wonderful suggestions. Here are a few others:

    Turtle Mountain in Rio Rancho for terrific pizza.
    The Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro for excellent gourmet food and fine dining.
    Terra American Bistro for special event dining on wonderful gourmet food.
    Farina Pizzeria has a serpentine bar with hi-top seating and excellent pizza.
    Dessert Fish for maybe the best seafood in Albuquerque.

    There are a number of bar and grill type restaurants with bar stool seating, but they might not all be appropriate for a ten-year old.

  7. Yo Karen,

    Just a few…am sure Gil/others will chime in…..

    When I eat solo at Fat Squirrel http://nmgastronome.com/?p=1886 , I eat at one of two, Hi-top, “community tables” which seat several; there’s at least one just for 4.

    While I’ve never sat there, I’m thinking the counter looking into the Open Kitchen at Blade’s has Hi-top chairs http://nmgastronome.com/?p=3252&cpage=1#comment-30190 .

    Tho in, but not at the bar, I don’t feel the settings at these are ‘inappropriate’ for a ten year old. (“Strangely”, kids were disallowed to sit in the most non-rowdy bar areas in Vegas of all places!!! LOL)

    Hmm…pretty sure I sat at a Hi-Top at Cosmo Tapa’s http://nmgastronome.com/?p=14120 …but can’t remember if it was a two or four seater?

    Red Robin has several two seaters as you walk in. (To purists who may be reading: If Y’all can recommend a better place for fried, strip clams…besides Woodman’s in Essex, MA….I’m all ears. LOL)

    Red Lobster http://tinyurl.com/77zs73c check paper for $4 coupons at times.

    Double check, but I’m almost positive Casa de Benavidez http://nmgastronome.com/?p=14120 has some two seaters…call if they serve food on them.

    El Pinto http://nmgastronome.com/?p=269 has 4 seater Hi Tops… ???food and prices???; albeit good margaritas and check times for Happy Hour (filling) complimentary bargains in a nice setting, especially the Fiesta Patio…LOL

    Corrales Bistro Brewery has a Hi-top ‘community table’ http://nmgastronome.com/?p=137


  8. Gil,

    My husband is almost fully disabled. We are starting to be able to occasionally go out to dinner at a restaurant that has a tall table (bar stool) to eat at with our 10 year old son. Regular chairs are too low for him and cause a great deal of pain. We’ve been to Twisters on Paseo, I’m planning to try Applebee’s this weekend. Since you have been to all these places, I’m wondering, if off of the top of your head you can make a list for me. I think we can at Macaroni grill, but it’s in the bar and the waiting people hover over you. I sure would like a nice place or two where the three of us can have a family meal or celebration.

    Thanks for your time,

  9. Kudos for your stance on drinking and driving. I am a volunteer at the Memorial of Perpetual Tears New Mexico DWI Victim’s Memorial. I have been wandering through your blog and it is wonderful. I confess I am a chain restaurant eater not because I like them, because they are the “known”. I am always afraid to go into some little mom and pop place. I am trying to break that habit, hopefully your site well help me do that.

  10. Compadre, I found a new one and thought of you right away. It’s called Cafe Delicias Cocina Mexicana at 6001 San Mateo (Perennials’ old location). I found a flyer at my work nearby and decided to check ’em out. I keep going back!

    I hope you are well! Feliz Año Nuevo!

  11. Hello Gil,

    I hope you are well! I just opened a Peruvian-style chicken take-out/dine-in restaurant at the SE corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and Broadway. The name is “Pollito Con Papas”. We serve whole chickens (never frozen) marinated in several wonderful ingredients and are not prepared until they have spent at least 10 hours in the Peruvian-style marinade bath. It is really good! We also serve chimichangas and fresh wedge fries. Also, we prepare our own green creamy sauce that is different than other sauces out there. Come by and check us out! Although our menu is very limited it is certainly not short on flavor and freshness. Thanks, Rene

  12. Folks who prefer any chain restaurant to the non-chain purveyor of the same item, i.e. hamburgers have been “Mickey-D’d”
    I have had In n Out burgers and all I can say is that they might be the best of the big chains.
    In the words of Joy Behar, So what, who cares!.
    I believe that those folks who compare an In N Out burger to say a Bobcat Bite burger or the Blade’s Bistro Beauty need to expand their culinary horizons a bit.
    It reminds me of the fact that Blake’s Lottaburger won the title of Best Green Chile Cheeseburger this year.
    They just sell more of them to more folks because of the size of their operations.
    A Macaroni Grill is never going to be a better Italian choice than say Joe’s Pasta House but certainly more folks would vote for Macaroni Grill.
    PF Changs is never going to compete with Budai but there are more folks that have been under whelmed by Changs and just don’t know it.
    Give me a classic mom and dad with mom taking care of the front of the house while dad does the cooking….. it’s a combination that works very well.

