Thrilling Archives

Take a walk down memory lane with me. Gil’s Thrilling Archives is a composite directory of every review since the year 2000. Simply click on the Year you want to revisit and all my reviews for that year will display.  Click on any of the restaurant or post names and the full post will display.

2022 (105)

  • November 23 M’tucci’s Bar Roma – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Just prior to a planned visit to Rome, Saint Monica and her son, Saint Augustine, discovered that Saturday was observed as a day of fasting in Rome.  It was not, however, a fast day in their hometown of Milan. They consulted Saint Ambrose who advised: “When I am here (in Milan) I do not fast. On Saturday, when in Rome…
  • November 22 Uptown Saggio’s Scratch Italian Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Can you imagine the outcry if Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham tried to abolish New Mexico’s sacrosanct red and green chile because the Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary convinced her that chile doesn’t bring out the best in New Mexicans?  Such a treasonous and heretical act would probably provoke outrage, if not an outright revolution.  Thankfully our Governor is a tremendous…
  • November 15 El Camino Dining Room – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Many of us who predate, however slightly, the explosion of institutionalized fast food retain a fondness for the remaining independent family restaurants whose arsenal in the competition for hungry diners consists of reasonable portions of great meals at budget-conscious prices all served by a friendly and accommodating waitsfaff. An Albuquerque restaurant which epitomizes those ideals is the El Camino Dining…
  • November 12 Tula’s Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Tula: “My mom was always cooking foods filled with warmth and wisdom… and never forgetting that side dish of steaming-hot guilt.” As it celebrates its twenty year anniversary the 2002 Rom-Com “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” remains as timeless and funny as it did when it debuted.  Moreover, it’s still a heart-warming movie with which some of us can relate.…
  • November 11 Pho 79 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    When the temperature dips and the Land of Enchantment’s ubiquitous winds howl with a vengeance, savvy diners revel in the knowledge that they can luxuriate in the familiar warmth of a steaming, swimming pool-sized bowl of aromatically alluring pho. Few things in life are as comfortable as snuggling up with a simple and no frills bowl showcasing a rich, spicy,…
  • November 9 Chicago Pizza Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There is A LOT to see at the Chicago Pizza Kitchen (CPK).  My Chicago born-and-bred bride loved the framed photographs of the Windy City’s incomparable skyline and distinct architecture.  Bulls and Bears fans (not a reference to the stock market) will enjoy perusing photos and banners of Chicago’s sports teams.  Students of the age of chivalry will gravitate to the…
  • November 4 MARY & TITO’S CAFE – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Old-timers whose opinions I respect consistently rate Mary & Tito’s as Albuquerque’s best restaurant for New Mexican food, a restaurant that has been pleasing the most savvy and indoctrinated palates alike since 1963. It takes a lot to impress some of those old-timers, none of whom see much substance in the flash and panache of the nouveau restaurants and their…
  • November 2 Roma Bakery & Deli – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Galdamez and Albertine. If you saw those names on a building, you might expect to see them appended with “Attorneys at Law.” That’s especially true if the building is in the area immediately north of Albuquerque’s burgeoning downtown district, an area teeming with lawyers’ offices and bail bondsmen (is bondspeople the politically correct term?). Instead, the building in which Oscar…
  • October 31 Red or Green–New Mexico’s Food Scene Is on Fire: October, 2022
    Shouldn’t national holidays be celebrated with a paid day off work?  Sadly, that’s not the case with National Taco Day on October 4th.  This holiday didn’t originate from some presidential decree or Congressional bill, but from a marketing campaign from fast food chain Del Taco, which began celebrating in 2009. Since then, other restaurants, including those at the local and national…
  • October 29 Turtle Mountain Brewing Company – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    The Tewa name “Oku Pin” which translates in English to “Turtle Mountain” has three meanings of significance to the people of Okay Owingeh, one of New Mexico’s great Tewa speaking Northern New Mexico Pueblos. “Oku Pin” was the the Indian name given to Dr. Alfonso Ortiz who obtained worldwide prominence as an anthropologist and ethnologist until his death in 1998.…
  • October 28 Central Bodega – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    As if living just outside of Boston for two years just out of high school wasn’t thrilling (and filling) enough for this rustic clodhopper, New York City was only four hours (with good traffic) away.  There were more languages (800) spoken in New York City than there were people (500) in my hometown of Peñasco, not to mention a population…
  • October 27 Joe’s Pasta House – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (Under New Ownership)
    Much as they might wish for it to happen, no restaurateur can make their restaurant THE hometown favorite.  It happens organically and it happens only by the unanimous will and consent of the people.  Similarly, it takes the acclamation of the dining public for a restaurant to become THE heartbeat of a community–where residents go to interact with one another…
  • October 22 O’Niell’s Irish Pub – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Despite several efforts by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make it more user-friendly, the Food Pyramid has never been that easy to understand. Could confusion be one of the reasons 73.6% of American adults are either overweight or obese (according to the Centers for Disease Control)? Based on that alarming percentage, you’d think the pyramidal nutritional guide…
  • October 21 K Style Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If you’re susceptible to the power of suggestion–especially as it pertains to ear worms (recurring tunes that involuntarily pop up and stick in your mind)–you’re probably going to hate me (or you can skip this paragraph and continue to love me).  That’s because if you do read this paragraph you’re going to be humming to yourself one of the most…
  • October 14 Panaderia Guatemalteca Eterna Primavera – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    To truly understand the cuisine of Guatemala, it helps to understand why this Central American paradise is known as the “Land of Eternal Spring.”  With nineteen diverse ecosystems, Guatemala boasts of jungles, forests, beaches, volcanoes and an expanse of natural resources.  Thick, lush vegetation enrobes seemingly never-ending mountain landscapes in verdant hues.  Magnificent pristine waterfalls cascade over those mountains, feeding…
  • September 25 El Molcajeton – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Molcajetes have become so commonplace on many a Mexican restaurant’s decor that we sometimes forget molcajetes are the traditional Mexican version of the mortar and pestle…that they have both form and function.  As we gawk in admiration at the symmetry and fine craftsmanship of a well-made molcajete, we don’t always reflect on the fact that throughout Mexico and some parts…
  • September 24 Don Tortas – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    A survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by French’s Mustard in celebration of National Sandwich Day (November 3, 2021) revealed that 66-percent of Americans put between three and six condiments on their sandwiches, 44-percent of respondents believe condiments belong on both buns while 57-percent believe the most important part of a sandwich is the meat.  French’s poll revealed the cheesesteak is…
  • September 18 Socorro Springs Brewing Company – Socorro, New Mexico
    Socorro, New Mexico is a dichotomous town.  It is the second oldest inhabited community in our culturally blessed Land of Enchantment, yet it boasts one of the nation’s premier research universities.   It is steeped in history and tradition, inextricably linked to its storied past while embracing the technologies which are laying the groundwork for future peace and prosperity.  According…
  • September 17 Sparky’s Burgers, Barbecue & Espresso – Hatch, New Mexico
    New Mexico’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail not only celebrates one of the Land of Enchantment’s most iconic foods, it showcases the restaurants, drive-ins, diners, dives, joints, cafes, roadside stands and bowling alleys which prepare our ubiquitous, incomparable green chile cheeseburger.  To New Mexicans, there is nothing as thoroughly soul-satisfying and utterly delicious! What elevates a burger from the ordinary to…
  • September 15 Buckhorn Tavern – San Antonio, New Mexico
    Dusk is falling on the western town at the very edge of the parched plains.  Fewer than a dozen buildings line the dusty main street.  Howling winds impel tumbleweeds forward with no regard for obstacles in their path.  Even though neither of the protagonists has uttered the old western cliché “this town ain’t big enough for the two of us,”…
  • September 14 Slate Street Billiards Bar & Grille – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Discovering a bubbling crude…Texas tea, black gold, oil that is, transformed Jed Clampett from poor mountaineer who barely kept his family fed to a millionaire residing in a Beverly (Hills that is, swimming pools, movie stars) mansion.  Moving from a tiny ramshackle hovel to a luxurious and palatial dwelling brought with it one surprise after another for Jed and his…
  • September 9 Taos Diner – Taos, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    FX on Hulu’s comedy-drama television series The Bear chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, a James Beard Award-winning-chef who returns home to Chicago to run his family’s Italian beef sandwich shop after his older brother’s suicide. Unbeknown to the Chef, his brother left behind mountainous debts, a dilapidated kitchen, and an undisciplined staff.  The highly entertaining series…
  • September 8 Sugar Nymphs Bistro – Peñasco, New Mexico
    Peñasco has always been the beautiful stepsister ignored by the dutiful suitors who prefer the company of Taos, its more glamorous sibling. Taos, the mystical art colony to which new age subscribers seem preternaturally drawn is the terminus of the high road, starting and end point of the enchanted circle and one of the most beautiful communities in the country,…
  • August 28 ChocGlitz & Cream – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    To whom should you turn when you want a recommendation you can trust for great ice cream? Your natural inclination is probably to ask a kid. Kids, particularly those in the age group two through twelve, consume more ice cream than any other American demographic. Alas, kids in the aforementioned age group are like Mikey in the old Life cereal…
  • August 28 Fuego 505 Rotisserie & Bar – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I have become obsessed with cooking meat over fire. I get prepared for it. I make sure I’m hungry before I cook it. The smell of the smoke and the aroma of the crackling meat ignites some ancient genetic memories. It makes cooking and eating significantly better.” ~Joe Rogan, Podcast Host Those of us with a carnivorous bent can relate…
  • August 26 Jerusalem – Taste of the Holy Land – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are inextricably tied to the ancient city of Jerusalem, the epicenter of sacred sites both unique and common to all three religions.  One of the oldest cities in the world as well as Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem has a prominent role in both the Old and New Testament.  According to Bible Study Tools, “the name “Jerusalem”…
  • August 19 Meraki Coffee + Market – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “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…
  • August 14 Gutiz – El Prado, New Mexico
    I once joked with Lesley King that she is the true New Mexico Gastronome. Lesley, the wonderful author who once enthralled readers with her monthly “King of the Road” columns for New Mexico Magazine, likes to say–jokingly–that she “eats and sleeps around,” because her writing assignments require that she sample so many restaurants and accommodations.  She has literally traveled every friendly…
  • August 12 Medley – El Prado, New Mexico
    You’re probably expecting my review of an El Prado restaurant named “Medley” to start with a musical theme, maybe likening the menu to “a musical composition made up of a series of songs or short pieces.”  That would be an easy way to do it, but it would also be slightly disingenuous.  Medley isn’t named for anything having to do…
  • August 12 Taos Cow – Arroyo Seco, New Mexico
    As with many foods “invented” before the widespread documentation and dissemination of information, the “origin” of ice cream is in much dispute with several claimants seeking credit.  Several of those origin stories are rather romantic in nature, mired in folklore and legend.  Among the historic people to whom the invention or introduction of ice cream have been incorrectly ascribed are…
  • August 11 THE LOVE APPLE – Taos, New Mexico
    If the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century had had its way, the tomato might not be a ubiquitous ingredient in the cooking of many cultures today. So, just what is it about the seemingly innocuous tomato that once earned it a scurrilous reputation in the Church, the type of reputation which made it the Paris Hilton of the…
  • August 7 Turquoise Desert – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    A 2016 online survey conducted by Statista asked 719 adult respondents “What is the maximum length of time that you would drive to a place to eat?” More than half (51-percent) of the respondents indicated they would travel 16 to 30 minutes to a restaurant. The limit for another 26-percent was 30 minutes to an hour.  Only five percent said…
  • August 6 Bawarchi Indian Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    When the New York Times described biryani as “the Indian equivalent of arroz con pollo or paella,” legions of Southwest Asians and culinary cognoscenti cried “Fake News!”  The media  megalith with the masthead that boasts of “all the news that’s fit to print” may as well have declared the Taj Majal as the architectural equivalent of Randy’s Donuts in Los…
  • August 5 Europa Food. Farm. Festival – Los Lunas, New Mexico
    “I realized very early the power of food to evoke memory, to bring people together, to transport you to other places, and I wanted to be a part of that.” ~Chef-Humanitarian Jose Andres During the dark days of the Cabrona virus, trying our hands at preparing recipes (most culled from edge-worn and tattered cookbooks) of the world  became one of…
  • July 31 Canvas Artistry – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Edible art” isn’t just some trite phrase pedantic food critics use when food has aesthetic values that delight our senses. Mankind has been been intrigued by the concept of food as art since the dawning of rational thinking. Prehistoric cave paintings such as those in Les Trois Frères in Ariège, in southern France, depict families gathering around the fire to…
  • July 30 Vinaigrette – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “People aren’t either wicked or noble.  They’re like chef salads With good things and bad things chopped and mixed together In a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” ~ Lemony Snicket, The Grim Grotto I’m not the type of guy who could write a tearful tell-all or confess some scurrilous detail to Oprah.  Nor do I ever get on Facebook and…
  • July 29 Nio Szechuan – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Several years ago Mike Muller, my friend and former colleague at Intel was sent to Chengdu, the capital of the providence of Szechuan in Southwest China.  It was an assignment I would have loved.  Unfortunately I could barely spell the name of the enterprise asset management application Mike would be training our Chinese counterparts how to use.  From an application…
  • July 25 Laguna Burger (12th Street) – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “The best stories are like the best burgers: big, juicy, and messy.” ~A.D. Posey, American Author For men of my generation, a Big Mac was a rite of passage, a graduation from Happy Meal cheeseburgers to a real adult burger…an event akin to transitioning from training wheels to a ten speed bike.  We had grown up singing the jingle “two…
  • July 22 The Acre – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Toula: Actually, um Ian’s a vegetarian. Uh, he doesn’t eat meat. Aunt Voula: He don’t eat no meat? HE DON’T EAT NO MEAT?! *Long silence* Oh that’s ok, I make lamb. ~Big Fat Greek Wedding A cross-sectional study conducted in 2006 by medical researchers in Austria concluded that “vegetarians are less healthy and have a lower quality of life than…
  • July 17 El Cotorro – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There’s a scene in the 2006 lucha libre (Mexican professional wrestling) comedy film Nacho Libre in which Nacho’s ectomorphic tag team partner Esqueleto (“the skeleton”) orders two grilled, buttered and chile-dusted elotes (corn-on-the-cob) from a street vendor. Esqueleto graciously attempts to hand one to Nacho who rebuffs the offer, knocks the elotes to the ground and bellows “get that corn…
  • July 16 K&I Diner – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 1960, Albuquerque’s population reached 201,189, more than doubling the city’s tally from the 1950 census. The start of a new decade began an era of expansion, a construction boom in which the burgeoning city began experiencing unprecedented growth. A proliferation of shopping centers was built to serve new neighborhoods. Albuquerque was not yet overrun by horrendous, copycat chain restaurants. …
  • July 15 Havana Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Cuba has bread and pork, but not enough vegetables. The food we were served was never warm enough. Cuba is not a place for vegetarians, picky eaters, or the gluten free.” ~Elinor Robin, PhD On 26 April 1954, CBS-TV aired the 93rd episode of I Love Lucy.  Watching the rerun decades later was essentially my introduction to Cuban food…sort of.…
  • July 10 Ale’s Cakes – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Hypocrisy thy name is Gil. “For someone who whined so much about a one-hour (each way) commute to work, you’re willing to drive a hundred miles for lunch” my Kim lamented.  Our lunch destination wasn’t nearly a hundred miles away, but when you’re hungry it probably seems that way.  It would have seemed even further had we traversed the entirety…
  • July 9 Relish Gourmet Sandwiches – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Jobs, Eddie Murphy, Jessie Jackson, entire NBA rosters.  Often missing from scandal sheets outing male celebrities who have fathered love children is the name of one Dagwood Bumstead.  From all outward appearances, Bumstead is an average white collar employee and loving family man with a penchant for taking naps, luxuriating in a bubble bath and constructing and…
  • July 8 Fun Noodle Bar – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    By definition, many, if not most noodles are fun.  No, not fun as in luxuriating in a tub filled with ramen (albeit non-edible, synthetic noodles) with real tonkatsu (pork bone) broth.  Yeah, that really is a thing in Japan.  Nor does my contention that noodles are fun have anything to do with the Simpsons episode in which Bart was threatened…
  • July 8 Hanmi Korean-Chinese Fusion – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Popular culture is defined as “commonly known information that briefly holds the public interest. It is typically discussed in various mass media, including TV and the Internet, and becomes a topic of everyday conversation (what used to be called a “water cooler conversation” before that term fell from popularity).  Apparently you’re out of touch with pop culture when you believe…
  • July 1 Sal’s Ristorante & Pizzeria – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” ~Sophia Loren The ageless movie siren, perhaps the most voluptuous octogenarian in the world, is hardly a proponent of low carb diets, admitting to daily dosages of macaroni. She maintains her classic hourglass figure by limiting portions–never consuming too many calories in one meal–and by not overloading pasta with rich, thick cream or…
  • June 26 ¡Ay Mi Mexico! – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    One syllable, one word, one simple expression…yet there probably is no more expressive interjection,  heart-rending cry or honest exclamation in the Spanish language than the simple word “Ay.” This–one of the most  diminutive among all words–can say and mean so much.  Depending on the context, “Ay” is used to express such emotions as: happiness: think “¡Ay, Chihuahua” when Despicable Me…
  • June 25 Naan & Dosa – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” ~Mark Twain Ever since Eve succumbed to the wiles of a serpent who moonlighted as a used car salesman, humankind has been easily led into temptation.  As playwright Oscar Wilde once jokingly remarked, “I can resist anything except temptation.” We can all relate. We all face temptations of…
  • June 21 Taqueria Los Amigos – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air” ~Hotel California, The Eagles in 1977, when the Eagles’ immortal rock anthem Hotel California was released as a single, most radio hits clocked in at about three minutes.  Three minutes is just about as long as Hotel California’s hauntingly compelling intro…
  • June 17 Thai Street – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    By chronological standards, Thai cuisine–especially as we know it today–is relatively new to the world culinary stage.  Culinary historians believe Thai cuisine may be as young as 1,400 years, coinciding with a mass migration of people from regions of China.  These settlers dined mostly on seafood, herbs and plants prepared mostly by stewing, baking and grilling (over time, stir-frying and…
  • June 14 Hello Deli – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    HELLO DELI (to the tune of Hello Dolly) “Hello Deli, this is Joe, Deli would you please send up a nice corned beef on rye. A box of RITZ, Deli and some Schlitz, Deli Some chopped liver and a sliver of your, apple pie. Turkey Legs, Deli hard boiled eggs, Deli and a plate of those potatoes you french fry,…
  • June 11 ABQ Burrito – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Perhaps the only good thing that came from the Cabrona Virus was that many of us get to work from home.  Otherwise, the cost of commuting to work in this “build back better” economy would probably approach our meager wages.  Though not commuting to work spares us from cashing in our 4.1Ks in order to purchase fuel for our gas…
  • June 3 Upscale Burgers & Shakes – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My friend Schuyler used to joke that every meal we enjoyed together was “upscale” because “up” was the direction his scale climbed when we finished our marathon meals.  We were quite the trenchermen in our youth, bona fide threats to any all-you-can-eat buffet in town.  Back then–as impoverished junior noncommissioned officers in the Air Force–ten dollar meals were near the…
  • June 2 The Range – Bernalillo, New Mexico
    The phoenix of ancient Egyptian mythology was a sacred firebird of beautiful red and gold plumage said to live for centuries. At the end of its life, the phoenix built itself a nest of cinnamon twigs which it then ignited. Both the phoenix and the nest burned fiercely and were reduced to ashes from which a new phoenix arose. Similarly,…
  • May 29 TIKKA HUT PIZZERIA AND KABOB HOUSE – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “I’ll give you three guesses to tell me what tabula rasa means,” I challenged my friend and Wordle phenom Carlos.  “That’s easy,” my erudite amigo proclaimed, “Tabula Rasa was a silent screen actress in the 1920s.”  “Close,” I replied, “but you’re thinking about Tallulah Bankhead.”  “I was just kidding,” he demurred, “Everyone knows tabula rasa is a Mediterranean salad.”  “You’re…
  • May 28 Wing It Up – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern has nothing on my friend Ralph Guariglio. Zimmern who claims to love such “exotic cuisine” as fermented walrus anus probably wouldn’t touch some of the…er, interesting foods Ralph enjoyed during his travels for Intel.  That’s especially true when Ralph traveled  to Vietnam and The Philippines, all the while chronicling his adventures in “Captain Ralphie’s Travelogue.” …
  • May 27 El Bruno’s Restaurante Y Cantina – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    At about 75 miles each way, Cuba, New Mexico is almost equidistant between Albuquerque and Farmington. Regardless of starting point, the drive to and from Cuba is one of the Land of Enchantment’s most spectacular. A preponderance of scenic vistas and an otherworldly, multi-hued topography make the drive a sightseer’s delight. The stratification of multi-hued earthen layers, will remind you…
  • May 21 Taste of Love – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Ask virtually every chef and home cook what the secret ingredient to good cooking is and invariably their answer will be “love.”  Or in the case of Jersey Shore actor Michael Sorrentino, “The secret ingredient to every meal is love. And also garlic.”  Be forewarned, however, divulging “love” as the secret ingredient to good cooking might just get you in…
  • May 21 El Roi Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    You know you’ve been involved in project management for too long when the only thing that comes to mind when told about a restaurant named “El Roi” is “why would a restaurant be named for a Return on Investment (ROI).”  For those of us who have worked in Information Technology, ROI is a financial ratio used to calculate the benefit…
  • May 15 The Whole Enchilada – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Perhaps because I was away from the Land of Enchantment for much of my Air Force career, one of my favorite bloggers has long been Lisa Fain, the James Beard award-winning “Homesick Texan.”   Like me, Lisa longed for home during the two decades she lived in New York City.  Like me, Lisa returned to her home state, the call…
  • May 14 Rev’s BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    You might think that the food truck industry is an ultra-competitive dog-eat-dog business in which purveyors aren’t very gracious when discussing fellow food truck operators. Considering how they often jockey for a limited number of spaces in heavily trafficked events and vie for consumer attention and dollars, you would think they’d denigrate their brethren.  In an October 4th interview on…
  • May 13 The Feel Good – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Whoa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now I feel good, I knew that I would So good, so good, ’cause I got you So good, so good, ’cause I got you So good, so good, ’cause I got you.” ~James Brown The lyrics to the “Godfather of Soul’s” signature song aren’t etched on the windows or door…
  • May 7 Red Onion Lounge – Heber, Arizona
    On 5 November 1975, a seven-man logging crew working in the Sitgreaves National Forest near Heber, Arizona experienced what has become the most documented UFO (UAP or unidentified aerial phenomena, if you prefer) sighting and abduction in history. As the crew was wrapping up for the day, they saw a bright light off to their right. When they approached, they…
  • May 6 PANE BIANCO – Phoenix, Arizona
    When she lived in Tucson, Arizona Republic dining critic Andi Berlin would drive nearly two hours  to Phoenix to enjoy foods that can’t be found anywhere else in Arizona.  One of the five held such sway over her that she actually moved to the Valley of the Sun so that she could enjoy it more often.  Now that’s a gastronome after…
  • May 4 Pa’La – Phoenix, Arizona
    Is there anything more relaxing than a wood fire: its mesmerizing orange and blue flames as they lick the air, the warmth and comfort of heat as it overcomes weather’s chilling bite, the meditative timbre of wood crackling  over the flames, the spitting and hissing of red-orange embers and especially aromas which trigger heart-rending reminiscences of childhood days sitting around…
  • May 3 Call Her Martina – Scottsdale, Arizona
    The cultural and culinary histories of Arizona and Mexico are interlocked, transcending  the geographical borders that separate them. In fact, until only 1822, what is now the state of Arizona was still a part of the Mexican state of Sonora. It stands to reason, therefore, that Arizona’s cuisine of would be largely (but by no means exclusively) influenced by the…
  • May 2 Mora Italian – Phoenix, Arizona
    In the dark ages before satellite radio and podcasts, my Kim and I usually listened to books on tape to pass the time during long trips.  Mystery author Patricia Cornwell was one of my Kim’s very favorites.  The protagonist for Cornwell’s best-selling novels was medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, a perfectionist and workaholic who uses forensic technologies to solve crime.  Most of…
  • May 1 Culinary Dropout – Scottsdale, Arizona
    With a name like Culinary Dropout, you might expect an edgy and provocative venue, something hip and trendy where all the beautiful blonde  women of Scottsdale come to mix with bad boys.  That expectation might be reenforced by Old Town Scottsdale website which describes Culinary Dropout:  “From the chefs on the line with silver-studded ears and Mohawk hairdo, to the inked-up,…
  • April 30 Gus’s Fried Chicken – Mesa, Arizona
    As the crow flies, Nashville and Memphis are separated by about 210 miles.  You can get from one to the other of these two prominent Southern cities–that are probably best known for their signature sounds–in a speedy three hours.    Nashville sits on the north-central part of the Volunteer State.  It’s considered the cradle of country music.  Legendary pantheons of country…
  • April 29 Haji Baba – Tempe, Arizona
    Visiting Haji Baba one day before the end of Ramadan in 2022, I pondered the Muslim observation of the month-long period  when the faithful are encouraged to give to charity, strengthen their relationship with God and show kindness and patience. Observed during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar by Muslims worldwide, Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection…
  • April 21 Burger Bro’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Such advanced human traits as complex symbolic expression, art as an aesthetic visual form and elaborate cultural diversity emerged mainly during the past 100,000 years or so.  That’s more than four-million years after humans gained the ability to walk on two legs. By comparison, the ubiquitous All-American burger has evolved in the blink of time.  Most culinary historians believe the burger as we…
  • April 15 Garcia’s Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    One of the central themes of William Faulkner’s magnus opus Absalom, Absalom! is that no two people experience the same thing. Of the four characters who narrate the story, none of them is completely reliable because each has a personal bias, a unique frame of reference based on personal experiences to call upon. Readers are left to determine those biases…
  • April 10 Saigon Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    According to some stereotypes, when you eat Chinese food, you’ll be hungry an hour later.    That stereotype is known as the “Chinese food paradox.”   One of the culprits behind that stereotype is rice, a very starchy food which metabolizes quickly.  Others blame monosodium glutamate (MSG) when hunger creeps in shortly after finishing a meal. Italian food is also shrouded…
  • April 9 Bamboo by Kulantro – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Hawaiian pizza, black licorice, blue cheese, anchovies, candy corn, cilantro…these are among the pantheon of foods Readers Digest says everyone either loves or hates. And by “everyone,” Readers Digest includes such culinary glitterati as Julia Child who expressed her loathing for for cilantro in a 2002 interview with Larry King.   The towering chef  proclaimed she detested cilantro, saying it…
  • April 8 The Local Brewhouse – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Before reading any further, the biggest take-away from this review is that the Local Brewhouse serves the best burger in Rio Rancho.  That’s not only what the marquee says.  It’s what City of Vision diners know.  My Kim and I, too.   “Service is horrible”  “The management has to train there employees.”  “Worst service ever! I can’t stress on how…
  • April 6 Tap N Taco – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Imagine Marty McPlata, a 17 year old Rio Rancho High School student who gets transported back in time seven years to 2015. With the help of his mad scientist friend Bill Resnikoff, he makes his way back to the future to the year from which he left–2022.  Significant changes and burgeoning growth have transpired in the City of Vision since…
  • April 3 El Rey Del Pollo – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My environmentally-conscious, Prius-driving friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver has a much smaller carbon footprint than that carbon credit-trading hypocrite Al Gore.  No environmental activist would ever condemn Sr. Plata for fouling the air and water with a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, he leaves large “al carbon fingerprints,” the finger-licking kind you get from frequenting restaurants which specialize…
  • April 2 SAIGON CITY – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My brother in blogging Ryan Cook describes his first day in Vietnam: “So, my first stop in Vietnam was the capital, Hanoi. My honest first impressions… what the hell have I let myself in for. Seriously…The roads are chaos! The ride from the airport to the hostel was basically 40 minutes of holding my breath and cringing. How someone wasn’t…
  • March 31 JOE’S PASTA HOUSE – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Once a year, despite my protestations and whining, I agree to take my Kim to the Olive Garden. It’s a deal we have, albeit one that makes me feel like Faust in the Christopher Marlowe play. Faust, for the non-English majors among you, was a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for unlimited knowledge and worldly…
  • March 27 Kickstand Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 2016, The Plough Hotel in North Canterbury, New Zealand banned Lycra-clad customers in an attempt to remove any “unsightly bumps and bulges.”  The hotel owner declared Lycra “unsuitable,” explaining “We get a nice group of customers out here, some elderly folk. When you’re trying to concentrate on your breakfast you just want to see the sausages on your plate.”…
  • March 26 Davido’s Pizza – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Some might call the American Realty and Petroleum Company (AMREP for short) a pioneering visionary for its early 1960s purchase of over 50,000 acres on the dusty Sandoval County plains that are now Rio Rancho. Others use different–and not necessarily as complimentary–adjectives to describe the land speculator whose clever marketing attracted hundreds of New Yorkers (among others) to the then…
  • March 19 No Te Rajes – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    As the eldest of six, I had the wonderful blessing of having spent more time with our dad than my siblings did.  Dad was the embodiment of the term “gentle man,” a patient mentor and nurturing exemplar of how to be a father and friend.  During our many outings, dad always had the radio tuned to KDCE, “The Station That’s…
  • March 14 Vic’s Daily Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.” Unlike the great philosopher Winnie the Pooh, many Americans,…
  • March 12 M’Tucci’s Moderno – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere It’s up to you, New York, New York.” ~Frank Sinatra Jeff Spiegel, managing partner of the insanely popular M’Tucci’s family of restaurants has described flagship restaurant M’Tucci’s Italian Restaurant (previously M’Tucci’s Kitchina) as “as good as anything we did in New York City.” That is really saying something considering over…
  • March 10 Al Alwan’s Cafe – Albuquerque New Mexico
    “I hope I live long enough to see the children of Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria wake up to the sounds of birds not bombs.” ~Gigi Hadid Historians believe the name Syria derives from the Ancient Greek word “Seirios,” meaning, “sun-bright, glowing, blazing, and shining.” In Latin the equivalent term “Sirius” was used not only to denote the brightest star…
  • March 4 Cafe Nom Nom – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Nom nom.” It sounds innocent enough. Parents–yes, including parents of four-legged fur babies–utter it in baby talk intonations to get our children to eat something, especially when that something is “good for them” but doesn’t actually look or taste good. Nom nom was, of course, the favorite expression of Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster as he ravenously devoured a plate or…
  • March 4 Vegos Vegan New Mexican – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Well, there’s not a taco big enough for a man like me That’s why I order two or three Let me give you a tip, just try a nacho chip It’s really good with bean dip. I eat uno, dos, tres, quatro burritos Pretty soon I can’t fit in my Speedos Well, I hope they feed us lots of chicken…
  • February 27 Down N Dirty Seafood Boil – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Seafood boil in the Duke City! If the notion conjures visions of heading to Tingley Beach and embarking on an unappetizing repast of catfish, rainbow trout and silvery minnows boiled together in a large pot of green chile seasoned broth, you’re in for a treat. As of September, 2013, it’s possible for expatriates from any of America’s coastal regions to…
  • February 20 Red Rock Deli – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    America may be a multicultural melting pot, but thriving within its most populous metropolises are ethnic neighborhoods–pockets of diversity residing in two worlds, retaining many of the cultural and culinary traditions of their motherland while integrating into and pursuing the American dream. Cities such as Chicago have long realized that these ethnic enclaves offer a treasure trove of cultural and…
  • February 19 California Pizza Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. This is Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog, champion of the mom-and-pop restaurant, defender of the independently owned eatery, supporter of the family owned and family operated diner…and this is a review of a chain restaurant. No, this blog has not been hijacked by some corporate cabal bent on corrupting the American diet with homogeneous…
  • February 18 My Moms – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” —Rudyard Kipling Should you have the pleasure of getting to know Chef Marie Yniguez, even a little, you’ll come away with three absolute certainties.  First, Albuquerque’s arguably most famous celebrity chef is unabashedly herself.  The happy, loving, gregarious person you’ve seen on numerous Food Network culinary competitions doesn’t have a…
  • February 13 Panaderia El Dorado – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Over the Mountains of the Moon, down the Valley of the Shadow, ride, boldly ride…if you seek for El Dorado.” ~Edgar Allan Poe In the 16th century when the Spaniards reached South America, natives regaled them with tales about a tribe with profligate wealth living high in the Andes. According to raconteurs, when a new chieftain ascended to the throne,…
  • February 12 Namaste Restaurant – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Several years ago while leading my organization’s e-business marketing and communication effort at Intel, I had the great fortune of hiring a phenomenal Web developer recently arrived from India. In the process of filling out one of our complicated employment forms he transposed his name, writing his last name then his middle initial and first name instead of the way…
  • February 11 Thai Boran – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Many of us with a puerile sense of humor can probably recall giggling like silly school kids the first time we visited a Thai restaurant and perused a menu. We went straight into the gutter the first time we came across such foods as phat prik and fuktong curry. Even after learning that “phat prik” is actually a stir-fried chili…
  • January 28 Stripes Burrito Co. – Albuquerque & Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    A survey of the eating habits and lifestyle preferences of various burrito consumers was recently commissioned by a fast food chain.  The survey of than 1,000 respondents between the ages of 13 and 50 unveiled especially surprising revelations about the culinary habits of millennials.  As Mic, an online presence which purports to “help young people process the present” noted: “Millennials apparently don’t…
  • January 26 Roti NM Rotisserie Chicken – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Google “the history of rotisserie chicken” and you’re likely to read something along the lines of “Back in 1985 a fast casual chain called Boston Market (formerly Boston Chicken) specialized in the sale of rotisserie chicken. People would pick up a pre-cooked bird along with several side dishes, and have a family dinner that felt homemade. The concept caught on…
  • January 17 Zu Hot Pot – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “You have tattoos and others have piercings, but for me, there’s nothing that says more about me than the food I choose to carry every single day. As a kid trying to maintain my identity in America, my Chinese was passable, my history was shaky, but I could taste something one time and make it myself at home. When everything…
  • January 15 KūKri – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In one of the most famous soliloquies ever penned, Juliet Capulet pondered “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  As restaurateurs know, the success or failure of a new restaurant can hinge on many factors, not the least of which is an intriguing name.  Great restaurant names can create…
  • January 13 Don Choche Tacos Y Cerveza – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Well, there’s not a taco big enough for a man like me That’s why I order two or three Let me give you a tip, just try a nacho chip It’s really good with bean dip.” ~Weird Al Yankovic – Taco Grande Philosophers and scholars have long pondered just what Rodin’s The Thinker was thinking about.  Okay, some people were…
  • January 11 Ruthie’s Bagels – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    George: “I came this close last night, and then I just sort of chickened out.” Jerry: “Well, that’s a big move, Georgie boy. Are you confident in the “I love you” return?” George: “Fifty-fifty.” Jerry: “Because if you don’t get that return, that’s a pretty big matzo ball hanging out there.” ~Seinfeld The 1980s comedy Seinfeld has been described as…
  • January 7 Whiptail – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Did you know the Land of Enchantment has an official state lizard?  Chastity Bustos does.  In fact, in she named her new eatery  in honor of that lizard, the New Mexico whiptail (Aspidoscelis neomexicanus).  When I asked Chastity if she knew the New Mexico whiptail is a female-only species that doesn’t need male lizards to reproduce, she jokingly replied “it’s…
  • January 5 The Flying Star – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the ancient Chinese art and science of Feng Shui, flying stars are used to assess the quality of the energy flow (qi) in a given place at a given time. The positive and negative auras of a building are charted using precise mathematical formulas to determine the wealth, academic, career, success, relationships and health of a building’s inhabitant. By…
  • January 1 Red or Green–New Mexico’s Food Scene Was on Fire in 2021
    The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a cautious reemergence into a world where “normal” is constantly being redefined. New Mexico’s restaurants continue to push boundaries, shift paradigms, and invent new and better ways to serve their guests.  2021 saw the proliferation of the “ghost kitchen” concept.  Bold restaurateurs began pushing back against parasitic delivery companies that misrepresented alliances with the very restaurants whose…
  • January 1 Gil’s Best of the Best for 2021
    You might think that my annual “best of the best” compilation would be replete with lavishly extravagant dishes proffered by swanky fine-dining establishments.  Instead, the list of dishes I enjoyed most across the Land of Enchantment in 2021 are almost exclusively of the “cheap eats” (or reasonably priced) variety, selected not for complex culinary preparations and exorbitant price points, but for…

2021 (100)

