About This Blog

Sugar Nymph's Bistro in Penasco (Photo Courtey of Deanna Nichols)

Famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti once said, “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

Hola! I’m Gil Garduño. Welcome to Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog. I chose the site vanity “nmgastronome” because it truly reflects my passion for the cuisine of the Land of Enchantment–and hopefully describes the level to which my palate has evolved after having visited and evaluated more than 1,000 restaurants in the past ten years or so.

Gastronome A connoisseur of good food; someone with a refined palate; a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink); an epicure.

In this blog’s nomenclature, there is hopefully an implicit reflection of the continuous improvement of this Web site. In the past ten years, this site has evolved from a rudimentary HTML version of an Excel table to a site in which you could find detailed, one-page reviews of many of your favorite restaurants in New Mexico. This blog is the latest in the evolution of Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Site.

Mary & Tito's guacamole and rice filled burrito served Christmas style.
Mary & Tito’s guacamole and rice filled burrito served Christmas style.

When we moved back to New Mexico on May 15, 1995, our first priority wasn’t where to live, but where to eat. Having been away for the better part of 18 years, there were so many old favorites with which to reacquaint ourselves and so many exciting new prospects we just had to try. By year’s end, we had visited 75 different restaurants.

As a chronic “compiler of lists” (a consequence of being meticulously organized) I began using an Excel spreadsheet to track the various restaurants we visited. That rudimentary spreadsheet included short “Zagat style” comments intended to serve as mnemonics that triggered what we liked or didn’t like about a particular restaurant. Sometimes those comments were so cryptic that they meant something only to me (pretty much as intended).

In 1995, the internet was in its relative infancy, but I applied my then rudimentary HTML skills to create a Web site in which to enter my musings. Though the format lent itself to tracking restaurant visits much better than a spreadsheet ever could, it somehow didn’t dawn on me that my reviews would be available to anyone savvy enough to use a search engine. It didn’t take long before Gil’s Thrilling Web site was “discovered.”

I was privileged enough to have been mentioned on Roadfood.coma few years ago. Here’s what Michael and Jane Stern of Gourmet magazine and roadfood.com had to say about this Web site: We came across a delightful website called Gil’s Thrilling Web Site, written and maintained by Gil Garduño. It’s mostly about good Roadfood-type eating, especially in Albuquerque, and it is a joy to browse. We recommend a visit!

I’ve been mentioned on Chowhound more times than I can count and in the past two years (2007-2008), I’ve also spent some time on the phone with Food Network researchers, advocating for New Mexico’s culinary scene.

While recognition from respected local and national publications seems to give my site a modicum of validation, the biggest kick I get is in getting e-mail from adventurous diners who visit my site. I hear most often from newcomers to the Land of Enchantment who have used my reviews to discover New Mexico’s restaurants, but appreciate e-mail just as much from lifelong New Mexico residents who recommend restaurants I may not even have heard about.

So, what qualifies me to review and write about restaurants? I have no “professional training” that qualifies me to discern the subtle nuances inherent in various foods, nor am I by trade or practice, a professional chef. I’m merely a gastronome, someone who loves and appreciates good food…and dining at nearly 1000 different restaurants since 1995 should give a modicum of credence to my opinion–but no more credence than YOU have.

Unlike the pretentious pundits who wax poetic about the latest epicurean trends in the culinary world (those who would, for example, describe a meal at McDonald’s as a “gustatory repast in the ubiquitous Scottish restaurant emblazoned with saffron ellipses”), I’m not particularly impressed by nouveau cuisine, the very pronunciation of which reeks condescension. I’m an ordinary guy who likes to eat good food at reasonable prices and expects to be treated relatively well while doing so.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

Unlike some food critics (pictured), I don’t blindly acquiesce to the latest trend, turn a deaf ear to recommendations from people who don’t tread the well beaten path, and I don’t hold back in criticizing–if warranted–the “anointed” restaurants frequented by the nouveau riche.

I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled extensively and availed myself of the opportunity to partake of the finest local cuisine available in such hotbeds of culinary presentation as San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, Chicago, and Las Vegas (yes, Sin City where all the celebrity chefs go).