  13. Gil, Have you ever been to In n Out Burger? Next time you are in Arizona, Las Vegas, Utah, Dallas, or California…try them…you will like!

    1. Hello Anthony

      I’ve been to In n Out Burger a number of times, both in Las Vegas and in the Phoenix area. It’s a very good burger because it follows very solid business tenets, it prepares burgers to order and it is consistent. That being said, my love and loyalties lie with mom and pop burger restaurants such as Kilroy’s in Vegas.


  14. Green Chili (sic) Alert!!! Getting ready to peel Green for your annual stash?

    It’s that time to unhinge a door, wrap big refuse bags over the top, to set on a couple of saw horses under the back or front portico for that matter. Fill the wash tub with ice and fill with a variety of cervezas and a bottle of tequila and/or Jack D! Stack up some tortillas filled with chicharones awaiting some red chili (sic) to heat up at the last minute. It’s Peel & Freeze Time!!! and the weather couldn’t be better!!! Oh, don’t forget boxes of baggies; rubber gloves for some; bowls for vinegar rinsing for others; and a sign in the bathroom “Guyz, don’t forget a piece of TP”!

    If Y’all want muy caliente, the roadside stand of Rosales of Lemitar on 4th NW is the one to go to* per last year’s experience when we got Extra Hot. Ay yi yii…we’ve been holding off for their return as we want it again but, alas, plan to “mix it” in the couple of sacks of lesser hots this year…LOL. Had never had it that hot; no idea what his, under the counter, Super Hot must be like!

    Anyway, finally caught the guy arriving today to begin his setting up. Plans to open by next Wed. the 24th. Is “late” per weather which has thrown off his standard of just the right firmness.

    Just a couple of blocks south of Los Ranchos Road NW; just past the Canine Country Club and Feline Inn; on the west side of 4th. Its in the “condensed stretch” of about a half dozen plus antiquee shoppes where some might want to go beforehand. Hey, while your goodies “steam” and aromatize your vehicle, you can dine up the road a couple of blocks past Ranchitos in the ‘tropical-like’ (and 2nd ‘bestest’ in the city) patio of Casa de Benavidez !!
    *Am unrelated and not having an affair with anyone involved.

  15. Move over, Viet Rice! Phong just opened Cafe Trang’s Pho Bar in the old Black Olive in the Albertson’s Plaza on Southern in Rio Rancho! Cafe Trang is my personal favorite and I’ve made many a long trip to LA to eat there…..but no longer! The pho with thin pork, crab and shrimp was fantastic….and you can now actually custom order what you want in your pho! As I ate I remembered why Trang is my favorite….the broth is clear and almost fat-free but really flavorful, the shrimp are deveined, the crab and plate of basil/cilantro/sprouts/chile were FRESH! It is the attention to detail that gives Cafe trang food such a clean, clear, crisp taste! I am so thankful Phong, who lives just down the street, decided to open this…..

  16. Hi…we have a new restaurant in the downtown/old town ABQ area. We would love for you to come check out our restaurant. Cheese and Coffee Cafe Downtown, We have a facebook page and website, please check it out and come in for lunch. We would love to have you. THX.

  17. Macs Steak in the Rough.

    I would like to recommend a wonderful green chile cheeseburger to add the GCCB trail. It’s the burger from macs

    1. Juicy patty that is fresh
    2. Great meat to bun ratio
    3. Toasted bun that is of very high quality
    4. Very tasty burger all around

    1. Thank you for the great recommendation, Anthony. I am always on the prowl for a great green chile cheeseburger.

      Before the next update to the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail, the New Mexico Tourism Department will give burgerphiles the opportunity to nominate and vote for their favorite green chile cheeseburgers. Mac’s Steak in the Rough is a long-time New Mexico institution and will undoubtedly merit consideration.