  • December 30 A & B Drive In – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
    For five very memorable seasons, Michael Newman, the charismatic and ebullient host of New Mexico True Television and Melinda Frame, the show’s brilliant producer-director had the very best jobs in the world. Though not expressly stated, their true job titles should have been “Ambassadors for the Great State of New Mexico” because that’s what they really were. Every Sunday (8:30AM…
  • December 25 Roy’s Restaurant – Phoenix, Arizona
    “Viejo El Viento,” one of my favorite songs during my youth in Peñasco asked “como vas a comparar el original con la copia?,” essentially how can you compare the original with a copy.  As our Christmas visit to Roy’s at the JW Mariott in Phoenix proved, sometimes the “copy” is so good that it becomes a life quest to see…
  • December 24 Pomo Pizzeria – Scottsdale, Arizona
    When you visit the Valley of the Sun, the very last thing you expect is a record-setting, all-day rain that keeps you indoors most of the day.    An all-day rain in December, however, is infinitely preferable to an all-day rain during monsoon season when the occasional deluge in 100-degree weather is exacerbated by humidity equalled only in a steam…
  • December 23 Little Miss BBQ – Phoenix, Arizona
    If you grew up in New Mexico, you’ve likely heard some variation of that tired old epigram “The reason New Mexico is so windy is because it’s bordered by Arizona which sucks and Texas which blows.”   If any truth whatsoever can be ascribed to that witticism, New Mexico should have fabulous barbecue because it’s bordered by Arizona which has…
  • December 22 Tapas Papa Frita – Scottsdale, Arizona
    While dining at a restaurant in Phoenix, our stomachs roiled a bit as a pesky fly took a nosedive into my glass of Mexican Coca Cola.  By the time our server returned, the acid in the Coke had completely dissolved the fly.  There was no evidence remaining that a fly had drowned in the carbonated water.  If anything, that little…
  • December 21 Barrio Cafe – Phoenix, Arizona
    A neighborhood should never be defined solely by grids and lines on a map or by a physical area where people live.  Nor should a neighborhood be defined by areas made homogeneous by restrictive covenants.  Neither should it be defined by brick-and-mortar landmarks.  What truly makes a neighborhood is its diverse and unique characters. Some are quirky and eccentric, some are…
  • December 17 Nick & Jimmy’s Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Legendary American chef, author and television personality Julia Child was often exasperated with what she perceived as American’s propensity for culinary laziness, once commenting that “the trend in the U.S.A. was toward speed and the elimination of work.” “Americans,” she noted, equated as “gourmet” such “horrible glop” as “TV dinners, frozen vegetables, canned mushrooms, fish sticks, Jell-O salads, marshmallows and…
  • December 16 Dion’s Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Toga! Toga! Toga! Ever since the misfit Delta Tau Chi fraternity threw the most debaucherous toga party ever in the 1978 “teensploitation” comedy Animal House, the toga party has been ingrained in the college party culture. The genesis of the toga party goes back much, much further than Animal House. Toga parties, in fact, precede collegiate life in the fruited…
  • December 8 Pho Bar – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    “In food, as in death, we feel the essential brotherhood of man” – Vietnamese Proverb Western sensitivities cause even those among us who consider ourselves gustatorily open-minded to utter an “ick” or two at what is culinarily acceptable–even considered delicious–in other cultures. Some of us would recoil in disgust at the notion of eating grilled dog, roasted cat, grain-fed mice,…
  • December 5 Ms. Gennie’s House of Chicken – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    My Air Force friend and colleague Al Garcia once shared one of those amusing anecdotes that will leave your head shaking in disbelief even as you’re practically rolling on the floor with laughter.  According to Al who grew up in the Socorro area, his parents had to make a daylong trip to the big city (Albuquerque), leaving him and his…
  • December 3 Mediterranean Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    A few years ago if you told some of us we should follow a Mediterranean diet, we probably would have salivated at the prospect of having pizza and wine every day though we would have wondered how we could possibly lose weight on such an indulgent diet.  Today, the Mediterranean diet is widely recognized by dieticians as one of the…
  • December 1 Ruby’s Tortilleria – Bernalillo, New Mexico
    “A tortilla can be the, I would say, the most meaningful, the symbol of the Mexican cuisine, it’s the heart of the Mexican cuisine, the soul … the most recognizable element of the Mexican cuisine.” ~ Hugo Ortega James Beard Nominated Chef In 1519, when Hernan and his Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico, the indigenous people had never seen anyone…
  • November 27 Holy Burger- Albuquerque, New Mexico
    During his 40-year career as a radio and television broadcaster for the York Yankees, Phil Rizzuto made “Holy Cow” his trademark exclamation. Similar to Yogi Berra, another legendary Yankee personality, Rizzuto became beloved for his snafus and humor: “Uh-oh, deep to left-center. Nobody’s gonna get that one! Holy cow! Someone got it.” In 1985 when the Yankees retired his uniform…
  • November 25 Lime Vietnamese Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Kevin: What am I looking at here? Donna: It’s pho. Kevin: It’s what? Donna: Pho. Kevin: Well pho looks like a clogged sink. What are those chunks floating around in there? What is that? Donna: It’s chicken. You love chicken. Kevin: Do they make this outside? What is this? <pulls up a single basil leaf> Donna: Seasoning. Just try it.…
  • November 25 Central Grill and Coffee House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    It’s been said that “when you feed those in need, you are feeding your soul.”  That is especially true when the giver is practicing selfless giving, a conscious, intentional approach to giving that not only benefits others, but comes during a time when the giver is in dire need of help as well.  When the New Mexico state government’s approach…
  • November 20 Sushi Freak – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Somewhere in Japan generations of traditional sushi chefs are rolling in their graves…and they’re not rolling sushi.  What set them off?  No one knows for sure, but it could have been a 2014 article in the San Diego Reader in which Jennifer Duarte, the co-owner of a San Diego based sushi restaurant named Sushi Freak boasted “I can teach any…
  • November 19 The Cornivore Popcorn Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Popcorn for breakfast! Why not? It’s a grain. It’s like grits, but with high self-esteem.” ~James Patterson The planet’s very first known popcorn aficionados may have expressed the sentiment “to the batcave”  long before Batman, the Caped Crusader uttered the words to Robin, the Boy Wonder.  After long days of hunting and gathering, foraging and fishing, our primitive progenitors–nearly six-thousand…
  • November 19 Black Mesa BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Barbecue may be our nation’s most democratic food. (Think small d-democratic, as in of the people, by the people, for the people.) That’s part of the problem: Egalitarian foods with elemental appeal oftentimes get short shrift.” ~John T. Edge for Gourmet Magazine When we first heard about a restaurant in Albuquerque’s South Valley offering “Texas style barbecue in the Land…
  • November 13 Biscuit Boy – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago, a sagacious old Russian czarist caught up in the communist revolution lamented “Scratch a Russian and you will find a peasant.”  To paraphrase that immortal line “Scratch a cook and you’ll find a chemist.”  Think I’ve been ingesting pharmaceuticals?  Maybe you should ask Deonte “Dee” Halsey, the affable owner of Biscuit Boy about the influence of…
  • November 6 Barelas Coffee House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Quick, name the oldest neighborhood in Albuquerque. Most people would say Old Town which was settled in 1706 near the banks of the Rio Grande. Most people would be wrong. The oldest neighborhood in Albuquerque is actually the Barelas neighborhood, formally established as a ranching settlement in the late 1600s. The history of the central Rio Grande region began at…
  • November 3 Tikka Hut – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The cynosure of Tikka Hut, an Indian Fusion restaurant on First Street, is a colorful mural that pays tribute to the extraordinary and constantly evolving history of Mexican cuisine.   The mural depicts the mesmerizing countenance of a beautiful indigenous maiden, maybe even the infamous Malinche herself.  Immediately below the maiden is a Muslim Dhow sailing the azure waters of…
  • October 31 Kitsune – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Here are a few tips if you’ve got  a trip planned to Japan and would like to practice terms to convey your enthusiasm for the delicious meals you’re sure to experience,    After your first bite, use the term “umai” to express how delicious that first bite was. As you continue to eat, use the term “oishii” frequently to convey with…
  • October 30 The Hollar – Madrid, New Mexico
    It wasn’t that long ago that if you played “word association” with almost anyone outside the Mason-Dixon line, the first thing coming to mind if you used the term “Southern food” was probably something like “heapin’ helpins’ of hillbilly hospitality.”  During their nine-year run as one of the most popular comedies in the history of American television, the Clampetts, a…
  • October 29 BUDAI GOURMET CHINESE – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “The true gourmet, like the true artist, is one of the unhappiest creatures existent. His trouble comes from so seldom finding what he constantly seeks: perfection.” –Ludwig Bemelmans By definition, gourmets are connoisseurs, taking food more seriously than most and embodying the axiom “live to eat rather than eat to live.” True gourmets, as Ludwig Bemelmans would define them, appreciate…
  • October 25 Los Potrillos – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Faced with a situation that renders us incredulous, many of us might yammer incoherently, complain vociferously or maybe even utter colorful epithets. Such moments, it seems, are best expressed with succinct precision, a rare skill mastered by a select few wordsmiths from which eloquence flows regardless of situation–polymaths such as the late Anthony Bourdain, a best-selling author, world traveler, renowned…
  • October 19 Dagmar’s Delectables Bakery & German Specialties – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Until Dagmar Mondragon launched her first German restaurant in Albuquerque back in 1996, many of us knew very little about German cuisine in general and baking in particular.  The only German baker with which some of us were acquainted was the wicked witch who planned to bake Hansel and Gretel in her oven.  And the only German pastry with which…
  • October 16 Salt and Board – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Five years ago, everyone was making beer in their bathtubs, and now everyone’s making charcuterie in their garage!” ~Brian Malarkey, Chef When my friend Carlos, a punctilious polyglot conversant in four languages, asked what my Kim and I ate over the weekend, my poorly-pronounced beginner’s French response was “une assisette de charcuterie et de fromages.” “Oh, you had cold-cuts and…
  • October 15 Fork & Fig – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Listen to Billy Joel’s 1983 doo wop hit Uptown Girl and you’ll probably get the impression that uptown is synonymous with uppity or at least upscale. The lyrics describe a working-class downtown man (ostensibly Joel himself who’s originally from blue-collar Long Island) trying to win the heart of a wealthy, white bred uptown girl (Joel’s future wife Christie Brinkley). The…
  • October 9 Damacio’s Bar & Tapas – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I wanna open a Jamaican/Irish/Spanish small plate breakfast restaurant and call it Tapas the Morning to Ja.” ~Harris Wittels (Comedian) It wasn’t Wittel’s humorous quip that came to mind as we approached Damacio’s Bar & Tapas but rather something legendary raconteur and television host Anthony Bourdain once said.  During a 2013 episode of his CNN television show Parts Unknown filmed…
  • October 7 M’Tucci’s Italian Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Sometimes the spaghetti likes to be alone..” —Stanley Tucci as Segundo in Big Night With a name like M’Tucci’s Italian Restaurant, you might wonder if the Italian restaurant on the intersection of Coors and Montano is named for Academy Award nominated actor Stanley Tucci. After all, Tucci co-starred in Big Night and Julie & Julia, arguably two of the very…
  • October 2 Papa Nacho’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” ~Laurie Colwin, Novelist The notion of cooking alone is unthinkable to Ignacio and Brigette “BeBe” Lopez, founders of Papa Nacho’s. Since they launched their popular…
  • September 24 Tako Ten – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Gustavo Arellano, author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, wasn’t kidding when he quipped “The Taco Bell taco is dead. Long live the taco.”  Boomers like me may not have grown up heading for the border, but we did grow up with the Taco Bell “taco template”–a crunchy hard-shell tortilla crammed with seasoned ground beef, chopped tomato, lettuce, a…
  • September 22 CAFE DA LAT – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While the term “Vietnamese cuisine” is broad and overarching, any attempt to pigeonhole this very diverse and eclectic culinary culture is a failure to consider its complexities and nuances.  Even when culinary taxonomists compartmentalize Vietnamese cuisine regionally into “Northern,” “Southern” or “Central,” these wide-ranging generalizations fail to take into account the variations–often influenced by socioeconomic factors–that occur not only between…
  • September 18 Vintage 423 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My friend Bill Resnik, a professional stand-up comedian for more than two decades, performs a bit in which he “translates” Spanish terms for linguistically challenged audiences.  “Paseo del Norte,” for example, translates to “Paseo of the Norte.” For Duke City residents, the “Northern Route” is no joke.  It’s the corridor from the Northeast Heights to Albuquerque’s burgeoning West side, ferrying…
  • September 17 Sunnyside Up Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side Keep on the sunny side of life It will help us ev’ry day, it will brighten all the way If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life.” ~Keep On The Sunny Side Lyrics According to Statistica, a leading provider of market and consumer data, in 2019 the per capita…
  • September 15 Big Boss Hot Links at Brew Lab 101 – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    The Oxford Dictionary defines an adage as “a proverb or short statement expressing a general truth.”  The adage “the apple does not fall far from the tree,” for example, means a child usually behaves in a similar way to his or her parents.  Sometimes, however, an adage fails to live up to the truism it purports to express.  One such example…
  • September 12 D. H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There are varying accounts as to the genesis of wine-making in the United States. While it is widely acknowledged that as early as the 1500s Spanish and French Huguenot settlers in Florida began making wine with a native grape known as muscadine, efforts to plant the classic grapes used to create the great wines of Europe failed because of pests prevalent…
  • August 28 Blu Pig BBQ & Blues – Moab, Utah
    For many of us barbecue is a noun as in “a social gathering at which barbecued food is eaten.”   For others it’s a verb (to roast or smoke food over wood using smoke at low temperatures over a long cooking time).  For the most passionate and devoted, barbecue is a way of life…even a religion.  That religion is practiced by…
  • August 27 TONY CAPUTO’S MARKET & DELI – Salt Lake City, Utah
    Most of us know someone like Lucy Van Pelt, the irascible, bossy, highly opinionated diva in the syndicated Peanuts comic strip.   Since her debut in 1952, Lucy has been the perpetrator of two long-running gags.  One involves her holding the football (ostensibly so that Charlie Brown can kick a field goal or extra point) and pulling the ball away…
  • August 27 Banbury Cross Donuts – Salt Lake City, Utah
    “Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross, To see a fine lady upon a white horse; Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, She shall have music wherever she goes.” ~The Dorling Kindersley Book of Nursery Rhymes While planning our culinary exploration of the Salt Lake City restaurant scene, there were a number of restaurants we categorized as “must…
  • August 26 Nomad East – Salt Lake City, Utah
    A-Team leader “Hannibal” Smith (George Peppard) used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  We learned during our trip to Salt Lake City that sometimes baking in a little flexibility into a well thought-out plan can produce results even better than expected.  Such was the case with our trip to Salt Lake City.   Capably assisted by…
  • August 25 Freshie’s Lobster Co. – Salt Lake City, Utah
    The best lobster in the world?  In Salt Lake City?  That’s as improbable as the Detroit Lions winning a Super Bowl, as unlikely as drivers in New Mexico developing the motor skills to use turn signals, as far-fetched as a conservative NRA member driving a Subaru in Santa Fe.  As a landlocked state some two-thousand miles from the cold New…
  • August 25 Harvest – Park City, Utah
    Park City consistently ranks as Utah’s most expensive place to live with a $1.4 million median home price (as of July, 2021).   Not bad for an old mining settlement which was in danger of becoming a ghost town until a group of miners pitched the idea of a ski resort in an effort to save their town.  That was…
  • August 24 Proper Burger – Salt Lake City, Utah
    Television would have you believe Mars and Venus have different ideas as to what constitutes the proper way to eat a burger.  Representing Venus (women), as depicted in a Wendy’s commercial from the 1980s, is a geriatrically advanced woman who takes a small bite of her juicy burger then daintily wipes off the detritis with a napkin.  Representing Mars (men)…
  • August 24 Les Madeleine’s Patisserie Cafe – Salt Lake City, Utah
    About fifteen years ago, Becky Mercuri, a highly-regarded food writer from upstate New York contacted me about a book she was working on to recognize the best breakfasts in every state.  I was already a huge fan of Becky’s writing so when she asked for my input on the best breakfast in New Mexico, I considered it a huge honor.…
  • August 22 Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeaid
    In 2008, Natchez, Mississippi, was officially named the Biscuit Capital of the World, a process which took three years of research by Chef Regina Charboneau.  Just our luck, the Natchez native and French-trained chef began serving her famous biscuits at her Twin Oaks Bed & Breakfast in Natchez a decade after our last visit to the “Antebellum Capital of the World.”…
  • August 20 Desert Bistro – Moab, Utah
    My Kim didn’t buy my explanation that Moab is an acronym standing for “Mother Of All Buffets.”  She did find my legitimate explanation viable.  I explained that Moab means “a land just short of the Promised Land,” a name bestowed  because the Moab valley was a verdant oasis in the middle of a desert.  Moab first appears in the Old…
  • August 18 Sticky Rice – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Because of the mulicultural melting pot that is America, it’s impossible to name the one food that defines us as Americans, the one food universally loved by us all.  Hot dogs and apple pie?  Contrary to the aphorism “as American as hot dogs and apple pie,” even hot dogs and apple pie have their detractors.  Ditto for burgers, mashed potatoes,…
  • August 12 Curious Toast Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Toasting makes me uncomfortable, but toast I love. Never start the day without a good piece of toast. In fact, let’s toast to toast.” ~George Costanza You might think that only a short, stocky, slow witted bald man would live a life so mundane as to even consider making a toast to a good piece of toast.  That may have…
  • August 3 Sazon Con Amor – Bernalillo, New Mexico
    The Broadway musical Rent taught us that a year is comprised of “five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.”   Instead of measuring the length of a year “in daylights, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee, inches, miles, laughter or strife,” Rent encouraged us to measure a year in life in seasons of love.  Not surprisingly, Seasons of Love (a song…
  • July 31 Thicc Pizza Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    As you’ve read on the tagline for Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog, your humble blogger fancies himself somewhat of a sesquipedalian (a person who tends to use big words).  My logophilia (the love of vocabulary) is a lifelong affliction, both in English and in Spanish.  Despite my “affair” with words, one word-related term which just doesn’t describe me is neologist…
  • July 30 Siam Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    It’s oft been said that “you taste first with your eyes.”  Certainly sight figures in to the enjoyment of food and sets expectations, but the first sensory receptors to engage in taste is the sense of smell.  If you’ve ever experienced a pleasant aroma wafting toward you as you approach a restaurant, you’ll agree.  The Siam Cafe is quite possibly the…
  • July 23 Dogos VIP – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Thanks largely to a 1974 Chevrolet commercial and its catchy tune, the phrase “As American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie” has purportedly defined what Americans hold most sacrosanct.  Never mind that hot dogs are derivative of European sausages, they’re inextricably part of the fabric of the fruited plain. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes, there is…
  • July 18 Urban 360 Pizza, Grill and Tap House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Babu: Our specials are tacos, moussaka and franks and beans. Jerry: Well, what do you recommend my good fellow? Babu:Oh, the turkey. ~”The Cafe, Seinfeld, Season 3, Episode 7 While perusing the menu at Urban 360 Pizza, Grill and Tap House, my ever-witty friend Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott commented that the menu reminded him of The Dream, the very…
  • July 11 Hollow Spirits Distillery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “The winner is the chef who takes the same ingredients as everyone else and produces the best results.” ~Edward De Bono The Land of Enchantment boasts of some 3,500 restaurants, more than 1,000 of which are members of the New Mexico Restaurant Association (NMRA).  Keen competition from among hundreds of outstanding chefs throughout the Land of Enchantment makes being named…
  • July 4 Storming Crab – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Archaeologists believe there’s a scientific explanation for contemporary  humankind’s  predilection for seaside vacations and trips to the beach.  Evidence–stone tools used to cut through animal flesh–seems to support the theory that the first humans migrated out of Africa by following the eastern coastline.  This, the theory posits, would have led to Australia being discovered before Europe.  As noted by Professor…
  • July 3 Taco Bus – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Perhaps no mobile conveyance in the Land of Enchantment has ferried as many interesting people on as many colorful journeys as the “Road Hog,” the psychedelic bus which shuttled its passengers from Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock to Llano Largo, New Mexico. The Road Hog’s 1969 arrival in Llano Largo heralded the start of the “summer of the hippie invasion” as The…
  • July 2 Waffology – Corrales, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    FROM WAFFOLOGY’S FACEBOOK PAGE: We regret to announce our final closing. We fought hard and we appreciate all of you who came alongside us. February 5th will be our last day serving from 9am-6pm. In an article for New Mexico Magazine, scintillating four-time James Beard award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison proclaimed “Pity the folks who think breakfast is a bowl…
  • June 30 Twisters Burgers & Burritos – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    One of the sure signs of spring and summer in New Mexico is the presence of dust devils, those haphazardly whirling, dirty, dusty dervishes which seem to whip up out of nowhere to vacuum up all surface detritus on their unpredictable paths. Tumbleweeds, trash and soil spin skyward to heights of up to 100 feet only to be deposited–torn, tattered…
  • June 20 Busy Bee Frozen Custard – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw has been credited with the aphorism “England and America are two countries separated by the same language.” My Kim and I had no idea just how different the Queen’s English is from the English spoken by the colonists until we were assigned to Royal Air Force Fairford. As part of the newcomers orientation, we were…
  • June 20 Corrales Bistro Brewery – Corrales, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    What is it about French words that make them sound haughty and pompous to some people and elegant and refined to others? Think I’m kidding? In Massachusetts, I knew a guy who for two years sported the nickname “Le Cochon” like a badge of honor before someone had the heart to tell him it meant “the pig.” He had thought…
  • June 19 Sobremesa Restaurant & Brewery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In June, 2021, Eater.com published a list of “the 21 Essential Restaurants in Albuquerque.” Unlike so many “clickbait” articles from national publications purporting to tell New Mexicans which restaurants across the Land of Enchantment serve the “best this” and the “best that,” the Eater feature was penned by Justin De La Rosa who actually knows this state very well.  In…
  • June 6 The Grove Cafe & Market – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Voracious readers*, avid aficionados of art and those aflame with a musical ardor know that great books, art and music are imbued with the power to transport them to another time and place. A recent influx of contemporary restaurants in Albuquerque also has that power. If you think about it, having a meal at most Duke City restaurants–transcendent though some…
  • June 5 Nomad’s BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    As a spindly teenager who hadn’t yet metamorphosed into my (then) scrawny 6’1″ stature, I had grand delusions of someday playing basketball for the University of New Mexico (UNM) Lobos.  There could be no greater aspiration for a twelve-year old from the mountains than to wear the cherry, silver and turquoise and play for UNM Coach Norm Ellenberger.  Back then…
  • May 30 Indian Pueblo Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Pedro de Castaneda, a Spanish explorer who chronicled Coronado’s expeditions through the southwest from 1540 to 1542 observed that corn, beans, and squash were the main staples of the pueblo diet. Of the three, which have come to be known as “Three Sisters,” corn was the most important. It was boiled whole, toasted on the cob, or dried and ground…
  • May 29 Tomasita’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Much as I like and respect Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (BOTVOLR), the most prolific commentator on Gil’s Thrilling…naming this blog for him has never been a consideration.  Like Bill Richardson, the former governor of the great state of New Mexico, most of us would like to see our names immortalized on the side of a building, newspaper…
  • May 28 MAS Tapas Y Vino – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Had Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra written Don Quixote in the 21st century instead of in 1605, the title character’s quest in life might not have been to revive the chivalric virtues and values of adventurous knights. His quests might well have instead taken him on tapas bar-hopping adventures throughout Madrid, Spain. In his edible escapades, he would have fought the…
  • May 23 Antojitos Lupe – Bernalillo, New Mexico
    Gustavo Arellano, the brilliant and hilarious author of Ask a Mexican, an erstwhile syndicated satirical weekly newspaper column published mostly in weekly alternative papers, used to be one of my go-to sources of entertainment and information, particularly regarding our common and beloved Spanish lexicon. His inimitable wit and perspective is amusing and enlightening. Take for example his translation of the word…
  • May 16 Cocina Azul – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Ever the lexicologist, my first inclination at seeing the mantra “panza llena, corazon contento” emblazoned on any restaurant’s menu is to ponder the veracity of the audacious claim that filling the belly can leave diners contented. The venerable New Mexican dicho which translates from Spanish to “full belly, happy heart” was, after all, conceived at a time when food wasn’t…
  • May 15 Two Cranes Bistro and Brew – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    As we wended our way along meandering Rio Grande Boulevard, I commented to my Kim, “I sure miss Ichabod and Katrina.”  “Colleagues of yours at UNM?,” she asked.  “No, not colleagues,” I replied pointing to a large, verdant field, “Ichabod and Katrina were the two sandhill cranes who used to feed in those fields.”  “Oh, I get it,” she responded,…
  • May 7 Tokyo Bangkok – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 2019, Mastercard published its Global Destination Cities Index which ranked 200 cities around the world with the most international visitors.  Topping the list for the fourth consecutive year was Bangkok, Thailand which boasted of 22-million overnight visitors.  Next on the list with around 19-million international overnight visitors were Paris and London respectively.  With 13.6-million visitors, New York City was…
  • May 2 Poppy’s Pizzeria & Italian Eatery – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Chef-owner Mario D’Elia knew what he’d be in for when he named his new restaurant Poppy’s Pizzeria & Italian Eatery.  Legions of Seinfeld fans would undoubtedly joke  “Poppy’s a little sloppy,” a reference to Poppie, a restaurateur on the comedy Seinfeld who didn’t wash his hands after using the bathroom.  Sure enough,the jokes came…until the jokesters tasted the seriously outstanding…
  • May 1 Clowndog Hot Dog Parlor – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Remember the good old days when the only taboo related to the All American hot dog was the felonious act of adding ketchup.   In the movie “Sudden Impact,”  Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry” Callahan declared rather emphatically “Nobody, I mean nobody puts ketchup on a hot dog.”  Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States was nearly as…
  • April 24 Rex’s Hamburgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    From 1988 through 2005, Rex’s Hamburgers stood practically alone in offering Duke City consumers an alternative to the homogeneous gobble-and-go offerings of deep-pocketed fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. Rex’s earned and retained the hearts of Albuquerque diners for nearly 20 years. During its halcyon days, it garnered the long defunct’s Abq magazine’s “Best of Albuquerque” honors for…
  • April 23 La Finca Bowls – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Some people just aren’t cut out for the military.  The most incompatible among them usually wash out during basic military training, what is often referred to as “boot camp.” Sometimes it’s the rigor of strenuous physical conditioning that gets to them.  More often than not what proves too much is the stress of being away from home, maybe for the…
  • April 22 Ironwood Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    I’m not sure Matt Moody could sell milk to the lactose intolerant or ice to an eskimo, but it would be hard to bet against him. The genial owner of the Ironwood Kitchen on Albuquerque’s sprawling far northwest, Matt has a rare enthusiasm for both his restaurant and his recipes.  He won’t just describe a dish on the menu, he’ll…
  • April 15 Garduño’s of Mexico – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    All too often faulty premises are based on a lack of information or experience. Take for example, British author Simon Majumdar, a recurring judge on the Food Network’s Next Iron Chef competition who once declared “given how abysmal Mexican food is in London, I always thought that it was a cuisine made up of remains from the back of the…
  • April 3 Rustico Italian Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    What does it say about a restaurant when it runs out of food?  Nine times out of ten, you’d probably say it’s either brand new and doesn’t yet have a feel for its traffic volume or their inventory management just isn’t very good.  Our inaugural visit to Rustico Italian Kitchen on a bright Sunday morning introduced us to another reason.…
  • April 1 Mighty Mike’s Meats – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Thank you, Mighty Mike! Thank you for restoring our faith in barbecue just one day after my Kim declared “I don’t want to have barbecue for a long time.”  Readers might find it hard to believe, but we uncovered a barbecue restaurant so bad our one visit risked turning us both off barbecue completely (and no, I won’t be reviewing…
  • March 26 Ikigai ABQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While ikigai (pronounced ee-key-guy) may sound like what grade school girls called me many years ago, in Japanese the term ikigai is a Japanese concept combining the terms “iki,” meaning “alive” or “life,” and “gai,” meaning “benefit” or “worth.”  Though there is no direct English translation, when combined these terms embody “that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose.” …
  • March 20 Gyros Mediterranean – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    It’s not easy being a gastronome about town when you make less than a thousand dollars a month and have a car payment, rent and a social life. Stationed at Kirtland in the early 1980s, my Air Force salary pretty much dictated that most of my meals were at the base’s chow hall (which thankfully was legions better than mystery…
  • March 7 Comet II – Santa Rosa, New Mexico
    Shake the hand that shook the hand of…The Vitamin Kid.  At 87-years young, the Vitamin Kid–once the fastest runner in Guadalupe County–has slowed down just a bit, but he’s still as sharp as a tack, retaining an encyclopedic memory of details that would make a great novel.  Fittingly, a novel–specifically Rudolfo Anaya’s immortal Bless Me Ultima—is where many of us…
  • March 6 Delvin’s Restaurant & Catering – Amarillo, Texas
    Throughout its storied history, Amarillo’s culinary reputation has been based primarily on one kind of food: beef.  That’s no surprise considering Amarillo-area ranches produce thirty-percent of the nation’s beef and ninety-percent of the beef in Texas.  So when the city on the High Plains is described as a “cow town,” it’s not solely because of the odoriferous emanations from thousands…
  • March 6 It’s A Punjabi Affair – Amarillo, Texas
    During our last full year at Intel, my friend Bill Resnik and I had the distinct honor and privilege of working on a project with a team from Microsoft comprised mostly of information technology professionals with roots in the exotic subcontinent of India.  We had expected impeccable technical expertise, but their dedication and focus was far beyond what any of…
  • March 5 The Big Texan Steak Ranch – Amarillo, Texas
    If you’ve ever wondered about the meaning of the line “I’ll be lookin’ for eight when they pull that gate” in George Strait’s classic hit Amarillo By Morning, here’s a theory you probably haven’t heard.  The country crooner was actually looking for eight brawny guys to help him finish the 72-ounce steak at Amarillo’s The Big Texan Steak Ranch.  Seriously…
  • March 4 The Golden Light Cafe & Cantina – Amarillo, Texas
    Published in 1938, John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath is widely regarded as one of the greatest American novels ever written. Replete with timeless themes of struggle, destitution, injustice, and the pursuit of a delusive “Promised Land,” the novel centers around the trevails of the Joad family.  Along with thousands of other tenant farmers from Oklahoma who lost their livelihood and…
  • March 4 Watson’s BBQ – Tucumcari, New Mexico
    The Wikipedia article on Eastern New Mexico describes the region as “mostly characterized by flat featureless terrain,” even likening it to West Texas: “Like much of the Llano Estacado region, Eastern New Mexico is largely agricultural and resembles West Texas in geography, culture, economy, and demographics.”  While Eastern New Mexico may not be back-dropped by spectacular mountain ranges or bisected…
  • March 3 Mama Zahira Foodies – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    It’s so easy to be judgmental, to take things at face value…to assume.  As my friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver and I approached Mama Zahira Foodies’ order window, we espied the self-deprecating term “The Wacky Iraqi in Albuquerque” scrawled by the vehicle’s rear wheel well.  The term “wacky” made us wary.  It’s just not a term we associate with great…
  • February 27 Bamboo Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In his 30s, curmudgeonly London food critic Jay Rayner who’s been called the “enfant terrible (literally “terrifying child) of the gastronomic scene,” came to the realization that he hated hangovers more than he hated being drunk.  During a visit to a Vietnamese restaurant in London, he achieved an epiphany:  “huge steaming bowls of a deeply aromatic beef broth called pho,…
  • February 22 S-A Barbecue – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    London-based restaurant critic Jay Rayner makes barbecue sound a bit like a scientific process: “the long, virtuous interplay of fire, smoke and time on cow and pig muscle fibre; who sees only joyous caramelisation and the deep flavours gifted by the Maillard reaction, when heat says hello to amino acids and natural sugars and they all get along famously.”  He’s…
  • February 19 Alicea’s NY Bagels & Subs – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Imagine a world without sandwiches! That daunting premise would make a pretty fatalistic post-apocalyptic movie in which Dystopian societies exist in a nightmare of deprivation, hopelessness, terror and processed food rations (Soylent Green anyone?). No sandwiches–it’s just too incomprehensible to imagine, especially considering everywhere you turn there’s another Subway. Frankly, my own post-apocalyptic nightmare would be a world in which…
  • February 9 Kabab House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Unlike New York City, Albuquerque might not ever truly be mistaken for “a cultural melting pot.”  Though numerous ethnicities are scattered throughout the city’s 189.5 square miles, some of their culinary cultures are vastly underrepresented (if at all represented) among the city’s restaurants. Not even in the International District–where you might feel as if you’re jumping from continent to continent…
  • February 5 Salty Catch – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    As children growing up in landlocked and agrarian Peñasco, my siblings and I led a very sheltered life. Our extremely provincial experience with “seafood” was limited to Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks which we dipped in Kraft’s sandwich spread (we didn’t know about tartar sauce) and (gasp, the horror) Mrs. Paul’s fried shrimp. Sure, we snared the legal limit (yeah, right)…
  • January 23 M’Tucci’s Twenty-Five – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “The best ingredient I discovered in America was ‘freedom.’ The freedom to experiment in the kitchen and the freedom to be open to those experiments in the dining room.” ~Massimo Bottura, Osteria Francescana Chef and Owner Adesso basta!  I’ve had it with the haughty pedantry of my Air Force comrades-in-arms who were blessed to have been stationed in La Bele…
  • January 18 Urbano Pasta Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “To break bread together,” a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter.” ~The Joy of Food From National Geographic Sharing a meal creates a unique sense of intimacy felt by all who sit together at the table.  It’s an act that can spark new friendships, solidify lifetime bonds…
  • January 13 Marigold Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    It’s not all parents who can give birth to two children in a six week period, but that’s precisely what Harrison and Violet did.  In early October, 2019, they welcomed into the world a beautiful bundle of love they christened Jasmine.  Just before Thanksgiving six weeks later, they greeted their second “baby” when Marigold Cafe opened its doors in the…
  • January 9 Dragon House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Admit it–every time you dine at a Chinese restaurant, you peruse the Chinese Zodiac paper placemats at your table describing the characteristics of people based on their birth year. Every new year of the lunar calendar is represented in Chinese mythology by one of twelve animals, only one of which is mythological. That would be the dragon. People born on…
  • January 5 Bibo Bar & Grille – Bibo, New Mexico
    There’s an old Lebanese proverb that says, “some men build a wine cellar after only finding one grape.” That proverb aptly describes the many rags to riches success stories among Lebanese immigrants to the Land of Enchantment, primarily to our state’s northern villages. Some of New Mexico’s most prominent names in business–Maloof, Bellamah, Hanosh, Ghattas, Sahd and others–embody the spirit…
  • January 2 Nena’s Food – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “The restaurant business, as I well know, ain’t no picnic. And in Mexico City, it’s particularly rough.” ~Anthony Bourdain With an urban area population of almost 22-million over a broad expanse of 573 square miles, Mexico City is the fifth most populous city in the world and the most heavily populated city in North America. Known as Distrito Federal, or…
  • January 1 Red or Green: New Mexico’s Food Scene Was On Fire in 2020
    We’ll always remember 2020 as the year we mostly stayed home, the year of cancelled vacations, of working remotely and as the ignominious year of politics and pandemics, a “year of nonstop awfulness,” according to Dave Berry. It was the year so many our favorite restaurants and small businesses had to shutter their doors and those who didn’t close, struggled…

2020 (99)