Please review my rating system which explains how I arrive at my ratings. It’s not exactly scientific and I don’t take into account anyone else’s opinion of the restaurants in which we dine, not even the opinion of my faithful dining companion and wife Kim whose palate has matured tremendously over the years. Your opinions may certainly differ as there are no rights and wrongs in my ratings, just opinions–mine.

This Web site lists only restaurants I’ve visited this century (since January 1st, 2000). I have deleted the short synopses of restaurants (such as the dreadful Chinese buffet restaurants in Albuquerque) I have no intention of ever visiting again. I also eliminated most reviews on corporate chain restaurants, partially in the spirit of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

As much as possible, my reviews will begin to incorporate images of the restaurants we visit. Mastering HTML has been easier for me than remembering to remove my camera’s lens cover before I shoot a picture. Fortunately, much better photographers than I have shared some of their wonderful images. The photo of the Sugar Nymphs Bistro in Peñasco, for example, is courtesy of the brilliant Deanna Nichols

436 Comments on “About This Blog”

  1. As the country rebounds from COVID and restaurants reopen, author and dining critic John Mariani made this observation:

    “…Americans who were not brought up to act appropriately in a restaurant never will. Not too long ago, people would exit church on Sunday and have lunch at a nice local restaurant wearing their Sunday best. Parents would choose the outfit their children would wear for a meal out, which was always a special time. The idea of a grown man wearing a baseball cap in a restaurant would have been shocking—a trend that began when California casual chic turned into Adam Sandler slovenliness.

    Children were also taught basic manners at the table, to say “please” and “thank you” to service staff, where to place their napkin when leaving the table, which fork to use for seafood: Little things, really, that don’t make the food taste better but make the whole experience far more appealing and comfortable for everybody.”

  2. Author David P. Wagner, a follower of Gil’s blog, has written his seventh Rick Montoya Italian mystery. “To Die in Tuscany” was just released on April 13th and it promises to be yet another thriller. A graduate of the University of New Mexico with a BA and MA in languages, Rick Montoya has moved from New Mexico to Rome, embracing the life of a translator and amateur sleuth. There’s always plenty of mystery, food, and culture in a Rick Montoya book and fans know his favorite food is a toss-up between a green chile cheeseburger and a bowl of spaghetti alla gricia.

  3. Regarding the placement of a Reply option, in my internet use I see Replies usually placed at the top of the page. Google does this for restaurant reviews. Yelp and Nextdoor have the Reply option at the top of the page. I see this as giving priority to the Reply choice by putting it clearly in the open.
    Becky, Gil do you see the Reply option placed more at the bottom of the page than at the top of the page ?
    And ,Gil does your blog allow for a User to Edit or Delete their Reply ?
    W R

    1. Yelp and Google, in particular, are essentially crowdsource review platforms in which opinions of the masses are compiled and presented for others to peruse. By providing that platform, Yelp and Google have cultivated a culture of critics–people like you and me who willingly share their opinion on where to eat, shop, and play. Yelp and Google allow customers (and prospective customers) to search for what they want and where they want it, and provides reviews from people who have experienced a businesses first-hand.

      Yelp and Google are essentially an inclusive, almost democratic platform in which your hungry, your tired, your huddled masses… can express themselves. A blog, on-the-other-hand, is a benevolent autocratic platform in which one person exercises complete, authoritarian control over content. As a benevolent autocrat, I even control whether or not to publish comments, especially those reflecting dissenting opinions. (For the record, the only comments I don’t publish are those containing mean-spirited personal attacks, inflammatory language or which espouse unilateral political views.)

      I don’t believe Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog would be very successful if you launch a review and the first thing you see is a litany of comments, brilliant and entertaining as my readers are.

      Insofar as editing or deleting a comment, the blog engine I use doesn’t support that feature.

        1. I no! Gil shood be imbearessed! Hoo let’s him publish this stuf with all the turribel gramer and speling? Oh. I gess he duzz. (My keyboard just melted.)

          I’m going to put my techie hat on for a minute here: W R Turck, the ability for users to edit and delete their comments would require this site to have logins for everybody because that’s the only way to control that it is in fact you who’s editing/deleting your comment instead of another user, like say, me. Gil puts in a lot of work into this site; it would be quite the burden to have to setup and maintain users as well.