  18. I love your site! I am writing to ask if we can link to your well written and interesting site, and if you would link to ours: http://www.newmexicovideo.com/ . Following is some information about the site. NewMexicoVideo.com is the first of a series of dynamic television channels from Modern Media Messaging LLC. This online channel makes the most of New Mexico’s beautiful landscape and rich history, featuring videos by and about New Mexico businesses, resorts, and artists. Inline contact information and interactivity allow people just learning about our state to find or explore a particular place to visit, shop, or dine. Audiences will be captivated by state of the art television productions available worldwide, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Cathleen Kane

  19. hi,

    just thought you may consider trying a review of food trucks/carts. here’s an info. start in that direction.


    by the way, i enjoy your reviews, they help to unearth the hidden gems of our community.

  20. I don’t know if you accept recommendations but a place you might consider trying is Sushi Xuan at 3250 Coors, NW. In our opinion, the sushi is good but not necessarily exceptional. The non-sushi items, however, are really, really good.

  21. Budai Gourmet Chinese on San Mateo and Acadmey is fantastic. This is the best Chinese restaurant in Albuquerque. Sadly that is not saying much but the word will spread and Budai will be on the abq dining map. The food is fresh, savory and most importantly the restaurant is frequented by asians…always a good sign!

  22. Gil, have always loved your site and reviews, and they have led my family to some great dining in ABQ and NM. I thank you for your reviews and have an idea for you I don’t think you have reviewed; Los Equipalas in ABQ at Jefferson and Silver. It is one of our favority mexican food restaurants that has a more coastal flair than the standard New Mexican food that we all love. Los Equipalas has some very great dishes with their sauces (and desserts) being very special. nothing can beat the Carnitas with green sauce. Give it a try and I would love to see your throughts. thanks and keep up the good work!

  23. Just tried a new Rio Rancho resturant, called the black olive, very favorable selection of food, not the usual. Large wine list and the chef’s specials were great. New and the wait staff a too present. I understand that the staff is from the old Coplands and the selection of food is Italian and American. Looks like a very robust lunch menu. Food equal to the olds Geo’s nere in Rio Rancho. It is located in the Ablertson’s shopping center on southern in Rio Rancho.

  24. Gil,
    I know you have reviewed the Luna Mansion in the past and your website states that its closed.
    It has re-opened Aug 2009, and it is delicious!!!!
    It’s under new management and I think you should make another visit. I’m curious to see if you think it’s worthy of a high score.
    The beef filet is what I tried and it was one of the best steaks I have ever tried!!

    Hope you try it soon!!

  25. Hey Gil,

    We went to Prairie Star Restaurant this past weekend. The menu is not near the level it has been in the previous years. If you are seeking “safe” dining it is a sure bet. In my opionon you are not missing anything by not visiting soon. The style very much reminds me of country club cusine designed for older diners that want a predictable meal.

    Talk to you soon!


  26. My favorite place for sandwiches is the Cheese and Coffee on Louisiana, just north of Menaul. Always packed for lunch. They allow you to specify every ingredient on your sandwich if you wish. My favorite is a grilled ham on wheat with provolone, dijon, horseradish, tomato, lettuce and red onion. mmmmm. Surprised you haven’t dropped in. (P.S. I’m only a customer, with no other interest in the establishment).

  27. Hi Gil–
    I enjoy your blog and consider your reviews very accurate. FYI the Luna Mansion in Los Lunas reopened a couple of months ago. The food is much better, although the menu is shorter, and the beautiful building has been spruced up and all the tat and swag removed so that it looks much better.

  28. We’re heading to the Santa Fe Opera for the first time next weekend. Coming up from Rio Rancho-we do know the Opera is is not near much-can you recommend a restaurant that’s somewhat close, we are already considering Bishops Lodge– any other ideas??


  29. Gil! Hope all is well – i second your review on Porky’s…that’s some of the best brisket i’ve ever had. Also, i am ECSTATIC to tell you i’ve finally found a place in town with a decent Philly Cheesesteak (that’s a big deal for a PA transplant like myself). It’s called “Itsa Italian Ice” on 2nd street just north of Menaul. 50’s diner type of feel to it, you should definitely do lunch there sometime soon.