  • December 30 Gil’s “Best of the Best” For 2020
    2020 will be remembered for a series of shelter-in-place and lockdown restrictions that largely limited restaurants to delivery, call in, carry out and online ordering options.  The resilience, strength and innovation demonstrated daily by restaurateurs throughout the country has been inspirational.  Despite the tremendous challenges and economic hardships they faced daily, restaurants soldiered on, blessing us with a delicious bounty…
  • December 27 Haus Murphy’s – Glendale, Arizona
    To some of us of a certain age and generation, the term “grandma’s food” evokes emotionally-arousing childhood memories of the foods our grandmothers would prepare. That’s especially true for those of us who no longer have those heaven-sent treasures.  Food was just one of the many ways grandma showed how much she loved her family.  Memories of grandma’s cooking sustain…
  • December 26 Richardson’s Cuisine of New Mexico – Phoenix, Arizona
    My friend and former Intel colleague Steve Caine will forever rue the day he asked me to help him with an expense report for a business trip he made to Portland, Oregon. His itemized expense report indicated he had dined twice at Chevy’s, a middling quality Americanized Mexican restaurant which wouldn’t survive in the tough Albuquerque market.   I teased…
  • December 25 Fat Ox – Scottsdale, Arizona
    In the Alpine village of Carrù in the Piedmont region of Italy stands the “Monumento al Bue Grasso” (monument to a fat ox).  Depicting two fat oxen under yoke, the monument celebrates the beast of burden so important to the region.  December’s ‘Fiera del Bue Grasso’ (festival of the fat ox) brings together tens of thousands of visitors who come…
  • December 24 DeFalco’s Deli: Italian Eatery & Grocery – Scottsdale, Arizona
    My Kim usually leaves the recitation of movie or television quotes to me (apparently it’s a guy thing), but every once in a while she’ll surprise me with an utterance or exclamation she could have picked up only from the big screen or idiot box.  When we strode into DeFalco’s Italian Eatery & Grocery, she approached an employee and–doing her…
  • December 22 Cornish Pasty Company – Scottsdale, Arizona
    There’s a European joke that uses stereotypes to deride British cooking, among the most maligned cuisines in the world culinary stage. As the joke goes, in the European conception of heaven, the French are the chefs, the British are the police, the Germans are the engineers, and so forth, while in the European conception of Hell, the Germans are the…
  • December 21 Portillo’s Hot Dogs – Tempe, Arizona
    Portillo’s story is the story of the American dream, a rags to riches saga that began with a single hot dog stand opening in 1963. That single investment has blossomed into a multi-million per year chain with six different concepts and more than 40 restaurants in the Chicago area alone. The Portillo’s Restaurant Group has become, in fact, the largest…
  • December 12 Poki Poki Cevicheria – Albuquerque, New. Mexico
    Having settled comfortably into middle age (perpetually 39-years old), my favorite participatory sports of basketball and tennis have been replaced by more sedentary, safe and slothful pursuits. Instead of getting my shot rejected (almost as often as the cheerleaders in Peñasco spurned my offers of a burger at Victor’s Drive-in), I now delight in catching every grammatical faux pas, malapropism…
  • December 5 Kamikaze Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the 1970s and 1980s, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups commercials consisted of a series of vignettes. Each vignette depicted the collision of two daydreamers–one eating peanut butter and the other eating chocolate. The peanut butter eater would exclaim “you got chocolate on my peanut butter.” The one eating chocolate would retort “you got peanut butter on my chocolate.” The two…
  • November 22 Heaven Dragon – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    From Norbert, the Norwegian Ridgeback of Harry Potter lore to Smaug, the greatest and most powerful of all dragons in The Hobbit, dragons are a familiar icon in modern literature, movies, music and pop culture.  Dragons are symbols of fantasy, whimsy and magic, often representing ancient legends and far-off lands.  They range from the malevolent, fiery tempered, scaly fire-breathers (insert…
  • November 20 Placitas Pizza – Placitas, New Mexico
    Back in the 1960s before the world was “woke” a catchy television jingle painted a pretty bleak picture: “Aunt Jemima pancakes without her syrup.  It’s like the spring without the fall.  There’s only one thing worse in the universe.  That’s no Aunt Jemima at all.”  Frankly, there’s one thing worse than Aunt Jemima pancakes without her syrup.  That would be…
  • November 18 AK Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “I hate it. I think it’s an abomination. There are so many awesome things here, I don’t know why that should be featured. It’s leading with your weakness. So much other great stuff.” ~Anthony Bourdain What could have rankled the ire of the world renowned celebrity chef, master raconteur and social activist?  Was it an injustice in dire need of…
  • November 6 Street Food Sensations – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Restaurant Insider, which touts itself as “your source for restaurant news, trends, information, tools and conversation” has observed that one of the catalysts most instrumental in driving a changing culinary landscape are Generation Z (anyone born between 1997 and 2010) diners.  With a spending power of over $29 Billion, Gen Z diners make up a quarter of all the people…
  • October 30 Taco Cabana – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 1972, English author Diana Kennedy, the doyenne of Mexican cuisine, penned The Cuisines of Mexico, a Mexican cookbook in which she described Texas’s Mexican food as “inauthentic,” coining the term “Tex-Mex.”  Kennedy essentially drew a line of demarcation between the foods of her beloved Mexico, what she viewed as “the real thing” and the foods prepared North of the…
  • October 22 Duke City Taco – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Observer: You’ve said that you can do anything with a taco, except put ketchup on it? Danny Trejo: That’s it! [Laughs]. Observer: Do people try to do that? Danny Trejo: Yeah, some people think that ketchup is good on a taco. Maybe if you’re 10-years-old, you might want to put ketchup on a taco. Observer: But that’s sacrilegious! Danny Trejo:…
  • October 18 Sharky’s Fish and Shrimp – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Never mind your tired, your poor or even your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Carlos Zazveta, the effusive proprietor of Sharky’s Fish & Seafood told us to bring our dogs, our cows and our goats next time we visit. That was after we explained we didn’t bring our children because they’re of the four-legged variety that barks. He was…
  • October 7 Cafe Lush – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Urban Dictionary, that oft hilarious, veritable cornucopia of slang, jargon and streetwise lingo, defines “lush” as “someone who drinks a lot.” (Actually, there are several pages of similar definitions for “lush” in the “peoples’ dictionary,” but this one was the best fit for this PG-rated blog.) When I asked Sandy Gregory, a self-admitted “food industry lifer” and co-owner of Albuquerque’s…
  • October 6 Master Food Truck – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Drive eastward on Airport Road in Santa Fe toward Cerrillos and you just might wonder if you accidentally traipsed into the Twilight Zone and somehow found yourself in Los Angeles.  At the very least, you might find yourself declaring “I knew I should have made that left turn in Albuquerque.”   “What is this madness,” you ask.   As we found…
  • September 30 C3’s Bistro – Corrales, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    FROM 3C’s BISTRO’S FACEBOOK PAGE: We regret to announce our final closing. We fought hard and we appreciate all of you who came alongside us. February 5th will be our last day serving from 9am-6pm. A case could be made that “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” the name of a 1977 hit by Santa Esmeralda, could well be a lament…
  • September 24 La Guelaguetza – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I am tenacious. And I love to eat.  I go into the field and see some delectable things they’re cooking, wild plants perhaps, and think, ‘Oh my God, I have to write about this.’ I just think it’s insatiable curiosity. To me, life is a continuous process of learning.” ~Diana Kennedy As an essayer of the Land of Enchantment’s culinary…
  • September 19 Tikka Spice Food Truck – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Fly once more like you did before, Sing a new song chicken tikka!” ~Chiquitita Misheard Lyrics You might think by virtue of my name and then gangling gait, school mates at St. Anthony’s in Penasco would have tagged me with the nickname “Gilligan.”  Instead, because I was considered a bit of a brainiac prone to sesquipedalian lexicon, my nickname was…
  • September 16 Federico’s Mexican Food – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    in February, 2020, Chef’s Pencil crunched the numbers of Google searches  for ethnic cuisines to determine the most popular ethnic cuisines in America. The two most popular ethnic cuisines were deemed to be Mexican and Chinese. Denizens of the East preferred Chinese cuisine while the West went for Mexican food. Google data showed that Mexican cuisine is the most popular…
  • September 13 FORGHEDABOUDIT SOUTHWEST ITALIAN – Las Cruces, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Genius, it’s oft been said, is ninety-nine-percent perspiration and one-percent inspiration.  Apply that equation to Bob Yacone and you’d be selling him far short.  So would the cliche “giving one-hundred-percent.”  Add a few more hundred percents–for heart, intellect, intuition and confidence–and you’d be approaching what makes him one of the most talented chefs in the Southwest. Let’s break down just…
  • September 10 Arrey Cafe – Arrey, New Mexico
    About halfway between Truth or Consequences and Hatch on I-25, you may have espied a billboard audaciously proclaiming “world’s finest green chile cheeseburger.”  That billboard has always piqued my curiosity and prompted such questions as “where the heck is Arrey?”  Though signage directs motorists to Exit 59, all there is to see beyond the exit are verdant fields to the…
  • September 5 Noodle Works – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “To witness the birth of a noodle is a glorious thing. I have listened, spellbound, as an 85-year-old noodle chef in Beijing told me why the act of making noodles helped him make sense of the world.” -~Terry Durack, Noodle In the movie Mr. Nice Guy, martial artist cum actor Jackie Chan portrays a  chef with a successful television show. …
  • September 4 Cazuela’s Mexican Grill – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Here’s an interesting bit of Jeopardy level trivia which you might contemplate the next time you dine at this Rio Rancho spot: In the Spanish golden age, a “cazuela” was the gallery located above the tavern in the back wall of a theater–the area in which women were segregated. Today “cazuela” is a Mexican word for casserole meal. Cazuela’s restaurant…
  • August 29 Whoo’s Donuts – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    When my corporate group had its employees, a high-performing contingent of information technology professionals, take a strengths assessment, the results were contrary to the stereotypes often painted about techno-geeks. None of us, for example, were profiled as Megadeath tee-shirt-wearing introverts who live in our mother’s basement and play World of Warcraft online against disembodied “friends.” Most of us were correctly…
  • August 23 Birrieria Y Tacos Alex Tijuana Style – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If you’ve noticed an almost inordinate number of recent visits on this blog to Mexican restaurants, credit much of that to Pati Jinich, ebullient host of the James Beard Award-winning and Emmy nominated PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table.   Although we record the Saturday airing of Pati’s Mexican Table, we don’t usually watch it until Sunday…right before lunchtime.  It’s no…
  • August 22 URBAN COCINA – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    if you believe the idea for delivery food started with Domino’s Pizza and its promise of 30-minute delivery or free, you’d be sadly mistaken.  Nor did take-out originate with Chinese restaurants in California and their wire-handled white paper buckets. Both delivery and take-out food predate the fruited plain by several centuries. Take-out had its genesis back in ancient Rome with…
  • August 16 Changos – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Darn that Google! Even though I used very specific Boolean operands to target my search for “Changos” in “Albuquerque,” Google returned results for Changos in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. It wasn’t until studying the photos for Changos that it dawned on me “this can’t possibly be South Broadway in Albuquerque.” The Changos in Puerto Peñasco has a thatched roof, a swimming…
  • August 14 Stuffed Lust Sopaipilla Company – Bernalillo, New Mexico
    “Of the seven deadly sins, lust is definitely the pick of the litter.” ~Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All “Why,” my Kim wondered aloud “would a food truck call itself Sopaipilla Lust.” Obviously reflecting on one of Father Simeon’s fiery sermons on the seven deadly sins, my naive bride was serious.  It got me thinking…also out loud.  “Sopaipilla Gluttony would…
  • August 12 Bosque North Brewery & Taproom – Bernalillo, New Mexico
    “Are you going to explain how to pronounce “bosque?,” my Kim asked when she espied me working on this review.  Though her Spanish vocabulary is rather limited, she pronounces the five or six hundred Spanish words she knows like a native speaker. For that she credits legendary Associated Press sportswriter Pete Herrera with whom she worked for years.  Explaining that…
  • August 7 Oni Noodles – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In retrospect, the monsters and bogeymen who frightened impressionable children of my generation were pretty lame. Perhaps the most lame of them all was Frankenstein, a lumbering behemoth who walked around with his arms outstretched like a sleepwalking Shaquille O’Neal. Frankenstein snarled and growled a lot, probably because Gene Hackman poured hot soup on his lap. Then there was that…
  • August 6 O’Hare’s Grille & Pub – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Céad míle fáilte, an Irish greeting meaning “a hundred thousand welcomes” preempts any menu listings at O’Hare’s Grille & Pub. At times, especially during happy hour and before Covid, it seemed a hundred thousand patrons crammed into this popular Irish themed pub.  Frequented as much (if not more) for its quality cuisine as for its libations, this pleasant pub is…
  • July 27 Cocoa Flora – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In a 1995 episode of Seinfeld fittingly titled “The Switch” Jerry asked his devious friend George Costanza how he could switch from dating Sandy, a dour woman who didn’t laugh to dating her roommate Laura, a comely woman who laughed at all of Jerry’s jokes. George’s contrived a plan: Jerry would suggest a ménage à trois.  This would disgust Sandy…
  • July 24 T & T Gas N Mart – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Eat here and get gas.”  Even in more naive and innocent times, the connotation of that double-entendre wasn’t lost on adults or children, all of whom giggled when they espied the classic sign on the marquee of many a combination eatery and filling station.  In his brilliant website The Big Apple, the “restless genius of American etymology” Barry Popik points…
  • July 21 Kimo’s Hawaiian BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For over a quarter century, the most popular section in New Mexico Magazine (the nation’s oldest state magazine, by the way) has been a humorous column entitled “One of Our Fifty is Missing.” The column features anecdotes submitted by readers worldwide recounting their experiences with fellow American citizens and ill-informed bureaucrats who don’t realize that New Mexico is part of…
  • July 18 Guaca Guaca Tacos & Beer – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    What culinary voluptuaries consider exotic and delicious, timorous eaters might find distasteful and even nauseating. With M.F.K Fisher as their muse, culinary voluptuaries–the truly adventurous diners among us–don’t let themselves be drawn into a vortex of memories recalling foods they’ve already experienced. Instead, they live with carpe diem engraved on their hearts, ever in pursuit of their next culinary epiphany,…
  • July 11 Curry Leaf – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Leonard: Is it racist that I took you to an Indian restaurant? Priya: It’s okay, I like Indian food. Leonard: Or as you probably call it back home, food. ~Big Bang Theory (Season Four, Episode 18) Queen Rania of Jordan cautioned against judging “through the prism of our own stereotypes.” Ill-founded stereotypes were very much in evidence after my team…
  • July 11 Bristol Doughnut Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While most people speak with fond nostalgia about their first ride on a double-decker bus, the memories of our inaugural trip are tinged with horror that traumatizes us to this day. As with most visitors making their first excursion to London, we wanted to take in all the sights with the best vantage point you can have. That meant sitting…
  • July 8 Stufys – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In a 2015 episode of Food Network Star competition, Lenny “The Cowboy Chef” McNab committed a serious culinary faux pas that brought about a serious rebuke from one of the celebrity judges.  During the “Cutthroat Kitchen” heat when contestants were asked to make a breakfast plate, Lenny used masa (corn flour) to make what he called sopaipillas.  Judge Bobby Flay…
  • July 3 Flamez Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Hold the pickles Hold the lettuce Special orders don’t upset us All we ask is that you let us serve it your way In 1974, Burger King introduced its most successful and long-standing advertising campaign, the heart of which was “Have It Your Way,” a catchy jingle designed to contrast just how flexible Burger King is compared to its largest…
  • June 26 The Cowgirl BBQ – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Cowgirl” is an attitude really. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head-on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands; they speak up. They defend things they hold dear. ~Dale Evans In a 1980s commercial for Pace Picante sauce, several hungry cowboys threatened to string up the cook for…
  • June 21 Pig + Fig Cafe – White Rock, New Mexico
    In its eighth season, the brilliant sitcom Seinfeld helped introduce casual comic book fans to the concept of Bizarro world, a setting which is weirdly inverted or opposite of expectations. In other words, a Bizarro world is a mirror image of conventionality, logic and reality, everything being reversed. Jerry Seinfeld’s polar opposite Kevin, for example, was depicted as kind, selfless…
  • June 20 Mamacita’s Pizza – Abiquiu, New Mexico
    If you’re up north in the Abiquiu area perusing Yelp because you’re jonesing for New Mexican food, would you heed the recommendations–good or bad–of someone from Mississippi or Delaware or Texas?  No way!  You’d look at reviews written by savvy New Mexicans.  They’ll steer you right, probably to El Farolito in El Rito (15 miles away) or Angelina’s in Espanola…
  • June 19 Cafe Abiquiu – Abiquiu, New Mexico
    In her correspondence with her best friend, Georgia O’Keeffe lamented that she “always has a hard time finding words for anything.” When it came to relaying her awe at the sensory wonder surrounding her in Abiquiu, O’Keeffe was never at a loss for words.   With a prosaic ease, she described her isolated idyll as “the most beautiful place you can…
  • June 19 La Choza Restaurant – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    “I have tried to express the terrible passions of humanity by means of red and green.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh Using bold and furious brushstrokes and striking colors (mostly red and green), Van Gogh once created a painting intended to depict humanity at its lowest point. Calling it “Night Cafe” he described it as “…one of the ugliest I have…
  • June 13 Bacon Jam – Cedar Crest, New Mexico
    “I think we love bacon because it has all the qualities of an amazing sensory experience. When we cook it, the sizzling sound is so appetizing, the aroma is maddening, the crunch of the texture is so gratifying and the taste delivers every time.” ~Alex Guarnaschelli NOTE: On July 31, 2020, the original Bacon Jam in Albuquerque closed its doors,…
  • June 7 Abq Grill n Que – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    6 October 2020: From the Abq Grill n Que Facebook page – These unique times have forced us to make the very difficult decision to shut down our operations for the foreseeable future. We did not make this decision lightly, and it’s in the best interest of our family and our company’s future.  We will be using the next few…
  • June 6 Umami Moto – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the vernacular of the cannabis culture–as I learned growing up in Northern New Mexico–the term “moto” translates from Spanish to “someone who enjoys “mota,” a slang term for marijuana.”  Visitors to the Duke City from Española, Peñasco, Chimayo and other villages up North would probably giggle if they espied the mobile kitchen (that’s food truck to you, Bob) named…
  • June 5 Pho Kup – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Virtually from infancy, my brother George was a prodigy with Lincoln logs, Erector sets and even Tinkertoys.  He could literally build anything.  That’s when he played indoors.  He preferred being out in the elements where weather-permitting, he would build solid and rainproof club houses and tree houses out of twigs, logs, boards and whatever else he could find.  In the…
  • May 31 Cornerstone Bakery & Cafe – Ruidoso, New Mexico
    Texas, the Lone Star State slogan tells us, is “like a whole other country.”  Everywhere we turned during our weekend in Ruidoso, we espied oversized pickup trucks sporting Texas license plates.  It almost made us wonder if the “village of the noisy river” had been annexed into that whole other country.  The trend continued at the unholy hour of 8AM…
  • May 30 Cafe Rio Pizza – Ruidoso, New Mexico
    You might think that a beautiful town whose very name translates from Spanish to “noisy” would be boisterous and braggadocious abut all there is to see and do in that town.  Not so according to writer Tania Casselle.  Penning a piece for New Mexico Magazine Tania contends that “Ruidoso flies under a lot of people’s radar, even though regular vacationers…
  • May 29 Oso Grill – Capitan, New Mexico
    When we pulled up to the order window at the Oso Grill’s drive-through lane, Misty, our sweet server handed us a menu and contritely explained that the restaurant had run out of shrimp.  “Why,” I asked “would anyone visit the Oso Grill for shrimp when they can have one of the very best green chile cheeseburgers in the Land of…
  • May 17 Village Pizza – Corrales, New Mexico
    Research has proven that taste buds are dulled by high altitude and cabin pressure, so as an aircraft climbs, our sense of taste diminishes by as much as 30 percent. That explains why many passengers praise airline food on flights in which meals are actually served. It’s probably not that the food is good; it’s more likely that their sense…
  • May 9 Tia Betty Blue’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Tia Betty.  If the name conjures images of a dowdy old woman, a face etched with wrinkles and thinning grey hair pulled back neatly into a bun, you’re probably not alone.  Not even the youthfully ribald nonagenarian Betty White can alter the contemporary stereotypes ascribed to the increasingly anachronistic name Betty.  It wasn’t always the case.  In fact, there was…
  • May 8 High Point Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Ask a physicist and you’ll get an earful about quantum theory, wave function, subatomic particles and rarefactions in the air. A philosopher might posit the plausible premise that when there is nobody around, the falling tree makes no sound at…
  • May 7 The Paleta Bar – Bernalillo, New Mexico
    A few decades ago, Mad Magazine (or was it Cracked) published a two-panel cartoon depicting a couple of gringo turistas visiting Mexico on a stifling summer day.  On the first panel, one turista tells the other that he heard Mexican Coke is much stronger than Coke bottled across the border in the states.  When the second turista opens the bottle,…
  • May 3 Guava Tree Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    A few years ago, my friend Bill Hanson, a gastronome of the first order, was hosting several of his Costa Rican employees at Intel’s Ocotillo (Arizona) plant. Like me, Bill delights in introducing his friends to new culinary adventures. Unfortunately, not all our colleagues were similarly inclined (despite one of Intel’s corporate values being “risk-taking”). One of them convinced the…
  • May 2 Steam Q – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I don’t know why men like to barbecue so much. Maybe its the only thing they can cook. Or maybe they’re just closet pyromaniacs.” ~Cecelia Ahern, P.S. I Love You Whether or not the dubious and persistent stereotype about men and their grills has any veracity is a topic oft debated.  It’s been discussed anecdotally and it’s been analyzed scientifically. …
  • April 26 Rudy’s Country Store & Barbecue – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    I first sampled Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q’s products in 1993 in Leon Springs, Texas, a San Antonio suburb on the fringes of the magnificent Texas Hill Country. At the time Rudy’s was just beginning to make inroads toward becoming a significant barbecue presence in Texas where beef and brisket are king. Back then Leon Springs appeared to be a…
  • April 25 Chile Chicken Nashville Hot Chicken – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My brother Mario–seven years younger, much better looking and quite a bit smarter–and I have shared many memorable firsts. There was the time I taught him how to drive on our dad’s 1965 standard transmission Chevrolet pickup truck.  He was a quick study, soon terrifying our grandmother with drifting skills Formula D drivers would envy.  I took him to his…
  • April 22 Urban Hotdog Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks Tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox love hot dogs. Armour Hot Dog Commercial, 1960s Advertising standards in the 1960s were quite a bit more lax than they are today. In today’s culture of American political correctness, there’s no way an earworm-inspiring jingle such as the Armour Hotdog commercial…
  • April 18 Burrito Express – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    In an article entitled “Ode to the Handheld” in the April, 2020 edition of New Mexico Magazine, writer Alicia Inez Guzman noted that when her dad was growing up in the sixties, “the idea of plating a burrito for a sit-down meal was unheard of, laughable even.  That’s because the humble tortilla-as-envelope filled with protein and starch was tailor-made for…
  • April 15 Thai Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “There is no good meat that their stupid cooks do not spoil with the sauce they make. They mix with all their stews a certain paste made of rotten prawns…which has such a pungent smell that it nauseates anyone not accustomed to it.” No, that’s not a review published by a disgruntled diner on Zomato or Yelp. Nor is it…
  • April 13 New Mexico Eateries Dishing Out Great Grub During Lockdown
    Several years ago after waging a lengthy and courageous battle, my friend Larry’s beloved bride of nearly four decades succumbed to the ravages of cancer. It was a devastating loss for her family, friends and community who loved her. Among the very first people who reached out to Larry were Joe and Kassie Guzzardi, the affable proprietors of Joe’s Pasta…
  • April 5 Lily & Liam Bistro – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Family owned restaurants have been called the heartbeat of a community, its pulse and its roots.  Beyond the tintinnabulation of silver spoons on ceramic coffee mugs and over the hum of conversation, restaurants become living links to the past and storehouses of memories.  They’re are a respite from the strife and stress of our daily vicissitudes.  They help us unwind,…
  • April 4 Slice & Dice – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    You might remember a 2004 documentary called Supersize Me in which writer-producer Morgan Spurlock explored the consequences on his health of a diet consisting solely of McDonald’s food for one month.  Spurlock has nothing on Dan Janssen who as of 2019 had eaten almost nothing but pizza for nearly thirty years.  That’s pizza for lunch and dinner every day of…
  • April 1 Triple B’s Bar-B-Que Burgers & Burritos – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Archaeologists in Spain claim to have unearthed the original man cave. What is most remarkable about this finding is how very similar Neanderthal man and contemporary man are. Men, it could be said, have not evolved much. Neanderthals were hairy and brutish in appearance, very much like the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. They spoke in guttural grunts, similar…
  • March 20 California Pastrami & More – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    During a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, the “show about nothing,” George Costanza and his girlfriend du jour discussed the possibility of incorporating food into their lovemaking–not as a post-coital meal, but in flagrante delicto. George listed as potential food candidates: strawberries, chocolate sauce, honey and…pastrami on rye with mustard. Yes, that’s pastrami on rye. His girlfriend, unfortunately, failed to appreciate…
  • March 14 The Jealous Fork – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In December, 1997, two-time James Beard award-winning author Deborah Madison penned a memorable article for Sunset Magazine.  Its  provocative title “Land of Enchiladas” certainly resonated with me.  Before relocating to the Santa Fe area where she now lives, Deborah would visit New Mexico quite regularly.  As with most New Mexicans returning home–whether from vacation or relocating permanently–the incomparable cuisine of…
  • March 12 The Shop Breakfast & Lunch – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the 60s and early 70s, movies and television programs would have you believe all spies were hard-drinking, fast-driving, woman-chasing playboys as good with their fists as they were with a gun. They were worldly, sophisticated and charming, but could just as easily use guile and deception to get the job done. Bob Ayers, who worked in intelligence for 30…
  • March 11 Seasons Rotisserie & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 Despite America’s oft vascillating economic situation, new restaurants continue to sprout faster than New Mexico’s unofficial state flower…
  • March 10 Pop Fizz – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The geriatrically advanced among us who grew up during the golden age (1950s through the 1970s) of the “jingle” were constantly bombarded with earworm-inducing singing commercials, those catchy and memorable short tunes used to convey advertising slogans. We couldn’t help but sing along, often to the annoyance of our parents. When, for example, the Garduño family visited the big city…
  • March 7 El Patio de Albuquerque – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For more than a quarter century, award-winning journalist Charles Kuralt had the type of job any aspiring sojourner would envy. He hit the road on a motor home, crisscrossing the fruited plains where waving fields of wheat passed in review and snow-capped mountains reached for cobalt colored skies. Observing that “thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible…
  • March 6 Greg’s BBQ – Belen, New Mexico
    On our journey to together forever, my Kim and I have shared meals at thousands of restaurants.  Even when we haven’t enjoyed those meals, without exception we’ve enjoyed our times together.  We share everything…almost.  Maybe the only thing we don’t completely share is the extent, breadth and depth of my passion for food.  You probably won’t believe this, but I’m…
  • March 5 Philly Steaks – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I love the dignity in the name Philadelphia, but at heart, we’re Philly.” ~Lisa Scottoline New York Times Best-Selling Author “There are a couple of things you should know about Philadelphia,” my friend Vladimir “Speedy” Gonzalez told me before my first visit to the City of Brotherly Love. “First, Philadelphians are not rude. We may be blunt and direct, but…
  • March 3 La Reforma Brewery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    When my friend Schuyler sees the name of the restaurant on this review, he’ll probably tease me that my life of dissipation, debasement and debauchery finally caught up with me.  “39-year-old juvenile delinquents like you belong in a reformatory.”   Or, being the mad scientist cerevisaphile he is, he’ll tell me it’s about time I ended my teetotaling ways.  “You’ve…
  • March 1 VARA WINERY & DISTILLERY – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 1620, King Philip III of Spain issued a royal decree mandating that each of the 19 recognized New Mexican Pueblos elect by popular vote, a governor, lieutenant governor and other officers as might be needed to carry on the Pueblo’s affairs. The decree required that elections take place at the close of a calendar year with installation into office…
  • February 28 Albuquerque City Limits – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “It’s when I reach the city limits that my sense of security ends and my sense of adventure begins.” ~Anthony T. Hincks Author: Verbs in Storyland Why is it the term “city limits” conjures the same type of trepidation today that very early (before the Third Century BC) explorers must have felt when they thought the Earth was flat and if they…
  • February 23 Urban Taqueria -Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My sagacious friend Bill Resnik is like a 6’5″ Yoda. Perhaps because he was a stand-up comedian for several decades, he seems to invite good-natured teasing from among our mutual friends and colleagues.  Like gunfighters sporting black hats in the westerns of yore, would-be comics seem to come out of the woodwork to challenge the fastest quipster in the west. …
  • February 19 Need-A-Pita – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    If anniversary gifts are seen as a barometer for the health of a relationship, it’s a wonder any marriage involving men survives. Dozens of bad gift compilations across the internet would have you believe those of us with the XY-chromosome deficiency…er, pairing are notoriously bad gift givers. Instead of lavishing our spouses with romantic gifts indicative of our love, we…
  • February 19 Rosemary – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing– for a charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble.” Anyone who’s read Shakespeare’s Macbeth will recognize this incantation by three witches as they stir a boiling cauldron replete with the ingredients needed to…
  • February 14 Pacific Paradise Tropical Grill & Sushi Bar – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Shangri-La. Eden.  Paradise. Heaven on Earth.  The concept of a remote and exotic utopia, a faraway haven or hideaway of idyllic beauty and tranquility, has long intrigued mankind.  Paul Gauguin, the famous French post-impressionist artist thought his persistent pilgrimage for Paradise was over when he moved to Tahiti in the tropical South Pacific.  Alas, his picturesque paradise, as with anything…
  • February 9 Kawaii Boba Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    I have a confession to make.  I just don’t get anime…and can’t figure out the pokemon craze.  That’s a rather starting admission for an Information Technology (IT) professional to make.  Maybe I need help?   After all, for your stereotypical male IT professional, anime and pokemon are just steps in the typical progression of IT affectations.  They’re the logical graduation…
  • February 7 The Burger Stand – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “If you need good hot grillin’, Try my burger stand. If you need a slice of thrillin’, I’m the baddest in the land. Any way you want it baby, I am your burger man.” ~Burger Man by ZZ Top Those of us invited on occasion to judge competitive food events try to follow a few very sensical but ironclad rules…
  • February 5 Brixens – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    My friend Bill Resnik has and will always be one of my favorite dining companions. He’s a brilliant conversationalist and one of the very funniest people you could ever hope to meet (two hours after my appendectomy he had me in more stitches than the actual surgery). Back in October, 2017, he asked if I wanted to go to “the…
  • February 4 Loyola’s Family Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    You might think that the etymology of the name Loyola has always been tied to the quality of being loyal and faithful. Instead, the name has its genesis in a Basque term meaning “mud” and only over time did the name come to represent the honorable qualities of loyalty and faithfulness. When it comes to Loyola’s Family Restaurant on Central…
  • January 30 New Mexico Beef Jerky Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The internet is replete with compilations abounding in truth and humor entitled “You Know You’re From New Mexico When…” Perhaps most resonating in factuality are the items which depict just how much New Mexicans value their culinary traditions. For example, you know you’re from New Mexico when: your favorite breakfast meat is sliced fried bologna; you buy green chile by…
  • January 29 Tuerta – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “In the land of the blind, the man with one eye is King.” What would you name a one-eyed cat?  One immediately obvious option is Cyclops for the one-eyed giant of Greek mythology.  If you prefer Norse mythology, you could opt for the name Odin, the god of wisdom, poetry, death, divination, and magic.  Or you could go with one-eyed…
  • January 22 Duran’s Central Pharmacy – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In an early episode of the Andy Griffith Show, while contemplating a job offer in South America, Andy tried to assuage his son Opie’s concerns about leaving Mayberry. Instead, he wound up confusing Opie by explaining that people in South America ate something called tortillas. Opie wondered aloud why anyone would eat spiders (tarantulas). Had Opie ever tasted the delicious,…
  • January 19 Il Vicino – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Undoubtedly the most oft-quoted line on Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” is “good fences make good neighbors.” Frost, a four-time Pulitzer Prize award winning American poet certainly didn’t have Il Vicino (“the neighbor”) in mind when he penned his prose. Fortunately fences are no obstacle to patrons of this popular contemporary Italian trattoria. A well-regarded neighborhood eatery with three Albuquerque…
  • January 18 The Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I’m not telling you, ‘Never eat a hamburger.’ Just eat the good ones with real beef, you know, like the ones from that mom-and-pop diner down the street, … And it’s so good that when you take a bite out of that burger, you just know somewhere in the world a vegan is crying.” – Homer Simpson America’s favorite everyman…
  • January 14 Saggios – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Where in New Mexico can you go to see his eminence Pope John Paul, II pontificate to Zorba the Greek, Anthony Quinn? Where can you go to see nattily attired cowboy John Wayne cavorting in a cerulean swimming pool with the material girl herself? Where can you find Beetlejuice perched on a saguaro, looking on as other luminaries (including the…
  • January 10 Santiago’s New Mexican Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In Act II, Scene II of Romeo and Juliet, the immortal soliloquy “what’s in a name” is uttered for the first time. In business, the power of a name in branding a company is everything. A name can either attract or repel customers. Ralph Liftshitz, for example, didn’t think his birth name had enough panache to succeed in business so…
  • January 7 Bandido Hideout – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Lucha libre, a Spanish phrase loosely translated into English as “free-style fighting,” is not just a genre of professional wrestling, it is the poor man’s theater in Mexico.  For a mere pittance, the common man can treat his entire family to an incredible world in which classic battles of good versus evil are waged by stalwart heroes (los technicos) and…
  • January 6 O Ramen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.” ~Norman Kolpas According to most online definitions, the term “soul food” defines the cuisine associated with African-American culture in the southern United States. In wide use since the 1960s, the term originated and came into heavy use with the rise of the civil rights…
  • January 5 Lava Rock Brewing Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Mark Twain, who quit school at age twelve after having completed the sixth grade, would go on to be widely acknowledged as the father of American literature.  Despite being largely self-taught–valedictorian of the school of hard knocks and salutatorian of street smarts–Twain acknowledged in his posthumously published essay “Taming the Bicycle” that the self-taught man “seldom knows anything accurately” and…
  • January 4 Taste of India – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Don’t go and cook Indian food if you never cooked Indian food, you know?” ~Wolfgang Puck Those who can’t do, write.  The pan is mightier than the pen. Pick your aphorism.  When it comes to cooking Indian food, both certainly apply in my case.  Every effort to prepare even the most basic of Indian dishes is a painful reminiscence of…

2019 (94)

  • December 31 Red or Green–New Mexico’s Food Scene Was on Fire in 2019
    In 2017, legendary Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold declared “food blogs are dead. There are still some people doing them, and there are still a bunch of cookery blogs where people are wrestling with cupcakes, but Instagram has so totally and thoroughly usurped whatever blogs used to do.” Much as I respect and admire the only restaurant critic…
  • December 30 Gil’s “Best of the Best” for 2019
    With a puff of white smoke emanating from the chimney of the Garduño residence and to the cheers of legions of loyal Gil’s thrilling readers, your friendly neighborhood blogger has finally named the very best of the best for 2019.  These are the dishes I enjoyed most across the Land of Enchantment in 2019, the dozen dishes most indelibly imprinted…
  • December 28 Backstreet Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Old Town Albuquerque. Locals love it. We appreciate its unique architecture and have tremendous affection for its character and personality. We hold its religious celebrations in reverence and admire the passion with which its secular fiestas are celebrated. We delight in reminding “colonists” that it’s older than many New England cities which dominate history books. Old Town is where we…
  • December 21 Dave’s Valley Grill – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Several years ago, Major Larry Abraham (God rest his soul) of the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque called me out, reminding me that such restaurants as Sadie’s of New Mexico, Casa de Benavidez and Vernon’s Speakeasy were located not in Albuquerque as credited on Gil’s Thrilling…, but in the village he capably served for four terms. He politely asked…
  • December 20 Taqueria Mexico – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Baby let’s make a run for the border, I’ve got a hunger only tacos can stop. I know exactly what I’ll order Three tacos two tostadas and a soda pop.” ~Jennifer Lopez (Eric Cartman from South Park) Ironically, every time Taco Bell has made its own run for the border, it invariably winds up scurrying away like a frightened cur…
  • December 16 Slapfish – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Every year, a jolly, bearded (some might also say fat) gentleman leaves the comforts of his home to celebrate an event that comes only once a year. Throughout the year he’s visited good little mom-and-pop restaurants across the Land of Enchantment and rewarded them with kind reviews wrapped in polysyllabic words and alliterative phrases. On this special day, my Kim’s…
  • December 13 Saigon Far East – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED*)
    NOTE: In November, 2020, Saigon Far East closed its doors and relocated to 25 The Way where it is now called Saigon City. Breaking a paradigm. That’s a modern corporate buzz phrase that essentially means approaching a situation or routine from a different perspective instead of the standard or typical way. In the parlance of dining out, breaking a paradigm…
  • December 10 Nexus Blue Smokehouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Tim “The Toolman” Taylor just didn’t get the concept of “low-and-slow.”  During barbecue week on Taylor’s “Tool Time” television show, his buddies from NASA told him the secret to quickly igniting a grill was to use rocket fuel (“liquid oxygen with a skosh of hydrogen and for fun, a little soupcon of cilantro for flavoring”).  Predictably, the grill fired up…
  • December 5 Dia De Los Takos – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    NOTE: Although Dia De Los Takos has closed, founder-owner-chef Dominic “Dom” Valuenzuela has launched a new restaurant called Tako Ten.  Look for a review soon. Felix, a character in Adi Alsaid’s young adult fiction book North of Happy was asked what makes a taco perfect. “It’s a taco that tastes as good as the idea of a taco itself. A…
  • November 23 Pizza Barn – Edgewood, New Mexico
    “I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love Wikipedia describes the 2010 biographical romantic novel Eat Pray Love as “a journey around the world that…
  • November 23 Theobroma Chocolatier – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For many men, February 14th is the most dreaded day of the year. It’s a day in which our boundless capacity for bad taste comes to the fore. Though well-intentioned, when it comes to women and romance, we’re clueless.  You might not know it, but shopping for women is the biggest cause of anxiety among American men. There’s nothing like…
  • November 19 Santa Fe Bite – ABQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 1940, Thomas Wolfe penned You Can’t Go Home Again, a novel whose deeply existential title prompted more than water cooler conversations.  It prompted profound philosophical discourse, internal reflection and pangs of nostalgia about better days remembered.  Readers pondered if it was true that “you can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood.”  Realists concluded the…
  • November 16 Soo Bak Seoul Bowl & Soo Bak Foods – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Announcer: “The story you are about to read is true. The menu has been changed to showcase the delicious mashup of Korean and Mexican cuisines. Roy Choi: “This is the city: Los Angeles, California. I work here. I’m a chef.” Since 2008, there’s been a dragnet in progress across the city of Los Angeles. Instead of a coordinated attempt by…
  • November 9 Perea’s Tijuana Bar & Restaurant – Corrales, New Mexico
    The curious appellation “Tijuana Bar” dates back to the 1920s when the 18th amendment to the Constitution established Prohibition in the United States during the period 1920 to 1933. Because Prohibition forbade the sale of alcoholic beverages, many Americans got their alcohol illegally or they went to Mexico. Tijuana was a popular vacation and honeymoon destination and it happens to…
  • November 6 Seasonal Palate – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; ~Ecclesiastes, 3:1-2 Not that very long ago, a “seasonal palate” meant humankind consumed foods only during the season in which…
  • November 5 Toltec Brewing Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Vincent: And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris? Jules: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese? Vincent: No, they got the metric system there, they wouldn’t know what the #%*&! a Quarter Pounder is. Jules: What’d they call it? Vincent: They call it Royale with cheese. Jules: Royale with Cheese. What’d they…
  • November 4 Swiss Alps Bakery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Admit it. The second thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “Swiss Alps” is the scene from one of cinema’s most heartwarming movies. It begins with a distant camera drawing closer to a verdant mountainside backdropped by steep, snow-capped peaks. Soothing music grows louder as the camera pans in on a lone figure with arms outstretched. The…
  • November 2 Tesuque Village Market – Tesuque, New Mexico
    The most successful Indian revolt in North American history occurred on August 10th, 1680. On that day, more than 8,000 warriors from the various Native American pueblos in New Mexico put aside deep historical differences and banded together to drive the Spaniards from their ancestral lands. This event is celebrated each year in Tesuque Pueblo.  Tesuque Pueblo played an integral…
  • October 31 Fatburger – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    To its detractors, there are a lot of things about which to criticize California, but even detractors will give the Golden State its due when it comes to a national obsession–the hamburger.  California is the state that gave America McDonald’s, In-N-Out Burger and my favorite, the Fatburger. (My Illinois in-laws will remind me with proud vehemence that the “original” McDonald’s…
  • October 29 Sixty Six Acres – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My high school football coach used to call his team “chiquitos pero picosos,” a Spanish term meaning “small but piquant” (like New  Mexico’s chiles). At 6’1” and a svelte 175 pounds in full uniform, I was the biggest guy on the team.  That made me an enforcer of sorts when players on the other teams tried to bully my smaller…
  • October 24 Mac’s Steak in the Rough – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In Mark 6:4, Jesus instructs his disciples that “a prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” Theologists and Bible scholars have translated this to mean “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” While certainly not as venerated as…
  • October 23 Sushi & Sake – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “If white wine goes with fish, do white grapes go with sushi?“ – George Carlin A reader once asked Washington Post humorist Gene Weingarten what he was a snob about. His reply, “I am also a snob about food. The other day, in Baltimore, I passed a sign outside a restaurant that said “Sushi Buffet!‘ and laughed out loud because…
  • October 16 Frank’s Famous Chicken & Waffles – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If one measure of success is having the wherewithal to pursue those things you love most, Frank Willis has led a very successful life. A towering skyscraper of a man, Frank has had four great loves in his life: family, basketball, music and chicken and waffles. They’ve been his passions and his raisons d’être. Maybe that’s why he’s done them…
  • October 15 AK Deli – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    NOTE: Although AK Deli shuttered its doors in 2020, you can still have many of its wonderful sandwiches at AK Pizza. “You’ll never be one of us,” my brother-in-law Chuck quipped in his best Baron von Trapp voice. He wasn’t talking about me being part of the family. He was talking about me being a Chicagoan. Chuck wasn’t being mean-spirited…
  • October 12 Los Cuates – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Of the five variations of twins that occur commonly throughout the world, the most common fraternal (non-identical) occurrence is male-female twins which transpire in about 40% of all twins born. Fraternal twins may share up to 50% of their genes and generally are no more similar or dissimilar than any other two siblings.  Although technically not twins because they were…
  • October 11 Iron Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Ramen is a dish that’s very high in calories and sodium. One way to make it slightly healthier is to leave the soup and just eat the noodles.” ~Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto America may be a multicultural melting pot, but thriving within its most populous metropolises are ethnic neighborhoods–pockets of diversity residing in two worlds, retaining many of the cultural…
  • October 9 Los 6 Hermanos – Bernalillo, New Mexico
    Once upon a time (how many of you remember when seemingly all ancient fables and stories began with these four words?) there was a family of six Chinese brothers, each with a unique and amazing power. One of the brothers committed an infraction against Chinese law and was sentenced to death by the emperor. By asking for one last night…
  • October 8 Asian Pear – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Careful Father, this stuff will melt your beads.” ~Lt Colonel Henry Blake, MASH 4077 Just as Hogan’s Heroes helped establish the perception many Americans (at least of my generation) had about German food, the television show MASH was the first introduction many of us had to Korean food. Set in South Korea during the Korean War, the series centered around…
  • October 8 The Safari Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “The wild dogs cry out in the night As they grow restless longing for some solitary company I know that I must do what’s right Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become.” ~ Africa by Toto Shrouded in mist and steeped in myth and…
  • September 29 El Patron – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    I was a strapping lad of fifteen when hired as a “box boy” at a country store in Peñasco. Now, being a box boy at a small village country store is to being a bagger at Smith’s or Albertson’s in Albuquerque what the red chile at Mary & Tito’s is to McCormick’s chili seasoning mix. The former is so much…
  • September 27 Saigon 2 Restaurant – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    In Chinese and Vietnamese cultures, numerology is very important. If you’ve traveled extensively, you may have wondered why the term “Pho” followed by a number is so commonplace. Often these numbers are considered lucky–and not necessarily across an entire culture. A number may be lucky on a personal level, perhaps marking a date that’s special to the restaurant owner. Espy…
  • September 26 The Cooperage – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Reading my sisters’ Archie comic books on the sly 30 plus years ago taught me two things. First, it taught me that teenage boys shouldn’t admit to ever reading Archie much less admit to preferring the girl next door Betty over the siren Veronica. Secondly, Archie comics taught me that a “cooper” (as in Betty’s last name) is a barrel-maker.…
  • September 21 Freight House Kitchen & Tap – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Many of us look at an unused and timeworn historical building and a wave of nostalgia sweeps over us as we imagine what life was like when that building teemed with activity. Some see such a building as a pig in need of lipstick, nothing a coat of paint and a few nails can’t fix up. Others see that same…
  • September 20 Rutilio’s New Mexican Foods – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Although its nickname may be “The Hub City,” Belen actually translates from Spanish to “Bethlehem,” which itself is a Hebrew word for “House of Bread.” Meander through the city and it’s not the aroma of freshly baked bread that will waft toward you. During  autumn, hazy smoke plumes drift upward from rotating steel-meshed drums, alerting your nostrils to the the…
  • September 19 Happy Chickenzz – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.” ~Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Two things came to mind when my friend Nader and I approached Happy Chickenzz. First, I mused, “if happy cows come from California (a 2002 marketing campaign for California cheese), where do happy…
  • September 18 Duran’s Station – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Homer Simpson: “Five-alarm chili, eh? (Takes a bite) One…two…Hey, what’s the big idea?” Ned Flanders: “Oh, I admit it. It’s only two alarm, two and a half, tops! I just wanted to be a big man in front of the kids.” One-alarm, two-alarm, three-alarm…since the 1850s, American fire departments have relied on alarm systems to alert firefighters to the severity…
  • September 11 Hurricane’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “What is it with you New Mexicans and your fascination for natural disasters?” my Maryland transplanted friend Jessie Miller once asked me. When I inquired as to what he was talking about, he elaborated that two of his favorite Duke City restaurants are named for natural disasters. “Natural disasters,” I asked. “I don’t know of any restaurants named “Forest Fire”…
  • September 10 Viet’s Pho – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “”Vietnam. It grabs you and doesn’t let you go. Once you love it, you love it forever.” ~ Anthony Bourdain Most of us have never been to Vietnam. It’s possible, maybe likely, that most of us will never make it to Vietnam…at least not in a corporeal state. That’s an important distinction because for years, we’ve already been visiting Vietnam.…
  • September 7 Sassella – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In Cold Tuscan Stone, the first in a series of spellbinding mysteries set in Italy, author David P. Wagner did such a magnificent job in developing relatable characters and creating a sense of place that I felt myself transported to the world of Rick Montoya, the affable protagonist in David’s series.  Through David’s vivid imagery, I could almost taste, smell…
  • August 31 Gray’s Coors Tavern – Pueblo, Colorado
    Dante Alighieri’s classic poem “A Divine Comedy” recounts a spiritual journey in which the author was guided by ancient Roman poet Virgil through hell, purgatory, and paradise.  Their path takes them through the nine circles of Hell where they witness the punishments suffered for all eternity by the souls of deceased sinners.  The deepest circle of Hell, where Satan resides,…
  • August 30 Shamrock Brewing Co. – Pueblo, Colorado
    When my friend David Wagner, author of the spell-binding Rick Montoya Italian mysteries, invited us to dinner at the Shamrock Brewing Co. in his hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, I quickly leapt to the conclusion that Shamrock just might be the inspiration for O’Shea’s Irish Pub, the favorite gathering spot for Rick Montoya and other English-speaking expats living in Rome.  I…
  • August 28 Los Primos Mexican Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    When you’re young and dumb and have an inflated sense of invisibility, you commit some youthful indiscretions that often evoke pangs of regret and remorse during your wizened years.  Invariably your reflections prompt the question “could I really have been that stupid?.”  Sometimes, however, those indiscretions are mischievous and harmless, prompting pleasant memories, maybe even laughter.   Indiscretions of the…
  • August 26 Caveman Burgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “It’s so easy, even a caveman can…find it.” The Geico commercial depicting metrosexualized troglodytes living in contemporary America came to mind when I couldn’t find CaveMan Burgers on Central Avenue. While your typical caveman about town would probably have googled the restaurant’s address, this homo-dumbassicus took for granted that when KRQE reported CaveMan Burgers was “on Central near Coors,” it…
  • August 24 Ajiaco Colombian Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If your perception of Colombia is of a nation beleaguered with drugs, terrorism and violence, you may just have to recalibrate your thinking. In 2014, for the second consecutive year, a WIN-Gallup poll conducted in 65 countries revealed that Colombia earned the distinction of being the world’s happiest country. Known as the “Barometer of Happiness and Hope,” the survey reported…
  • August 21 The Kitchen by 135 Degrees – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Note from The Kitchen by 135 Degrees Facebook Page: 12 December 2019 : The Kitchen by 135 Degrees will be closing to the public to focus on catering and private events at our location. We are very grateful to all of you who supported us this past year. Once described as the “enfant terrible of the gastronomic scene,” curmudgeonly English…
  • August 16 1933 Brewing Co. – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth.” ~Will Rogers “I’ll drink to that.”  Such was the rampant sentiment with which Americans welcomed the repeal of the notorious 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which…
  • August 13 2G’s Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In May, 2018, Yelp published its listing of the 50 best restaurants in Albuquerque. Only three of them came from the not-yet-done-revitalizing East Downtown (EDo) district. The two that won’t surprise anyone are The Grove Cafe & Market at number eight and Standard Diner at number forty-seven. Sandwiched between them is a relative newcomer named 2G’s Bistro which ranked twenty-first.…
  • August 10 La Fonda Del Bosque – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the millennium year, after years of planning and lobbying, the dream was finally realized of a haven dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities. In 2000, the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC), launched along the Camino Real in the Albuquerque’s historic Barelas neighborhood. The Center is an architectural anomaly in a largely adobe-hued…
  • August 5 Thai House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    American fashion designer Zac Posen observed that “Chefs have the ego of an actor and fashion designer combined.” In comparison to private cooks, however, chefs are as modest as a cloistered nun.  In a recent survey, PayScale.com, an online salary information company ranked occupations by ego size, asking 383,000 people how strongly they agree with the statement, “I am the…
  • August 3 Ohana Hut – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In horse racing, the Triple Crown signifies winning all three of the sport’s most challenging thoroughbred horse races—The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. This is considered the greatest achieved in thoroughbred racing, a feat accomplished only twelve times. The thespian community considers as its Triple Crown, winning a competitive Academy Award, an Emmy Award and a Tony Award…
  • August 1 Abuelita’s New Mexican Kitchen – Bernalillo and Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Abuelita–perhaps no word in the vernacular of Spanish Northern New Mexico evokes such veneration, reverence and, for those of us who have lost these heaven-sent treasures, a melancholy ache not even time can erase. The abuelita is the family matriarch, the heart of the extended family and the sagacious matron to whom you go for counsel, consolation and cooking. For…
  • July 21 Monica’s El Portal – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “It feels so true when I’m with you I’m free A place I go that feels like home to me It feels so true It’s time well spent when I’m with you.” ~Feels Like Home (New Mexico True) For years, as we luxuriated over steamy mugs of freshly ground coffee on lazy Sunday mornings before church, my Kim and I…
  • July 13 P’Tit Louis Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” –Ernest Hemingway I’ve often wondered if Ernest Hemingway would have felt at home in Taos during the “roaring twenties,” a period of dynamic artistic, societal and…
  • July 10 Bocadillos Slow Roasted: A Sandwich Shop – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The Food Network’s television cameras just love Chef Marie Yniguez who’s been showcased on not one, not two, not even three, but four of its prime-time programs. Aficionados of her cooking will tell you that in three of those programs she even upstaged Guy Fieri, the spiky-coiffed chef-glitterati.  Marie is a larger-than-life personality whose irreverent sense of humor, Burque pride…
  • June 30 Modern General – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I went to a general store but they wouldn’t let me buy anything specific.” ~Steven Wright While nay-sayers may regard New Mexico as an anachronism–stuck in a time warp somewhere between Victorian times and the Happy Days of the Fonz and Richie Cunningham–there are artifacts of the “good old days” for which I wax nostalgic.  Among those artifacts is a…
  • June 22 Punchy’s Wood-Fired Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the parlance of the pugilist, “punchy” is synonymous with punch-drunk, the result of having been battered violently by an opponent. You know, like Rocky Balboa after a few rounds with Apollo Creed. Don’t ever try to correct the family of Giordano Bruno (1905-1992) if they insist on a different definition. They’ll tell you Grandpa Giordano, the family patriarch, earned…
  • June 19 Sophia’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Exterior signage for Dennis Apodaca’s new restaurant venture sports the name of the previous tenant, a short-lived eatery named MIXX. In a February blurb announcing Dennis’s return, the Albuquerque Journal called his new venture “REMIXX.” A handwritten note scrawled on the front door, however, informs you that you’ve arrived at “Sophia’s – that you knew & loved on 4th St.…
  • June 17 It Dim Sum – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Shortly after “moving on up to the east side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky,” George Jefferson was uncharacteristically late returning home.  Knowing George had gone to a Chinese restaurant after work, his dutiful wife Weezy asked neighbor Tom Willis what Chinese restaurant George might have visited.  Ever the gourmand, Tom asked what style of Chinese food George liked…
  • June 13 Burque’s Burgers & Dawgs – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    A 2016 quality of life survey conducted by the city of Albuquerque revealed that denizens of the Duke City are split pretty much down the middle when it comes to the nickname “Burque” (which, by the way, is NOT pronounced “burr-key” though you’ll be forgiven if you can’t roll your r’s).  28-percent of respondents viewed the sobriquet favorably while 28-percent…
  • June 12 Monte Carlo Steakhouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Last night I broke the seal on a Jim Beam decanter That looks like Elvis.” ~George Jones Having spent much of his career in an inebriated state, Country music icon George Jones actually lived the life experiences that inspired much of his music. After one of his four divorces, Jones sat alone in a rather empty home, his ex-wife having…
  • June 9 Indigo Crow Cafe – Corrales, New Mexico
    Now I lay myself down to sleep I pray oh lord my soul to keep Cause if I should die before I wake I hope up in Heaven they’ve got lobster and steak It’s a sin if Heaven ain’t got an Indigo Crow Best food down here up there they’ve gotta know. A Sin if Heaven ain’t got an Indigo…
  • June 8 Ponderosa Family Restaurant & Grill- Tijeras, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The teeth, tail and eye of the tiger caused quite an uproar in the Sandia National Forest near Tijeras, New Mexico back in 2015 and it made the national news. A mountain biker took a blurry photo of what appeared to be a tiger and posted it online. The photo went viral, prompting Bernalillo county officials to issue a warning…
  • June 1 Rusty Taco – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 2015, food critic Mike Sutter embarked on a quest Don Quixote would envy when he ate at a different taco joint in Austin, Texas every day for an entire year. During his 365-day adventure, he consumed a whopping 1,600 tacos. When he moved from Austin to San Antonio, he embarked on a similar venture and not even life-altering thyroid…
  • May 29 Cecilia’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Pasqual Baylon’s devotion to the Mass and the Holy Eucharist was so fervent that even when assigned kitchen duty, he remained so enraptured in adoration of the Eucharist that angels had to stir the pots to keep them from burning.  It’s deliciously ironic, therefore, that San Pasqual is the recognized patron saint of Mexican and New Mexican kitchens, a beloved…
  • May 24 El Pinto – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Over the years, perhaps no restaurant across the Land of Enchantment has garnered as much recognition from the national media as has El Pinto.  Rather than recap all its accolades across the years, let’s focus on just one year: 2015.   For almost any other restaurant in New Mexico (or anywhere else for that matter), 2015 would be considered a…
  • May 17 Hannah & Nate’s – Albuquerque & Corrales, New Mexico
    There are just some restaurants at which the stereotypical Ralph Cramden hungry man shouldn’t dine. Hannah & Nate’s might be one of them. It’s not that the food isn’t good. That’s certainly not the case. The troglodytic nature of men is such that we whine and complain when we have to wait more than two minutes for our meals and…
  • May 14 Southwest Savories Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    After years of toiling as a quality engineer in a pressure cooker environment in which the happiest time of day was usually 5PM,  Charlene McBain has truly found her happy place.  It’s a cozy little cafe named Southwest Savories which she founded in 2018.  She’s eager to share her happy place with guests.  Although most of us probably won’t even…
  • May 4 K’Lynn’s Cuisine – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Before permanent signage was mounted, a tethered banner in front of K’Lynn’s Southern & Cajun Fusion in Rio Rancho listed a few of the delicious treasures available in the tiny restaurant: “catfish, BBQ, gumbo, po boys, jerk chicken, carne adovada fries & more!” Yeah, we did a double-take, too. One of those items just seemed a bit out-of-place? If you’re…
  • May 2 Taj Mahal – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Don Shirley: “How is that?” Tony Lip: “Salty.” Don Shirley: “Have you ever considered becoming a food critic?” Tony Lip: “Nah, not really.  Why?  Is there money in it?” Don Shirley: “I’m just saying you have a marvelous way with words when describing food.  Salty.  So vivid one can almost taste it.” Tony Lip: “Hey, I’m just saying it’s salty. …
  • April 28 Pollito Con Papas – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    I think a rotisserie is like a really morbid ferris wheel for chickens. It’s a strange piece of machinery. We will take the chicken, kill it, impale it and then rotate it. And I’ll be damned if I’m not hungry because spinning chicken carcasses make my mouth water. I like dizzy chicken. – Mitch Hedberg Comedian Mitch Hedberg may have…
  • April 20 Restoration Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My dad taught me very early on that all people have inherent worth and dignity and are deserving of respect and kindness. A lifelong educator, he had a knack for reaching students deemed incorrigible or unteachable–students the “system” would just as soon discard. During his funeral nearly forty years ago, these were the students who cried hardest. They had just…
  • April 19 Pho 505 – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Eating slowly is good for the stomach; plowing deeply is good for the fields.” ~Vietnamese Proverb Imagine if the village of Hatch was granted a trademark that awarded it exclusive rights to the name “chile.”  Imagine Hatch then taking legal recourse against Chimayo, Lemitar, Jarales, et al. to prevent them from using the term.  Civil war would surely ensue.  A…
  • April 18 The Owl Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Shortly before 6AM. on July 16, 1945, some of the world’s most brilliant minds ushered in the nuclear age with the detonation of the first atomic bomb, an occasion which later prompted Los Alamos Laboratory head J. Robert Oppenheimer to declare “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” The transformative event occurred in a dry, desolate locale approximately…
  • April 17 The Kosmos – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Even though New Mexico’s license plates have been graced with the sobriquet “Land of Enchantment” since 1941, it didn’t become the state’s official nickname until 1999. For much longer than that, the more derisive epithet “Land of Entrapment” has also been in use. In 1955, the New Mexico Motor Club began using it because state highway police were perceived as…
  • April 12 Thai Heritage & Vegan – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Who among us hasn’t learned at least one thing about Thai culinary heritage from The Big Bang Theory? In a 2011 episode, for example, we learned that according to Thai tradition the last morsel of food, the greng jie, goes to the most important person in the room. At least that’s what Sheldon tells Penny when she reaches for the…
  • April 9 Cafe Bella – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not doze. It maketh me to wake in green pastures: It leadeth me beyond the sleeping masses. It restoreth my buzz: It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of addiction, I will fear no Equal: For thou art with…
  • April 7 Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    My friend Schuyler jokes that because the diet of my formative years was mostly beans, chile and tortillas as well as chile, tortillas and beans, I’ve developed an insatiable curiosity and appetite for anything that isn’t beans, chile and tortillas (although I still love those). “No one else,” he claims “is equally enthusiastic about  bacon-infused decadence one day as he…
  • April 3 Dog House Drive In – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Culinary history is in dispute as to the origin of the term “hot dog” to describe frankfurters, a cooked sausage named for the city of Frankfurt, Germany.  Some historians mistakenly credit a newspaper cartoonist for coining the term “hot dog.” According to a popular urban myth, that cartoonist used the term in the caption of a 1906 cartoon depicting barking…
  • March 23 Spring Rollin’ – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Reclusive American poet Emily Dickinson insisted a light exists in spring that’s not present at any other time of year. If you’ve ever spent a winter in the Northern Hemisphere at a latitude of 42° or more, you know what it’s like to long for that light. You can relate to the irritability and restlessness of having only eight hours…
  • March 23 The Last Call – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Ah, but after the sunset, the dusk and the twilight, when shadows of night start to fall. They roll back the sidewalk precisely at ten and people who live there are not seen again.” ~John Denver: Saturday Night In Toledo Albuquerque has a reputation of being a town which “rolls up the sidewalk,” an expression used to describe towns where…
  • March 21 Ana’s Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Several ominous scenarios went through my mind when Ana told me, “I’m sorry.  We don’t accept credit cards.”  Would I be asked to wash dishes for a couple of hours to pay for my meal?  Would Ana ask me to leave my iPhone as collateral while I dashed to an automated teller machine?  Worse, would I be jailed?  Lest you…
  • March 17 ABQ BBQ – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “It was Kansas City but it was North Carolina I wanted; whole hog smoked low and slow over fruit woods and doused liberally with a vinegar-based sauce. It was North Carolina but it was Texas I wanted; king beef sliced into juicy brisket prepared over post oak and glistening with a sweet tomato-molasses based sauce. It was Texas but it…
  • March 14 Juanita’s Comida Mexicana – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    When writer Jeffrey Steingarten was named food critic for Vogue in 1998, he made it his quest to overcome any distaste he may have had for certain foods.  Chief among the foods he disliked were kimchi, lard, Greek cuisine, and blue food. Over time, he overcame his aversion toward all those foods, save for those with a bluish hue.  His…
  • March 8 Duke City Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the 1970s and 1980s,  Reese’s Peanut Butter cups commercials consisted of a series of vignettes.  Each vignette depicted the collision of two daydreamers–one eating peanut butter and the other eating chocolate.  The peanut butter eater would exclaim “you got chocolate on my peanut butter.”  The one eating chocolate would retort “you got peanut butter on my chocolate.”  The two would…
  • March 2 Mad Jack’s Mountaintop Barbecue – Cloudcroft, New Mexico
    Whether it’s movies, Uber drivers or restaurants, human beings seem to predisposed to take stock in rankings and ratings.  Be it a one- to four-star rating method or any other numerical or graphical rating system, many of us won’t even read what a reviewer has to say.  We go straight to the rating.  Of course, for visitors to Gil’s Thrilling…
  • March 1 Henry’s Barbecue – Artesia, New Mexico
    “Texas. It’s Like A Whole Other Country.” That slogan, conceived by the Texas Tourism Department, appeared on television commercials, billboards, advertisements and even license plates. It was such a hit that the Texas Department of Transportation obtained seven federal trademark registrations to protect it on everything from stickers to shot glasses. In 2014, USA Today readers declared it the “best…
  • March 1 Chef Toddzilla’s Gourmet Burgers – Roswell, New Mexico
    Roswell, New Mexico is a stodgy conservative town where sidewalks are rolled up early. Change comes to the state’s fifth largest city as slowly as the twangy, lazy cadence of a Texas drawl. So does embracing opportunity. Consider the so-called Roswell Incident of 1947. It took 55 years before Roswell opened its UFO museum and another three years before its…
  • February 28 Bonchon – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Hawkeye Pierce had a very unique (and very sarcastic) take on the Korean War: “I just don’t know why they’re shooting at us. All we want to do is bring them democracy and white bread. Transplant the American dream. Freedom. Achievement. Hyperacidity. Affluence. Flatulence. Technology. Tension. The inalienable right to an early coronary sitting at your desk while plotting to…
  • February 18 The Farmacy – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In this age of “fake news,” biased media slants and unabashed tell-alls, the one recent headline which has pleased me most comes from Bloomberg. Splashed in bold typeface was the eye-catching lead “Mom-and-Pop Joints Are Trouncing America’s Big Restaurant Chains.” Elaborating on this contention, the first paragraph reads: “Americans are rejecting the consistency of national restaurant chains after decades of…
  • February 9 Cantina Nueva – Garduños – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Garduños just can’t seem to keep up with the Joneses, at least in terms of familial propagation. The 2010 United States Census indicates more than a million instances (1,425,470 to be precise) of the surname Jones, making it the fifth most common among the 6.3 million surnames recorded. In comparison, the surname Garduño belonged to only 6,912 individuals, ranking it…
  • February 6 Bubblicitea Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    According to the United States Census Bureau, by 2016 the Asian American population–including those of multiracial, Hispanic and Latino ancestry–had reached nearly 21 million, constituting about six-percent of the Fruited Plain’s total population.  As the table below illustrates, there’s absolutely no correlation between population and the number of restaurants across the fruited plain representing the listed Asian ethnicities.  Ethnicity Population…
  • January 30 Gobble This – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Is there a sound on Earth as joyous as the pat-pat-pat from a Salvadoran kitchen, the gentle rhythm of a cook slapping together a pupusa that just happens to be yours?” ~Jonathan Gold Pulitzer Prize-Winning Restaurant Critic Los Angeles Times Somewhere amid the bottlenecked tangle of highways, byways, freeways, parkways, roadways and expressways (boy, is that a misnomer) that make…
  • January 18 Mac’s La Sierra – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    But the Lights of Albuquerque, will soon be shining bright, Like a diamond in the desert, like a beacon in the night. And I wonder if she’ll take me back, will she understand? Will the Lights of Albuquerque, shine for me again? Jim Glaser: The Lights of Albuquerque Imagine yourself a weary traveler motoring along a two-lane blacktop half an…
  • January 5 Pho Kobe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Jim Millington, a long-time friend of this blog, contends that “there must be a bad Vietnamese restaurant somewhere on this wide earth but I have never found it.”  If the Albuquerque metropolitan area is a microcosm of this wide Earth, Jim may just be right.  Just ask Yelp reviewers, a blatantly honest bunch which doesn’t pull punches when expressing dissatisfaction…