          1. Leandro is Captain Tuttle’s cousin in Peñasco. His rooster is reputed to be so mean that even the coyotes and bears who roam the village don’t come near Leandro’s home. A few years ago, the rooster saw Captain Tuttle sporting a hideous orange Denver Broncos shirt and went berzerk, pecking the shirt into tatters (obviously the rooster is a Dallas Cowboys fan) and giving the good Captain a severe case of alektrophobia (fear of chickens and roosters).

            1. That tracks…it would take a bird brain to be a cowboys fan…

              And I have no case of alektrophobia, I didn’t fear that rooster, I merely had a healthy respect for that strong-willed rooster who thought he was the size of an ostrich. As I said, the showdowns were epic, but alas pre-date the cell phone footage or digital camera era…can you say Polaroid? 🙂

              In the end, he was very delicious, and I imagine when my time comes, I will run into him and perhaps he and I can share some corn under a shade tree, or perhaps if he is up for it, he and I can go one more round for old times sake…

    1. Indeed! And have you seen him and the gang? Your impression?
      Alas, Rieu always seems to have a hint of impishness in whatever expression he shows…here are some of his reflections on his 70th Birthday earlier this year https://tinyurl.com/yxd5dntt
      In terms of Comic Relief by others who have attempted…may they RIP…to bring classical or orchestral or symphonic music to the masses, you may recall, e.g. https://tinyurl.com/y4vvlsxtYa, go ahead and laugh, BUT there was actual sheet music for it…https://tinyurl.com/y36xur86 Alas it took me a couple of weeks of living in Vegas to figure out Silverace’s ‘Signature’ signage for his museum….https://tinyurl.com/y4nhqk2k Elsewise let us not forget this foreigner’s…and an old Fart at that…contribution (take your pick):  https://tinyurl.com/y36zfrcv
      Lastly, Ms  Lutz’s site did not have a section on, of all things rural Northern…Chicharrones, let alone stuffed Sopaipillas with e.g. refried frijoles/cebollas/n Red! I say that per hypothesizing Pigs were relatively common in the North. E.g. who doesn’t remember Lupita in The Milagro Bean Field War? But did you know: Lupita, who trots alongside her master like a loyal dog, is, in fact, four pigs – a litter of sisters named Nancy, Jackie, Daisy and Sugar. Each was taught to perform certain tricks, according to Kenny Lee, one of their trainers on the film. ”Sugar did most of the mouthwork,” he explained, referring to scenes in which Lupita grabs laundry off a clothesline and tears paper out of a typewriter. But, he added, ”Daisy had the cutest walk.”Cute is very subjective here; each pig weighed several hundred pounds and was 1 1/2 years old. ”They’re usually bacon and ham by then,” Mr. Lee said. But neither age nor size hindered them. A scene in which Lupita is shot and appears to fall over on cue involved some fancy editing, but the pig did lie deadly still – thinking sad thoughts of the death of pigs, no doubt, or recalling some swine who broke her heart. Whatever the Method, it worked. The American Humane Association’s observer reported that Lupita should be ”a strong candidate” for the society’s Patsy award for animal performers.
      Hasta…Masks Up!

  4. Ya wanna cry?
    With all due respect to your choice of Amazing Grace ala Wrath of Khan, might I suggest YouTubing https://tinyurl.com/yyotbbr9 To really-really experience it, including sound wise, and if your TV allows a You Tube search, use “Andre Rieu Scotland the Brave Amazing Grace” to search as there are several variants. (Not to confuse you by the opening shot/scene…it is not Joel Osteen’s “House” https://tinyurl.com/y3ad4u5f !) As you can see by the size of the audience this Guy draws, our Popejoy or the Kiva wouldn’t quite do, and so, like Elton John did circa ’70, it’s The Pit…LOL While one might wonder about seeming ‘lost’ in such crowds, apparently Rieu somehow touches individual audience members as suggested by this Chica having some sort of personal episode at about the 12th second https://tinyurl.com/n4lqduh
    Anyway, They are on my Bucket List, e.g. https://tinyurl.com/yy7xhmt4 when he comes to the US. Youtube e.g. https://tinyurl.com/kle8qef for examples of the variety of their presentations. 
    In closing….Where are the “popular” US conductors of back in the day…Fiedler, Ormandi, Montovani, Bernstein…?