  30. Gil,
    I’ve come across a great little New Mexican cuisine restaurant here in Albuquerque called Quesada’s. Nice people, great food. They’re located at 513 San Mateo Blvd. N.E.. Phone# 505-232-0554. Definately worth a look see. Thanks Gil

  31. Gil, I’ve noticed that occassionally you’ll visit a restaurant on a reader’s suggestion, so here’s mine: Rasoi, on Yale just South of Central. I too mourned the passing of Bombay Grill last year, and I’ve since been thrilled to discover Rasoi. They use good, fresh ingredients, and I have yet to be disappointed.

    Thanks for keeping up this blog. It’s a true community service.

  32. Thank you so much for the time and dedication you have put into this blog. I am about to venture from Los Angeles to Colorado, stopping in AZ and NM, and your blog is a blessing.

    I first started with restaurants from the Food Network’s suggestions but found that most reviews of the restaurants were hit and miss. To add to the frustration, I found out that most of the poor reviews where along the lines of how I see and review food. My point being, the food network was steering me in the wrong direction and you have saved me and kept me on course.

    If there happen to be one or two restaurants that you would say I NEED to try while passing through, please let me know.

    Thanks so much!

  33. Hi Gil, where can I send you a recommendation for a restaurant I think you should check out?

    Ever tried Venezuelan food? Theres a brand new restaurant in ABQ named Cafe Choroni and its delicious.


    I noticed you don’t have a Vnezuelan food category on your blog, this could be the first!

    take care and keep up the good work!

  34. Gil –

    My wife and I have been huge fans since moving back here in July, 2007. Like you, we avoid the national chain restaurants whenever possible (some family and friends don’t share that philosophy).

    I’m writing to you to strongly encourage you to try the re-opened Casa Vieja in Corrales. It was reviewed the Journal a few weeks back, which prompted our visit there. The both of us are happy to say that this is probably our most favorite restaurant in town, and plan to visit as often as possible (probably on our ‘date nights’).

    Please visit Casa Vieja soon to let the world know that it’s back (with new ownership) and let everyone know what great food it has. (We can only assume that you will agree with us!)

    The Mushroom Soup is to die for. We’ve tried the roasted chicken and pork chop and are HUGE fans of these dishes. Give it a try!


    -Gary & Barb.

  35. Hey Gil,

    Just wanted to drop a line and say that you absolutely must visit the Old Town Pizza Parlor on Rio Grande and Central. It’s a fairly new place owned and operated by a freindly guy named Michael Tafoya who has worked in some of the best kitchens in ABQ. Without a doubt it is the best pizza in town, bar none, and the pasta is even better. We’ve been there five or six times and it just gets better. The parlor is located in the same building that housed Ambrosia when it was open. I cannot say enough good about it, I hope you will give it a try and sing its’ praises on your fantastic blog!


  36. Gil,

    When I worked in Santa Fe, a favorite was Piccolino on Agua Fria street. It was relatively inexpensive and quality was outstanding. Always packed at lunchtime, it is in a former Church’s. Try it, you might really like it.

    Emilio D. “Mike” Sanchez

  37. i went to ming dynasty for dinner based on your review and was throughly disappointed. it was just so bland, and the eggrolls were the worst i have ever had. maybe thier dim sung is better, but thier dinner wasnt very good at all. if you really want to try the best chinese food in albuquerque, you need to go to chens, on jauntabo just south of the freeway on the right. im really suprised not see a review here about chens. its is without a doubt some of the best chinese food in town. id really like to see a review on here about chens. its truely a diamond in the rough. i gauruntee if you went youd be raving about it!

  38. I need to try the aforementioned China Luck restaurant. I love that goofy name and it’s walking distance from my chante.

    Your site is so damned good, it’s dangerous, Gil. There should be a warning about viewing your site while hungry.

  39. I love your reviews. You are such a gem & great resource.. Most of your reviews are “right on”.!! Do you know any restaurants in ABQ or SF that make empanadas (other than Golden Crown Panaderia??
    Thank, Susanne

  40. Gil

    We recently returned to the Pasta House on Southern Blvd for lunch. Now called Pasta Joe’s Cafe. They still offer the buffet lunch, but have resumed offering a dozen separate single menue items which are up to snuff as in the past. The dinner menue is complete& the stuffed eggplant appetizer ( Superb ) is still offered as is ( I assume ) the rest of the evening menue. Will report back soon about supper.