2018 (92)

  • December 31 Red or Green–New Mexico’s Food Scene Was on Fire in 2018
    Over the years perhaps no restaurant across the Land of Enchantment has garnered as much acclaim as Santa Fe’s Geronimo. It’s been long and widely acknowledged that Geronimo is one of the very best fine-dining restaurants not only in New Mexico, but under the spacious skies. In TripAdvisor’s compilation of the 25 top fine dining restaurants in the country for…
  • December 31 Gil’s Best of the Best for 2018
    “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.” Sound of Music fans will recognize that these are a few of Julie Andrews favorite things. It’s with great fondness and more than a little (blush) salivation that I bid adieu and auld lang syne to my my favorite things–the dishes I enjoyed most across the…
  • December 28 AC3 – Palm Desert, California
    Hollywood’s movie studio system of the 1920s and 30s contractually required its greatest glitterati  to remain within 100 miles of Tinseltown’s studio during production. Because of this “two-hour rule,” such stars as Cary Grant, Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra and his “Rat Pack” buddies traded Hollywood’s frenetic, paparazzi-plagued lifestyle for the more secluded and sedate pace of Palm Springs, exactly 100 miles…
  • December 27 Sherman’s Deli & Bakery – Palm Springs & Palm Desert, California
    Not everyone appreciated my friend Bob’s stark honesty as much as I did. For nearly twelve years, Bob was my most trusted source for information on the Santa Fe dining scene. He was also a huge advocate for my writing, even when his reaction to one of my particularly “long way around” missives was “what?.” From a style perspective, he…
  • December 26 Grill A-Burger – Palm Desert, California
    California may not have invented the hamburger, but a strong case could be made that no state has and continues to evolve what is arguably America’s most sacrosanct food.  With more than 6,000 burger restaurants, California has more eateries dedicated to the sacrosanct burger than any other state.  That’s only fitting considering the Golden State also gave us McDonald’s, Jack In The…
  • December 25 LULU CALIFORNIA BISTRO – Palm Springs, California
    How many times have you heard a transplant to the Land of Enchantment say it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without snow? Some of you expats dream of a white Christmas, just like the ones you used to know back when you lived in Siberia, the North Pole, Greenland and other similarly snowed-in states that aren’t as beautifully balmy in…
  • December 24 JAKE’S – Palm Springs, California
    “Now i lay me down to sleep And pray the Lord my soul to keep If i die before i wake, feed Jake He’s been a good dog My best friend right through it all If i die before i wake, feed Jake.” ~Pirates of the Mississippi “On one hand,” my Kim tells me, “you’d make a great politician.” “You…
  • December 23 Workshop Kitchen + Bar – Palm Springs, California
    “Good restaurant design is about achieving equilibrium between the food, service and design – in effect telling a complete story.” ~ David Rockwell, American Architect Andy Rooney, the curmudgeonly commentator on television’s 60 Minutes didn’t like food that’s “too carefully arranged;” declaring “it makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking,” adding “If I wanted…
  • December 22 Shanghai Reds at the Fisherman’s Market & Grill – La Quinta, California
    For years, fish tacos have been one of those popular, almost faddish obsessions which have garnered more attention and affection than cynics like me believe is warranted (much the same way some of us feel about Beyonce and anything Kardashian).  It’s always been well beyond my capability to understand why fish tacos have been so highly regarded.  Sure, my Kim…
  • December 21 Sammy C’s Rock ‘n’ Sports Pub & Grille – Gallup, New Mexico
    Gallup, New Mexico is a city of dichotomies, contrasts and contradictions.  As recently as the 1990s, Gallup was known as “Drunk Town, USA” after ranking number one across the fruited plain for the number of alcohol-related deaths.  Despite that ignominious distinction, Gallup also boasts of “more millionaires per capita than any other place in the world,” largely on the strength of…
  • December 19 Le Bistro Bakery & Vietnamese Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Several years ago and much to the surprise of the proprietor, I ordered a durian shake at a Vietnamese restaurant. She proceeded to caution me that durian has a very powerful aroma and flavor many people find off-putting. When she witnessed my enjoyment of the cold pungent fruit beverage, she gave me a big hug and told me I was…
  • December 15 Burger 21 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “When people pile seven things onto one burger, it drives me nuts!” ~Bobby Flay Burger meals at the Garduño home are always an interesting dichotomy, some might say a clash of opposing ideals and styles.  For my Kim, a burger is about the meat to bun ratio ameliorated by a minimum of tried and true ingredients, usually just lettuce, relish…
  • December 9 M’TUCCI’S MARKET & PIZZERIA – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    NOTE:  Because of the heightened demand for M’tucci’s meats, cheeses, breads and shrubs, on 30 November 2019, M’tucci’s Italian Café & Market will close its retail operation and begin its conversion to a wholesale operation.  You’ll be able to find M’tucci’s products at such local establishments such as Steel Bender Brewyard, Vara Wines,  Farm & Table, Toltec Brewing and more.  …
  • November 30 El Agave – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Why, this here sauce is made in New York City!” “New York City? Git a rope!” No matter how broad-minded we may perceive ourselves to be, most of us are burdened by covert biases and prejudices that reveal themselves at inopportune times. One of mine was divulged during my inaugural visit to El Agave Mexican Restaurant in Rio Rancho. After…
  • November 23 GUS’S WORLD-FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN – Austin, Texas
    When I told my friend Carlos my Kim and I would be enjoying Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken during our trip to Austin, he quipped “when did Los Pollos Hermanos open a restaurant in Texas?”.  Wrong Gus.  Obviously Carlos was joking about Gus Fring, the stoic Argentinian entrepreneur on the Albuquerque-based Breaking Bad television series.  Gus Fring, as you might…
  • November 23 Via 313 – Austin, Texas
    It’s oft been said that among males (we’re such children), insults are a form of intimacy.  Perhaps because of societal expectations, many men aren’t comfortable expressing affection toward other males in physically demonstrative ways (even in the Age of Oprah).  In his book A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt – and Why They Shouldn’t, philosophy professor William Irvine contends…
  • November 21 Black’s Barbecue – Lockhart, Texas
    Yabba-dabba-doo!  After finishing another day of toiling at the quarry, Fred Flintsone rushes home to pick up his modern stone-age family for a drive-in movie, an exclusive one-night only viewing of The Monster.  Courtesy of Fred’s two feet, the family then proceeds to Bronto Burgers & Ribs Drive-In for an order of ribs.  Somehow a slim waitress manages to heft…
  • November 20 Gourdough’s Public House – Austin, Texas
    Donuts could have gone their entire existences fat, dumb and happy with a following–mostly cops, adult men my age (39) and households with annual incomes of less than $10,000–who expected nothing more out of them than we were already getting.  Essentially just fried or fruit-filled delivery mechanisms for quadruple our recommended daily allowance of calories, sugar and guilt, donuts have…
  • November 19 Lucy’s Fried Chicken – Austin, Texas
    “I‘m only eating the skins, so the chicken’s up for grabs.” ~Joey Tribbiani Several of my earliest memories of growing up in agrarian Peñasco, New Mexico involve chickens.  Some of those memories–such as getting viciously pecked by my Grandma Piedad’s cantankerous old rooster–were rather painful.  Other memories, however, were of mischievous fun my brothers and I had with our friends…
  • November 18 Contigo – Austin, Texas
    There are a phalanx of “best of” lists online and in print publications that celebrate restaurants deemed true stand-outs worthy of accolades.  Such lists are obviously very subjective though by no means definitive.  That holds true as well to the concept of restaurant review ratings, a mere snapshot in time valid really only to that reviewer at that very specific…
  • November 10 Pho Garden – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    It should have been a point-counterpoint debate for the ages. My ideologically opposed and perpetually squabbling friends Carlos and Hien were arguing about the concept of American exceptionalism. Carlos took the Reaganesque position that America is the shining city on a hill. “Everything about America is great,” he proclaimed. “We have the highest standard of living and pretty much the…
  • November 9 Alqud’s Mediterranean Grill & Grocery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Magdalena, New Mexico is adorned with ceramic statues, most familiar and easy to identify…at least for dyed-in-the-wool Catholics like me. After Sunday Mass one September, 2010 morning, we espied a statue of a saint clutching a curious implement to his chest. None of the parishioners we asked had any idea who the statue…
  • November 6 Barbacoa El Primo – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I went down Nagolitos looking for some barbacoa and Big Red. I went down to Nagolitos for some barbacoa and Big Red. Well, I could’ve had menudo but I got some cabeza instead. Give me two pounds of regular, cause I like a little fat. You may like la puro carne, but for me fat is where it’s at.” ~Randy…
  • November 4 Sugar’s BBQ & Burgers – Embudo, New Mexico
    The winding highway meandering along the murky Rio Grande through Embudo is among the most scenic in the state, particularly in mid-autumn when leaves turn a vibrant shade of gold. You’ll want to drive slowly to take in the foliage, but especially to make sure you imbibe the hazy smoke plumes emanating from Sugar’s BBQ & Burgers which waft into…
  • October 28 POKI POBLANO FUSION LOUNGE – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Starting with a raucous concert in 1954, the idiom “Elvis has left the building” was uttered at the conclusion of many of Elvis Presley’s concerts to encourage rabid fans to accept that no further encores were forthcoming and that they should go home. Today, those five simple words are an oft used catchphrase and punchline used in a humorous or…
  • October 27 La Madeleine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Show me another pleasure like dinner which comes every day and lasts an hour.” ~Charles Maurice de Talleyrand–Périgord On Wednesday, November 3, 1948, at Auberge La Couronne in Roule, France,  Julia Child ate what she later declared to be the “most exciting meal of her life,” a veritable feast she shared with her husband Paul: six Brittany oysters, Dover sole meuniere,…
  • October 24 Stone Face Tavern – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Boris Vallejo, one of the premier fantasy and science fiction artists in the world, might find the ambiance at the Stone Face Tavern inspirational.  He might even join the throngs of regulars who enjoy the ambiance, hospitality, libations and food at a tavern he could have designed.  The Stone Face Tavern is like an adult Disneyland for aficionados of the…
  • October 17 Red Ball Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    From Red Ball Cafe’s Facebook Page (28 December 2021): It is with extreme sadness and difficulty to announce the Red Ball Cafe has officially closed its doors for good😢. With the building being as old as it is (impossible maintenance upkeep), plus trying to survive the pandemic has caused us to make the decision to close. 1922 was a year…
  • October 13 Grassburger – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For nearly a decade, television viewers have been subjected to a very successful advertising campaign depicting contented cows talking and singing about the pleasures of life in sunny and warm California. The slogan for the “happy cows” campaign’ is “Great cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California.” The campaign would have you believe the cows are happy…
  • October 7 Cafe 6855 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The cover page of the May 20, 2013 edition of Time Magazine depicts a twenty-something woman sprawled on the floor taking a selfie. In large type above the photo is the caption “The Me Me Me Generation” subtitled with “Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” If you believe the monolithic label “millennial” (typically assigned to…
  • October 6 Rollin’ On In Food Truck – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While their brick-and-mortar counterparts can afford to have multi-page menus to please a wide variety of palates, mobile food kitchens (that’s food trucks to you, Bob) are somewhat at a disadvantage. By sheer necessity, food trucks must be limited, well-defined, maybe even singularly focused.  The advantage the successful ones have is that they can concentrate on creating memorable dishes around…
  • September 29 Quarter Celtic Brewpub – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 1913, French mathematician Émile Borel introduced a thought experiment that has come to be known as the infinite monkey theorem. Essentially, the theorem posits that a single monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will eventually type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. Espying a sign…
  • September 23 Steel Bender Brewyard – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Sometimes you want to go Where everybody knows your name And they’re always glad you came You want to be where you can see The troubles are all the same You want to be where everybody knows your name.” ~Theme Song From Cheers Just another banal, meaningless television show jingle?  Think again.  Urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg might even argue that…
  • September 22 Crepe Crepe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Richard Olney, a cookbook author best known for his books on French country cooking described crepes thusly: “their greatest pitfalls derive, no doubt, from their versatility — not in itself a fault, but a quality that teases many a cook into overstepping the boundaries of sense and taste. One should never lose sight of the fragile and delicate, thin, tender thing…
  • September 20 Rustic On The Green & Rustic Star – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Pop culture’s most famous exemplar of teenage angst may have been Napoleon Dynamite, a socially awkward daydreamer constantly tormented by bullies. Napoleon frequently lamented his ineptitude: “I don’t even have any good skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.” Napoleon’s best friend Pedro, on the other hand,…
  • September 9 Campo at Los Poblanos – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
    A simple day laborer at a wealthy estate, Ysidro began his days by rising early and attending Mass. His fellow laborers complained that they had to do some of his share of the work because he lingered in church. After hearing the complaints of his farmhands, the land owner visited his fields while Ysidro was at Mass. To his astonishment,…
  • September 8 Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown 2018 – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    New Mexico’s storied history will recall that 2009 was the year of the green chile cheeseburger.  It all started in May when Bobby Olguin, the gregarious owner of San Antonio’s Buckhorn Tavern bested Food Network celebrity chef Bobby Flay in a “green chile cheeseburger throwdown.”  Capitalizing on the momentum, Governor Bill Richardson called for a statewide green chile cheeseburger challenge…
  • September 5 Christy Mae’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If you want to know the best places to eat in any part of any town, don’t buy a tourist guide. Don’t even consult Yelp or the local restaurant critic (even if it is a blogger gastronome). Your best bet is to ask a policeman because “everybody knows that cops always know the best places to eat.” That’s the advice…
  • August 31 Alien Brew Pub – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “If the government is covering up knowledge of aliens, they are doing a better job of it than they do at anything else.” ~Stephen Hawking An alien walked into the Alien Brew Pub and says, “take me to your liter.” Okay, that joke is admittedly a groaner. It probably wouldn’t even work in one of those countries which use the…
  • August 24 Gigi Italian Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “If you can go through with what Gordon Ramsey puts you through there’s nothing much more you can do. I mean the berating from that guy is unbelievable, but the reward is even greater.” ~ Chef Robert Hesse Veni, Vedi, Veci (I came, I saw, I conquered):  Chef Robert Hesse, the superstar consulting chef who launched Gigi left Albuquerque in…
  • August 23 Bosque Burger – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    As much a social commentary as a realist novel, Grapes of Wrath by author John Steinbeck immortalized Route 66 as “The Mother Road”  and “the road to flight.”  The latter and lesser known sobriquet recalls the epic odyssey of nearly a quarter of a million people migrating to California to escape the despair of the Dust Bowl.  Route 66 not…
  • August 21 Copper Canyon Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “The Copper Canyon of northern Mexico–a place so huge and desolate that even today there are still some native people who have never seen an automobile.” ~Victor Villasenor Beyond Rain of Gold If you’ve ever watched the classic Humphrey Bogart movie Treasure of the Sierra Madre or read Victor Villasenor’s spell-binding tome, “Rain of Gold,” you’ve got at least a…
  • August 18 Nexus Brewery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Set in Albuquerque, Breaking Bad, AMC’s critically acclaimed television series may have left viewers with the impression that the Duke City is a haven for meth cookery and fried chicken joints.  Had the fair city been more accurately typecast, it would have have been portrayed as a mecca for microbreweries.  The Albuquerque Beer Scene blog says it best: “It’s like…
  • August 8 Street Food Institute – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “The more street food we have, the more it’s embraced by every income strata, the better world we have.” ~Anthony Bourdain Jonathan Gold, the first restaurant critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, called food trucks “the new incubators of culinary innovation.” Indeed, chefs and entrepreneurs who ply their talents in food trucks and express themselves through  distinctively creative…
  • August 7 Acapulco Tacos & Burritos – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Acapulco–just the name evokes images of pristine sandy beaches, translucent blue waters, a comfortable climate, luxury hotels, and world-class gourmet cuisine. There are many reasons Acapulco has earned its nickname of the “Mexican Riviera,” after the famous French resort area. It’s unlikely Albuquerque’s three Acapulco Tacos & Burritos restaurant will ever be mistaken for one of Acapulco’s pricey and sometimes…
  • August 5 The Point Grill – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Get to the point!” Archie Bunker, the irascible curmudgeon on the 70’s sitcom All in the Family frequently chided his doting wife Edith with the epithet “Get to the Point, Edith!” One of the series occasional and most memorable bits depicted Archie’s pantomime suicides, carried out while Edith rambled on and on in her nasal high-pitched voice, wholly oblivious to…
  • August 4 Walker’s Popcorn Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Who doesn’t love popcorn? Along with hot dogs, apple pie, hamburgers and barbecue, it’s been an American favorite–or should I say tradition–for generations. A humble treat, popcorn can grow in other parts of the world where other corn can’t. It was grown in the Americas, China, Mexico and India long before Columbus journeyed to America. According to urban myth, it…
  • August 1 Plum Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “The branches of the aspen plum To and fro they sway How can I not think of her? But home is far away,” – Confucius According to Urban Farm Online, “plums were domesticated in China more than 2,000 years ago and have figured in written documents since 479 B.C. These fruits were the plums Confucius praised in his writings and…
  • July 29 Terra – Tesuque, New Mexico
    Several years ago, I asked my grandmother if she might consider aromatherapy as a treatment for the nagging aches and pains she suffered daily.  Aromatherapy, I explained was being hailed by New Age devotees in Santa Fe and Taos as a holistic healing treatment used to promote health and well-being. “Mi hijito,” she said gently, “In Northern New Mexico we…
  • July 28 Cafe Nom Nom – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Nom nom.” It sounds innocent enough. Parents–yes, including parents of four-legged fur babies–utter it in baby talk intonations to get our children to eat something, especially when that something is “good for them” but doesn’t actually look or taste good. Nom nom was, of course, the favorite expression of Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster (Hi Darren) as he ravenously devoured a…
  • July 21 Tortilla Flats – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    “Beans are a warm cloak against economic cold.” ~John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat In his 1935 novel Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck introduced the literary world to the downtrodden denizens of Tortilla Flat, an impoverished barrio on the shabby hillside just outside the respectable city of Monterey, California. The quirky inhabitants of the ramshackle community were a dichotomous lot–hedonistic drunks, adulterers and…
  • July 20 Chello Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Persian cuisine has been described as “poetry on a plate” and “a pretext to break into verse.” Persian history is replete with a large repertoire of literary quotes about food and drink. Even when the subject of a poem wasn’t about food, a poet’s appreciation for Persian cuisine often inspired the inclusion of culinary terms. Take for example fifteenth-century Persian…
  • July 18 Farina Pizzeria – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    On May 14, 2011, I had the great honor, pleasure and privilege of being the first guest on Break the Chain, the weekly radio show (sadly no longer on the air) dedicated to showcasing the great independent mom-and-pop restaurants in and around Albuquerque.  When the show’s charismatic host, my friend Ryan Scott asked me to name the five best pizza…
  • July 17 Milly’s Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Until rather recently, if there was a wide diversity of opinion about Albuquerque’s restaurant scene, it wasn’t widely shared. Albuquerque’s two daily periodicals, the Albuquerque Journal and the Albuquerque Tribune as well as a number of alternative publications published weekly restaurant reviews, but opinions and observations expressed therein were rather one-sided. It wasn’t until about 2008 that crowd-sourced restaurant reviews…
  • July 13 Pho Linh Vietnamese Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    You always remember your first time…and if it’s good, it may set the standard by which you’ll forever measure every other time. I was a lanky lad of nineteen, away from home for the first time when “it” happened. As a precocious yet naive child growing up in bucolic Peñasco, New Mexico, I had been sheltered from the wiles and…
  • July 11 Little Anita’s New Mexican Food – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My friend Scott Pacheco may never forgive me for dining at Little Anita’s New Mexican Food in Old Town. Scott hates Little Anita’s, but not because of its food, ambiance or service.  He hates Little Anita’s for what he considers a traitorous act on the scale of Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot. To understand why Scott hates Little Anita’s so…
  • June 9 Pars Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse — and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness — And Wilderness is Paradise enow.” – The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam The imagery inspired by this enduring poem–most notably “a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou“–can be read on so…
  • May 27 Stripes Biscuit Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    NOTE: While the Gibson location of Strips Biscuit Co. has closed. Stripes Biscuit Co. can still be found at 8050 Academy Rd NE # 101. Additionally, there are a number of Stripes Burrito Co. throughout the city and in Rio Rancho. Southern humorist Jerry Clower once quipped “One of the saddest things is the sound of them whomp biscuits being…
  • May 20 Las Ristras Restaurant – Corrales, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Based on interviews conducted with Hollywood luminaries who’ve starred in movies or television shows shot in New Mexico, you might think our state either doesn’t have a symbol of hospitality or that symbol is something as poorly representative of the Land of Enchantment as crack (Josh Brolin), tire stores (Jonathan Banks), shirtless drivers (Seth McFarlane), Walmart (Jessica Alba) or loudness…
  • May 17 Bob’s Burgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Bob.” Advertisers (as well as television and movie producers) realize there probably isn’t a better example of an “every man” name, typically portraying Bob as the average wage-earning man about town. Few would argue that Bob, a diminutive of Robert, isn’t a very vanilla and common name. In fact, according to Social Security Administration data it was the fourth most…
  • May 15 Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The sense of smell, more than any of our other senses, influences our ability to recall past events and experience. From among the five senses, fragrance is considered the most potent medium for conjuring up memories. True enough, some of the most enduring sensory memories of my years in the Boston area are reawakened thanks to the amazing aromas that…
  • May 11 Krazy Lizard – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    I count in almost equal measure, friends, family members and colleagues who label themselves as either militant liberals or staunch conservatives. Despite what they may think, they have more in common than they’d ever admit. Passionate ideologues, they all regurgitate political dialogue in talking point format. They’re uncompromising in towing their respective party line. They would never see merit in…
  • May 6 Starr Brothers Brewing – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Poets, musicians and authors have long rhapsodized about the loyalty of dogs, the most faithful and loving companions anyone can have. Their love is unconditional, their loyalty boundless. They’re truly man’s best friend. Poets, musicians and authors obviously didn’t know Chato, the sleek and powerful best friend to the Dominican nuns who taught generations of Peñasco’s best and brightest at…
  • May 4 Black Bird Saloon – Los Cerrillos, New Mexico
    On a journey by train to San Francisco, New Mexico’s legendary award-winning author Tony Hillerman shared an observation car with businessmen from the East. As the spectacular Zuni Buttes, majestic Mount Taylor, breathtaking mesas and skies resplendent with monsoon thunderclouds passed in review, his heart was lifted and his worries dissipated. He then overheard one of the Easterners remark to…
  • April 29 Mykonos Cafe And Taverna – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Jose Villegas, my friend and colleague at Hanscom Air Force Base, earned the most ignominious nickname. Everyone called him “Jose Viernes” which fans of the 1960s television series Dragnet might recognize is the Spanish translation for “Joe Friday.” We didn’t call him Jose Viernes because he was a “just the facts” kind of guy. He earned that sobriquet because he…
  • April 22 Casa Chimayo – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Chimayó is one of the most mythologized, misunderstood— and, some would say, maligned—places in New Mexico. On one hand, it holds a place in popular imagination as the Lourdes of America, a reference to the annual Good Friday pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayó, a nineteenth-century church. New Mexicans and visitors from afar also celebrate Chimayó’s weaving tradition, the potently…
  • April 20 528 Sushi & Asian Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “No lady likes to snuggle and dine accompanied by a porcupine.” “He lit a match to check gas tank. They call him skinless Frank.” “A man, a miss, a car, a curve. He kissed the miss and missed the curve.” “Within this vale of toil and sin, your head goes bald but not your chin.” “Henry the Eighth sure had…
  • April 14 Farmhouse 21 – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    I love Italian food but that’s too generic a term for what’s available now: you have to narrow it down to Tuscan, Sicilian, and so on.” ~ Lee Child, Author “You don’t want to be the guy who follows a legend; you want to be the guy who follows the guy who follows the legend.” That tried and proven sports…
  • April 7 Tap That – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In my review of the Corrales Bistro Brewery, you were introduced to “Le Cochon,” a self-professed God’s gift to women, lady killer, playboy, seducer, Lothario and otherwise philanderer nonpareil. To my knowledge, Le Cochon is still plying his cheesy pick-up lines on women and getting his face slapped a plenty in the Boston area. He would undoubtedly giggle like the…
  • April 6 Tia B’s La Waffleria – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While waffles may be forever associated with late nights at The Waffle House (the ubiquitous Southern chain which has served nearly one billion waffles since its inception), waffles have made significant inroads as a bona fide culinary trend, albeit somewhat under-the-radar. That’s waffles singular…by themselves, not with chicken. The chicken and waffles combination is even more yesterday than kale and…
  • April 3 Coda Bakery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    JP, my former boss at Intel prides himself on consistently working “half days.” If you’re thinking you’d like a job where you work only four hours a day, you’ve misinterpreted his definition of “half days.” To him, half days is a literal term meaning twelve hours a day. When most of us are done for after only nine or ten…
  • April 2 Rising Star Chinese Eatery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Let’s get one thing straight. General Tso’s chicken is not some weird cold war Chinese one-upmanship response to Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken. In other words, China did not deliberately seek to outdo the United States by creating a chicken dish and naming it for a General, a rank superior to the rank of Colonel. Not even close! Back in…
  • March 17 South Bourbon Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “I got a plate of chicken and taters and a lot of stuff like that All, all I need is a biscuit, but I wish you’d look where they’re at I guess I could reach across the table but that’s ill-mannered, Mom always said I wish I had a biscuit, I just can’t eat without bread.” ~ Jimmy Dean: Please…
  • March 10 Yellow Brix Restaurant – Carlsbad, New Mexico
    Gastronomes (people with sensitive and discriminating culinary tastes), cerevisaphiles (aficionados of beers and ales) and oenophiles (connoisseurs of wines) have a vernacular of their own. Most of us need a universal translator to understand what they’re saying when they’re waxing eruditely about their passions. The commonality among the three is their pursuit of sensual pleasures, an indulgence of the senses.…
  • March 10 Red Chimney BBQ – Carlsbad, New Mexico
    Depending on your lifestyle choices and temperament, some of the slogans emblazoned on bumper stickers or tee-shirts seen over the years at Rio Rancho’s annual Pork & Brew will either make you laugh or rankle your ire. “Meat is murder – tasty, tasty murder.” “Animal rights – Animals have the right to be tasty.” “Gardening: Cultivating a piece of land…
  • March 9 Danny’s Place – Carlsbad, New Mexico
    For some reason, national print and online publications and even the Food Network can’t seem to fathom that the Land of Enchantment has outstanding cuisine outside the shining pinnacles of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. To some extent the media may be justified in perceiving the City Different and Duke City as offering the quintessence of what makes New Mexico a…
  • March 9 Big D’s Downtown Dive – Roswell, New Mexico
    During a March, 2012 trip to Roswell, New Mexico President Barack Obama made the following opening remarks to his speech. “We had landed in Roswell. I announced to people when I landed that I had come in peace. (Laughter) Let me tell you – there are more nine and ten year old boys around the country when I meet them…
  • March 4 Il Bosco – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The customer in the Italian restaurant was so pleased that he asked to speak to the chef. The owner proudly led him into the kitchen and introduced him to the chef. “Your veal parmigiana was superb,” the customer said. “I just spent a month in Italy, and yours is better than any I ever had over there.” “Naturally,” the chef…
  • March 2 Java Joe’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I hate chile powder.” ~Tuco Salamanca Breaking Bad, Season 2 Duty-bound to make himself available to the citizenry of the fledgling United States, newly elected president George Washington spent the night in so many private homes and inns that “George Washington Slept Here” remains a real estate cliché and tourist draw centuries later. Perhaps the closest similarly celebrated landmarks in…
  • February 21 Groundstone – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Kids say the darnedest things. That was the premise of popular radio and television shows hosted by Art Linkletter from the mid 1940s through 1969. Linkletter would engage children (usually aged three to eight) in casual conversation. Humor–often laced with double entendre–would often ensue out of the children’s naive and silly responses. Once, for example, he asked a little girl…
  • February 18 Stack House BBQ – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    One of my Psychology professors cautioned students about the danger of “amateur diagnosis,” the practice of assigning specific psychoses and neuroses to people we meet solely on the basis of our cursory familiarity with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. He explained that it often takes an experienced practicing psychiatrist several sessions to arrive at a diagnosis and…
  • February 18 Rebel Donut – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Many years ago if someone proposed a wager of “dollars to donuts,” you might have been well advised to take it. The phrase “dollars to donuts” essentially meant the person proposing the wager thought he or she had a sure thing, that he or she was willing to to risk a dollar to win a dollar’s worth of donuts. Donuts…
  • February 17 PK’s Restaurant & Bar – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    When the Air Force notified me I was being reassigned to Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford, friends who had been stationed in England warned me, “you can forget all about your favorite sports for three years. Instead of football, basketball and baseball, the only “sports” televised in England are snooker, darts and soccer.” “Snooker?,” I asked. “Isn’t that a mushy…
  • February 11 Cafe Laurel – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “To anyone else,” my Kim joked “the name Café Laurel is just a cute name probably chosen because the owners like laurel leaves. To you the name has to mean something.” She reminded me of the hours I spent dissecting former President Bill Clinton’s statement “It depends upon what the meaning of the word “is” is.” “You’re too literal. You…
  • February 9 Philly’s N Fries – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED: May 18, 2018)
    “But it’s a dry heat.” You’ve probably seen that slogan emblazoned on tee-shirts depicting a sun bleached skeletal figure lying prostrate mere feet from a thirst-slaking, life-giving oasis. You’ve gratefully expressed that sentiment every time Channel 13’s manic meteorologist Mark Ronchetti (or better yet, the pulchritudinous Kristen Currie) predicts yet another day of 90 degree plus weather as you rationalize…
  • February 6 Bayti Mediterranean Delicacies – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Ashlan Wa Sahlan” (Welcome) “Sahteyn” (Twice Your Health, Bon Apetit) “t’faddalou” (Welcome to the Table, Dinner is Served) How can you not love a culture in which there are numerous beautiful expressions associated with hospitality and with families welcoming guests to join them for a great meal? When it comes to warmth and hospitality, few cultures embody it so richly…
  • February 3 El Farol – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    For over a quarter century, the most popular section in New Mexico Magazine (the nation’s oldest state magazine, by the way) has been a humorous column entitled “One of Our Fifty is Missing.” The column features anecdotes submitted by readers worldwide recounting their experiences with fellow American citizens and ill-informed bureaucrats who don’t realize that New Mexico is part of…
  • February 1 Leona Banh Mi – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I’m not allowed in the Vietnamese sandwich shop anymore. They decided to banh mi for life.” During an ice-breaker at what promised to be a stressful project planning meeting, all participants were asked to stand up and describe their favorite childhood Christmas gift. For the most part, favorite gifts conformed to gender stereotypes. Male colleagues waxed fondly about GI Joe…
  • January 28 Seared – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While you might not be able to judge a book by its cover, sometimes a book title will resonate deeply and you know you’re going to enjoy reading it very much. That’s especially true when a book title warmly reminds you of nostalgic memories long buried in your past. Such was the case when I espied Where There’s Smoke, There’s…
  • January 20 Devon’s Pop Smoke Wood Fired Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The book of Genesis in the Old Testament explains that after the great flood, God commanded humankind to “increase in number and fill the Earth” (be fruitful and multiply, if you prefer). Instead, humanity decided to do the exact opposite–to build a city with a tower reaching to the heavens where all the population could live so as not to…
  • January 15 Taqueria El Paisa – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “The immediacy of a taco, handed to you hot from grill and comal, can’t be equaled. You can stand there and eat yourself silly with one taco after another, each made fresh for you and consumed within seconds. A great taco rocks with distinct tastes that roll on and on, like a little party on your tongue, with layers of…
  • January 12 The Birds Paradise Hot Pot – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    It was 2:15AM on a workday, a full four hours before my dreaded alarm clock was set to utter a tone surpassed for annoyance only by the screechy prattle on The View. Inexplicably my brain decided it was a good idea to play deejay and serenade me with Sukiyaki, the only Japanese pop song ever to top the charts across…

2017 (78)