    1. Gracias, Roberto. For sheer, somber reflection Andre Rieu’s version of Il Silenzio is my very favorite. Think “Taps” only more haunting.

      Captain Tuttle, only two movies ever bring me to tears (I blame it on allergies)–The Wrath of Khan (more specifically, the scene we discuss below) and Blazing Saddle (albeit tears of laughter).

      1. Aye yi yi…a beautiful rendition! I can’t remember…have Y’all attended a Rieu extravaganza? Elsewise, it brought to mind reading the “origin” of Taps a couple of years ago. Alas, I never saw this version https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_Silenzio_(song) and have to disagree it bears relation to the opening of my life long FAV, Capriccio Italien https://tinyurl.com/y2oqpjmq especially as I play that rendition 2x a week as it is congruent with the time spent on one of my exercise equipment now that M-LG has allowed the healthplex back open for a set time, by appointment. In any event, this tie to the Civil War https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taps  etc., is interesting in terms of today’s world and for what is otherwise, a short piece.

        1. Cappricio Italiano is magnificent! My friend Bill Resnik (whom we both look up to literally) loves Tchaikovsky, too. Having twice joined about half a million of my closest friends for two 4th of July concerts in Arthur Fiedler’s Boston, I’m partial to the 1812 Overture.

          Alas, we haven’t had the great fortune of attending a Rieu extravaganza but like you would give an eye’s tooth to do so.

        2. RE Gil of 8/15/20:
          Shades of Burquenos Chica: “Whadda ya mean Marty Chavez ain’t the mayor no more! He’s like always the mayor!” [https://tinyurl.com/7lw4umu] Arthur Fiedler IS the Boston Pops! One year I tuned in via streaming or something and while I’ve liked C&W and thus Toby Keith, it just didn’t seem right and was made 10X worse by the likes of having an accented Scotsman https://tinyurl.com/y5lg69da hosting Baahstan for 4 years!!!
          (As you may have noticed, Capriccio was the B Side of that 1812.)

  5. Gil, about 10 years ago, you visited a restaurant in Mundelein, IL called the Gale Street Inn. The restaurant is now closed and word has it that ownership has changed. You were able to score the recipe for the garlic dressing. In light of the fact that the restaurant is closed, would you be so kind as to share that recipe?

    1. Hello Dan

      The recipe we were given was for the pate. That said…while my Kim “collects” recipes, she doesn’t organize them very well. It’s probably easier to find the proverbial needle in the haystack than a specific recipe. Should I come across that pate recipe someday, I’ll send it your way…assuming you’d be interested in pate and not solely garlic dressing.


  6. I can’t believe you’ve never reviewed this restaurant in all their 58 years in Albuquerque. We love the food, the service, and the owners, who are often about. And we’re not the only ones. Before the shutdown, cars were often streaming into the Osuna location to the point cars were backed up on Osuna waiting to get in.

  7. Hey Gil,

    Figured this is the best place to post this instead of in one of the review pages. Just wanted to thank you for having such a well written, well traveled, food blog for NM! I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for years now and it’s helped me discover so many restaurants I never would have otherwise, some of which have become staple favorites for me. Always looking forward to hearing about what new places to check out in town. Please keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you very much, Lorenzo. I really appreciate the very kind words. Your comments and those of other passionate foodies will keep me going for a while.

  8. Does anybody want my garlic scapes when they come on? They’re from German Red and Music garlics. I’ll have about 40 and I hate to just throw them away. 🙂

    1. Replying to myself. Never mind – we’re going to preserve them; not throwing them away. If some gourmet can’t live without a few, let me know.

    1. Alas, Greg, I have neither the time nor resources to compile such a list worthy as it might be. Fortunately my friend Howie “The Duke of Duke City” Kaibel, the charismatic Albuquerque Community Manager for Yelp, has compiled and published a list of some 450 restaurants in the Albuquerque offering take-out services.

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