    Has anyone gone to the Tune-Up Cafe in Santa Fe ? Apparently excellent…New Mexican with some Guatemalan touches…will have to take the train up soon.

    Does anyone know if the Wonderful Deli-Mart has re-opened on the west side ? The only Real home cooked deli roast beef in NM and the best ( Flown in ) ricotta west of Philly…


  41. Gil,

    I also enjoy Vietnamese beef soups; if you get the chance please try Saigon Far East at 901 D-E San Pedro S.E., closed Mondays. A few of us from the Air Guard found this place a few years ago and now it’s our Drill Saturday lunch stop. I even have a friend that was transferred down to Chile and as soon as he gets back into town we have to meet there for lunch. Just ask Kim for the Pho Dac Biet, Happy Roll and a Jasmin ice tea and you will be good to go.


  42. Hi Gil,

    Do you have an e-mail address? We would like permission to reproduce one of your photos in an upcoming blog post about your blog.


  43. Gil – is there a way to sort your restaurants by their ratings? Any way to call up a list of all your 30’s, followed by 29’s 28’s etc. That would be useful if it is doable – probably depends on how well you know (or can write) SQL?
    Then when you are looking for a special place that you haven’t gone to before the list would give you the top ratings to try.

  44. Gil,

    I love your reviews! And I’m pleased to say your reviews/ratings are usually closely in line with my own opinions:)

    I want to suggest a restaurant and a dish for you to try. I called before we went and asked, “Do you have a lunch buffet?” “No,” they replied. My response? “Glad to hear!” You see, we agree on your opinion of buffets in general…

    China Luck, 7900 San Pedro NE
    Our meal:
    Hot and Sour Soup
    Pot Stickers
    #528, Chicken with Chinese Basil in Hot Pot

    China Luck is owned by Megan Yeh and her husband, who is the chef. They are from Taiwan, and the menu shows it. We were pleasantly surprised by options we’d not seen at our normal Chinese food stomping grounds.

    My wife judges Chinese restaurants first by their hot and sour soup, so we started with a small bowl, which turned out to be the best she’s ever had in Albuquerque or possibly anywhere, with just the right balance of hot and sour, and not too sweet. The delectable dish was well balanced with just the right mix of vegetables, various types of mushrooms, meat, and tofu clamoring in the delicious broth. We immediately wished we’d ordered the large bowl. Next time we won’t forget!

    The pot stickers were made from scratch, down to the wrappers. Plump to almost bursting, they were steamed to perfection then lightly fried on just one side without excess oil. The pot stickers were accompanied by a perfectly matched soy sauce-based dipping sauce. I lived in South Korea for two years and had some good mandu (Korean pot stickers), but not much (if any) that was better than these.

    Now to the crowning part of our meal…

    We had asked our waitress to recommend the most authentic dish on the menu for us. She told us of the many Asians who come to order one of two things: “Eggplant with Garlic Sauce in Casserole” (#B3) or “Chicken with Chinese Basil in Hot Pot” (#528). We chose the latter. It arrived sizzling in a small, wooden-handled pot. I quickly realized the dish is not for the casual eater; the chicken pieces were definitely NOT boneless; the small pieces of meat had small to medium bones still attached. From my time in Asia, I knew this was a good sign of an authentic dish. My first bite brought surprise to my eyes—what I thought was a wood mushroom of some kind was in fact a thinly sliced shard of ginger. Expecting my taste buds to be overwhelmed, I was pleasantly surprised to meet some of the most delectable flavor combinations I’ve ever encountered. The Chinese basil, the ginger, the meat and the sauce, each with a unique strong flavor, combined in a new and wonderful gastronomic symphony balanced in perfect tone and meter. The only possible improvement I can imagine would be a few more basil leaves. Though the ginger was surprisingly bountiful, that effect was perfect. I had been apprehensive at the pending chore of picking each small bone from the chicken pieces, but even that task contributed wonderfully to the experience; we were forced to indulge in this version of heaven slowly and carefully, which gave our taste buds proper time to experience the new, unique flavors. Consequently, though the dish took a long time to eat I wouldn’t have shortened that experience for anything.

    So, Gil, I hope you’ll give China Luck a try. I suggest you also try “Chicken with Chinese Basil in Hot Pot.”

    If I were to rate China Luck on your scale, it would easily garner at least a 20. It is our new favorite local Chinese restaurant.

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