  • December 31 2017: A Thrilling (And Filling) Year in Food
    Tis the season…for year-end retrospectives in which the good, the bad and the ugly; the triumphs and tragedies; the highs and lows and the ups and downs are revisited ad-infinitum by seemingly every print and cyberspace medium in existence. It’s the time of year in which the “in-your-face” media practically forces a reminiscence–either fondly or with disgust–about the year that…
  • December 31 Gil’s Best of the Best for 2017
    “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.” Sound of Music fans will recognize that these are a few of Julie Andrews favorite things. It’s with great fondness and more than a little (blush) salivation that I bid adieu and auld lang syne to my my favorite things–the dishes I enjoyed most across the…
  • December 31 Spencer’s Restaurant – Palm Springs, California
    Dean Beck: What do you have against preachers? Clay Spencer: It’s what they preach against I’m against. Dean Beck: I’m afraid I don’t understand? Clay Spencer: They’re against everything I’m for. They don’t allow drinkin’ or smokin’, card playin’, pool shootin’, dancin’, cussin’ – or huggin’, kissin’ and lovin’. And mister, I’m for all of them things. ~Spencer’s Mountain In…
  • December 28 Cheeky’s – Palm Springs, California
    Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw is widely credited with the aphorism “England and the United States are two nations divided by a common language.” My Kim and I had no idea just how different the Queen’s English is from the English spoken by the colonists until we were assigned to Royal Air Force Fairford. As part of the newcomers orientation,…
  • December 23 Butters Pancakes & Cafe – Scottsdale, Arizona
    “Spread your tiny wings and fly away And take the snow back with you Where it came from on that day So, little snowbird take me with you when you go To the land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow.” ~ Anne Murray Every autumn, gaggles of geese, flocks of ducks, kettles of hawks and constructions of cranes…
  • December 20 Teofilo’s Restaurante – Los Lunas, New Mexico
    Several years ago award-winning Albuquerque Journal columnist Leslie Linthicum (since retired) penned a wonderfully evocative column entitled “Spanish Names Fade into History.” Leslie observed that if you frequent the obituaries, especially those published on the Journal North and Journal Santa Fe, you may have observed and lamented the passing of another great Spanish name. The lyrical names with which the…
  • December 16 TFK Smokehouse & Art Barn – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Every summer, a predictable ritual takes place. After hibernating comfortably since the previous autumn, men attired in aprons emblazoned with the slogan “kiss the cook” will selflessly volunteer to “cook” a meal. This, of course, means barbecue, a decidedly masculine affectation and the only type of cooking most men can be entrusted to do. When this ritual is completed and…
  • December 13 66 Diner – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Known as “America’s Highway” and celebrated by author John Steinbeck as the “Mother Road,” the legendary Route 66 meandered across 2,448 miles of the fruited plain, crossing three time zones and eight states as it traversed from Chicago to Los Angeles. For many—especially destitute sharecroppers fleeing Oklahoma’s devastating Dust Bowl—Route 66 held the promise of a better life. For others,…
  • December 9 P.F. Chang’s China Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case,…
  • November 25 Nori Ramen & Sushi Bar – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    From our home in northeast Rio Rancho, it’s about thirteen miles to the Nori Ramen & Sushi Bar on Southern Boulevard. It would have been safer to run with the bulls at Pampalona than it was driving the half hour it took me to get to Nori. In those thirty minutes, an impatient tailgater blasted her horn at me for…
  • November 24 Chile Time Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.” ~Ecclesiastes 3 Autumn in New Mexico is indisputably chile time. The high mountain air is at its most crisp and salubrious. Foliage is adorned in a vibrant panoply…
  • November 21 El Taco Tote – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    As we perused the colorful menu hanging on the wall at El Taco Tote, my friends Captain Tuttle, Bob of the Village Of Los Ranchos and I pondered the veracity of images depicting gargantuan tacos brimming with glistening meat and sundry toppings. Could these super-sized behemoths possibly be as large as pictured? Perhaps, as in “objects in the mirror may…
  • November 18 MALAGUEÑA’S LATIN TAPAS – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Not long after Superbowl XL’s halftime show began, a veil of theatrical smoke enveloped the stage, dissipating slowly to reveal the legendary featured performers, the immortal Rolling Stones. First the camera panned to a gyrating Mick Jagger who got the frenzied crowd rollicking with Start Me Up. When the camera focused on Keith Richards, my sister-in-law asked when the Cryptkeeper…
  • November 17 Los Compadres Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the vernacular and tradition of Hispanic Northern New Mexico, few–if any–titles were held in such esteem and reverence by elder generations as “compadre” (male) and “comadre” (female). In his Dictionary of New Mexico & Southern Colorado Spanish, Ruben Cobos defines a compadre as a “ritual co-parent; a term by which godparents address the father of their godchild and by…
  • November 9 Lindy’s Diner – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Get your kicks on Route 66” is the mantra of nostalgic motorists who have lobbied for generations to preserve the heritage that is America’s “mother road”, the 2,448 mile highway commissioned in 1926 and decommissioned in 1985 and which traversed eight states between Chicago, Illinois and Santa Monica, California. Though Route 66 generally traces the state’s traditional east-west transportation corridor…
  • November 6 Aya’s New Asian Japanese Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED: 2018)
    There’s an unspoken reciprocal arrangement between restaurant guests and the restaurant personnel with whom we interact. As guests, we show our appreciation for a dining experience well executed by tipping generously and maybe complimenting the kitchen and wait staff during and after the meal. Representatives of the restaurant– whether they be chefs, maître ds, servers or owners—typically thank their guests…
  • November 2 Thai Vegan – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare Contrary to the Bard of Avon’s most famous sonnet, what something is named does matter. It matters at least as much as what it is. Some would say, in fact, that a name is everything. If a steak restaurant…
  • October 15 Matanza New Mexico Local Craft Beer Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “At school, whenever I heard the word matanza, hog butchering, My face warmed up with joy and my heart beat a happy sound. It was a heavenly time for me. Images of sizzling chicharrones, crisp, meaty cracklings and Fresh, oven-baked morcillas, made my mouth water.” ~Hoe, Heaven and Hell by Dr. Nasario Garcia For young boys growing up in rural…
  • October 14 Desert Valley Brewing – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Every time a new brewery launches in the Duke City, aficionados of quaffing ales, lagers and stouts celebrate another venue where they can slake their thirsts. The media, on the other hand, always seems to ask one question: “Is Albuquerque approaching a “saturation point?,” meaning can the market sustain another brewery. Cerevisaphiles will tell you this is just an alarmist…
  • October 6 Kolache Factory – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “If security could ever have a smell, it would be the fragrance of a warm Kolache.” ~Willa Cather When you marry someone, you don’t just acquire a new spouse. You inherit an entire family of individuals with all their personality quirks, foibles and eccentricities. For me, “Big Fat Irish-Swedish-New Mexican Wedding” quickly morphed into “Home Alone” with me in the…
  • October 5 Basil Leaf – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed Popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what…
  • September 16 Pho Lao – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    One definition of audacity is “the state of being bold or daring—particularly with disregard for danger, rudeness or pressure.” Audacity is nine-year-old fourth grader Akilan Sankaran (son of my friend Sridevi) unflinchingly spelling such words as “rejoneador” and “mnemonic” to win the New Mexico Spelling bee over eighth graders who’d participated in the annual event as many as six times.…
  • September 8 Counter Culture Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Counterculture. Growing up in rural Taos County four decades ago, I don’t know how many of us understood that the cultural and political upheaval of the big cities had moved into our isolated corner of the world. All we knew was that these unkempt and unwashed interlopers preaching free love and practicing it in communes had invaded our idyllic agrarian…
  • September 7 Maya – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    My precocious niece doesn’t miss a beat. Ever attentive to adult conversation, she often stumps my brother and me with her surprisingly deep and thought-provoking questions. Case in point, when she overheard me telling my brother Mario about the Mesoamerican-inspired cuisine at Maya, she asked what I have against Americans. Perplexed by her assertion, I gently asked what she was…
  • September 6 Olympia Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For culinary diversity, it’s hard to beat the University of New Mexico (UNM) area in which restaurants with a broad socioeconomic appeal are congregated. Aside from academic enrichment, this area is nurturing a refreshing open-mindedness toward the cuisines of the world. That seems to be a commonality in areas within easy walking distance of large urban universities. Perhaps restaurateurs recognize…
  • September 2 Sauce Pizza & Wine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    To celebrate the 100 year anniversary of pizza in America, James Beard Award-winning food writer Ed Levine ate nothing but pizza for an entire twelve month period, taking a representative pulse of the best from among thousands of pizza purveyors. His terrific tome, Pizza A Slice of Heaven, published in 2010, provides a definitive guide to a beloved staple that…
  • August 26 Fresh Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Life is similar to a bus ride. The journey begins when we board the bus. We meet people along our way of which some are strangers, some friends and some strangers yet to be friends.” ~Chirag Tulsiani NOTE: In August, 2018, Fresh Bistro moved in with its younger sibling ABQ BBQ, essentially relocating to the same complex at 7520 4th…
  • August 23 Marley’s Barbecue – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “In Central Texas, Barbecue is more than a way to cook meat – it’s a way of life, a path to salvation, and a sure-fire way to start an argument at the dinner table.” ~Central Texas Barbecue Texans hold certain truths to be self-evident: everything is bigger (and better) in Texas, the Dallas Cowboys are America’s team (who can argue…
  • August 20 Gourmet Döner Kebab – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In my review of Taco Fundacion, I explained that some pundits believe the taco is poised to become the most ubiquitous and popular dish in the fruited plain, supplanting the fruited plain’s sacrosanct burger. While conquering the culinary affections of a country would be a huge accomplishment, one particular type of sandwich (loosely defined) has conquered an entire continent. Europe…
  • August 19 Zullo’s Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me, And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.” ~Jenny Joseph “Only you,” my Kim chided me “would approach an Italian bistro and associate it with a…
  • August 11 Taco Fundación – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Consider it sacrilege if you will, but some pundits believe the taco is poised to become the most ubiquitous and popular dish in the fruited plain. One such heretic is eater.com’s Nick Solares who made the audacious prediction that the taco will replace the hamburger as the American national dish within fifty years. He makes a great case for his…
  • August 10 Oak Tree Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    This isn’t Burger King! You can’t have it your way. You get it our way or you don’t get it at all. For some reason, human beings seem inclined to level criticism by the shovelful while apportioning praise and plaudits by the thimbleful. We seem genetically predisposed to put more stock into negativity than we are to believe the best…
  • August 6 Vibrance – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    My Chicago born-and-bred brother-in-law Chuck considers being asked to lunch at a vegan restaurant akin to being asked to a Green Bay Packers pep rally. It’s a violation of a Windy City cultural norm–as inappropriate as telling a Chicagoan that: ketchup belongs on hot dogs, Mike Ditka and Da’ Bears could never beat the Detroit Lions, calling Mike Royko a…
  • August 5 Gabriel’s – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Located fifteen miles north of Santa Fe, just south of Pojoaque and within minutes of two garish native American casinos, Gabriel’s is a culinary oasis back-dropped by nearby cedar, cottonwood and pine tree-laden hills and the Santa Fe mountains further to the southeast. Gabriel’s entrance is flanked by unpeeled latillas, a “coyote fence” precursor to one of the best restaurant…
  • August 4 Ming Dynasty – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was renowned as one of the greatest periods of governmental and societal stability in the history of mankind. At its peak, the Ming dynasty made China a global superpower, influencing the known world in trade, culture and might. During this dynasty, agriculture developed significantly, dishes became more sophisticated, cookbooks were widely proliferated and noontime banquets became…
  • July 29 Scalo Northern Italian Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    CAVEAT EMPTOR:  The following review is based on visits prior to 2019 when Scalo shuttered its doors.  Scalo has since reopened. 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…
  • July 20 Lollie’s New Mexican Food – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CONVERTED TO FOOD TRUCK)
    NOTE:  Lollie’s New Mexican Food is now operating out of a food truck.  In the frontier wilderness of New Mexico–long before the advent of culinary schools and home economics classes–a cook’s credentials weren’t bestowed by some accredited institution of higher learning. Instruction in the culinary arts was most often imparted lovingly by mothers. Recipes were passed on from one generation…
  • July 17 Papaburgers – Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Back in the 1960s, A&W’s Papa Burger was a rite of passage for me. By age nine, I had surmounted the phased progression through A&Ws burger family–Baby Burger, Mama Burger and Teen Burger–and was ready to prove my mettle with the largest of A&Ws burger family, one beefy behemoth only my dad, a paragon of masculinity, had ever ordered. Earning…
  • July 16 Fareast Fuzion – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    A Journal of Consumer Research study published in 2012 revealed that consumers equate eating meat with their concept of masculinity. To the dismay of spinach-lovers like Popeye, respondents indicated meat has a more masculine quality than vegetables. Study participants considered male carnivores to be more masculine than their vegetarian counterparts (ostensibly Bill Clinton was more masculine when he scarfed up…
  • July 3 Farina Alto – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Much thought, deliberation and market research usually goes into the naming of a business, but every once in a while, one linguistic aspect or another isn’t fully explored to the nth degree. Take for example Chevrolet’s problems marketing the Nova in Latin America where the term “no va” means “it won’t go” in Spanish. Even though the Nova sold quite…
  • July 2 Rolls & Bowls – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “The banh mi sandwich is really the only good argument for colonialism.” ~Calvin Trillin By most historical standards, the banh mi is a rather new entrant in the world culinary stage. Its evolution into the revered sandwich we know and love today began in 1859 with the French arrival in Saigon. Along with military occupation, the French brought their c’est…
  • June 23 Pop-Up Dumpling House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “And her dumplings were so light they would float in the air and you’d have to catch ’em to eat ’em.” ~Author: Fannie Flagg Think you know dumplings? Believe you’ve tried almost every type of dumpling there is? That’s what I thought until discovering a Wikipedia page called “List of dumplings” which essentially opened up a large world of ne’er…
  • June 16 Pad Thai Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain likened his first experience tasting Thai food to “like discovering a color I never knew existed before. A whole new crayon box full of colors.” With so many vibrant colors available, most people don’t settle for one fairly basic color (let’s say black) in a box full of crayons. Unfortunately, settling is precisely what many diners…
  • June 14 May Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There are perhaps thousands of examples throughout the Duke City of immigrants whose path to the American dream involved rising above humble origins and surmounting extraordinary circumstances to achieve success. Those challenges are exacerbated by the fact that many of them arrived in America as refugees from war-torn nations with nary a modicum of English. One such example is Liem…
  • June 13 B2B Garden Brewery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I’m a uniter, not a divider.” ~ George W. Bush, Governor of the Great State of Texas “No one wants to listen to politicians, but everyone wants to eat tacos. Tacos are the great uniter.” ~ John Fetterman, Candidate for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania Ideologically and politically, denizens of the land of the free and home of the brave seem…
  • June 10 La Lecheria New Mexico Craft Ice Cream – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Joey: What are you talking about? “One woman. That’s like saying there’s only one flavor of ice cream for you. Let me tell you something, Ross. There’s lots of flavors out there. There’s Rocky Road, and Cookie Dough, and Bing Cherry Vanilla. You could get ’em with Jimmies, or nuts, or whipped cream! This is the best thing that ever…
  • June 10 TerraCotta Wine Bistro – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” ~Benjamin Franklin In the 1960s, denizens of the fruited plain weren’t nearly as savvy about the fruit of the vin as they are today. Impressionable youth who tuned in every Sunday for Championship Wrestling from Albuquerque’s Civic Auditorium, for example, had the impression from Roma Wine…
  • May 29 Irrational Pie – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Jethro Bodine, the country bumpkin with diverse career aspirations (brain surgeon, street car conductor, ‘double-naught’ spy, Hollywood producer, soda jerk, and bookkeeper) on the Beverly Hillbillies television comedy graduated highest in his class by a whole foot or more. You couldn’t get much past the sixth grade educated “six-foot stomach.” When a math teacher posited the theory of π r2…
  • May 28 Boxing Bear Brewing Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the 2008 Will Ferrell comedy Semi-Pro which centers on a fictional professional basketball team, there’s a scene in which Ferrell’s character wrestles with a grizzly bear at halftime of a game. While young viewers might find this scene preposterous, if not unbelievable, some of the more geriatrically advanced among us might remember when such promotions actually took place–usually at…
  • May 27 Amerasia & Sumo Sushi – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Carpe Diem Sum–“seize the dim sum” at AmerAsia, the Alibi’s perennial selection for best dim sum in the city honors (diem sum, as spelled on AmerAsia’s menu is also a correct spelling). Dim sum, a Cantonese word that can be translated to “a little bit of heart,” “point of heart” and “touch the heart” has its genesis in the Chinese…
  • May 24 IKrave Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Please say it isn’t so! According to Nations Restaurant News, a highly respected trade publication “a new crop of restaurant chain entrepreneurs” believes “American diners will soon embrace the Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich as the next burrito or taco.” The notion of corporate chain megaliths setting their sights on the humble banh mi should send shudders down the spine of…
  • May 21 The Teahouse – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    When I suggested to my Kim that our next al-fresco culinary adventure with our dachshund Dude (he abides) should be at the Teahouse in Santa Fe, she shot a glance at me that seemed to suggest advanced mental deterioration had caught up with me. She reminded me that every time we had tea and scones on the banks of the…
  • May 3 Kitchen Se7ven – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    During a 1996 episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza, a self-proclaimed “short, balding, unattractive man” made the mistake of telling his fiancee he wanted to name his child “Seven” after his idol Mickey Mantle. To George’s chagrin, his fiancee’s cousin liked the idea so much she decided to name her own child Seven. Even as the cousin was being wheeled by…
  • April 30 Nob Hill Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    There’s talk on the street, it’s there to remind you, it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on You’re walking away and they’re talking behind you They will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along – New Kid In Town: The Eagles As an independent observer of the New Mexico culinary experience, it’s always intrigued me just how fleeting…
  • April 23 Rock & Brews – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day.” ~Kiss For generations, American teenagers have undergone a rite of passage that has contributed greatly to their angst. That rite of passage is the ego-deflating criticism of the music they enjoy. Just as our parents hated the music we listened to, we hated the music our own children enjoy.…
  • April 17 Mogu Mogu – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the 1970s, comedian Norm Crosby based his schtick on the use of malapropisms (the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect). The “master of the malaprop” would mispronounce keywords in familiar idioms and clichés, in the process giving new meaning to what he was trying to convey. Here are some…
  • April 16 Middle Eastern Food & Kababs – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    What do you do when you’ve just finished saving the world? Because warding off a vicious onslaught of alien invaders is bound to make you hungry, you just might have shawarma. That’s what the Avengers, Earth’s mightiest superheroes did. Lying on his back amidst the rubble of a demolished building after helping vanquish a phalanx of evil extraterrestrials, Iron Man…
  • April 15 ECLECTIC URBAN PIZZERIA AND TAP HOUSE – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Looking around our table, my friend Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott astutely pointed out the relative scarcity of pizza at our table. Considering the Eclectic Urban Pizzeria and Tap Room may have been the most eagerly awaited pizzeria to open in Albuquerque in years, you’d think a phalanx of foodies would be devouring our weight in pizza…and while three pulchritudinous…
  • April 14 Pana’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The term “red or green” has connotations beyond New Mexico’s sacrosanct chile. For restaurateurs across the Duke City, red or green can spell the difference between a good or bad reputation and even success or failure. All food service establishments across the city must display the results of the most recent restaurant inspection conducted by the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department.…
  • April 8 Forghedaboudit – Deming, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    NOTE: While the Deming location of Forghedaboudit is permanently closed, you can visit this fabulous Italian eatery at its Las Cruces location. Several years ago, former New York Times food editor Sam Sifton posited the “Pizza Cognition Theory” which declared “the first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes (and somehow appreciates on something more than a childlike level)…
  • April 7 Latitude 33 – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
    “Of all places in the country where you could have opened a restaurant, why Truth or Consequences, New Mexico?” You can bet Joseph Schmitt has been asked that question many times, especially when people find out his previous address was in Palm Springs, California where he was an accomplished travel writer with a special affinity for cooking and dining. Schmitt’s…
  • April 7 The Owl Cafe & Bar – San Antonio, New Mexico
    7 March 2017: Over the past five years, the Owl Cafe in San Antonio, New Mexico has been the most frequently launched review on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog. From January 1st through April 7th, 2017, the review of the Owl has been launched more often than any other review on 37 occasions. It’s been among the top five most…
  • April 7 San Antonio General Store – San Antonio, New Mexico
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, latte in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “Woo Hoo, what a ride!” – Motto to Live By What struck me most about…
  • April 2 El Maguey – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    On a 2010 episode of The Travel Channel’s No Reservations series, host Anthony Bourdain described pulque as “the sap of the maguey cactus” as well as “man juice” and “Mexican Viagra.” That may explain why so many aspiring middle-aged brewers across the fruited plain rushed to their local nurseries in search of the maguey plant. Although maguey may be plentiful…
  • March 25 The Daily Grind – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Sometimes–such as when Teri, a faithful reader of this blog, recommended I visit The Daily Grind–being a lexicologist can be a detriment. The first thing that came to mind was the drudgery of the software development project to which I was assigned. Since the 1800s, “grind” has been synonymous with boring, tedious work as in “grinding away.” Why then would…
  • March 24 Huong Thao – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the year 2000 (ancient history by restaurant standards) when the Duke City had only a handful of Vietnamese restaurants, only one was listed on Zagat Survey’s Millennium Edition of the top restaurants in the Southwest. That restaurant was Huong Thao which was widely regarded at the time as perhaps the city’s very best Vietnamese dining establishment. Zagat Survey accorded…
  • March 14 Pizzeria Luca – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Can there truly be too many pizzerias? Perhaps only among pizzeria owners who don’t want much competition might you hear that ridiculous notion about one of America’s essential food groups. Take for example one monopoly-minded pizzeria owner in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania who had a resolute belief that there was too much competition in the area and determined to do something…
  • March 12 Andele’s Dog House – Mesilla, New Mexico
    Put a savvy foodie from Las Cruces and a gastronome from Albuquerque in the same room (preferably not a kitchen well stocked with knives) and you’re bound to start a culinary civil war. Such was the case when I worked at Intel with a colleague who was born-and-bred in the City of Crosses. We were both adamant that the cuisine…
  • March 11 Rockin BZ Burgers – Alamogordo, New Mexico
    Since its inception in 2009, a number of competitors across the length and breadth of the Land of Enchantment’s 121,593 square miles have competed in the New Mexico State Fair’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge. The inaugural champion was Badlands Burgers (since defunct) from Grants. Only one–a national chain at that–has repeated as champion. That would be Fuddrucker’s which reigned supreme…
  • February 26 Papa Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 2009, James Beard Award-winning food journalists Jane and Michael Stern published a terrific tome entitled 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late. Despite the ominous (some might say fatalistic) name, the book is actually a celebration of the best dishes that are unique to this country. The Sterns, who have been focusing on quirky All-American food haunts since…
  • February 25 Hello Poké – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Ask most professional restaurant critics where to find the highest rated or best restaurant across the fruited plain (or even in their locality) and they’ll likely steer you in the direction of some highfalutin restaurant serving haute cuisine prepared by (or at least named for) a celebrated chef. With an exclusive wine cellar showcasing fine aged vintage, these white tableclothed…
  • February 24 Tao Chinese Bistro – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    It’s highly unlikely ancient Chinese philosophers ever intended the concept of Tao to be used as an approach for the serial seduction of women, but that was the premise of the 2000 movie The Tao of Steve. Filmed in the Santa Fe area, this campy romantic comedy centered around a corpulent, underachieving former philosophy student who christened his approach after…
  • February 19 Vick’s Vittles Country Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Possum shanks; pickled hog jowls; goat tripe; stewed squirrel; ham hocks and turnip greens; gizzards smothered in gristle; smoked crawdads. “Ewwww Doggies!,” now that’s eatin’. ~The Beverly Hillbillies Guests at the Clampett residence always seemed to recite a litany of excuses as to why they couldn’t stay for dinner when Granny announced the mess of vittles she’d fixed up. Not…
  • February 18 Rowley Farmhouse Ales – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Only in John Denver’s hit song “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” is life on the farm “kinda laid back.” In actuality, farm life can be downright arduous, requiring back-breaking work in climatic extremes for low wages. It was much worse in colonial days when life on a farm generally meant very few luxuries outside of a warm fire and…
  • February 11 Nanami Noodle House – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    If Chinese superstitions have any credence, some of us may not be long for this world. Chinese superstitions posit that long noodles symbolize a long life. Ostensibly, if you cut your noodles, you’re cutting your life short. Instead of cutting your noodles, the Chinese advocate slurping up long noodles without breaking them. When it comes to noodles, the Chinese should…
  • January 29 Chumlys Southwestern – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The old Jewish proverb “worries go down better with soup than without” may just be the most understated aphorism about soup ever uttered. When soup is discussed, it’s usually with a sense of warm nostalgia, perhaps even reverence. We ascribe such adjectives as comforting, restorative, soothing, nourishing, hearty, warming and fulfilling to that nostalgic elixir in a bowl. The number…
  • January 12 Señor Tortas – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In Albuquerque’s panoply of Mexican fast foods, the torta–despite all its heartiness and versatility–is the “Rodney Dangerfield” of cheap eats. It garners no respect, warranting nary a mention in annual paeans to the “best of” virtually everything else Alibi and Albuquerque The Magazine readers care to celebrate. Long overshadowed and under-appreciated, the humble torta presents a glaring contrast to its…
  • January 3 Casa de Benavidez – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There are restaurants throughout the Duke City that have seemingly always been “there.” They’re as much a part of the fabric of the city as the neighborhoods they serve. Casa de Benavidez is one of those restaurants, a familiar part of the landscape on North Fourth Street, some would say an institution. Despite the notion of permanence, this venerable treasure…

2016 (83)

  • December 31 Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Year in Food: 2016
    Tis the season…for year-end retrospectives in which the good, the bad and the ugly; the triumphs and tragedies; the highs and lows and the ups and downs are revisited ad-infinitum by seemingly every print and cyberspace medium in existence. It’s the time of year in which the “in-your-face” media practically forces a reminiscence–either fondly or with disgust–about the year that…
  • December 31 Gil’s “Best of the Best” for 2016
    It’s the season for making lists and checking them twice, finding out which restaurants were naughty or nice. The advent of 2017 is nigh. It’s with great fondness and more than a little (blush) salivation that I bid adieu and auld lang syne to my most memorable dishes of 2016. These are the baker’s dozen plus dishes which are most…
  • December 26 The Artichoke Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “These things are just plain annoying. After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps. Have the shrimp cocktail instead.” – Miss Piggy Miss Piggy, that shrill and garrulous walking side of bacon, may not appreciate the humble artichoke much,…
  • December 24 Delicias Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There’s no denying the ever-increasing popularity of Mexican food across America, but it may surprise you to learn that in the estimation of some sources, it has supplanted Italian food as the favorite ethnic cuisine in the land. Marketplace, a nationally syndicated business oriented radio program with more than nine-million listeners a week, says there’s no bones about it, calling…
  • December 24 SweeTea Bakery Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In some metropolitan areas, legions of restaurant bloggers dissect and report on every facet of the area’s dining scene. These bloggers have a significant impact on the restaurant choices diners make. That fact isn’t lost on savvy restaurateurs—particularly young entrepreneurs active in social media–who solicit feedback on their restaurants from the dynamic food blogger community. Some restaurateurs who understand the…
  • December 22 Sakura Sushi Thai & Laos Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Opinions vary as to what the next “hot” cuisine in America will be. As an independent observer of the New Mexico culinary condition, I’m more interested in how long it will take for that heat to make its way to the Land of Enchantment…and whether its sizzle will wow Duke City diners or pass us by. In 2005, Bon Appetit…
  • December 21 Burritos Alinstante – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    A couple of days before my Kim and I were to be married (some three decades plus ago), my mom flew to Chicago to teach her how to prepare some of my favorite dishes (is it any wonder my sisters call me “consentido” (spoiled)?). A quick study, Kim learned how to make tortillas, lasagna, fried chicken, red chile and other…
  • December 15 Mannie’s Family Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going.” ~ George Carlin In December, 2016 when I introduced my friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver to Mannie’s Family Restaurant, the visit evoked pleasant memories of plentiful visits to similar restaurants in Los Angeles where he grew up. Flashbacks of humongous portions of delicious…
  • November 30 Richie B’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If you’ve ever wondered why New Yorkers fold their pizza slices in half lengthwise (aka the “fold hold”) and if you’ve ever attributed that practice to Big Apple quirkiness, you owe it to yourself to visit Richie B’s, a New York-style pizzeria on Montgomery and Louisiana. Now, the Albuquerque metropolitan area has plenty of claimants to New York-style pizza, but…
  • November 26 The Supper Truck – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    On December 20th, 2014, a part-paean, part elegy graced this blog. The opening stanza read: “Supper Truck, I hardly knew you! Inexplicably and to the detriment of my taste buds, I didn’t partake of your delightfully creative interpretation of Southern cuisine until your very last day of serving Albuquerque. So, why do I miss you so much already? Most likely…
  • November 25 Casa Taco – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Nowadays, hoy en día, with our world full of war and violence and lack of love, a world full of greed A world of domination, grasping power, venal stupidity, real evil. Don’t get me started. It’s good to know that a conversation about tacos will always engender a sense of comfort and happiness. If only we could sit down at…
  • November 21 An Hy Quan Vegetarian Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Celebrity chef and professional cynic Anthony Bourdain, one of the more vocal detractors of the vegetarian lifestyle, contends “Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.” He’s not alone in his opinion. Vegetarians are perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood group in the…
  • November 19 Toro Burger – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    While watching a “sanitized for television” version of the audacious satirical comedy Blazing Saddles, my precocious six-year-old niece asked several questions with deep sociological implications: “Why is everyone in the town of Rock Ridge named Johnson? Why were all the town’s citizens white?” From her silence, you’d think my Kim was a “perp lawyering up” at a police inquiry. Rather…
  • November 11 Gecko’s Bar & Tapas – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    One of the best examples of the dichotomy of human nature can be illustrated in the way we react to lizards. The mere sight of a lizard scurrying around can send shivers down the spine of otherwise reasonable and intrepid people. Many of us are repulsed or frightened in the presence of any slithering reptile. In Tripoli the sight of…
  • November 10 Pete’s Frites – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    You might view my friend Schuyler’s insistence that his favorite vegetables are French fries, salsa and pizza as a fallacious premise, a non-sequitur fraught with absurdity. French fries are made from potatoes (botanically classified as a vegetable) so categorizing fries as a vegetable might not be a stretch, but pizza? How, you might ask, could any reasoning adult possibly consider…
  • October 31 Pizza Castle – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There’s nothing like a topic about which opinions are wide and varied to stir up a good old-fashioned, highly spirited debate–an exercise in the Constitutional right of free speech. One topic which has been known to elicit energized dialogue is pizza. Whether the debate is New York style versus Chicago style, thin crust versus thick crust, brick wood-fired oven versus…
  • October 30 Crackin’ Crab Seafood Boil – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There are certain notions people find too implausible or preposterous to believe. Case in point: during a recent lunch with my friend Bill Resnik, our waitress asked what we did for a living. Bill told her I was an actor, a premise our waitress found entirely credible—even to the point of recalling she may have seen me in an episode…
  • October 22 Second Street Brewery – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Having served as a judge at many competitive culinary events, it’s always baffled me just how much disparity there usually is between the judges’ choices and the people’s choices. In almost a decade of having had the privilege of judging at the Roadrunner Food Bank’s annual Souperbowl event in Albuquerque, for example, there’s only been one instance in which judges…
  • October 22 Chocolate Maven Bakery & Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In the polytheistic world of the Mesoamerican cultures (which include the Aztecs and Mayans), Quetzalcoatl was revered as the creator deity and patron of priests, merchants and rulers. Known as the “feathered serpent,” Quetzalcoatl was also associated with the cocoa bean and with chocolate. Great temples were erected in his honor and chocolate was offered to him. Montezuma, the 16th…
  • October 22 A Taste of the World in Rio Rancho 
    While the marquee may have welcomed guests to the sixth annual Taste of Rio Rancho, the mouth-watering event could easily have been called “A Taste of America in Rio Rancho.” In the six years which have elapsed since the inaugural Taste of Rio Rancho, the city’s culinary diversity has expanded significantly thanks to an influx of new restaurants cutting a…
  • October 19 Aura European and Middle Eastern Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Countries and states may recognize borders but food doesn’t, especially today in an increasingly connected world where it’s possible to enjoy the cuisine of many of the world’s diverse and distant cultures without crossing a single border. Attribute the modern world’s dietary diversity to improved agricultural, transportation and preservation methods as well as rampant imperialism throughout the history of humankind.…
  • September 27 Eli’s Place (formerly Sophia’s Place) – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    NOTE: In March, 2018, Sophia’s Place reopened.  Please click here for the updated review. Picture yourself as a first-year marketing student assigned by your professor to perform a marketing analysis of Eli’s Place and its enigmatic chef-owner Dennis Apodaca. Essentially you’ve got to figure out the rhyme and reason behind the restaurant’s success. “Easy assignment,” you think to yourself, “Eli’s…
  • September 24 Los Chavez Cafe – Belen, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Vamos todos a Belen Con amor y gozo. Translated from Spanish, those words–lyrics to a traditional New Mexican nativity song–mean “Let’s all go to Bethlehem with love and joy.” In villages and cities throughout Northern New Mexico, peregrines sing that song as they reverently process from house-to-house reenacting the Gospel of Luke account of Mary and Joseph and their search…
  • September 17 Shake Foundation – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    If it seems there’s a glut of restaurants brandishing a much-hyped and often self-glossed as “best” version of New Mexico’s fabled green chile cheeseburger, it won’t surprise you to read that yet another purveyor of the Land of Enchantment’s sacrosanct sandwich entered the fray in January, 2014. What might surprise you is its most worthy motto and raison d’etre: “Dedicated…
  • September 10 Loyal Hound Pub – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    “It’s me or the dog!” That’s the ultimatum my friend Eric was given by his then-fiancee. It was one of several augurs of an ill-fated marriage only my friend with the rose-colored-glasses failed to see. Three years later as the divorce was finalized, Eric tearfully realized he had made the wrong decision. A dog’s loyalty can never be questioned. A…
  • September 5 Apple Tree Cafe – Corrales, New Mexico
    Apple trees have had a bad rap ever since a conniving serpent (probably a lawyer or politician in disguise) in a verdant paradise beguiled Eve into taking a bite of the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Never mind that Genesis does not specifically mention an apple as having been the forbidden fruit, for some…
  • September 4 Spinn’s Burgers & Beer – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Like him or not, few would disagree that former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici was one of the most effective legislators on either side of the aisle. Since his election to the United States Senate in 1972, “Saint Pete” as he is known by admirers and critics alike effectively directed the appropriation of significant federal largesse upon the Land of…
  • September 3 Casa Diaz – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The siren song of a small town living has always appealed to Irma Rodriguez who just can’t see herself in the big city. Having grown up in Gallup, New Mexico, she appreciates the sense of community–the extended family feeling of really getting to know her neighbors. It’s an attitude she imparts to guests at Casa Diaz Mexican and American Grill,…
  • August 28 The County Line Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If you believe alcohol Prohibition, America’s federally mandated fourteen year social experiment with sobriety, ended with the passing of the 21st amendment in 1933, you would be wrong. As of January, 2016, there were still about 200 “dry” counties (particularly in the Bible Belt) across the fruited plain with what most would consider excessively stringent liquor laws. Residents of dry…
  • August 21 BLADES’ BISTRO – Placitas, New Mexico
    “Ask three Placitans what they like best about living in Placitas and… one will say it is being so far from everything, another, being so close to everything–and both will be right.” – The Placitas Chamber of Commerce Chamber of Commerce not withstanding, the distance from Placitas to fabulous gourmet restaurants has spanned both great mileage and the healing passage…
  • August 14 Plaza Cafe Southside – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant (circa 1918), the Plaza Cafe is so popular that long waits to be seated are commonplace. Compound that with the hassle of trying to find a parking spot that isn’t a marathon’s length to walk to and from the Cafe then having to navigate through throngs of awestruck tourists and it’s a restaurant we don’t visit…
  • August 13 Slice Parlor – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    British soul superstar Adele recently revealed to fans in Los Angeles “I can’t eat pizza anymore guys, how bad is that?” She then proceeded to answer her own question about how bad it is: “It’s worse than Romeo And Juliet! If only Shakespeare was alive, he could write about it!” So what would cause an admitted pizza fanatic give up…
  • August 10 Petra Restaurant & Times Square Deli Mart – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    As the clock approaches midnight every year on December 31st, the eyes of the world are focused on a single geodesic sphere some twelve-feet in diameter and weighing nearly six tons. Covered with nearly 3,000 Waterford Crystal triangles, that sphere descends slowly down a flagpole at precisely twelve o’clock, signaling the transition to a new year. The event is witnessed…
  • August 6 Rude Boy Cookies – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Sometimes me thinks ‘what is a friend.’ And then me say “Friend is someone to share the last cookie with.” ~The Cookie Monster With whom would you share your last cookie? For me the answer is easy. I’d share my last cookie with my friend Darren, the delightful younger brother of Dazzling Deanell. During Larry “the professor with the perspicacious…
  • August 6 Bricklight Dive – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    If we really are what we eat, I’m fast, cheap and easy. Fast, cheap and easy. That would certainly describe the stereotypical college diet, especially for freshmen. On their own for the first time, freshmen eat what they want when they want it. They load up their trays with junk food in heaping helpings so mountainous it would make Dagwood…
  • July 31 Mariscos Mazatlan – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    A rotund, ripening, red tomato is featured prominently on license plates issued in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. This is indicative of the state’s prominence in growing the “love apples” from which its rich salsas are made. In 2013, Sinaloa exported nearly one-billion tons of vegetables–primarily tomatoes–across the fruited plain, netting (mostly industrial) farmers nearly one-billion dollars. More than half…
  • July 29 Friends of Gil (FOG) Dinner: World Peace One Meal at a Time
    You’ve probably espied a bumper sticker encouraging everyone to “Visualize Whirled Peas,” an obvious homophone for “Visualize World Peace.” Some have posited that whirled peas might indeed be the way to world peace. Seriously! I’m speaking, of course, about hummus, a ubiquitous Middle Eastern food typically made of mashed (whirled) chickpeas. There’s a tiny café in Israel employing a unique…
  • July 29 Piatanzi – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Italy is an illusion, indeed, a mirage, the stuff of wishes.” ~Mario Luzi In the 1996 motion picture Big Night, two Italian restaurants across the street from one another operate in diametric opposition to one another both philosophically and in practice. One is enormously successful because it gives customers what they want and expect (even though savvy diners would consider…
  • July 24 Golden Crown Panaderia – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Although we pride ourselves on keeping a pulse on the local dining scene, it took a nationally syndicated Food Network cable program called Food Finds to introduce us in 2003 to the Golden Crown Panaderia, an Albuquerque fixture for nearly three decades. In an episode entitled Viewer’s Choice filmed entirely in New Mexico, hostess Sandra Pinckney visited several small-town shops,…
  • July 23 Hot Pink Thai Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Black socks and sandals, mixing plaids and polka dots, middle-aged men sporting the “pants falling down” look, T-shirts that accentuate the “spare tire” look, fat guys wearing culottes… If there’s a fashion faux-pas out there, you can bet some of us XY-chromosome-enabled fashion Luddites have committed it and then some. When it comes to fashion, many of us are as…
  • July 17 Cervantes Restaurant & Lounge – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 1706, a group of Spanish colonists were granted permission by King Philip of Spain to establish a new villa on the banks and in the valley of the Rio del Norte. The colonists chose a spot “in a place of good fields, waters, pastures, and timber, distant from the villa of Santa Fe about twenty-two leagues.” They named the…
  • July 16 Pasion Latin Fusion – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “In my experience, food and passion always intertwine. Passion is food for the soul’s mood at any particular time.” Tammy Mollai Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible show has some nerve! In an episode which first aired in March, 2014, the tough-talking British mesomorph had the audacity to tell America that Pasion Latin Fusion wasn’t the beautiful,…
  • July 13 Sadie’s Dining Room – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Albuquerque and Sadie’s Dining Room have come a long way since 1950. Back then the Duke City’s population was 96,815, up 173% from 1940. Sadie Koury, the oldest child of Lebanese immigrants, was four years away from launching her first Albuquerque restaurant. Located on Second and Osuna, the first Sadie’s was housed in a Lilliputian edifice not much bigger than…
  • July 6 Le Troquet Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Pope Gregory the Great was a prolific writer canonized as a saint and recognized as a “doctor of the church.” Among musicians, singers, students and teachers, he is revered as a patron saint, a heavenly advocate who intercedes on their behalf. Among gluttons of the Middle Ages, however, the supreme pontiff was reviled. In his treatise Morals on the Book…
  • July 2 Bosque Brewing Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    NOTE: The Bosque Brewing Company has six locations including two in Las Cruces and one in Bernalillo.  Only the location in San Mateo reviewed here has closed. In 1978, the number of breweries across the fruited plain had fallen to an all-time, post-Prohibition low of 89. That year President Jimmy Carter signed into law, a bill that legalized home brewing…
  • June 29 DG’s Deli – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “There are sandwich shops in New York which offer the nobility and gentry a choice of no less than 100 different sandwiches, all of them alluring and some of them downright masterpieces.” H.L. Mencken In conversations with trusted gastronomes about what the Albuquerque area dining scene is most direly lacking, it’s not Basque cuisine, Russian food, Low-Country cooking or the…
  • June 26 Chez Mamou – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    When she asked me to repeat the name of the French restaurant where we were dining one slightly breezy Sunday morning, I knew my clever bride had something in mind. Relaying that we were dining at Chez (pronounced “shay”) Mamou, she retorted “are you sure it’s not called “Shame on you.” That was her reaction to a server having deposited…
  • June 25 Friends of Gil (FOG) IX: Where do YOU want to Eat? Cast Your Vote Now!
    OK FOGEYS. It’s voting time. By Jim Millington We have prepared a list of widely disparate restaurants as worthy candidates for FOG IX in July. In an exercise of Democracy not controlled by special interest groups, you have the opportunity to vote for the restaurant in which you’d like to dine with the Friends of Gil. This being New Mexico,…
  • June 19 Laguna Burger (66 Pit Stop) – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 2016 and 2017 my review of the Laguna Burger was the most frequently visited post on Gil’s Thrilling…  In 2015 and 2014, only one restaurant (Down N’ Dirty Seafood Boil) received more blog visits than Laguna Burger.  If even a small number of the visitors to the review actually also visited the restaurant, that’s thousands of visitors to Laguna…
  • June 14 Arirang Oriental Market – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Cuisine is the tactile connection we have to breathing history. History and culture offer us a vibrant living society that we taste through cuisine. All cuisine is a reflection of the society from which it emanates … in the end cuisine is the result of culture” – Clifford Wright If cuisine is the result of culture, then it can certainly…
  • June 11 The Cellar – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    While touring Granada, Spain during a 2013 episode of CNN’s Parts Unknown, Emmy award-winning celebrity host Anthony Bourdain bemoaned that “we will never have tapas culture in America.” Then, to emphasize his contention even further (and perhaps to rankle the ire of American foodies who frequent “tapas” restaurants across the fruited plain), he challenged viewers: “You may think you know…
  • June 5 El Comal Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    From a social connectedness perspective, 1995 was the dark ages. The internet as we know and love it today was in its relative infancy. There was no Urbanspoon, no Yelp, no Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog…no trusted online resource to enlighten and entice diners. My only knowledge of Santa Fe’s restaurant scene came from fading memories and a 1994 article…
  • June 4 Olive Branch Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The depiction of a dove in flight with an olive branch in its beak is common in early Christian art and tradition. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit while the olive branch is seen as a symbol of peace. Christian tradition, as chronicled in Genesis 8:11, describes a dove carrying an olive branch to signal the cessation of flooding throughout…
  • May 31 Limonata Italian Street Food Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While contemplating a name for their second Duke City restaurant venture, Maxime and Daniela Bouneou wanted to convey the feeling of a refreshing and invigorating venue in which their patrons could relax and enjoy themselves. After deliberating several options, they ultimately decided on Limonata, the Italian word for lemonade. When Daniela proudly told her friends in Italy what the new…
  • May 30 Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    During a recent Friends of Gil (FOG) outing, a newcomer asked how my Kim and I can afford to eat out as often as we do (about three times week on average). The practice of “dating your mate” is something we began half a lifetime ago when we were stationed in Mississippi and my Air Force salary was, to put…
  • May 29 Museum Hill Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Widely reputed to have the most spectacular views in Santa Fe and boasting of four world-renowned museums, Museum Hill may be the only location where visitors are more in awe of the site’s breathtaking backdrop than they are of the contents of the magnificent repositories that house the area’s cultural and historical heritage. Set in an idyllic haven surrounded by…
  • May 21 Savory Fare – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Back in the mid 70s, anyone in Albuquerque’s southeast quadrant who wanted privacy knew they could find it at the Burger Chef restaurant in the Gibson and San Mateo area. It was the place seemingly designated for undisturbed break-ups (this was in the dark ages before texting and email were the preferred mediums for breaking-up). Once a burgeoning franchise second…
  • May 7 A Taste of the Caribbean – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    One of the most hilarious from among so many classic Seinfeld vignettes transpired in an episode fittingly entitled “The Comeback” which first aired in 1997. During a business meeting, the ever irascible George Costanza is unabashedly stuffing his face with shrimp when Reilly, a co-worker, notices his gluttony and remarks “Hey, George, the ocean called. They’re running out of shrimp.”…
  • May 6 Beto’s Cocina – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    It’s a folly of the human condition that we tend to go looking for exciting food in all the shiny new restaurants…only to find it in the venerable restaurants that time has nearly forgotten. The fleeting, fickle nature of our fascination with something new and something different is so strong that some restaurants actually peak in popularity within a few…
  • May 3 El Zarandeado – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s…
  • April 30 Desert Grows – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.” – Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels Had Jonathan…
  • April 24 Mimmo’s Ristorante & Pizzeria – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
  • April 23 Naruto – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    During a 2015 episode of the Travel Channel’s Delicious Destinations, glaborous host Andrew Zimmern articulated what may be the very best–or at least most comprehensive–definition of comfort food ever. “Comfort food,” he explained, “makes us feel good. Every culture has its favorites–satisfying classics carried throughout the generations. Simple recipes loaded with carbs and full of love. It’s the taste of…
  • April 23 Friends of Gil (FOG) Dinner: A Gathering of Gastronomes
    Next week the Pueblo Harvest Cafe within the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center will host a number of events during the world-renowned Gathering of Nations, but on Friday, April 22nd at 6:30, the venue belonged to the Friends of Gil (FOG) who convened for dinner at the spectacular cafe. This Gathering of Gastronomes included ten first-timers who joined us for an…
  • April 20 Old Martina’s Hall – Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
    Between the years 2000 and 2014, The Taos News had the prestigious distinction of being named the best weekly newspaper in the United States by the National Newspaper Association. Although the most famous words in American journalism–“all the news that’s fit to print”–don’t grace its masthead, The Taos News has fairly and objectively reported news of events and personalities that…
  • April 18 Que Huong – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Wisdom oft comes from the mouth of babes.” ~George R.R. Martin After far too many meals at restaurants in which children are either screaming at the top of their lungs, throwing hysterical tantrums or wandering unsupervised around the dining room, our inaugural meal at Que Huong proved a very pleasant surprise. Across the dining room, we espied a Vietnamese family…
  • April 15 Bucketheadz – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “I think it’s easy to dismiss Southern food as nothing but grease and grits. I happen to like both grease and grits, And if you call them lardo and polenta, no one would have a problem with it.” ~John T. Edge Author John T. Edge acknowledges that negative stereotypes are rampant about Southern food, crediting some of those perceptions to…
  • April 6 ABC Chinese Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Hungry sojourners venturing east on Menaul between Wyoming and Eubank will discover two of the dining options on this stretch are among Albuquerque’s elder statesmen in the Duke City’s Chinese restaurant community. You’ll first espy Ho Lo Ma, a venerable institution launched in 1972 and well on its way to a half-century of serving the Duke City. A couple blocks…
  • April 3 Western View Diner & Steakhouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Since the 1930s, neon signage has been a prominent and vital part of Route 66 as it meanders through Albuquerque. From the foothills of the Sandias in the east to the parched desert expanse of the west, Route 66 is festooned with vibrant neon signage that cuts a luminous swath through the city. The nocturnal spectacle of glowing neon might…
  • March 15 Karibu Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    During the dry season in Africa, the protective shade of majestic trees casting their cooling shadows are prized–and not only for their impressive and assiduous statures. For generations, the “palaver tree” has served as a meeting place in which the community comes together to discuss issues of common interest, listen to stories and resolve problems and conflicts. Unlike many of…
  • March 13 Cheesy Street – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There once was a sandwich with cheese, That quickly brought me to my knees. Toasted, roasted. Oh sweet bliss. I’d be completely remiss Not to say, I’ll take two please. ~Ode To Grilled Cheese Courtesy of Clean Eats, Fast Feets Comedian Rodney Dangerfield used to joke that “I’m at the age where food has taken the place of sex in…
  • February 29 Fat Squirrel Pub & Grill – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The quaint names given to English pubs are sometimes nearly as interesting as the reasons for which those names were bestowed. Take for example what is arguably England’s oldest pub, the Trip to Jerusalem. Built into the rock face under Nottingham Castle, the brewhouse has been offering sustenance and sanctuary to weary sojourners since before 1189. The genesis of its…
  • February 22 Kasey’s Restaurant & Pub – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Thematically, it’s usually pretty easy to tell what some restaurants have to offer. Seafood restaurants, for example, tend to have nautical-themed “tells” such as fish nets, buoys and oars designed to evoke the salty, briny look and feel of the sea. The “template” for barbecue restaurants seems to include red and white checkered cloth tablecloths adorning oak tables, cute ceramic…
  • February 21 El Papaturro Restaurant – Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Driving north on Fourth one Sunday afternoon, my sharp-eyed Kim espied a new eatery with the curious name El Papaturro. Our first inclination was that the Pappas Restaurants group had made another incursion into the Land of Enchantment. It seemed to make sense considering the Pappas Restaurant Group, a family-owned and operated restaurant company based out of Houston, is the…
  • February 13 Clafoutis – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    According to the Oxford Dictionaries, you only need to know 10 words to understand 25-percent of what native [English] speakers say and write. You need to know 100 words to understand 50-percent of what native speakers say and write, and 1000 words to understand 75-percent of all the words used in common, everyday English. To understand 95-percent of the text…
  • February 7 Placitas Cafe – Placitas, New Mexico
    While it does have a nice ring to it, “beautiful downtown Placitas” probably won’t catch on the way “beautiful downtown Burbank” did when the catch phrase (and quite often, punch-line) was made famous first on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In then on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Located just a few miles northeast of Hollywood, beautiful downtown Burbank is 34-blocks…
  • February 3 Little Red Hamburger Hut – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” – J. Wellington Wimpy Cultural shock! It’s been oft repeated that the United States and England are two nations separated by a common language. I had no idea how much the two nations are separated by more than language until 1979 when stationed at Royal Air Force Base Upper Heyford just…
  • January 30 Friends of Gil (FOG) Dinner: Fabulous Food, Fun and Friends
    When Sheri LaVigne was a little girl, her family moved to a small farm in Corrales. Her mother Kay Lucas bought a Nubian goat they named Mocha which provisioned the family with everything from farmer’s cheese to goat’s milk ice cream. Sheri got up early every morning to help her mom milk Mocha, an experience which helped foster her lifelong…
  • January 23 Kaktus Brewery Tap @ Nob Hill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Most of us have known a wine snob or two. You know the type. They refer to themselves as oenophiles, a fancy way of saying “connoisseur or lover of wines.” They believe themselves to possess refined palates and won’t drink a wine that isn’t as cultured as they are. Even then, they first have to check the color and opacity…
  • January 14 Vernon’s Open Door – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    However well-intended, the corporate world’s “open door policy” doesn’t always have the desired effect of establishing trust between employees and their managers. This became evident during my first corporate gig after leaving the Air Force. My boss, whom Jerry Seinfeld would describe as a “loud talker” spoke at a decibel level rivaling the University of New Mexico’s fabled Pit during…
  • January 8 Thai Spice – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Thai food ain’t about simplicity. It’s about the juggling of disparate elements to create a harmonious finish. Like a complex musical chord it’s got to have a smooth surface but it doesn’t matter what’s happening underneath. Simplicity isn’t the dictum here, at all. Some westerners think it’s a jumble of flavors, but to a Thai what’s important, it’s the complexity…
  • January 7 Golden Pride Chicken – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For years Albuquerque’s cruiser culture has made Central Avenue a favorite destination for showing off souped-up cars and causing windows to rattle and eardrums to throb from the pounding bass in audio systems that reverberate as loud as a thunderclap over your head. My friend Carlos who understands urban subcultures more than most tells me cruising Central Avenue isn’t solely…
  • January 5 Magokoro Japanese Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Emeril Lagasse, the jovial master of the culinary catchphrase, has been known to exhort his studio audience to “feel the love” as he adds a dash or two of something special to a dish. Indeed, love is that extra ingredient many chefs say they add to make everything they prepare taste better. To these chefs, cooking with love is not…

2015 (77)

  • December 31 2015: A Thrilling (And Filling) Year in Food
    Tis the season…for year-end retrospectives in which the good, the bad and the ugly; the triumphs and tragedies; the highs and lows and the ups and downs are revisited ad-infinitum by seemingly every print and cyberspace medium in existence. It’s the time of year in which the “in-your-face” media practically forces a reminiscence–either fondly or with disgust–about the year that…
  • December 30 Gil’s “Best of the Best” For 2015
    It’s the season for making lists and checking them twice, finding out which restaurants were naughty or nice. The advent of 2016 is nigh. It’s with great fondness and more than a little (blush) salivation that I bid adieu and auld lang syne to my most memorable dishes of 2015. These are the baker’s dozen plus dishes which are most…
  • December 22 The Burrito Lady – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “It is the blood of the Lunas to be quiet, for only a quiet man can learn the secrets of the earth that are necessary for planting — They are quiet like the moon.” ~Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo A. Anaya For nearly seventy-years, Consuelo Flores’s father harnessed the secrets of the earth to raise some of the best, most…
  • December 21 Cafe Bella Luca – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “The qualities of an exceptional cook are akin to those of a successful tightrope walker; an abiding passion for the task, courage to go out on a limb and an impeccable sense of balance” – Bryan Miller Former New York Times food critic The qualities of a truly exceptional cook do not include plying his or her trade under the…
  • December 20 Yo Mama’s Grill – Socorro, New Mexico
    Such was my bumpkinly naivete that my virgin ears weren’t subjected to a “yo mama” joke until shortly after my 19th birthday. The site was the Non-Commissioned Officer’s club at Royal Air Force (RAF) Upper Heyford in England. The event was an irreverent ninety-minute show featuring brazen comedian Redd Foxx whose explicit brand of humor both shocked and thrilled the…
  • December 19 La Salita – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While the Spanish word “salita” may translate to “little parlor or living room,” that translation doesn’t fully describe the function of this room in the traditional New Mexican hacienda. Historically, the sala has been the room in which guests are warmly received and entertained, often as a prelude to a grand meal. In colonial times the sala was sparsely furnished…
  • December 14 Filling Philly’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In 2008, Philadelphia, which translates from Greek to “the City of Brotherly Love” was named by Forbes Magazine as America’s fifth most miserable city, a ranking based on such factors as tax rates, commute times, violent crime, unemployment and weather. The city’s sports fans, in particular, are notorious for their “lack of fraternal affection,” mercilessly turning on even their own…
  • December 12 La Quiche Parisienne Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexican
    Who can ever forget Fred the Baker, the haggard, perpetually exhausted Dunkin Donuts baker and his iconic lament, “time to make the donuts?” Every morning an annoying alarm clock would rouse Fred from his deep slumber and he would wearily utter his trademarked catch phrase as he prepared for the rigor of the day. For fifteen years—from 1982 to 1997—Fred…
  • December 8 Tecolote Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Everyone knows the most sagacious of all creatures in nature is the owl. The owl is to whom all other creatures go to get some of life’s most pondered questions answered–questions such as “how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?” After having posed the question to a cow, a fox…
  • November 28 Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Naples, Italy leaves nothing to chance, boasting of more than fifty official patron saints. Among the more well-known of the beatified intercessors to whom Neapolitan citizens petition are Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Pascal Baylon (San Pasqual, if you will). This litany of saints is among the who’s who among Catholic saints.…
  • November 14 Cafe Bien – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    My friend Hannah, a brilliant linguist who’s become rather expert in the etymology and evolution of languages, speech patterns and morphology would find it dismaying should she hear someone attribute the term “Romance language” to the seductive sweet nothings spoken by such onscreen Lotharios as Ricardo Montalban. With the mere utterance of “Corinthian leather,” Montalban could make women (and some…
  • November 12 La Crêpe Michel – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    FROM THE LA CREPE MICHEL WEBSITE: We have decided to permanently close La Crepe Michel.  I want to thank everyone for making more than 30 years possible.  We will miss you all and we have wonderful memories that will last forever.  Again, thank you.  – Claudie and all the staff at crepe michel The crêpe is, at its essence, not…
  • November 11 Loving Vegan – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    My adovada adoring amigo Ruben likened the irony to an episode of Seinfeld. Two weeks into his experiment with an ostensibly healthier vegan diet, he was craving sushi and needed his sushi-specific pangs of hunger sated. No sooner had we finished a very satisfying sushi soiree at Albuquerque’s only vegan sushi restaurant than our waitress apprised us the restaurant would…
  • November 10 Leilani’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Restaurants come and restaurant’s go. It’s not hard to tell when a bad restaurant is nearing its demise. The telltale signs practically scream at you. Service is indifferent in spite of (or maybe because of) only a handful of guests to look after. The food is uninspired, seemingly just something thrown together haphazardly. A pall of gloom and malaise seems…
  • November 6 Friends Of Gil (FOG) Dinner: A Great Time Had by All
    “Laughter is brightest where food is best.” – Irish Proverb Hearty laughter, stimulating conversation and great food were the order of the evening on Friday, November 6th at 7PM when the Friends of Gil (FOG) got together at Papa Felipe’s for an evening of mirth, merriment and munching on some of the city’s best and most creative New Mexican food.…
  • October 24 Posa’s El Merendero – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    When we phoned our friend Carlos to ask where the best tamales in Santa Fe were to be found, he waxed enthusiastic about a tamale factory and restaurant on Rodeo Road just west of Saint Francis. He told us the restaurant was once owned by a professional wrestler and is Santa Fe’s equivalent of Albuquerque’s legendary El Modelo. After we…
  • October 19 Standard Diner – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    From the Standard Diner Facebook Page: It is with great sadness that Standard Diner will be closing its doors for good after dinner service on Monday, September 7th.  On Friday the 11th, our doors will reopen as The Range Cafe. While New Mexico is most assuredly the Land of Enchantment, most locals also accept that it’s also the “land of…
  • October 15 Griff’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Adults of my generation lament that what separates McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s from the hamburger chains with which we grew up is certainly not a superior product. It doesn’t take much to figure out that the “big three” sit atop the lofty burger throne because of aggressive product innovation and clever marketing that captured the young demographic. The big…
  • October 10 Bang Bite Filling Station – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    “When people pile seven things onto one burger, it drives me nuts!” ~Bobby Flay Seven ingredients? That’s not a burger! It’s a hodgepodge, a medley, a potpourri! It’s everything including the kitchen sink. Perhaps other regions in America need the Iron Chef’s sage advice, but New Mexicans certainly don’t. For us, a burger with minimal ingredients is just common sense.…
  • October 3 Ice Cream Palace and Hot Dog World – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Nay-sayers, those nattering nabobs of negativism, have always had it in for hot dogs. First they plied us with horror stories and urban myths about what hot dogs are made of. Essentially, they decried, hot dogs are made of everything from pigs snouts and chicken feet to snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails. Then they ratcheted up our shock…
  • October 2 Chopstix – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    And I find chopsticks frankly distressing. Am I alone in thinking it odd that a people ingenious enough to invent paper, gunpowder, kites and any number of other useful objects, and who have a noble history extending back 3,000 years haven’t yet worked out that a pair of knitting needles is no way to capture food? ~Bill Bryson The precise…
  • September 28 Slate Street Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 2005, Slate Street and an eponymous bistro just north of Lomas became the toast (a garlicky bruschetta) of the town. The Slate Street Cafe opened its doors in July, 2005 in a heretofore lightly trafficked, relatively unknown street north of Lomas. Nestled in the heart of the legal district, the Slate Street Cafe is so, make that Soho cool.…
  • September 25 Taco Shel – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Having left New Mexico in the mid 1980s, the pangs of pining for New Mexico’s incomparable, capsaicin-rich cuisine have left Brian Riordan sleepless in Seattle. I can certainly commiserate, having spent much of 18 years away from the “Land of Enchilement,” (an appropriate sobriquet courtesy of the erstwhile Albuquerque Journal restaurant critic Andrea Lin. After discovering this Web site, Brian…
  • September 21 Asian Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In “My Fair Ernest T. Bass,” one of the most hilarious episodes ever of the 1960s television classic, The Andy Griffith Show, Sheriff Andy Taylor tried to pass off Ernest T. as a cultured gentleman. By teaching him manners, Andy hoped Ernest T., a bumpkinly, rock-throwing, havoc-wreaking hillbilly, would find a girl and learn to behave in polite society. The…
  • September 13 Jhett’s Restaurant – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In its halcyon days, the Chamisa Hills golf course and country club in Rio Rancho was considered one of the city’s crown jewels. Its undulating 18-hole championship course with strategically placed deciduous trees and challenging water hazards once hosted the Charley Pride Golf Fiesta, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the state. Built in 1970, the 212-acre development was…
  • September 7 Frost Gelato – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I believe gelato is meant to be treated as medicine and taken daily as a prescription.” ~Author: Betsy Brandt If you’ve never associated such words as searing, stifling, sweltering, sultry, sticky and sizzling with Italy, you probably haven’t been there during a summer heat wave. During the day, cobbled streets heat up like a pizza oven, radiating heat even through…
  • September 6 Burger Boy – Cedar Crest, New Mexico
    The vividly hued threads that comprise a beautiful community tapestry are its diverse and unique characters. Some are quirky and eccentric, some are brash and loud, others are indistinct and don’t stand out, but all are essential in weaving that beautiful community tapestry, that compendium of personalities that make up a whole. One of the most vivid threads in the…
  • September 5 The Library – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Although my Kim has now lived in New Mexico for more than twenty years, her functional Spanish hasn’t improved much (sadly this places her in the company of many native New Mexicans). She sings Spanish hymns like a songbird in church, perfectly enunciating each nuanced word, even when she has to roll her “R’s.” On rare but well-deserved occasions she…
  • September 1 Thai Tip – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Although short in stature, gregarious Tippewan “Tip” Sherrod, for whom Thai Tip is named, is as dynamic and passionate a restaurateur as you’ll meet in Albuquerque. If she’s not inundated with hungry patrons, she might take time out to recount her background as a midwife in her native Thailand as she extols the healthy qualities of Thai food. While she…
  • August 27 300 Club Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    300! In the parlance of the bowler, it signifies absolute perfection, twelve consecutive strikes. According to some trusted foodies, the 300 Club Bar & Grill in Albuquerque’s Skidmore’s Holiday Bowl on Lomas just east of San Pedro serves a mean green chile cheeseburger, a 12-strike masterpiece, a perfect 300. This is a burger so good, it was one of the…
  • August 22 Gravy – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Gravy is the simplest, tastiest, most memory-laden dish I know how to make: a little flour, salt and pepper, crispy bits of whatever meat anchored the meal, a couple of cups of water or milk and slow stirring to break up lumps.” ~Dorothy Allison, American writer Some would say that the discovery (invention?) of gravy is one of mankind’s crowning…
  • August 21 Sandia Chile Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    If perspiration is (as the proverbial “they” have declared) the mother of invention, Mickey and Clinton Coker may just be two of the most glistening guys in the Duke City. Since 2004, the Cokers have “reinvented” their restaurant four times. If you’re thinking, they’re just try, try, trying again until they get it right, you couldn’t be more wrong. Mickey…
  • August 16 Cinnamon Sugar and Spice Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Back in the dark ages when I grew up–long before America became the kinder, gentler Utopia it is today–it would have been inconceivable that boys and girls would receive trophies just for “participating.” Back then, we were expected to be competitive about everything. The battle of the sexes was waged at home every night with my brothers and I pitting…
  • August 15 Coyote’s Rooftop Cantina – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    National Geographic Traveler once described Santa Fe as “a hypercultural hybrid–equal parts Wild West and New Age, Native American and Hispanic, old money and old hippie”…a city “used to mixing things up and still creating an oddly seamless whole.” It truly is the City Different, a city with an identity, substance and style all its own. Is it any wonder…
  • August 8 Q Burger – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Q.” It’s the seventeenth letter of the English alphabet, a consonant. Only two letters (“X” and “Z”) occur less frequently as first letters of words found in the English dictionary. It’s the only letter not to appear in any of the names of the fifty states of America. As with its 25 alphabetical colleagues, it’s an onomatopoeia. It’s both the…
  • August 5 Anatolia Turkish & Mediterranean Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the mid 80s when my Kim and I lived in rural, agrarian England, a “sandwich” meant one of three things: a warm, fresh floury bap with butter, Cheddar cheese and Branston’s Pickle from our favorite bakery in Lechlade; a grilled ham and cheese sandwich (with chips (fries), of course) from The Plough in Fairford; or a doner kebab from…
  • August 4 Talking Drums – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “There is strength in Africa. Not the crushing brute strength of the bull elephant. Nor the rigid, unyielding strength of the Kilimanjaro. But a calm, enduring strength, the kind of abiding strength that will not waiver in the face of adversity, loss or hardship. It is the quiet strength of the African woman.” Quiet strength. That uplifting affirmation, inscribed on…
  • August 2 Mariscos La Playa – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    There’s deliciousness and there’s delicious irony on the menu at Mariscos La Playa. The deliciousness is more readily apparent. It’s part and parcel of virtually every item on the menu. You have to understand a little Spanish to grasp the delicious irony which is outwardly manifested in the form of a soup called “Caldo Vuelve a la Vida,” literally ”…
  • July 27 Kathy’s Carry-Out – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 2001, the Alibi staff declared Kathy’s Carry-Out the “best hamburger in the Duke City.” Surely, nay-sayers retorted, this had to be a mistake. How, after all, they reasoned, could a ramshackle garage sized building with a kitschy purple facade and garish orange trim possibly compete with the flamboyant chains and their glitz and glamor or even with the anointed…
  • July 25 Eloisa – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Expansive views bathed in salubrious, sun-kissed air punctuated by languid breezes. Cerulean skies graduating in depth and brilliance the higher they climb above the horizon. Surreal topography of unnaturally contorted, dappled sandstone formations and juniper laden foothills. Lush, well-tended gardens blessed with an abundance of vegetables, herbs, flowers and shrubs. Such was the idyll Georgia O’Keefe called home. On Sunday,…
  • July 19 Friends of Gil Enjoy Sumptuous Repast At Luna Mansion in Los Lunas
    Experience has shown that the Friends of Gil (FOG) are willing to go great distances for a diversity of excellent dining experiences. In four previous excursions, FOG members have traveled to Rio Rancho for superb Italian fare at Joe’s Pasta House, enjoyed a sumptuous six-course repast at Budai Gourmet Chinese, partaken of magnificent Mexican food at El Norteno and converged…
  • July 19 The Luna Mansion Landmark Steakhouse – Los Lunas, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    New Mexico is truly a dichotomous land, a state in which seemingly contrasting qualities exist in symbiotic harmony with each other. While most of those contrasts exist spectacularly in nature, the Land of Enchantment’s architecture is no stranger to contradictions. One such example is the Luna Mansion, a stately manor built in the Southern Colonial architectural style, but whose basic…
  • July 18 New Yorken Cafe & Bakery – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Some folks like to get away Take a holiday from the neighborhood Hop a flight to Miami Beach Or to Hollywood But I’m taking a Greyhound On the Hudson River Line I’m in a New York state of mind.” ~Billy Joel Perhaps only in New Mexico does the term “New York state of mind” evoke images of a desert hamlet…
  • July 16 Viva Mexico – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    All too often faulty premises are based on a lack of information or experience. Take for example, British author Simon Majumdar, a recurring judge on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America who once declared “given how abysmal Mexican food is in London, I always thought that it was a cuisine made up of remains from the back of the fridge.”…
  • July 14 Sara’s Pastries and Deli – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Creator! You who give life to all things and who has made men that they may live happy and multiply. Multiply also the fruits of the earth, the potatoes and other food that you have That men may not suffer from hunger and misery. ~Traditional Incan Prayer As recently as 2010, Albuquerque–which rightfully takes great pride in its acceptance of…
  • July 11 Witch’s Brew – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake;” ~Macbeth Act 4 Scene 1 Each of the lunch ladies at the Peñasco Elementary School cafeteria undoubtedly earned a pair of wings, a harp, and a halo for all they were subjected to from the recalcitrant kids who lined…
  • July 10 DaVinci’s Gourmet Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    For more than two years, Dan Brown’s brilliant and controversial novel, The DaVinci Code was a permanent fixture as number one on the New York Times best seller list. Brown’s magnus opus postulates the existence of a clandestine society in Europe which, for centuries, has been the guardian of a hallowed bloodline whose lineage descended from Jesus Christ and Mary…
  • July 9 China City – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The Claw: Actually the only girl we want is Princess Ingrid. Maxwell Smart: Then why did you abduct the others? The Claw: Unfortunately, Mr. Smart, all Americans look alike to us. ~Get Smart Leave it to iconic filmmaker Mel Brooks to turn cultural stereotypes around to create a hilarious interchange between The Claw, the head of the Asian arm of…
  • July 5 Cafe Fina – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Living in the Albuquerque metropolitan area, my nieces expect to stay home on those blustery winter days in which (gasp, the horror) two or more inches of snow accumulate on the highways and byways. Because, they reason, sane people don’t have to risk such ”treacherous conditions,” they don’t buy the dramatic “exaggerations” my brother relates about his experiences growing up…
  • June 20 Santacafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Is there anything as pure and simple as the innocence of a child, especially during the most magical time of the year? When my then six-year-old niece penned a heartfelt letter to Santa Claus, there was no doubt in her mind that her letter would be delivered and her wish would be granted. After all, she had been extra good…
  • June 18 Amadeo’s Pizza And Subs – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    One of the most exciting times in America’s history was during its Westward expansion when young, unattached men of the time followed the advice of newspaper magnate Horace Greeley and went west in search of opportunity and adventure. Able-bodied young men forged a path through the wilderness to conquer the untamed west and build another pillar in the manifest destiny…
  • June 8 Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Note: In the twenty years or so in which Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has worked hard to earn your trust, I’ve shared with you my impression of many different dishes. One that hadn’t crossed my lips until rather recently is a rather foul-tasting, hard-to-swallow dish called crow, an odious carrion that no chef can transform into a palatable dish.…
  • June 6 Bangkok Bite – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Several years ago during an ice-breaker introduction at project team meeting, we were all asked to introduce ourselves and explain where we were from. Introducing myself as being from Massaman Curry, New Mexico drew absolutely no reaction, leading me to conclude two things: (1) my colleagues knew absolutely nothing about the Land of Enchantment and probably wondered if I needed…
  • May 31 Elaine’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “They were all impressed with your Halston dress and the people that you knew at Elaine’s”. ~Big Shot by Billy Joel For nearly five decades–from 1963 through 2011–“the place to be” in Manhattan’s trendy Upper East Side was Elaine’s, perhaps the city’s most celebrated and revered A-lister’s hangout. Everyone who was anyone frequented Elaine’s, an eponymous establishment in which luminaries…
  • May 30 Pepper’s Bar-B-Q & Soul Food – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Like many Americans, Daniel “Pepper” Morgan has two passions in life–baseball and barbecue. While these two passions seem inextricably bound in American culture, what separates Daniel from so many of us is that we excel at watching baseball and eating barbecue. Daniel excelled at playing baseball, having made it to the Houston Astros Triple A farm club. His barbecue is…
  • May 23 Tratta Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a Louisiana native who attended Ole Miss, has no problem poking fun at himself…and at stereotypes. During his opening monologue on a 2012 episode of Saturday Night Live, the two-time Super Bowl most valuable player, told the audience he finally feels like a “real New Yorker.” Then as if to demonstrate his urban sophistication,…
  • May 17 Chris’ Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.” ~Louise Fresco (Scientist and Writer) Santa Fe and its denizens are an accepting lot, open to new ideas and different ways of doing things. When such pioneers as Mark Miller at the Coyote Café…
  • May 8 Nagomi Japanese Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Everyman philosopher Homer Simpson once posed the profound existential question “Donuts. Is there anything they can’t do?” One thing at which donuts seem especially adept is ensnaring the hearts and affections of youth—and not just American youth. The Huffington Post reported recently that in Japan, “the younger generation is increasingly eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts and McDonald’s, not rice.” Fast food…
  • May 6 Mick’s Chile Fix – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Addicts are all too familiar with the symptoms, especially the insatiable cravings that can only be quelled by a fix. There’s nothing like the high you get from the addictive mistress that is New Mexican chile. That’s why we willingly singe our tongues and scald our taste buds to get that fix. What gives chile its intense fire and creates…
  • May 2 Soul and Vine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” ~Thomas Keller A recent tweet from Ortega (yes, that purveyor of “high quality Mexican products”) posed the existential question “What’s your cooking style: cooking from the soul, from your taste buds, from a book or from your gut?” While most cooks and almost all chefs…
  • April 25 Jambo Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Growing up in the 60s–the dark ages before the Internet was even a glimmer in Al Gore’s eyes and google, then spelled “googol” represented an very large number (currently being approached by America’s budget deficit)–even precocious children like me derived most of our knowledge of Africa from National Geographic magazines and Tarzan movies. We thought Africa was one large monolithic…
  • April 21 J.J.’s Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Locally owned and operated.” It’s a concept I celebrate on my blog in paying homage to intrepid moms and pops who risk it all to compete with the ubiquitous corporate chains. I trumpet 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…
  • April 10 Friends of Gil (FOG) Dinner: Extraordinary Food, Fun and Friendship
    It’s easy to impress me. I don’t need a fancy party to be happy. Just good friends, good food, and good laughs. I’m happy. I’m satisfied. I’m content. ~Maria Sharapova So just what goes on at a Friends of Gil (FOG) dinner? If you’re thinking it’s a gathering of a bunch of pretentious food snobs and aesthetes getting together to…
  • March 28 Cafe Caribe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When you’re on one of the Caribbean islands, sometimes it’s hard to picture how they fit in with the rest, but when you see them all joined together like a necklace from space, you see the natural geographic connectedness of them all. ~Chris Hadfield In virtually every sense, the Caribbean is a “melting pot.” It’s an amalgam, a hodgepodge, mishmash…a…
  • March 11 Lucky Boy – Albuquerque, New Mexican
    During its seventh season, the X Files television series in which FBI agents investigated paranormal phenomena featured an episode in which a ravenous Lucky Boy employee in California struggled against his craving for human brain matter (almost anything goes in the Golden state). The most paranormal thing about the Duke City Lucky Boy is its “east meets west” dining concept.…
  • March 9 Mekong Ramen House – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In a 2009 movie entitled Ramen Girl, Abby, a wayward American girl unacculturated to life in Tokyo witnesses the radiant smiles on the faces of diners as they eat ramen and receives an epiphany that her life’s calling is to become a ramen chef. Over time she persuades a ramen restaurant’s temperamental Japanese chef to mentor her. Initially he assigns…
  • March 7 Ortega’s New Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    From Ortega’s Facebook Page: It has been our pleasure to serve Albuquerque and visitors for nearly 32 years. We want to thank you for supporting Ortega’s Restaurant for more than three decades. We have enjoyed your company and made many friends over the years. On September 12, 2020, we will close our doors for the last time. If you were…
  • February 24 Kasbah Mediterranean – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind Had to get away to see what we could find Hope the days that lie ahead Bring us back to where they’ve led Listen up to what’s been said to you Would you know we’re riding on the Marrakech Express Would you know we’re riding on the Marrakech Express All on board…
  • February 21 Heimat House and Beer Garden – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “We’re not normal people. We’re the Griswolds.” Laughs abound in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, the 1985 movie which follows the antics of well-meaning blunderer Clark W. Griswold and his equally inept family. In a television game show called “Pig In a Polk,” the Griswold family accidentally wins a trip to Europe where they leave a trail of destruction everywhere they…
  • February 12 Padilla’s Mexican Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Why, this here sauce is made in New York City!” “New York City? Git a rope!” Uttered in a 1980s commercial for Pace Picante sauce, those lines expressed the ire of several hungry cowboys who threatened to string up the cook for serving a “foreign” salsa (translation: not made in Texas). That commercial also brings to my mind the annual…
  • February 7 Blue Grasshopper Brew Pub – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    If you’ve ever wondered why the term “pink elephants” has long been recognized as a euphemism for a drunken hallucination, credit author Jack London. In his autobiographical tome, he described himself as “the man whom we all know, stupid, unimaginative, whose brain is bitten numbly by numb maggots; who walks generously with wide-spread, tentative legs, falls frequently in the gutter,…
  • February 5 Giovanni’s Pizza & Subs – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Frequent and lengthy business trips to California in 1997 nearly ruined me forever for a food that belongs on America’s food pyramid (never mind the government’s nutritional aspects)–pizza. Despite an open mind and willingness to try anything, the heretical toppings adorning Golden State pizzas quelled and quashed what I had thought to be an everlasting love. Even today, I’m traumatized…
  • January 31 Effingbar and Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The late comedian and beloved social critic George Carlin might be surprised at how far America has come (some might say how much we’ve regressed) when it comes to uttering foul invectives, especially the “seven words” he postulated “you can never say on television.” While most of us still won’t vocalize the infamous “F-word” in polite company, its diminutive version…
  • January 29 Model Pharmacy – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Albuquerque’s Model Pharmacy is an anachronism–a genuine throwback to the days in which old fashioned drug counters shared retail space with lunch counters and soda fountains. In every sense, the Model Pharmacy is chronologically out of place as an independently owned, family operated business in a world of corporate conglomerations that dominate the pharmaceutical business (such as the megalithic Walgreen’s…
  • January 17 Ben Michael’s Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    During the height of the Italian Renaissance, humanist-philosopher Leon Battista Alberti posited the notion that “a man can do all things if he will,” a notion that birthed the concept of the Renaissance man. More than the contemporary Army challenge for American soldiers to “be all you can be,” a Renaissance man was expected to embrace all knowledge and develop…
  • January 10 Back Road Pizza – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    My brother George has the right idea! Rather than braving the motoring madness that is traversing New Mexico’s highways at breakneck speeds and risking life and limb contending with America’s worst drivers (according to a 2014 report by Wallet Hub), he’ll take the back roads every chance he gets. Not only does he avoid frazzled nerves and minimize potential encounters…
  • January 3 Firenze Pizzeria – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “We’ve got a wood-burning pizza oven in the garden – a luxury, I know, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.” ~Gwyneth Paltrow There really is a lot of veracity in the axiom that “your eyes are the mirror to your soul” because eyes truly do provide visual clues as to what we’re thinking. Some psychologists would…

2014 (75)

  • December 31 2014: A Thrilling (And Filling) Year in Food
    Tis the season…for year-end retrospectives in which the good, the bad and the ugly; the triumphs and tragedies; the highs and lows and the ups and downs are revisited ad-infinitum by seemingly every print and cyberspace medium in existence. It’s the time of year in which the “in-your-face” media practically forces a reminiscence–either fondly or with disgust–about the year that…
  • December 26 Torinos @ Home – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    On Monday, October 21st, 2013 in a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode entitled “Aces of Authenticity,” the Food Network introduced Torinos @ Home to the world. Just four years earlier–on 22 December 2009–i was one of, if not the very first critics to see greatness in what was then a tiny Italian eatery coaxing amazing flavors from its humble menu.…
  • December 26 Gil’s “Best of the Best” for 2014
    The advent of 2015 is nigh. It’s with great fondness and more than a little (blush) salivation that I bid adieu and auld lang syne to my most memorable dishes of 2014. These are the baker’s dozen dishes which are most indelibly imprinted on my memory engrams…the first dishes that come to mind when I close my eyes and reflect…
  • December 21 Shade Tree Customs & Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    For at least the past seven years, the most famous “biker cafe” in the Land of Enchantment has been the fictional Maggie’s Diner in Madrid on the Turquoise Trail. Constructed in 2007 for the made-in-New-Mexico comedy Wild Hogs, Maggie’s Diner was frequented by bikers of all ilks, whether they be white collar executives in the throes of mid-life crises or…
  • December 10 Wise Pies Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The connection between the Mafia and pizza is hardly novel. Throughout the fruited plain you’ll find any number of pizzerias sporting Mafioso names, including Godfather’s Pizza with which Duke City diners are well acquainted. It can be debated elsewhere that the Mafia-pizza connection is an offensive Italian stereotype, but no public outcry seems forthcoming as there was when the “Frito…
  • December 9 Mr. Powdrell’s Barbecue House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If you believe in forever Where baby backs are never bland If there’s a barbecue heaven Well you know Mr. Pete is lending a hand, hand, hand. Shortly after Arthur Bryant died in 1982, the Kansas City Star published a cartoon depicting St. Peter greeting Arthur at the gates of heaven and asking, “Did you bring sauce?” A quarter of…
  • December 7 Viet Q – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “When helicopters were snatching people from the grounds of the American embassy compound during the panic of the final Vietcong push into Saigon, I was sitting in front of the television set shouting, ‘Get the chefs! Get the chefs!'” Calvin Trillin, American writer, New Yorker Magazine It’s unlikely Trillin, a humorist renown for his love of food, was entirely serious…
  • December 6 Omira Bar & Grill – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    HOLLY: I can’t believe you’ve never taken anybody here before. JERRY: Well, I’m not really that much of a meat eater. HOLLY: . . . You don’t eat meat? Are you one of those. . . JERRY: Well, no, I’m not one of those. ~ Seinfeld “One of those!” Around my Chicago born and bred Kim and her family, that…
  • November 28 The Stumbling Steer – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    There are ranchers throughout New Mexico who might not think there’s anything even mildly amusing about a brewery and gastropub called The Stumbling Steer. These robust ranchers would likely equate the term Stumbling Steer to the clumsy gait exhibited by their precious livestock after they consume locoweed, a poisonous plant found in every one of the Land of Enchantment’s 33…
  • November 22 Ali Baba – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Legends recount that in his quest for immortality, Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh visited a tavern where a divine barmaid gave him the advise: “Eat and drink your fill, Gilgamesh, and celebrate day and night. Make every day a festival; day and night dance and play.” Because of the fecundity of their land, the people of Mesopotamia could indeed afford to eat,…
  • November 15 EPAZOTE ON THE HILLSIDE – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Epazote. That’s a word that can make an intrepid chef’s toque blanche resemble the white flag of surrender. If you’re a culinary savant and haven’t heard of epazote, it’s probably because the chefs at restaurants you frequent might just be afraid to use it. Would you want to use an ingredient also known as “skunkweed” and “wormseed”…a word derived from…
  • November 8 Viet Noodle – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    On April 3, 2013, University of New Mexico (UNM) Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs sent out a very simple and succinct tweet confirming the hire of head men’s basketball coach Craig Neal. The one-word tweet read simply “Noodles.” Noodles, of course, is the sobriquet Neal received in high school on account of his tall and thin stature. The hire…
  • October 29 Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill – Edgewood, New Mexico
    It’s interesting that the New Mexico State Constitution bars “idiots” and “insane persons” from voting, but quips about votes being cast by dead people, family pets and farm animals have been pervasive over the years in some counties and municipalities. In some of the same counties and municipalities, the saying “vote early and vote often” has seemed more a way…
  • October 25 Gioco – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Archaeologists in Spain have unearthed the original man cave. What is most remarkable about this finding is how very similar Neanderthal man and contemporary man are. Men, it seems, have not evolved much. Neanderthals were hairy and brutish in appearance, much like the New York Giants. They spoke in guttural grunts, similar to today’s politicians. Neanderthals scrawled their art on…
  • October 18 Anasazi Restaurant – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    As you gaze in awe and wonder at the luxurious trappings surrounding you everywhere you turn at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, you can’t help but contemplate the irony. Inn of the Anasazi? Throughout their existence the Anasazi never knew luxury or leisure, focusing solely and at all times on survival. Shelter, food and water were of paramount concern…
  • October 18 Five & Dime General Store – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    The late Fray Angelico Chavez, New Mexico’s preeminent historian once wrote about Santa Fe’s growth, “The only threat to her own distinctive glory, and something to guard against these days, is the kind of hurried “progress” which has, not history or humanity, but only money as its sole aim and purpose.” Perhaps nowhere in Santa Fe has that hurried progress…
  • October 13 Del Charro Saloon – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Can it truly be that the more things change, the more they stay the same? In 1776, Fermin de Mendinueta, governor and captain-general of the Spanish province of New Mexico, declared that “Santa Fe settlers are “churlish types” who are “accustomed to live apart from each other, as neither fathers nor sons associate with each other.” In 2013, Travel &…
  • October 11 Tara Thai Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The Internet is replete with personality assessments. Some–such as a personality assessment based on your choice of pizza toppings–are created by psychologists ostensibly intent on obtaining scientifically valid results, but many others are intended solely for fun and have no real validity. In the latter category, most assessments can easily be manipulated to achieve the results you want. As you’re…
  • September 28 Los Arcos Steakhouse & Bar – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
    Because of the geothermal mineral springs which issue from the ground, the city of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico was originally named “Hot Springs.” Seeking to distinguish itself from other cities of the same name and to advertise its plentiful resources, city residents voted to rename the city in response to a challenge rendered by a successful 1950s NBC television…
  • September 28 Bodega Burger Co. & Lounge – Socorro, New Mexico
    “A Hamburger is warm and fragrant and juicy. A hamburger is soft and non-threatening. It personifies the Great Mother herself, who has nourished us from the beginning. A hamburger is an icon of layered circles, the circle being at once the most spiritual and the most sensual of shapes. A hamburger is companionable and faintly erotic: the nipple of the…
  • September 13 Ichiban – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In an episode of Friends, Joey Tribbiani starred in a commercial released only in Japan for Ichiban men’s lipstic. His friend Chandler’s response upon viewing the commercial: “he really is a chameleon.” In Japanese, the word “ichiban” means “number one” or “the best” and can be used either as a superlative (as in the highest of quality or the very…
  • September 10 The Mine Shaft Tavern – Madrid, New Mexico
    “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. St. Peter, don’t you call me cause I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store.” Those immortal lyrics, hauntingly performed by crooner Tennessee Ernie Ford describe with a poignant reality, the plight of the American miner even onto the 20th century.…
  • September 10 Taste of Himalayas – Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    At 40,000 1/2 feet, the imposing Rum Doodle is the highest mountain in the world, surpassing even Mount Everest, its alpine neighbor on the Himalayas. Surmounted only by a group of audacious British mountaineers and their Yogastani porters in an odyssey fraught with misadventure, its ascent is the stuff of which mountaineering legends are made. As if scaling the perilous…
  • September 7 Chicharroneria Orozco – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair Warm smell of colitas rising up through the air ~Hotel California – The Eagles Among the many alluring olfactory temptations emanating from dilapidated and timeworn food stalls and colorful restaurant storefronts throughout Mexico is the warm smell of colitas. They beckon passers-by to experience the aromas, sights, sounds and flavors…
  • September 5 NM Rodeo Burgers – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Traveling with the rodeo It’s the only life I’ll ever know I started in New Mexico Must have been a thousand years ago.” ~Lyrics to “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” by Paul Davis Although my friends and I were all fairly accomplished horse riders in the svelte and carefree days of our youth, Peñasco didn’t have a high school rodeo team so…
  • August 30 El Comedor De Anayas – Moriarty, New Mexico
    For years, one of the Land of Enchantment’s most renowned launching pads for political campaigns and careers has been Moriarty’s El Comedor De Anayas, a venue in which political power brokering has long been transacted over hot coffee and New Mexican food. Anyone and everyone who’s aspired to political office has held court at this venerable institution which translates from…
  • August 24 The Alley Cantina – Taos, New Mexico
    In April, 2014, Gallup conducted a poll to determine state pride across the United States. More precisely, the Gallup poll surveyed people in all 50 states to find out what percentage of residents say their state was the very best or one of the best places to live. Sadly, New Mexico was rated the six worst state to live with…
  • August 23 Stray Dog Cantina – Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
    There’s a rather ominous sign on the base of the Taos Ski Valley. In bold red uppercase print, the sign reads “DON’T PANIC!,” a preface for somewhat more reassuring text: “YOU’RE LOOKING AT ONLY 1/30 OF TAOS SKI VALLEY. WE HAVE MANY EASY RUNS TOO!” To novice skiers, the steepness of the ski runs visible from the base may as…
  • August 7 Friends of Gil (FOG) Dinner III: Magnificent Mexican Food for Fabulous Foodies
    “People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child When Friends of Gil (FOG) get together, good food happens. So do good times and great conversation among some of the most passionate gastronomes in the Duke City area. El Norteño was the site of the most recent FOG dinner shared by nineteen. Guests included five of…
  • August 7 El Norteño – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    No Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque has a pedigree that approaches that of El Norteño, a venerable elder statesperson in the Duke City’s burgeoning and constantly evolving Mexican restaurant scene. El Norteño has been pleasing local diners for more than a quarter of a century as evinced by its perennial selection as the city’s “Best Mexican” restaurant. Respondents to the Alibi’s…
  • August 4 Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Albuquerque’s Nob Hill district largely owes its emergence as the city’s first “suburb” to Route 66, the great Mother Road which carried Americans westward. Because of Route 66, the Nob Hill area has been, since before World War II, a thriving residential community replete with restaurants, motels, a modern movie theater, pharmacies and restaurants. Today it remains the city’s cultural…
  • August 1 Patricia’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For nearly twenty years–from 1954 to 1972–newspaper, magazine, radio and television advertisements for Winston cigarettes deliberated whether American smokers wanted good grammar or good taste. This was in response to catchy jingles (and if you’re over 40, get ready for an ear worm) claiming that “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” Grammarians took umbrage with the solecism, arguing that…
  • July 28 Delish – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Rachael Ray may be the most reviled celebrity cook or chef on network and cable television. While adoring fans admire her perkiness and down-to-earth approachability, it’s those traits grumpy detractors (including other celebrity chefs and food writers) seem to find most offensive. Well, that and the way she punctuates sentences with one of her many trademark catchphrases. Entire blogs are…
  • July 20 Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria & Patio – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Just when you think you’ve seen it all and you think nothing else can possibly been done to exploit the versatility in pizza, something comes along which surprises you. One such example is the “make your own pie” proposal by the entrepreneurial Kramerica Industries, a proposal which prompted extensive water cooler discussions. Flamboyant CEO Cosmo Kramer envisioned a pizzeria in…
  • July 16 Bouche – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Career paths do not always unfold as stereotypes might dictate. Heavily recruited out of Mission, Texas, a high school football hotbed, Frans Dinklemann, a 6’6″ 241-pound defensive end, signed with the University of New Mexico where his Lobo teammates included perennial National Football League (NFL) All-Pro Brian Urlacher. By his senior year, Frans had grown to 6’7″ and 270 pounds…
  • July 13 The Spot Cafe – Corrales, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Big Bang Theory wunderkind Sheldon Cooper has a spot he describes as the “singular location in space around which revolves my entire universe.” That spot is the left side of his couch, a location he has placed “in a state of eternal dibs.” In scientific terms, Sheldon relates his spot as “a single point of consistency in an ever-changing world.”…
  • July 9 Magdalena Cafe – Magdalena, New Mexico
    In 1863 during the height of the Civil War, soldiers on leave from Fort Craig staked claims to silver strikes in the Magdalena Mountains. Within a few years, the boom towns of Kelly and Magdalena had sprung up, eventually achieving a population surpassing even Socorro, the county seat. The first veins of metal ore given up by the rocky promontories…
  • June 24 Fubelly: Solving the Age-Old Question of “Where Should We Eat Right Now?”
    “Panza llena, corazon contento,” the pithy Spanish saying which translates to “full belly, happy heart” is the mantra by which many restaurants in New Mexico operate. That sentiment is expressed in other parts of the country as “fubelly,” a diminutive of “full belly” with an implied tone of “happy heart.” On Monday, June 23rd, 2014, Fubelly, an online discovery platform…
  • June 22 The Turquoise Room – Winslow, Arizona
    The concept of “fast food” had a far different connotation during the Southwest’s Frontier days than it does today. This is especially true if one traveled via railroad through hundreds of miles of desolate, open country. In the more densely populated and genteel east there were often several cities between most destinations. This allowed for frequent rest and refreshment stops.…
  • June 20 Geoffrey’s Malibu – Malibu, California
    The walls at Geoffrey’s Malibu are festooned with copies of whimsical framed “doodles” created by Hollywood celebrities and movie stars who have dined at the posh seaside restaurant. Most are tongue-in-cheek self-portraits which probably speak volumes about the glitterati themselves–and not just whether they lack or are blessed with an artistic talent beyond their particular medium. Thematically, all the portraits…
  • June 19 La Super Rica Taqueria – Santa Barbara, California
    Truly legendary restaurants, those which can legitimately be called institutions–and there are very few of them–don’t just inspire return visits; they inspire pilgrimages. Institutions have generally stood the test of time by remaining consistent over time, thriving even against the onslaught of more polished and pristine interlopers. Institutions are beloved beyond the communities they serve, their fame and acclaim growing…
  • June 18 Norton’s Pastrami & Deli – Santa Barbara, California
    “I flew too close to the sun on wings of pastrami.” ~George Costanza January 14th has been designated “National Hot Pastrami Sandwich day.” The fact that a day has been designated to honor the greatness of the “most sensual of all the salted and cured meats” is wholly unnecessary for many of us. True pastrami paramours in the mold of…
  • June 17 Opal Restaurant and Bar – Santa Barbara, California
    We’re all familiar with premise of Iron Chef America in which accomplished chefs are pitted against the veritable pantheon of culinary giants who have earned the title of Iron Chef. Can you imagine if one of the vaunted Iron Chefs, or even one of the challengers for that matter, failed to present the judges a variety of ways in which…
  • June 15 Trattoria Mollie – Montecito, California
    In its three best-selling editions–published in 2006, 2008 and 2012–National Geographic’s “Passport to the Best” has enthralled, excited and educated connoisseurs of matters of taste across the globe. With top ten lists in dozens of categories studded with savvy tips and inspiring imagery, this wayfarer’s bible invigorates investigative yearnings for exotic travel, if for nothing else to confirm or refute…
  • June 7 Five Star Burgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    On Friday, March 19th, 2010 and to surprisingly little fanfare, a locally owned and operated burger restaurant by the name of Five Star Burgers launched in Albuquerque’s North Towne Plaza at Academy and Wyoming. Its opening predated by about a week, the launch of a similarly named burger establishment, an east coast based interloper named Five Guys which has exploded…
  • May 30 Friends of Gil (FOG) II Dinner: Great Food, Great Time, Great Friends
    One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends. ~ Laurie Colwin On Thursday, 29 May 2014 at 7PM, nineteen of the Duke City’s most passionate gastronomes enjoyed a sumptuous repast and a terrific evening…
  • May 27 Leroy’s New Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    As with any city of comparable size, many of Albuquerque’s most popular dining destinations are clustered in neighborhoods bustling with commerce and activity. You could say there’s a well-beaten–and well-eaten–path to these neighborhoods. Chain addicted diners know they can find their favorite Madison Avenue sanctified corporate megaliths on the frontage roads flanking I25 as well as in the Coors Bypass…
  • May 26 Whole Hog Cafe – Santa Fe & Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While the etymology of the expression “whole hog” appears to be American, its progenitor is actually an English slang word. Americans in the new world employed the slang use of hog as a word for dime, intending the term to mean “spend the entire coin at once.” The word hog had been previously used in the Mother Country as slang…
  • May 23 Gen Kai Japanese Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In Japan, ramen is so revered that diners line up, sometimes for hours, at ramen houses for homemade noodles tangled with such ingredients as dried fish, pork and chicken. Connoisseurs make pilgrimages to a popular ramen museum in Yokohama, not the only museum dedicated to ramen, by the way. If you’re wondering how the ramen noodle product you purchased as…
  • May 8 Adieux Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    For restaurants located in downtown Albuquerque’s Arts and Entertainment district, centered along Central Avenue and Gold Avenue west of First Street, downtown revitalization, a ten million dollar infusion of energy and creativity, has been both a dichotomy and a dilemma. Daylight hours bring a diverse swathe of white- and blue-collar diners to those restaurants, but after dusk, the downtown demographic…
  • May 5 Izanami – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    “Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us without words.” ~Marcel Marceau When the Spaniards first gazed upon the setting sun as it hit the towering snow-capped mountains and appeared to bathe the slopes in a burst of red, they were so moved that the pious Conquistadors exclaimed “Sangre de Cristo,” blood of Christ. Whether bathed in…
  • May 4 Yanni’s Mediterranean Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The now defunct Albuquerque Monthly magazine titled a May, 1995 article “Yanni Come Lately,” heralding the arrival of a new Greek restaurant on Nob Hill. More than a decade has elapsed since that article and Yanni’s Mediterranean continues to more than live up to the lofty accolades it has earned over the years. Yanni’s has been recognized by other national,…
  • May 3 El Sabor De Juarez – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Before it was embroiled in the grip of violence born of warring drug cartels vying for control of the drug traffic destined for the United States…before its shameful history of violence against women was uncovered…before it was accorded the dubious honor of being named the world’s most dangerous city, Cuidad Juarez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua was long known…
  • May 1 Back-Sass BBQ – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Every few years, the eyes of the world fixate on a tiny chimney perched on the roof of the Sistine Chapel as millions await the telltale plumes of white smoke which signify that a new pope has been elected. Since November, 2012, savvy Duke City area barbecue aficionados have been following plumes of smoke emanating from a mobile eighteen-foot grilling…
  • April 23 Weekdays Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” That weight loss axiom subtitles the signage at Weekdays Restaurant. As its name implies, Weekdays is open Monday through Friday, but only for breakfast and lunch, making it easy to live up to the aforementioned axiom. Located on Fifth Street just north of Lead Avenue, Weekdays…
  • April 18 Butcher & Bee – Charleston, South Carolina
    I’m not a sandwich store that only sells turkey sandwiches. I sell a lot of different things. ~Lady Gaga You might expect that a restaurant selected for inclusion on a list of “The 21 Best Sandwich Shops in America” would have a signature sandwich, its chef d’oeuvre. Pittsburgh’s Primanti Brothers, for example, is known for its pastrami and cheese sandwich.…
  • April 17 EVO – North Charleston, South Carolina
    America is a pizza obsessed nation. Ninety-three percent of us consume at least one slice of pizza per month and collectively, we each eat some 46 slices of pizza per year. According to Pizza Magazine Quarterly, the pizza industry’s number one business magazine and web site, there are nearly 70,000 pizzerias in the United States (or about as many pizzerias…
  • April 16 Gullah Cuisine – Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (CLOSED)
    No culinary tour of South Carolina’s Lowcountry would be complete without sampling Gullah cuisine at least once. In the Lowcountry, Gullah represents several things: people, culture and language. As a people, the Gullah represent a distinctive group of African Americans living along the island chains and coastal plains which parallel the South Carolina and Georgia coast. The Gullah people are…
  • April 15 Magnolias – Charleston, South Carolina
    Some four million visitors flock to Charleston, South Carolina every year. Charleston is the beguiling Southern charmer, a siren which lures guests with its storied history, artistic communities, architectural styles (which range from antebellum to art-deco), pristine beaches (on ninety miles of coastline) and, of course, incomparable Lowcountry cuisine. Known as the “Holy City” because of the prevalence of churches…
  • April 14 The Lady & Son’s – Savannah, Georgia
    When I told friends and family of my impending visit to Lady & Sons, the Savannah restaurant owned and operated by former Food Network celebrity chef Paula Deen and her scions Bobby and Jamie, I expected a barrage of well-intentioned criticism. The most “innocent” criticism would have to do with “a cacophony of cackling” and a “chorus of “ya’all” coming…
  • April 13 Poe’s Tavern – Sullivan Island, South Carolina
    Had Edgar Allan Poe, the legendary writer of tales of mystery and the macabre, been born in modern times, he would likely have been recruited by the notorious National Security Agency (NSA), not to spy on Americans, but to work in its cryptography department. While Poe didn’t invent cryptography, he certainly popularized it in his short story The Gold Bug,…
  • April 13 Hominy Grill – Charleston, South Carolina (CLOSED)
    In May, 2011, Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine invited some of the most prolific culinary bloggers across the country (including yours truly) to a culinary “throw-down” of sorts. We were asked to provide a fun and humorous argument as to why our particular regional cuisine reigns supreme. Why, for example, is New Mexican food better than Cajun food in the Louisiana…
  • April 12 Melvin’s Legendary Bar-B-Q – Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
    In a 2007 pageant, Miss South Carolina Teen became a YouTube sensation after butchering the answer to a question about U.S. geography. Within three days, the video clip had attracted nearly 3.5 million views. The befuddling question she was asked was “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the United States on a world map. Why do…
  • March 18 Rub-N-Wood BBQ – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Beam me up Scotty. There is no good barbecue on this planet.” ~James T. Kirk Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the United Starship Enterprise never actually uttered those words, but had he visited Rio Rancho between June 22nd and August 2nd, 2013, he would have found NO barbecue–good or bad–in Rio Rancho. No barbecue in the City of Barbecue…er, Vision,…
  • March 10 JENNIFER JAMES 101 – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The number 101 has some very interesting connotations. If you grew up in the 60s, you might remember the Benson & Hedges cigarette jingle, “One, oh, one, one, oh, one, a silly little millimeter longer one, oh, one, a silly millimeter longer.” Talk about ear wax. That jingle was like It’s A Small World and the Gilligan’s Island theme. Once…
  • February 23 Prime – Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    What kind of foods and food-related activities do white people like? According to New York Times best-selling author Christian Lander, white people like picking their own fruit, sea salt, hummus, dinner parties, bottles of water, kitchen gadgets, Whole Foods and grocery co-ops, Asian fusion food, sushi, breakfast places, vegan or vegetarianism, wine, micro-breweries, tea, organic food, farmer’s markets, coffee and…
  • February 22 Friends of Gil (FOG) Dinner: A Great Time Had By All
    If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart. ~ Cesar Chavez “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” For the fifteen foodies who gathered at Joe’s Pasta House on Saturday evening, February 22nd, the inaugural “Friends of…
  • February 16 Santa Fe Bite – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    “This burger is a wonder. It’s thick, it’s perfectly cooked, juicy and covered in cheese… If eating a burger is a sin, this burger is like going to Vegas with a hooker who you kill, stuff in your trunk, and push off into a canyon.” —The Amateur Gourmet NOTE: The Santa Fe Bite reviewed here closed in 2018, but a…
  • February 15 Asian Noodle Bar – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the United States, as in many western cultures, the art of slurping one’s food in public has long been an etiquette taboo. In terms of culinary faux pas, slurping falls somewhere between talking with your mouth open and belching loudly. Conversely, in Japan and other Asian countries, slurping noodles at restaurants is not only perfectly acceptable, it’s often considered…
  • February 8 Taste of Rio Rancho Showcases City of Vision’s Best
    Great things are happening in New Mexico’s third most populous city. Rio Rancho has developed an impressive culinary culture, boasting a number of bona fide award-winning destination restaurants. Not only are more and more of the City of Vision’s citizens frequenting restaurants in their hometown, discerning Duke City diners are making the trek “up the hill” to dine in Rio…
  • February 3 Kaktus Brewing Company – Bernalillo & Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Most of us have known a wine snob or two. You know the type. They refer to themselves as oenophiles, a fancy way of saying “connoisseur or lover of wines.” They believe themselves to possess refined palates and won’t drink a wine that isn’t as cultured as they are. Even then, they first have to check the color and opacity…
  • February 2 Farm & Table – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For the past quarter century or so, American chefs and the dining public have increasingly embraced the concept of farm-to- table cooking. It makes great sense from an environmental and an economical standpoint and as the Smithsonian Magazine wrote, “the farm-to-table movement is at once hip and historic.” Its historical aspects are especially relevant in agrarian New Mexican villages where…
  • January 20 Ahh! Sushi – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED: 2015)
    The year was 1997. Recently thawed from a thirty year cryogenic state, Dr. Evil addressed the United Nations about his diabolical scheme to hold the world ransom: “ In a little while you’ll notice that the Kreplachistani warhead has gone missing. If you want it back, you’re going to have to pay me…one million dollars.” After the United Nations officials…
  • January 18 Hartford Square – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a star.” ~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin Dante Alighieri’s 14th century poem Divine Comedy postulated the existence of nine circles of Hell, each circle appropriate to the sins of the damned. The fourth circle, for example, is reserved for hoarders and wasters whose punishment is to spend…
  • January 5 Brickyard Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “The Brickyard” is the commonly used nickname for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500. A Duke City pizzeria with the sobriquet Brickyard Pizza launched near the University of New Mexico in August, 2004, but has absolutely nothing to do with the famous race. It isn’t even affiliated with Albuquerque’s famous racing family, the Unsers, several of whom…

2013 (72)

  • December 31 Clancy’s Pub – Farmington, New Mexico
    Characterized by writer Tom Wolfe as the “Me Decade” and derided by cynics as the “Disco Era,” the 1970s witnessed an explosion of copycat fast food chain restaurants and the birth of innovative fusion cuisine in many contemporary restaurants. Fusion cuisine is the inventive combination of diverse, sometimes disparate culinary traditions, techniques and ingredients to form an entirely new genre.…
  • December 27 Gil’s Best of the Best for 2013
    The advent of 2014 is nigh. It’s with great fondness and more than a little (blush) salivation that I bid adieu to auld lang syne and the most memorable dishes of 2013. These are the dishes which are most indelibly imprinted on my memory engrams…the first dishes that come to mind when I close my eyes and reflect on the…
  • December 25 2013: A Thrilling (And Filling) Year in Food
    Tis the season…for year-end retrospectives in which the good, the bad and the ugly; the triumphs and tragedies; the highs and lows and the ups and downs are revisited ad-infinitum by seemingly every print and cyberspace medium in existence. It’s the time of year in which the “in-your-face” media practically forces a reminiscence–either fondly or with disgust–about the year that…
  • December 24 Taco Sal New Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Rachael Ray, the hyper-bubbly kitchen diva recently divulged that casinos pipe in the fragrance of cumin because it causes gamblers to lose their inhibitions and gamble without guilt. Cigarette smoke and cumin…that doesn’t sound like an olfactory arousing aroma combination to me, much less one which would lure anyone to a purlieu of poker and slots. Now, if casinos figured…
  • December 16 Nosh Jewish Delicatessen & Bakery – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    You see, Elaine, the key to eating a black and white cookie is that you wanna get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet still somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie, all our problems would be solved. ~Jerry Seinfeld While creative personnel and…
  • December 8 B2B Bistronomy – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Marshall: Just a Burger? Just a burger. Robin, it’s so much more than “just a burger.” I mean…that first bite—oh, what heaven that first bite is. The bun, like a sesame freckled breast of an angel, resting gently on the ketchup and mustard below, flavors mingling in a seductive pas de deux. And then…a pickle! The most playful little pickle!…
  • December 1 Kelly’s Brew Pub – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “If you ever plan to motor west Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best A-get your kicks on Route sixty-six It winds from Chicago to LA More than two thousand miles all the way Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.” ~Nat King Cole With a population of approximately 30,000, Albuquerque had just about as many people in 1939…
  • November 22 Panchito’s Restaurant & Bakery – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Let’s get one thing straight: Mexican food takes a certain amount of time to cook. If you don’t have the time, don’t cook it. You can rush a Mexican meal, but you will pay in some way. You can buy so-called Mexican food at too many restaurants that say they cook Mexican food. But the real food, the most savory…
  • November 10 Lindo Mexico Grill & Seafood – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the entire world, there may not be a national anthem that inspires as much heart-felt pride as the Mexican ballad Mexico Lindo Y Querido. It is a hauntingly stirring proclamation of the balladeer’s profound love for his native land–a love so intense that even his guitar awakens in the morning inspired to sing with alacrity about that land he…
  • November 9 The Cube – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Timon: [singing] Luau. If you’re hungry for a hunk of fat and juicy meat Eat my buddy Pumbaa here, ’cause he’s a tasty treat Come on down and dine on this tasty swine All you gotta is get in line Are you achin’… Pumbaa: Yup, yup, yup. Timon: For some bacon? Pumbaa: Yup, yup, yup. Timon: He’s a big pig.…
  • October 31 Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog: 5,000 Visitor Comments…And Counting
    On Friday, October 25th, 2013, Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog achieved a significant milestone when it received its 5000th published feedback, some sixty-one months after the blog’s launch. The main reason I migrated Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Web site to a blog on September 13, 2008 is because blogs are much more interactive than conventional Web sites. In our increasingly…
  • October 26 Badlands Burgers & Tortas – Grants, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Out through the back door of Rosa’s I ran, Out where the horses were tied. I caught a good one. It looked like it could run. Up on its back and away I did ride, Just as fast as I could from the West Texas town of El Paso Out to the badlands of New Mexico. ~El Paso by Marty…
  • October 17 People’s Choice Green Restaurant Contest Winners Named
    Two votes!  That was the margin which decided the Santa Fe restaurant which won the 2013 People’s Choice Green Restaurant award. The Nature Conservancy announced today that the Santa Fe restaurant garnering the Nature’s Plate Award was Vinaigrette which edged out Il Piatto by two votes.  More than 550 votes were cast for the four Santa Fe restaurants vying for the…
  • October 13 Dr. Field Goods Kitchen – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    At first contemplation, Dr. Field Goods sounds like a strange name for a restaurant. To the lexicologist in me, it brought to mind the Hippocrates missive “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” To the white-coat-syndrome suffering, borderline iatrophobe in me, the name sent shivers down my spine. To the gastronome in me who finally realized the…
  • October 12 Rey’s La Familiar Restaurante – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Many similarities exist between writing beautiful lyrics for a memorable song and developing a great recipe for memorable food. Great lyrics involve putting together the right words so that they flow easily around a meaningful topic. Great recipes involve putting together the right ingredients so they coalesce into a delicious whole. There are no real rules to writing great lyrics…
  • September 29 The Ranch House – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    When it comes to existentialism, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche have nothing on my university classmate Ron who would argue that the meaning of life is to ponder the meaning of life. In his ongoing analysis of existence, he can turn any subject into a philosophical debate. Once while enjoying a rack of ribs at Anjac’s BBQ in Gulfport, Mississippi, he actually…
  • September 27 Rancher’s Club of New Mexico – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    While the Ranchers Club of New Mexico may evoke images of J. R. Ewing holding court with fellow oil barons and business magnates in Dallas, this magnificent milieu is, at its core and essence, unabashedly New Mexican in its attitude and spirit. Don’t let its ostentatious trappings–a sophisticated big city opulence meets a decidedly westernized look and feel–fool you. Sophisticated…
  • September 26 Paco’s International Smoked Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “If salt is the odorless spice, smoke is the ephemeral magical invisible spice. You can’t feel it, you can’t touch it, but you can taste it.” ~Chef Seamus Mullen, Tertulia Restaurant, New York City. Have you ever wondered why some people drool when they pass by a computer displaying a fireplace screen saver? They’re not thinking about romance. They’re thinking…
  • September 25 Horseman’s Haven – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    I know several native New Mexicans who have accepted the dumbing down of political office in America as a consequence of living in these times and who have shrugged apathetically at the attenuation of educational standards. These same individuals, however, become as agitated and vociferous as scalded cats when served chile that has been “Anglicized”–that is, chile which doesn’t bring…
  • September 21 Milton’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes You might think that a world-famous cookbook author and New York Times food writer who dines at four-star white-tablecloth restaurants and routinely drops $200 or more for a meal would be ecstatic about his culinary opportunities. Instead, Mark Bittman appears to…
  • September 6 The Corn Maiden – Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico
    First cultivated in Mexico around 5000 BC, corn has since been a ubiquitous staple among American Indians throughout the fruited plain. A resilient, versatile and nourishing crop also known as maize, corn allowed Indians to develop the complex social structure and village life which unfolded from the parched valleys of the southwest to the lush eastern woodlands. Along with squash…
  • September 2 Street Food Asia – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    What is street food? An informal poll of friends and colleagues generated some interesting answers. One colleague equates street food to road kill– the flattened fauna, car-crashed carrion and furry Frisbees found on and along the highways and byways throughout the fruited plain. (Hmmm, that answer might explain his halitosis.) To another, street food is synonymous with hot dog carts…
  • September 1 El Milagro New Mexican Restaurant – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Believing “there was a void in our menu vis-a-vis the adult who wanted a higher ratio of meat to bun,” a former Vice President of product development for McDonald’s invented The Quarter Pounder in 1971. As a marketing ploy, the name Quarter Pounder quickly became a resounding success. Clever advertising campaigns convinced American consumers they were purchasing a large, beefy…
  • August 4 The Pantry Restaurant – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    “Although the skills aren’t hard to learn, finding the happiness and finding the satisfaction and finding fulfillment in continuously serving somebody else something good to eat, is what makes a really good restaurant.” In 1948, just three years removed from the second “war to end all wars” Santa Fe was hardly the sophisticated and cosmopolitan tourist haven Conde Naste Traveler…
  • July 27 Chillz Frozen Custard – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Custard: A detestable substance produced by a malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow, and the cook.” Ambrose Bierce, American writer (1842-1914) The Devil’s Dictionary (1906) Ambrose Bierce’s scathing definition of custard is not necessarily an expression of his disdain for the popular frozen dessert, but an example of his lampooning of American culture and especially its lexicon. Starting in…
  • July 25 Terra Bistro Italiano – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    To some extent, people watch Anthony Bourdain for the same reasons they tune in to infamous shock-jock Howard Stern–to see what he’ll say next. Though Bourdain, the best-selling author, world traveler, renown chef and “poet of the common man” is hardly the potty-mouthed bane of the Federal Communications Commission that Stern is, his incisive comments are oft peppered with pejoratives…
  • July 24 Chin Shan Chinese Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    According to the trade magazine Chinese Restaurant News, as of January, 2007, there were 43,139 Chinese restaurants in the United States. That’s three times the number of McDonalds franchise units and more than the total number of McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s in America combined. More than 80 percent are family-owned with nation-wide chains such as Panda Express and PF…
  • July 20 Breakfast Egg Stravaganza 2013: A Great Success!
    On Saturday, July 20th, 2013, Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque hosted its twelfth annual Breakfast Egg Stravaganza. The event was held at the Northside Presbyterian Clinic, 5901 Harper Drive, N.E., in Albuquerque. A great time was had by all. The breakfast was an all-you-can-eat plethora of deliciousness that included freshly made pancakes, build-your-own omelets, made to order waffles, a fresh…
  • July 13 Sushiya Asian Fusion Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I don’t eat anything that a dog won’t eat. Like sushi. Ever see a dog eat sushi? He just sniffs it and says, “I don’t think so.” And this is an animal that licks between its legs and sniffs fire hydrants.”.“ – Billiam Coronel Sushi has come a long way in America.  There was a time–and not very long ago–that…
  • July 6 La Posta De Mesilla – Mesilla, New Mexico
    If only walls could talk, you’d want the adobe brick walls at La Posta (The Inn) to recount their impressions of the veritable “who’s who” of Western history who once sought shelter within its fortified walls.  You’d want those walls to reveal their thoughts of legendary outlaw Billy the Kid who hung out at La Posta on his road to…
  • July 5 Cafe Chloe – San Diego, California (CLOSED)
    From your seat on the sidewalk patio of Café Chloe, you can see Petco Park, the open-air home of the San Diego Padres. You’ll have a front row view of a veritable cavalcade of motorized and foot-powered conveyances—from swanky Maseratis to sleek inline skates. Passers-by on foot include some of the city’s most downtrodden as well as its captains of…
  • July 4 Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar – La Jolla, California
    My baby sister Anita paid me the ultimate compliment, not as a brother, but as a savvy restaurant essayist. When we ran into her at the Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar in picturesque La Jolla, she told me “I knew you’d find this place,” acknowledgement that she recognizes my prowess in finding the very best restaurants everywhere I travel. Born nine…
  • July 3 Phil’s BBQ Restaurant – San Diego, California
    A few decades ago, the culinary cognoscenti anointed the best bastions of bodacious barbecue–Kansas City, Memphis, Texas and the Carolinas…and there was much rejoicing. Since then, it’s been widely accepted that this exclusive quadrumvirate is where the very best barbecue in America is to be found. Much of this acceptance is because the four regions have deployed their marketing machines…
  • July 2 El Agave Restaurante and Tequileria – San Diego, California
    Tequila has long endured a legacy of scorn, derision and misinformation.  It’s  been a proving ground for manhood among frat boys downing shooters to show their mettle.  Urban myths and legends have long been believed of hallucinogenic worms at the bottom of the bottle.  Because of “ta-kill-ya” induced hangovers (usually the result of poor quality tequila), men with iron-cast constitutions have…
  • July 1 Piatti Ristorante & Bar – La Jolla, California
    A tavola non si invecchia. Translation: At the table with good friends and family you do not become old. ~ Italian Proverb While this timeless Italian dictum which our friend Sandy Driscoll shared with us resounds with sagacity, a little editing might make it even more accurate for Americans.  Perhaps the proverb should read “At the table with good friends…
  • June 30 Pizzeria Mozza – Newport Beach, California
    “Breadmaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells –there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” ~M.F.K. Fisher,…
  • June 28 El Guero Canelo – Tucson, Arizona
    If asked to participate in a word association exercise, any well-traveled foodie undergoing psychoanalysis would find it easy to name the first food that comes to mind when a city is mentioned: Philadelphia – the Philly cheesesteak sandwich; Boston – baked beans; Chicago – Italian beef sandwiches; San Francisco – sourdough bread; Milwaukee – butter burgers; San Antonio, New Mexico…
  • June 28 The Patio – Deming, New Mexico
    Drive past Deming on the interstate and you’ll be bypassing one of New Mexico’s little known gems, a city once bestowed the nickname “New Chicago” in anticipation of its burgeoning growth with the surge of railroad usage.  Although the population boom never happened, there is still much about Deming to enjoy as rock hunters, history buffs and anthropologists will attest. …
  • June 27 Ancient Spirits Bar & Grille – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Ancient spirits dwell in New Mexico, since before the existence of humanity.” – The Husband: A Novel by Dean Koontz FROM THE ANCIENT SPIRITS BLOG ON JULY 17:  Due to unforeseen circumstances Ancient Spirits Bar and Grille has had to close its doors. We have lost one of our owner/investors and are searching for someone to take his place. We…
  • June 21 The Smokehouse Barbecue Restaurant (CLOSED)
    The very best restaurants–those we’re proud to call our favorites–aren’t always the swankiest and most elegant venues.  They’re not even usually the restaurants you visit on special occasions.  They’re our favorites because for the duration of our meal, all our cares dissipate and our faith that everything will be okay is restored as we’re fed comforting, delicious food by servers…
  • June 15 Rafiki Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Let us break bread and celebrate our diversity.” ~Desmond Tutu Peruvian cuisine…been there, done that!  Moroccan meals…that’s so yesterday.  Persian food…it’s had its day.  Pan Asian dining…erstwhile eating.  Never mind Italian regional cuisine and Spanish tapas.  Once fresh and nouveau, they’re now practically prehistoric.  Who would have thought ten years ago that the Duke City would become so cosmopolitan, so…
  • June 5 Lumpy’s Burgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Of all the adjectives that can be used to describe something or someone, lumpy is certainly not one of the most complimentary.  Think of all the Archie Bunker-like tantrums thrown during holiday meals when lumpy mashed potatoes are served or the breakfast battles that ensue when the oatmeal is lumpy. In fits of pique, seven-time Academy Award nominated actor Richard…
  • May 31 Pranzo Italian Grill – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Can you imagine New Mexico Magazine‘s scintillating culinary liaison Cheryl Alters Jamison declaring to the world that Texas chili, that cumin-laden “con carne” bowl of red (insert your favorite epithet here), is superior to New Mexico’s red and green and that our chefs are shamelessly usurping Texas culinary traditions? Not even as an April Fool’s Day joke would she do…
  • May 25 San Antonio Crane Mexican Restaurant – San Antonio, New Mexican
    Though I’m widely credited as being the “godfather of Albuquerque food blogging“(or the “Yoda of food” as the great Jenn Wolhetz once called me), before there was a Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Web, there was another voice calling in the wilderness to alert diners to the Land of Enchantment’s culinary offerings.  Before there was a Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Web,…
  • May 24 El Chicken 100% Carbon – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    My environmentally conscious friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver doesn’t have a large carbon footprint.  No environmental activist would ever condemn him for fouling the air and water with a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, Sr. Plata leaves large “carbon fingerprints,” the finger-licking kind you get from frequenting restaurants which specialize in pollo al carbon, chicken prepared over charcoal. …
  • May 18 China Luck – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    You can’t accuse Americanized Chinese food of being subtle.  Brash, gaudy and maybe even over-the-top, but never subtle. In fact, the flavor profile of Americanized Chinese food is generally so gunked up with MSG, sugar, salt and vinegar that by comparison, authentic Chinese food may come across to unacculturated diners as comparatively bland or boring.  When Daniel Wilcox recommended a…
  • May 14 Break The Chain Visits Paco’s International Smoked Cuisine
    When Break The Chain host Ryan Scott learned that a CIA trained chef was operating in the Duke City, he knew he’d have to investigate.  His sleuthing didn’t reveal any clandestine menus or covert cooking, but he did discover a chef with some pretty deft knife-wielding skills.  Throughout Ryan’s interrogation, the chef maintained no cloak of subterfuge or secrecy.  In…
  • May 11 La Cantina at Casa Sena – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In the dark ages of 1979 when the world wasn’t nearly as connected as it is today, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ruled the airwaves throughout the United Kingdom just as it had since its founding in 1922. Young listeners complained that the monopoly of control had forged a monotony in programming. For Yanks like me, however, the so-called “monotony”…
  • May 4 Krung Thai – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    At 75 years of age, Grandma remains as energetic and feisty as ever though she’s quite unhappy that her well-intentioned and loving family have made her take Saturdays off. She’d just as soon work six days a week at the Krung Thai Restaurant on Menaul. Grandma’s not only an accomplished cook, she’s got several treasured family recipes locked in her…
  • May 3 Pho Hoa – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Though it ended in 1975, the Vietnam war was still very fresh in the minds of Americans when I enlisted in the Air Force two years later.  Many of my senior colleagues had served in Vietnam and regaled me with tales of their adventures.  It wasn’t man’s inhumanity to man they took away from the experience, but the goodness of…
  • May 1 Yasmine’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Never mind an Emmy.  If the Hollywood Reporter and the Huffington Post have their way, comedian Larry David might qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize.  That is if a 2011 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm can do what diplomats and politicians have failed to do over the years.  In the episode, entitled Palestinian Chicken, Larry discovers a Palestinian restaurant that…
  • April 13 Caruso’s Italian Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The 1924 publication of Edgar Rice Burrough’s fantasy novel The Land That Time Forgot regaled readers with the notion of what might happen when contemporary humans stumble upon a lost world in which evolution has progressed much more slowly. Step into Caruso’s Italian Restaurant on Menaul and you just might be entering Albuquerque’s version of the Italian restaurant that time…
  • April 12 Taste of Peru – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Early in 2013, the National Restaurant Association took the pulse of more than 1,800 professional chefs and nearly 200 professional bartenders with its annual “What’s Hot” culinary survey designed to predict restaurant menu trends for the coming year. Considered the definitive forecast of culinary inclinations, the survey’s “Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors” category was topped by Peruvian cuisine which is not…
  • March 16 Sai Gon Sandwich – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If ever there was a culinary Kobayashi Maru (for the non-Trekkies among you, that’s a no-win scenario), it might well be naming the best sandwich (or best food of any kind) in the world. Imagine the challenge. There are potentially hundreds of thousands of delicious candidates, many worthy of acclaim as the very best in their block, city, state or…
  • March 16 Duke City Donuts – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    If you love donuts (and who doesn’t), you might want to consider being just a bit more generous when you see the ubiquitous Salvation Army bell-ringers and their familiar kettles standing in the chilly winter air to solicit donations.  The Salvation Army didn’t invent the first donut, but you can certainly credit much of their popularity to this philanthropic group.…
  • March 9 High Noon Restaurant & Saloon – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Oh, to be torn twixt love and duty Supposin’ I love my fair haired beauty Look at that big hand movin’ round Nearin’ high noon.” ~ Tex Ritter The 1952 Academy Award winning movie High Noon follows taciturn marshal Will Kane as he single-handedly prepares to face a posse of murderers hellbent on revenge when the clock strikes twelve. Though…
  • March 8 Mint Tulip Vegan Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Once a year during a certain holiday in November, meat-eaters use the hollowed-out rectum of a dead bird as a pressure cooker for stuffing. And people think vegans are weird because we eat tofu?” ~Gary Yourofsky In the spirit of the much debated question of “nature or nurture,” my inaugural visit to The Mint Tulip Vegan Restaurant prompted my own…
  • March 2 2000 Vietnam Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    JERRY: “By the way Newman, I’m just curious. When you booked the hotel, did you book it for the millennium New Year?” NEWMAN: (smug) “As a matter of fact, I did.” JERRY: “Oh, that’s interesting, because as everyone knows, since there was no year zero, the millennium doesn’t begin until the year two-thousand and one.  Which would make your party…
  • March 1 Al’s Big Dipper – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Raj: “Actually, in India, the names of constellations are different. Where you have the Big Dipper, we have the Big Curry Pot.” Summer: “You’re making that up.” Raj: “You got me. Now what are you going to do with me?” ~The Big Bang Theory On a clear night, rural northern New Mexico’s ebony night skies are punctuated with a magnificent…
  • February 23 Tacos Mex Y Mariscos – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The taco landscape across the Duke City may well be a tale of two tacos. At one extreme we have Zacatecas Tacos & Tequila, the upscale, gourmet taco eatery situated in fashionable Nob Hill. In February, 2013, Zacatecas Tacos was named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation‘s “best new restaurant” in America honor. Zacatecas Tacos represents the “self-actualization” of…
  • February 21 Fox’s Pizza Den – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    There may have been no more amusing (or, tragically, accurate) depiction of the “meat market” that was the dating scene in the 1970s than a recurring Saturday Night Live skit about two wild and crazy guys named George and Yortuk Festrunk. The Czech brothers, portrayed brilliantly by Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd, dressed in tight pants and loud, unbuttoned polyester…
  • February 18 Paddy Rawal’s OM- Fine Indian Dining – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    It wasn’t New Mexico’s Chamber of Commerce winter weather that enticed Chef Pramad “Paddy” Rawal to remain in the Land of Enchantment. In fact, when he first landed at Albuquerque’s International Sunport, he wondered if he had gotten on the correct flight. Albuquerque was as frigid as his home in Michigan which he had left just hours prior. Attired in…
  • February 17 Dandy Burger – Española, New Mexico
    Back in my halcyon youth as a multi-sport athlete at Peñasco High School (when I could consume half a million calories a meal at no detriment to my then svelte physique), Dandy Burger in beautiful downtown Española was a frequent dining destination–particularly after the then “not so mighty” Peñasco Panthers suffered a loss (and there were many of them). On…
  • February 16 The Yeller Sub – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the town where I was born… Lived a man who sailed to sea… And he told us of his life… In the land of submarines… – The Beatles: Yellow Submarine The phantasmagorical 1966 Beatles song Yellow Submarine may or may not have been the inspiration for Albuquerque’s venerable Yeller Sub, but one thing’s for certain.  Since it launched in…
  • February 3 La Plazuela at La Fonda – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    History and Hollywood have glamorized the Colt 45 revolver as the “gun that tamed the West.” Known as the “Peacemaker,” the .45 caliber pistol was used by all the famous lawmen and cowboy heroes of the old West. Wyatt Earp used the Colt 45. So did Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody. It was often the deciding factor in…
  • January 27 Tune-up Café – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Dave Who? From 1981 until its closing in 2008, the converted residence at 1115 Hickox Street was the home of Dave’s Not Here, a quaint and quirky neighborhood favorite loyalist locals described as “unforgettable.” Perhaps “memorable” would have been more appropriate, because as the Eagles reminded us in their 1976 hit song New Kid In Town, “they will never forget…
  • January 23 Chez Bob – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of a meal there, it’s hard not to like a restaurant named Chez Bob. Much as poetic French words are apt to do, the term “chez” seems to impart instant credibility, authenticity and just a touch of haughtiness to any restaurant sporting that appellation–even though “chez” is just a preposition which means “at…
  • January 19 Sushi Xuan Asian Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Nay-saying economic analysts who perpetuate the notion that even neighborhood monopolies would take advantage of a captive market don’t know Carter, chef-owner of Sushi Xuan Asian Grill. Rather than taking an oligopolous stance as owner of the only restaurant in the entire West Mesa to serve sushi, Carter knows he’s serving his friends and neighbors. As a West Mesa area…
  • January 13 Zacatecas Tacos & Tequila – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The diminishing of the American diner’s disposable income has posed a significant challenge for restaurateurs, particularly those who specialize in fine-dining fare. In a downtrodden economy, Americans are less willing to spend their hard-earned money on meals that cost almost as much as a utilities payment. Instead, the dining consumer has increasingly turned toward a more casual dining experience. This…
  • January 10 Chile Rio Mexican Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In as delicious a dichotomy as you’ll find on any novel, the chapter from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which most terrorized and traumatized children actually provides glorious fantasy material for many adults.  In that memorable chapter, a gluttonous brat child named Augustus Gloop falls into a Chocolate River and is sucked through a pipe into a room in…
  • January 3 Cafe Istanbul – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    One of the most common responses given as to why people choose to retire in Santa Fe is “because it’s so different.” While it may be true that the “City Different” is different from where respondents came, some native New Mexicans like my buddy Mike Muller postulate that Santa Fe has become the “City Same.” He’s talking about the architectural…
  • January 1 Meet Andrea Feucht, Author of The Food Lovers’ Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Taos
    Widely recognized as one of the most foremost authorities on the New Mexico dining scene, Andrea Feucht is very passionate when it comes to the Land of Enchantment’s food. Andrea shares her passion with everyone in her new book, The Food Lovers Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos, a terrific tome all foodies should own.  Better still, buy at…

2012 (88)

  • December 31 Vinaigrette – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    During a 1994 episode of Seinfeld, Elaine’s boss, Mr. Pitt becomes obsessed with finding a spaceship obfuscated within a stereogram, a computer-generated image that presents an optical illusion in which a 3D image is hidden within a single 2D image to be revealed only when the viewer focuses his or her eyes correctly.  To the detriment of a pressing business…
  • December 28 Paisano’s Italian Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For years, the Duke City dining scene has been infiltrated by a plethora of cookie cutter Italian “chain gangs.” Despite deep corporate pockets, the flash and panache of Madison Avenue marketing machines and scripted, saccharine service, the chains have failed to drive away the beloved local mom and pop establishments to which Duke City diners remain steadfastly loyal?  One of…
  • December 27 Gil’s Best of the Best For 2012
    Over the years Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has become a community in which readers freely share their opinions. I invite all my dear readers to share your favorites by replying to this post…and if, like me, you love “best of” lists, I invite you to check out Cheryl Jamison’s The Ten Best Things I Ate In New Mexico This…
  • December 26 Savoy Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 1881, the Savoy Theater in London’s trendy West End was built to showcase the brilliant Victorian era collaboration of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan who composed fourteen comic operas.  The Savoy was the first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electricity.  It also has the distinction of being fronted by the only road in Britain…
  • December 26 2012: A Thrilling (and Filling) Year in Food
    Tis the season…for year-end retrospectives in which the good, the bad and the ugly; the triumphs and tragedies; the highs and lows and the ups and downs are revisited ad-infinitum by seemingly every print and cyberspace medium in existence. It’s the time of year in which the “in-your-face” media practically forces a reminiscence–either fondly or with disgust–about the year that…
  • December 22 Joe’s Dining – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In the American vernacular, there is no male name which denotes “average” more than Joe. The terms “Average Joe,” “Ordinary Joe” and “Joe Sixpack” are used to convey a completely average, down-to-earth working class male just as Ordinary, Average or Plain Jane are used to describe average women. These terms are used more as general descriptors than they are for…
  • December 21 Mucho Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    The New Mexico State Legislature has long recognized the important of our state’s culinary traditions, enacting measures to officially recognize those foods that have historical, cultural and emotional significance to citizens of the Land of Enchantment. In 1965, the delicious duo of frijoles (pinto beans) and chile were designated New Mexico’s official state vegetables (never mind that chile is technically…
  • December 16 Jimmy’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The first (and probably most important) English words my parents taught me before my first day of school were “May I please go to the restroom?”.  That simple phrase was the beginning of my love-hate relationship with the English language.  English can be a confounding language if it’s your primary language, but learning it as a second language is brutal.  I thought…
  • December 15 Yummi House – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Years ago, I had the misfortune of working with a technical writer who couldn’t spell his way out of a paper bag.  His punctuation was pathetic, his vocabulary vacuous and his writing peppered with malapropisms (the incorrect use of a word by substituting a similar-sounding word with a different meaning).  Some comedians have made an art out of malapropisms, but…
  • December 8 Zorba’s Fine Greek Dining – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Tell me what you do with the food you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are. Some turn their food into fat and manure, some into work and good humor, and others, I’m told, into God.” ~Zorba the Greek The most obvious theme of the Nikos Kazantzakis novel Zorba the Greek is that life should be lived to its…
  • December 8 Fratelli Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The ingredients with which you can top your pizza are limited only by your imagination. Crocodile and caviar? Been there, done that. In fact, a New York restaurateur will sell you a thousand dollar pie topped with four of the priciest caviars in the world. Blueberries, shrimp, cookies? That’s pretty tame stuff. A Swiss-based pizza chef laces his pizza with…
  • December 4 El Pollo Real – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Jay : I’m home! Mmm, what smells so good? Gloria : I’m making chunchullo, a traditional Colombian dish, for dinner with the family tonight. Chunchullo. Jay : What is that… like, uh, tacos? Gloria : Yes, like tacos. Manny : No, it isn’t. It’s the small intestine of a pig. Jay : Oh, geez. Why can’t we eat regular food…
  • November 26 La Sirenita – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    My good friend and frequent dining companion Bill Resnik is one of the most altruistic and selfless people I have the privilege of knowing. Every year he grows out his naturally white beard so he can portray Santa Claus at hospitals and nursing homes throughout the metropolitan area. Because he stands 6’5″ most of his friends look like elves standing…
  • November 25 Rey’s Place – Albuquerque, New Mexico (RELOCATED)
    Rey’s Place has relocated and now shares space with La Familar, the terrific Mexican restaurant owned by Michael “Rey’s” lovely bride Luz.  La Familiar is located at 1611 4th Street, N.W.  Its menu includes all the wonderful foods you’ve loved for years at Rey’s Place: gorditas, enchiladas, caldo de rez and so much more.  Whether you visit for excellent Mexican…
  • November 24 Kim Long Asian Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED 1 JULY 2015)
    Growing up on a relatively unsophisticated Northern New Mexican diet featuring such staples as beans, tortillas and chile could hardly be considered a training ground for gastronomic appreciation. Though I thoroughly enjoyed my mom’s cooking it was hardly with the realization that I was feasting on one of America’s very best regional cuisines. Frankly, in the 1960s, only someone with…
  • November 23 Il Piatto Italian Farmhouse Kitchen – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    As an independent observer of the New Mexico culinary condition, I used to think the most prominent delta in quality between restaurants in the Land of Enchantment and those in large metropolitan cities are in the areas of seafood, barbecue and Italian food. It’s easy to understand the dearth in outstanding seafood restaurants. We are, after all, a landlocked state…
  • November 17 Two Fools Tavern – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Read the table tent placards at the Two Fools Tavern and you’ll learn that this is where the craic is mighty. An old Gaelic term pronounced “crack”, craic refers to the lively essence of the pub experience, a unique and sometimes loud combination of good friends, good times and of course, good pints. Craic is a word for which there…
  • November 14 Route 66 Malt Shop – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In a May, 2009 edition of New Mexico Magazine feature celebrating “20 reasons Rail is Cool Now,” the magazine’s staff and contributors shared the best things to experience via the New Mexico Railrunner Express.”  A Duke City notable was root beer at the Route 66 Malt Shop and Grill, then about three miles from the nearest Railrunner depot.  The magazine encouraged…
  • October 28 San Marcos Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Contrary to some popular opinion, roosters don’t crow just to be noisy or annoying. They crow as a sign of territorial advertising; they’re protecting their turf. At San Marcos Cafe, the cacophonous din of crowing roosters is understandable considering the throngs of hungry patrons infringing on their turf. There was one famous fowl at the San Marcos Cafe who didn’t…
  • October 27 Prickly Pear Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield offered the following advice to his son: “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.” To Chesterfield, focusing on a singular task was not…
  • October 21 El Parasol – Española, New Mexico
    If you were in a hurry, driving through Española on a hot summer day in the early 1980s might have raised the diastolic level (the lower number) of your blood pressure to the level of the temperature gauge. That’s because on Sunday afternoons, Española’s main thoroughfares were the domain of the lowriders, elaborately painted late-model cars (many with intricate religious…
  • October 13 Saratori’s Di Tully – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 2007 serendipity had a hand in one of the most delicious additions to the Tully’s deli fortunes, an addition that had nothing to do with sandwiches, meats, pastas or other deli deliciousness. Rather than find a new tenant for the recently vacated shop next door, Johnny Carmuglia converted it into an Italian Pastry Shop which he named by combining…
  • October 1 Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog Up and Running…Again (And This Time For Good)
    Dear Readers As many of you know, back in August a malicious invader infected my virtual private server with a malware virus, the second such incident in four years.  To prevent a future recurrence, I paid the company which hosted my server to move my site to a “more secure” hosting environment.  Alas, no good deed goes unpunished.  The move…
  • September 30 La Fonda Del Bosque – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the millennium year, after years of planning and lobbying, the dream was finally realized of a haven  dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities. In 2000, the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC), launched along the Camino Real in the Albuquerque’s historic Barela’s neighborhood.  The Center is an architectural anomaly in a largely adobe-hued…
  • September 29 ZS&T’s Great Grub – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Here’s an idea: Quit playing on the Internet and get over to 5017 Menaul, N.E. for lunch. And dinner.” That’s not Gil Garduño admonishing you to take a break from the invaluable research you’re conducting on the Internet. That’s ZS&T’s Web site inviting you to what could very well be one of the best Duke City restaurants you’ve never heard…
  • September 13 Pepper Pot – Hatch, New Mexico
    You might expect that a village renowned as the “chile capital of the world” could also boast of restaurants which showcase chile of such high quality that they would be veritable Meccas to which diners from throughout the state would pilgrimage.  With a population of 1,648 (as of the 2010 census), Hatch has fewer than ten restaurants, many of which…
  • September 9 Arthur Bryant’s – Kansas City, Missouri
    Shortly after Arthur Bryant died in 1982, the Kansas City Star published a cartoon showing St. Peter greeting Arthur at the gates of heaven and asking, “Did you bring sauce?” Perhaps not even in Heaven can such a wondrous sauce be concocted. Arthur Bryant’s is probably the most famous barbecue restaurant in the country, if not the world–an institution to…
  • September 8 Savoy Grill – Kansas City, Missouri
    In a 2012 episode of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” television program, host Anthony Bourdain and his Russian pal Zamir Gotta visited Kansas City in search of the city’s best barbecue.  When not licking barbecue sauce off their fingers, the peckish duo detoured to Stroud’s for the best fried chicken in the known universe and to The Savoy Grill for…
  • September 8 Danny Edwards Blvd. BBQ – Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City is known as the “city of fountains.”  It’s also known as the “world’s barbecue capital.” If locals had their way, ever the twain would meet and the city’s fountains would be burbling not with water, but with barbecue sauce.  Barbecue sauce runs through the veins of local barbecue aficionados.  It’s an integral part of the city’s heritage.  More…
  • September 7 Stroud’s Restaurant & Bar – Fairway, Kansas
    Kansas City is often referred to as the “world’s barbecue capital.”  With more than 100 barbecue restaurants, its reputation for outstanding barbecue is known far and wide.  It’s not as commonly known that Kansas City can also strut its stuff about its fried chicken.  In fact, Travel Channel television host Adam Richman has joked that KC actually stands for “killer…
  • September 7 Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Kansas
    You might expect that a magazine renowned for its staunch advocacy of healthy living and fitness would celebrate only healthful dining and that its food-related content would be penned only by paragons of physical fitness and health. Perhaps because it may want a broader, younger readership demographic, Men’s Health Magazine asked popular but vice-ridden sybarite Anthony Bourdain to author an…
  • September 6 Billy Goat Tavern – Chicago, Illinois
    The genesis of the idiomatic expression “got your goat” which means “to greatly annoy someone” is in dispute with sources attributing it to both the United States and England.  The American version has it that horse trainers would put a goat in a racing horse’s stall to keep it calm.  When bettors wanted a horse to race badly, they took…
  • September 6 Al’s #1 Beef – Chicago, Illinois
    Assume the position!  It’s been called the “Chicago Lean,” the “Italian Stance” and simply “The Stance.”   It’s  the time-tested, traditional art and science of eating Italian beef sandwiches, a Chicago specialty.  Trust me, it’s not the same as eating an ordinary sandwich.  If you don’t follow the process, you’re bound to spill shards of beef, bits of giardiniera and…
  • September 5 David Burke’s Primehouse – Chicago, Illinois
    By day, my friend James Sorenham was an architect of his business group’s data warehouse and business intelligence strategies.  By night and on weekends, James was a gentleman farmer tending to a small herd at his Broke Again ranch outside Portland, Oregon.  James took immense pride in raising prized beef cattle and kept his colleagues apprised of their progress through…
  • September 5 The Purple Pig – Chicago, Illinois
    Poet Carl Sandburg bestowed the nickname “hog butcher for the world” upon the great city of Chicago at a time when the city was the epicenter for meatpacking in the United States. Companies such as Oscar Mayer, Swift and Armour operated large plants in the city, employing hundreds of residents. Unfortunately, Chicago’s streets became frequently overcrowded with pigs and cattle…
  • September 5 Garrett Popcorn Shop – Chicago, Illinois
    The favorite weather conditions for many Chicago natives correlates directly to their personal climatic ideals for standing in long lines. Chicagoans are a patient lot.  They’re used to standing in long lines, sometimes for as long as two hours…and that’s not to meet come of the city’s glitterati such as Oprah Winfrey or Mike Ditka.  They exercise Job-like patience to…
  • September 5 Frontera Grill – Chicago, Illinois
    Not everyone has the relentless drive and impassioned fortitude to parlay their most ardent desires and zealous fervor into a wildly successful thematic venture, but then not everyone is Rick Bayless, America’s Mexican chef and restaurateur nonpareil. His single-minded passion for the Mexican culinary experience is reflected in multimedia ventures such as his successful PBS television series “Cooking Mexican” and…
  • September 1 May Hong – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In late 2002, long-time proprietor and friend James Nguyen sold May Hong.  Fortunately he kept this wonderful jewel in the family, selling it to his lovely and talented sister-in-law. Best of all, he didn’t relinquish ownership until fully ensuring she could perfectly prepare the recipes that have made May Hong one of the two or three best Vietnamese restaurants in the…
  • August 28 Bert’s Burger Bowl – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The tee shirts worn by a nattily attired and enthusiastic wait staff at Bert’s Burger Bowl say it all: “Since 1954: One Location Worldwide.” Celebrating its golden anniversary in 2004, Bert’s seems to transcend time with a winning formula: great burgers, terrific service and reasonable prices. Generations of New Mexicans and visitors have made Bert’s a beloved Santa Fe dining…
  • August 26 Rooftop Pizzeria – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    When I come home feelin’ tired and beat I go up where the air is fresh and sweet (up on the roof) I get away from the hustling crowd And all that rat-race noise down in the street (up on the roof) On the roof, the only place I know Where you just have to wish to make it so…
  • August 25 Ravioli Italian Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The older I get, the more my favorite part of the Academy Awards every year is the teary-eyed tribute to all the famous screen legends who passed away during the preceding twelve months.  The montage of glitterati greatness on the “In Memoriam” segment not only provides a much-needed respite from self-absorbed acceptance speeches and tedious dance numbers, it  evokes a…
  • August 21 Christy’s Food Factory – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    A few years ago at the urging of an obviously taste-deprived, chain restaurant loving colleague, I had breakfast at a misnomer of a restaurant named Goody’s, a now defunct restaurant on Yale. He bragged about Goody’s breakfast burrito being as good as Milton’s Family Restaurant, sacrilege if it was ever uttered. A business trip provided the opportune time to debunk…
  • August 15 Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe – Taos, New Mexico
    During his 2005 visit to Taos for the taping of the Food Network’s Food Nation program, über-celebrity chef Bobby Flay, likely the best known grill chef in the world, probably didn’t do as much to put Orlando’s New Mexican restaurant on the culinary map as you might think. Ditto for all the many first place awards hanging on the restaurant’s…
  • August 5 Jinja Bar & Bistro – Santa Fe & Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Fusion cuisine.  The term often makes the most stodgy of purists cringe.  Even those among us with the most liberal of palates have been known to cower at its mention.  All too often, fusion cuisine is a loosely defined excuse for restaurateurs to unleash any number of unnatural flavor combinations upon the chaste, unsuspecting taste buds of diners seeking a…
  • August 4 The Town House Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    America’s highway system expansion which began in the 1930s not only “shrank” America, it introduced the entertaining, educational–some might say bizarre–phenomenon of the roadside attraction.  Entrepreneurs competed with each other to create gawk-inspiring, curiosity motivating, must-see-to-believe attractions to snare the attention of motorists and motivate them to part with some of their money.  Neon lights festooned Route 66 while fiberglass…
  • August 1 El Pollo Picante – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Pollo asado, marinated grilled chicken, has been a staple in Mexico for years, but save for those pockets within metropolitan areas heavily populated by scions of Mexico, it hasn’t made significant inroads throughout the fruited plain. Mexican grilled chicken restaurants seem to fly under the radar, unbeknownst to much of the local populace outside the Mexican neighborhoods in which they’re…
  • July 29 Old Town Pizza Parlor – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Although it seems Albuquerque’s population experiences an unprecedented population growth every decade, perhaps the ten-year period which most transformed the Duke City from an expansive frontier cow town to a modern metropolitan city was the 1950s.  At the start of the decade, the city’s population was 96,815, but bolstered by a post-World War II boom, the population more than doubled…
  • July 28 Orchid Thai Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Sydney, Australia has “Thai Tanic” and “Thai to Remember.” In Manila, The Philippines, it’s “Thai Kingdom Come.” Arlington, Virginia boasts of “ThaiPhoon.” “Thai One On” is a Salt Lake City favorite. San Francisco diners frequent “Thai Me Up,” while in Mildenhall, England “En-Thai-Sing” is all the rage. Then there’s “Beau Thai” in Portland, Oregon; “Bow Thai” in Margate, Florida; and…
  • July 21 In-N-Out Burger – Chandler, Arizona
    During a 2011 episode of Break the Chain, the enlightening and entertaining food-centric radio program hosted by the brilliant Ryan Scott, Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the pulchritudinous palate, made some rather unkind comments about Blake’s Lotaburger, an exclusively New Mexico institution.  I cautioned him that local listeners might show up at the radio station armed with pitchforks and torches.…
  • July 20 Indigo Moon Cafe, Wine and Cheese Shop – Cambria, California
    It might be easy to dismiss Cambria as a “jumping off” point to some of California’s most spectacular and  popular sites…until you actually visit Cambria.  That’s when you discover that there is plenty to see and do in this picturesque seaside village on the Central California Coast which Forbes.com declared “one of America’s prettiest towns.”  It’s a town virtually surrounded…
  • July 18 Nepenthe Restaurant – Big Sur, California
    With all the travails and vicissitudes of  modern life, we can all use  a respite or safe harbor to which we can escape…where we can take a break from all our worries.  Big Sur, California, which most would consider an escape in and of itself has a dining destination which has been nourishing diners both physically and spiritually  for more…
  • July 17 Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar – Monterey, California
    Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” ~John Steinbeck Cannery Row, 1945 During basic military training in the Air Force, several of us who could speak multiple languages were asked to take the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB), the test the…
  • July 16 Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn – Big Sur, California
    Famous French mime Marcel Marceau once remarked “do not the most moving moments of our lives find us all without words.”  Without words, a rare state for someone who uses so many of them, aptly describes my reaction at gazing for the first time upon Big Sur with an awe and reverence few sights outside of New Mexico have ever…
  • July 15 Casanova Restaurant – Carmel, California
    For they could not love you But still your love was true And when no hope was left inside On that starry, starry night You took your life as lovers often do But I could have told you, Vincent This world was never meant For one as beautiful as you ~Don McLean When Vincent van Gogh painted “The Starry Night”…
  • July 11 Bobcat Bite – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Update:  In a twist of cruel irony, the Travel Channel’s May 13th airing of the Burger Land program celebrating the Bobcat Bite debuted just a few days after the announcement that the world-famous Bobcat Bite as we all know and love it will be forever changed.  An official statement from Bobcat Bite, issued on May 9th, announced the restaurant renowned…
  • July 8 Serafin’s Chile Hut – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Albuquerque’s Nob Hill district is arguably the Duke City’s cultural and culinary hub with a widely eclectic mix of restaurants.  Despite its culinary diversity, one dining demographic that hasn’t been well represented has been New Mexican cuisine. It’s not through lack of effort, however, as several New Mexican restaurants have opened and closed in the area, most being very short-lived. …
  • July 7 Miss Saigon Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When it closed on Broadway in 2001, the three-time Tony Award-winning musical Miss Saigon had been seen by some six million people during a running of 4,092 performances, making it the sixth longest running show in Broadway history.  Outside of Broadway, Miss Saigon was opened by 26 theater companies worldwide, translated into eleven different languages and played in 23 countries…
  • June 30 Marcello’s Chophouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Steak–even the word conjures stereotypes of power brokers in suits and ties. There’s just something about sizzling, flame-kissed beef that seems to appeal to the wheelers and dealers and movers and shakers among us. Steak may just be the ultimate power food!  That power is also wielded in the ultimate thumbing of the nose at vegetarians when carnivores emphasize that…
  • June 26 Timbuctu Bistro – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Growing up in bucolic Peñasco back when fires were still started by rubbing two sticks together and mastodons roamed the Earth, I distinctly remember hearing playmates uttering the term “going all the way to Timbuktu.”  Considering we all thought Albuquerque was a million miles away, we couldn’t imagine just how far away Timbuktu must be.  Some of us reasoned it …
  • June 22 The Frontier Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Most college and university areas have at least one restaurant that transcends the “student hang-out” label to become a popular dining destination among all demographics, whether or not the diners matriculated at the nearby institution of higher learning. In Albuquerque that dining destination is the Frontier Restaurant. In its forty plus years of serving the Duke City, the Frontier has…
  • June 17 Happy Belly Deli – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    One of the inevitable truths about life is that the sins of our youth will revisit us in our middle age and beyond. We feel it especially in the morning when every bone in our bodies aches as we struggle to get out of bed. That’s also when we’re most reminded that what doesn’t hurt no longer works, that the…
  • June 16 Hillsboro General Store – Hillsboro, New Mexico
    On a journey by train to San Francisco, New Mexico’s legendary award-winning author Tony Hillerman shared an observation car with businessmen from the East.  As the multi-hued Zuni Buttes, majestic Mount Taylor, breathtaking mesas and skies resplendent with monsoon thunderclouds passed in review, his heart was lifted and his worries dissipated.  He then overheard one of the Easterners remark to…
  • June 13 Cafe Bleu – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Today Huyen Wylie might smile a little when she describes herself as having been one of the Vietnamese “boat people,” but it’s not because she finds anything evenly mildly amusing about the term.  She was but ten years old when her family braved the choppy waters of the South China Sea in their quest for freedom.  It was their third…
  • June 11 Restaurante Rancho De Chimayo – Chimayo, New Mexico
    The humble Northern New Mexico village of Chimayo has a reputation far and wide as a place in which miracles occur. Because of the healing and restorative nature of those miracles, it has even been called the “Lourdes of America.” During Holy Week of 1813, a devout Penitente named Bernardo Abeyta was performing his penances on a hillside when he…
  • May 27 Dudley’s Barbecue – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The United States Department of Agriculture defines barbecue as “any meat cooked by the direct action of heat resulting from the burning of hardwood or the hot coals therefrom for a sufficient period to assume the usual characteristics” including the formation of a brown crust and a weight loss of at least thirty percent.” To the citizens of the great…
  • May 25 Mamba’s Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When my friend Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott and I first visited Mamba’s Kitchen, we deliberated the genesis of the restaurant’s name. The possibilities were intriguing. The restaurant must be named for the black mamba, one of the world’s most venomous snakes, I thought. Ryan surmised then quickly dismissed the notion that the restaurant’s name honors Kobe Bryant, the Los…
  • May 25 Jamon’s Frybread Cabana – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Several years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth, multi-player gaming meant sitting at a table and playing board and card games with friends actually sitting across the table from you as opposed to the disembodied online kind of ‘friends.” My compadre Brad and I had been trounced several times by our pop culture savvy spouses at Trivial Pursuit, a primitive…
  • May 15 Mint Thai – Gilbert, Arizona (CLOSED)
    You might assume that because of my unabashed online promotion of culinary adventures, I would be the classic prostheletizer seeking to convert to the joys of more adventurous dining all lost and wayward souls who frequent chain restaurants. Alas, when traveling with colleagues who are either pedestrian about their dining preferences (they eat to live) or are wholly resistant to trying…
  • May 9 Just A Bite! – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    An April, 2009 article in the Taos News reveals just how much cultural attitudes have changed in the county in which I grew up toward men in the kitchen.  The article profiled a Taos High School culinary arts team–comprised of three boys and one young lady–which triumphed over 16 other New Mexico schools in a state-wide cooking competition to earn a berth on the…
  • May 6 Cafe Castro – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    The rich folklore of the Hispanic culture of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado is preserved largely through cuentos and dichos passed down from one generation to the next. Cuentos are stories, legends and myths, the type for which Aesop is renown. Dichos are pithy folk sayings or proverbs much in the style of Confucius. Both cuentos and dichos are…
  • May 5 El Sarape – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Before the advent of political correctness, the unchecked use of controversial stereotypes was rampant throughout America.  Starting in the 1930s, for example,  ethnic caricatures in the guise of tchotchkes (salt shakers, cookie jars, plant pots and the like) could be seen in households throughout the fruited plain. Neon-spangled roadside five-and-tens  dotting the motorways and byways were primary culprits in the…
  • April 2 Dagmar’s Restaurant & Strudel Haus – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    According to the 2000 United States Census, there are 47 million Americans of German ancestry, making them the largest self-reporting ethnic group in the country. German Americans represent 16 percent of the total U.S. population.  With such a large ancestry group, you might wonder why German cuisine isn’t as popular as the cuisine of its European neighbors Italy and France. …
  • March 31 La Risa Cafe – Ribera, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “La Risa es el mejor remedio.” (Laughter is the best medicine.) Laughter is a mystery.  Scientists don’t know why among all creatures throughout the Earth, only humans are hard-wired to be able to laugh.  Not even the hyena has this capability.   What scientists do know is that laughter has a variety of benefits to the human mind and body.…
  • March 28 Sengdao Bar-B-Q Asian Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Despite my (then) near eidetic memory and a sesquipedalian lexicon, it was my bumpkinly naivete my friends in Boston found most surprising (and amusing) about me.  By having absorbed Encyclopedia Britannica (before the internet and Wikipedia were a twinkle in Al Gore’s eyes), I had as much or more “book knowledge” about Boston as any of them did, but became…
  • March 23 Mariscos Altamar – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Forget what you thought you knew about Mexican food!” That should be a cardinal rule for unacculturated diners when traveling to Mexico–or visiting Mariscos Altamar–for the first time. Many of the dishes some Americans commonly believe typify Mexican cooking are either not Mexican at all (chimichangas and fajitas, for example), or are prepared using inauthentic techniques and ingredients (such as…
  • March 21 Silvano’s New Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    My friend Carrie Seidman, the elegant and erstwhile restaurant critic for the Albuquerque Tribune prefaced one restaurant review by saying “sometimes pleasure comes with a price tag.” That pithy aphorism should probably be appended by paraphrasing Luke 12:48: “from those who charge a lot, much will be expected.”   Expensive meals come with  expectations of intoxicating aromas and tastes, impeccable service…
  • March 18 Mario’s Pizza & Ristorante – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the 1978 movie Same Time Next Year, Ellen Burstyn’s character lamented that her husband considered his years in the Army the best years of his life. When Alan Alda’s character, her partner in a 26-year adulterous affair, commiserated that many men felt that way about their time in the military, Burstyn retorted, “but he spent two years as a…
  • March 17 The Chill Zone Frozen Yogurt – Bernalillo, New Mexico
    Returning to the United States in 1985 after my first year in England, there were two things that surprised me.  The first was the difficulty of getting used to driving on the “Yank” side of the road again.  Driving on the “wrong” side had required a high state of alertness and conscious thought until it had become a habit.  Expecting…
  • March 15 Cafe Jean Pierre – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    A few years ago when France was the target of xenophobic sentiment and  some political commentators even advocated boycotting all things French, my vivacious friend Janet Resnik remained a fervent Francophile.  With the simple retort, “ah, but the food,” she found it easy to diffuse dour diatribes in which not a single good thing was said about France.  Not even…
  • March 10 Pacific Rim Asian Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In 1520, after sailing past South America’s Tierra del Fuego and through a perilous strait which he named for himself, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan laid eyes on the expansive South Sea. At the time, the waters were calm and peaceful. He renamed it the Pacific Ocean (from the Latin Mare Pacificum which means “peaceful sea.”) Magellan vastly underestimated the Pacific,…
  • March 4 Piggy’s Hot Dogs & Hamburgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare Certainly as a lexicologist, the Bard of Avon should know darned well that what something is named does matter…or maybe not so much.  In Waco, Texas, a burger joint has eschewed politically correctness by calling itself “Fat Ho Burgers.” …
  • February 29 Blake’s Lotaburger – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Blake’s Lotaburger is a New Mexico only institution founded in 1952 by long-time proprietor Blake Chanslor who owned it for half a century before selling it in 2003. While the marquee may still carry Blake’s name, the 76 store franchise with a presence in most of New Mexico’s larger cities and towns (23 in all) is now owned by Brian…
  • February 19 Gregorio’s Italian Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
     “The definitive recipe for any Italian dish has not yet appeared. We are still creating.” Luigi Barzini The categorization and labeling some diners tend to ascribe to Italian restaurants bespeaks not only of strong emotional preferences, but of an unwillingness to assign any merits to the “other side.”  At one side of the spectrum are the old-fashioned “red sauce” restaurants…
  • February 6 Hua Chang – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    1943’s Best Picture Academy Award winner Casablanca is replete with memorable quotes and scenes. Toward the end of the movie, reluctant hero Rick Blaine helps the beauteous Ilsa Lund and her husband, underground leader Victor Lazlo, escape to Lisbon. In a tearful farewell, Rick tells Ilsa she would regret it if she stayed. “Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but…
  • February 1 Pizza 9 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    My first review of Pizza 9 was written after my inaugural visit in January, 2009 at its original location in Albuquerque’s International District.  Three years later, there are nine Pizza 9 restaurants strewn throughout Albuquerque and Rio Rancho with a Pizza 9 planned for Santa Fe and “sky’s the limit” growth planned beyond that.  Even before Pizza 9 became a…
  • January 29 Marble Brewery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    During a recent visit to The Grill restaurant on Menaul, my friend and fellow culinary sensuist Larry McGoldrick received a very warm greeting from proprietor Phil Chavez who mistook Larry for me (not that Phil wouldn’t otherwise have welcomed Larry warmly as he does all his guests).  My good-natured friend didn’t return Phil’s warm welcome with a frosty retort as…
  • January 15 Roper’s Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Since the early 1980s when I was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base, every vehicle I’ve owned has seemingly had a built-in auto-pilot with the destination 8810 Central, S.E. hard-coded. For years that was the address of the junior-most of two Albuquerque Milton’s restaurants, a classic American diner which consistently serves some of the very best diner entrees in the…
  • January 3 Dragonfly Cafe & Bakery – Taos, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In 1989, the tarantula hawk wasp was designated the official state insect of New Mexico, joining the roadrunner (state bird), whiptail lizard (state reptile),  spadefoot (state amphibian), Sandia Hairstreak (state butterfly),  Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout (state fish) and the black bear (state animal) as official symbols of our great state.  Ostensibly the state legislature put aside partisan politics and selected…

2011 (77)

  • December 30 2011: The Thrilling & Filling Year in Food
    Tis the season…for year-end retrospectives in which the good, the bad and the ugly; the triumphs and tragedies; the highs and lows and the ups and downs are revisited ad-infinitum by seemingly every print and cyberspace medium in existence.  It’s the time of year in which the “in-your-face” media practically forces a reminiscence–either fondly or with disgust–about the year that…
  • December 27 Tomme – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    As the end of an year draws near, the inclination to reflect on the closing year seems natural.  Auld lang syne practically resonates from the pages of most  periodicals as they reflect on the year that was with writers providing their year-end retrospectives.  Quite naturally my favorite reflections are of New Mexico’s continuously evolving, culturally vibrant and deliciously diverse culinary…
  • December 27 Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Fittingly for a restaurant whose “mascot” is a rotund, sombrero-wearing bee with a smile on his face and maracas in each hand, almost every review you’ll find of the Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill in Santa Fe since it launched in 2004 employed a clever bee-related play on words to describe it.  “What’s all the buzz about in Santa Fe?”  “This…
  • December 23 Cosmo Tapas – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Some of the world’s most elegant and refined cuisine has its genesis in very humble circumstances.  Today, Spanish tapas are widely regarded as sophisticated and exotic, but they didn’t start off that way.  In fact, Spanish tapas are an excellent embodiment of the axiom that when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade.  The words “tapa” (singular) or “tapas”…
  • December 22 Mr. Tokyo – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In a 2011 interview, Green Bay Packers Superbowl winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers revealed that during the National Football League season, the comments he hears most often from fans and the questions they ask him most have to do with Fantasy Football: “Is Jermichael (Finley) playing this week?” “Who’s starting at running back?” Until rather recently, the questions most frequently asked…
  • December 18 Luminaria – Santa Fe, New Mexico
     Her sunrise could bring light into a blind man. Her sunset could put tears there in his eyes. Her colors are laying there in brush strokes. Underneath those peote skies. –The Bellamy Brothers Santa Fe’s preternatural beauty is so captivating that even the plethora of writers, artists and musicians who pilgrimage to this jewel of the Southwest are at a…
  • December 8 Quesadilla Grille – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
     Grandma: “Tonight, me and your aunt are gonna go visit some friends and we’re not gonna be back till tomorrow. We’re gettin’ a little low on steak, so I got Lyle comin’ over tomorrow to take care of it.” Napoleon: “Well, what’s there to eat?” Grandma: “Knock it off, Napoleon. Make yourself a dang quesadilla!” Napoleon: “Fine!” “Gosh!”  It took…
  • November 25 Chez Axel – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Another Land of Enchantment.” That’s how the menu at Chez Axel describes the Provence region in France. No one who’s ever traveled through the region and luxuriated in a café crème at a sidewalk café on a leisurely Sunday morning would ever dispute that the region is as enchanting as any in the world.  It truly is a soiree for…
  • November 12 Roadkill Cafe – Seligman, Arizona
     I had my dinner yesterday In a place they call the Roadkill Cafe They serve their dishes full of tricks Scraped off Highway 66. From the Roadkill Cafe menu The legality of gathering and consuming roadkill varies from state to state.  In Tennessee, gathering and consuming flattened fauna (save for domestic pets) is not only perfectly legal, it made for…
  • November 11 China Poblano – Las Vegas Nevada
    Mexican history and folklore recount the story of a remarkable woman who would come to be venerated as a holy woman and prophetess.  Born to nobility in India and possessing remarkable beauty, she was kidnapped as a young child and brought to Mexico, an intended gift to the Viceroy of Mexico whose personal harem of gorgeous women was known far…
  • November 10 Lotus of Siam – Las Vegas, Nevada
    In the August, 2000 issue of Gourmet Magazine, multiple-time Pulitzer Prize award-winning writer Jonathan Gold called the Lotus of Siam restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada “the single best Thai restaurant in North America.”  Not a disparaging word was heard or a dissenting opinion offered among the cognoscenti save for those who argued that the word “Thai” should be removed from…
  • November 9 Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Las Vegas, Nevada
    “What keeps me motivated is not the food itself but all the bonds and memories the food represents.” ~Michael Chiarello Many of my most cherished memories involve the act of eating and quite often those memories don’t involve the food itself.  The memories which sweeten most over time invariably involve the people with whom those meals were shared.  The act…
  • November 8 Lindo Michoacan – Las Vegas, Nevada
    Lindo Michoacan and its three scions strewn throughout the Las Vegas area may be the best gourmet-quality Mexican restaurants we’ve visited in America which aren’t owned by Rick Bayless or aren’t situated in Santa Fe (Los Potrillos) or Albuquerque (Los Equipales). The older sibling, Lindo Michoacan is a storied restaurant which over the years has garnered unprecedented local acclaim and…
  • November 7 Il Mulino of New York – Las Vegas, Nevada
    While it may seem that Las Vegas is one perpetual bachelor party with hundreds of drunken frat boys expressing themselves loudly through expletives while leaving a hazy trail of smoke in their wake as they converge upon casino after casino, Sin City does have its pockets of civility.  One such refuge is Il Mulino during the lunch hour when it’s…
  • November 6 Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab – Las Vegas, Nevada
    “Stone crab is probably what God eats every night of the year, but in Florida we mortals only have it from mid-October to mid-May…” Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement Whether or not stone crab is really what God likes for dinner might make an interesting literary debate, but there’s no disputing that ordinary and not-so-mere mortals have…
  • October 29 I Love Sushi – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    According to the US Census Bureau, more than half (49.3) of all Americans reported they did not “dine out” between Fall, 2009 and Fall, 2011. That’s the lowest percentage since 2007 and could be indicative of the pervasive economic malaise or perhaps of the uncertainty as to what constitutes “dining out.”  The Census Bureau did not define the term so…
  • October 23 Ezra’s Place – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When it comes to food, most bowling alleys strike out.  Ardent keglers are subjected to such catastrophic “cuisine” as perpetually rotating hot dogs seared to a leathery sheen under a heat lamp inferno, soppy messes of nachos bathed in gloppy processed cheese topped with gelatinous jalapeños and greasy onion rings with the texture of fried rubber bands and as oily as well-slicked…
  • October 22 JR’s Bar-B-Que – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Ryan Scott, the affable host of the enlightening and entertaining Break the Chain radio program has rapidly become the voice for Albuquerque’s mom-and-pop restaurants.  When it comes to celebrating the Duke City’s independent eateries, he’s like E.F. Hutton in that when he speaks, people listen…literally.  The Break the Chain Web site receives more than 10,000 visits per week, many visitors…
  • October 20 Fu Yuang – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “I’ve eaten a river of liver and an ocean of fish! I’ve eaten so much fish, I’m ready to grow gills! I’ve eaten so much liver, I can only make love if I’m smothered in bacon and onions” ~ Hawkeye Pierce MASH 4077, Korea FROM THE FU YUANG FACEBOOK PAGE: Our Dear Fu Yuang friends, we closed the doors for…
  • October 8 Johnny’s Homemade – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the 1930s, Harland Sanders, the owner of a small service station in Corbin, Kentucky began an improbable journey that eventually led to the forging of a worldwide culinary empire.  In the living quarters of that service station, Sanders fed hungry travelers on his own six-seat dining  table.  Word of his culinary prowess spread and to accommodate throngs of hungry…
  • October 7 Geronimo – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Consistency over time, excellence every time–that’s what sets apart the one or two restaurants all the cognoscenti herald as the very best. These few truly extraordinary restaurants don’t so much raise the bar or reinvent themselves continuously as they do maintain the rarefied levels which earned them the distinction of being singled out in the first place.  Almost without exception,…
  • October 6 4 Aces Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    As a proud native New Mexican, my chest still swells with pride whenever I travel outside the Land of Enchantment (even to Texas, Arizona and Colorado) and espy a vehicle displaying the license plate of the great state of New Mexico.  I’m not the only one.  While stopping for gas in Iowa a few years ago, a couple from Roswell…
  • October 5 India Palace – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When many of us think of romantic destinations to visit or in which to honeymoon, our choices probably mirror closely those of US News & World Report which listed among their 22 best honeymoon destinations such exotic locations as Kauai, Maui, Florence, Crete, Santorini and even Las Vegas, Nevada.  The authors apparently didn’t think enchantment is synonymous with romance or…
  • October 1 Greenside Cafe – Cedar Crest, New Mexico
    In order to provide quality services, municipalities everywhere, but especially in growing urban areas, rely heavily on gross receipts taxes from sources such as hotels and restaurants.  Cedar Crest, New Mexico, is no different from other cities in that it would like not only for its citizenry to spend as much disposable income as possible within the village, it courts…
  • September 25 Tomato Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    You like potato and I like potahto, You like tomato and I like tomahto Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto, Let’s call the whole thing off – Ira & George Gershwin Let’s call the whole thing off.  If the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century had had its way, the tomato might not be a ubiquitous ingredient in the cooking of…
  • September 24 Sahara Middle Eastern Eatery – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    History has shown that cultures which thrived and advanced most rapidly are those which settled in arable areas rife with  natural resources.  The “Cradle of Civilization” where many of the earliest human civilizations evolved is in a seemingly unlikely region of the Middle East in which most of the land is too dry for farming.  In this largely desolate region…
  • September 7 Vernon’s Speakeasy – Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, New Mexico
    After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution ushered in the era of Prohibition in the United States,…
  • September 3 Blue Ribbon Bar & Grill – Estancia, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Unlike diners throughout New Mexico, bears in the Sandias and Manzanos  have found food in their mountain habitats very scarce, forcing them to forage populated areas for their fill.  As of August 25th, 2011, the New Mexico Game and Fish Department had received 141 reports of bear sightings from Placitas to Belen, communities west of the mountains.  In 2010, food…
  • August 25 Zia Diner – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the year 1880, La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís” (“The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi”) bore little semblance to the popular vacation destination and tourist town it is today.  In fact, it was still pretty much a dusty frontier town of the old west with statehood more…
  • August 24 Saffron Tiger Indian Cuisine Express – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Is there anything that screams monotonous, tedious homogeneity louder than the typical food court at any mall in cosmopolitan America?   “But,” you might argue, “the food court is a paragon of diversity where you can get your fill of pizza, sushi, burgers, cinnamon rolls, sweet and sour mystery meat and a veritable United Nations line-up of ethnic foods all in…
  • August 21 Lucia – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    There was a time the name “Hilton” didn’t conjure up images of a ditzy blonde airhead whose celebrity is based largely on promiscuity. On second thought, maybe not. More than 50 years ago, another ditzy blonde temptress, Zsa Zsa Gabor honeymooned at Albuquerque’s Hilton Hotel with her then husband Conrad Hilton, a New Mexico native and founder of the historic…
  • August 10 Village Subs – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    To paraphrase John 15:13, “No greater love a man has than this, that a man give up his life for a….sandwich?” In an uproariously funny episode of the television show Friends, Joey, Chandler and Ross go on a ride-along with Phoebe’s policeman boyfriend. Believing a back-firing muffler was actually a gunshot, Joey (sitting in between his two friends) dives, seemingly…
  • August 8 Señor Dog – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    H. K. Duff VIII:  Why not break your fast with our brand-new Isotope Dog Supreme? [Homer sniffs the hot dog.] Homer Simpson:  Oh, so hard to resist. Mesquite-grilled onions. Jalapeño relish. … Wait a minute, those are Southwestern ingredients. … Mango-lime salsa? That’s the kind of bold flavor they enjoy in … Albuquerque! Lenny: He’s right. Moe:  Yeah … and…
  • July 29 Viet Rice – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    In Vietnamese, “an com”‘ translates as “eating rice,” but it’s a phrase that more accurately implies the act of partaking of food. At Viet Rice, they know rice and they make the act of partaking of food a memorable one! The motto “We Know Rice” is declared on the menu and it’s part of the restaurant’s logo. It’s even on…
  • July 27 Jo’s Place – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    By their fruits ye shall know them. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? -Matthew 7:16 As Americans are often prone to judge fruit by the pleasingness of its appearance, the fragrance of its bouquet and the sweetness of its flavor, huitlacoche may not stand a chance.  A fungus which forms on the ears…
  • July 22 Weck’s – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Arguably the very best programming all year long on KNME, Albuquerque’s Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) comes during its four annual fund-raising campaigns.  For sandwich lovers all over New Mexico, no PBS feature is more greatly appreciated than Sandwiches That You Will Like, a documentary by Rick Sebak of television station WQED in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The documentary showcases unique sandwich offerings…
  • July 16 El Farolito – El Rito, New Mexico
    The most contentious seasonal difference of opinion between Northern and Southern New Mexico residents isn’t whether Chimayo produces better chile than Hatch (though this will forever be in dispute). The great civil debate dividing the Land of Enchantment has all to do with semantics. More specifically, it has all to do with the appropriate name for the little paper bag…
  • July 4 Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In 1712, the provincial governor for the kingdom of New Mexico decreed that henceforth, an annual reenactment of Diego De Vargas’ triumphant reentry into Santa Fe would be celebrated every year. Santa Feans have dutifully obeyed the proclamation ever since, making the Fiesta de Santa Fe the oldest civic celebration of its kind in North America.  Approaching its 400th year,…
  • June 30 Tim’s Place – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED: 2015)
    “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson WARNING:  The program you are about to see…seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices and concerns.  By making them a source of laughter, we hope to show–in a mature fashion–just how absurd they…
  • June 26 Guicho’s Authentic Mexican Food Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    There have been Mexican restaurants in the Land of Enchantment for as long as there have been restaurants.  While the distinction between Mexican restaurants and New Mexican restaurants has become less obfuscated over time, there is still a tendency among many casual diners to think “a Mexican restaurant is a Mexican restaurant.”  That errant thinking is probably due to the…
  • June 25 Cool Water Fusion Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    All day I’ve faced a barren waste Without the taste of water, cool water Old Dan and I with throats burned dry And souls that cry for water Cool, clear, water. – The Sons of the Pioneers Cool Water!  For all of us who have experienced the energy-depleting sensation of being parched on a sweltering, sudorific day in the desiccated…
  • June 5 Real Food Nation – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Come on, you know you want it!”  Television commercials, movies and especially cartoons frequently depict temptation as a battle being waged by two miniature versions of the person being tempted. Faced with a crisis of conscience–doing the right or the wrong thing–a devil-self (complete with horns and a pitchfork) suddenly pops up on the left (or sinister) shoulder and an…
  • June 5 Harry’s Roadhouse – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Roadhouses–great inns and restaurants located near major highways traversing the country–once dotted America’s fruited plain, offering respite and sustenance to weary or hungry travelers. Renown for serving great comfort foods, they have been an important part of America’s heritage though with the advent of fast food restaurants and chains, fewer authentic roadhouses exist today.  Harry’s Roadhouse may be a bit…
  • June 4 Chocolate Cartel – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands — and then eat just one of the pieces.” Judith Viorst, American Author & Journalist “Betcha can’t eat just one.”  In the early 1960s, Lay’s Potato Chips made that slogan a household phrase, in the process increasing potato chip sales significantly and opening up…
  • June 1 Malee’s Thai Bistro – Scottsdale, Arizona
    Many a time have I luxuriated in the pleasures of a memorable repast at a restaurant outside of New Mexico and found myself thinking “if only these tastes were available back home.”  I typically then fantasize about bringing those tastes to the Land of Enchantment myself.  Alas, lofty intentions, a profuse lack of culinary talents and the absence of the capital…
  • May 29 Sandiago’s Mexican Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    You don’t have to go out of town to dine to feel like you’re dining out of town.  A drive to Sandiago’s Mexican Grill on the base of the Sandia Tramway will do that for you.  This colorful restaurant in which everything but the ceiling appears tiled in multi-hued splendor evokes images of coastal Mexico Lindo Y Querido in all…
  • May 28 Willard Cantina & Cafe – Willard, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When it comes to staycations (stay at home vacations), New Mexicans rank near the bottom among America’s traveling public.  Citizens of the Land of Enchantment, it seems, prefer to spend their discretionary income elsewhere.  Monique Jacobson, Secretary of New Mexico’s Tourism Department, hopes to change that with a number of initiatives targeted at reminding New Mexico’s citizenry of all there…
  • May 26 Introducing the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail for 2011
    “You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars. We have munched Bridge burgers in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge and Cable burgers hard by the Golden Gate, Dixie burgers in the sunny South and Yankee Doodle burgers in the North. We had a Capitol Burger — guess where. And so…
  • May 19 New Mexico Magazine Celebrates the Land of Enchantment’s “Best Eats” for 2011
      Every four years since the year 2000, news anchors and analysts have depicted America’s  voting preferences on colored maps.  States which tend to vote for the Democratic party are colored blue while states which tend to vote for the Republican party are colored red. What the maps don’t show–but the political pundits certainly discuss ad nauseum–is the increasingly acrimonious…
  • May 15 Bailey’s on the Beach – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “The older you get, the less cool you are.” At least that’s what my some of my twenty-something-year-old colleagues have told me when I’m not able to relate to the conventional mindset of the Y-generation (usually on matters such as what constitutes flexible work schedules and professional business attire).  If the term “fuddy duddy” wasn’t so uncool, that’s probably what…
  • May 11 Thai Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In my old haunt of Boston, television commercials proclaimed Wednesdays as Prince spaghetti day. They depicted spry youngsters dashing home excitedly for their weekly repast of pasta products made by the Prince Spaghetti company.  In Albuquerque, Thursdays were–until April 25th, 2008–green curry day at Thai Cuisine. Thursday was the day of the week in which patrons could  excitedly look forward…
  • May 8 Vivace – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    NOTE: After serving Albuquerque for more than sixteen years, Vivace closed its doors for the last time on May26, 2012. Patrons of the Santa Fe Opera recognize Vivace as a musical composition or movement in a lively, brisk or vivid tempo.  The rest of us whose only experiences with classical music come from from watching a wascally wabbit being pursued…
  • April 28 Hakata Asian Cuisine & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Grrr!  What’s wrong with those Vietnamese?”  That’s not a bad bowl of  pho prompting a xenophobic rant on my part.  Those were the words of my friend Huu Vu when I told him a new Vietnamese restaurant by the name Hakata Asian Grill had opened up on Albuquerque’s west side.  A proud native of Vietnam, Huu wasn’t upset at the…
  • April 25 Doc & Eddy’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same You wanna…
  • April 14 The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. This really is Gil’s Thrilling (and Filling) Blog and you really are reading a review of  a (gasp) chain restaurant. It would be easy (a cop-out) to say my visit to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store was the result of brow-beating, cajoling, bribery or even torture, but the truth is I wanted to spend…
  • April 11 Amici – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “There are two laws of the universe — gravity, and everyone likes Italian food.” Neil Simon, American playwright and screenwriter A 2007 Harris Poll declared Italian food the most popular ethnic food in America, revealing that when Americans eat out, the cuisine of choice for nearly a quarter of them is Italian food.  Among the youngest group of respondents, those…
  • April 10 Atrisco Cafe & Bar – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    From the snow-capped mountains to the coral shores You’re the only one my heart adores You’ve only got three competitors Tacos, enchiladas and beans From the Mississippi to the Amazon There’s not much we don’t agree upon Wish we could get together on Tacos, enchiladas and beans Love ’em, dozens of ’em I consume them by the score And when…
  • April 5 Hot Tamales – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    While the word tamale is most certainly Spanish, its derivation is from the Nahuatl word tamalli.  Tamallis were developed as a portable ration carried by war parties in pre-Columbian North America and were as common and varied as the sandwich is today.  One commonality among tamalli then and tamales today, is the corn meal dough (masa) which is made through…
  • April 4 Rocco’s Pizzeria – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In an age of sensory bombardment, we all occasionally experience a phenomenon known as an “earworm.” Earworm is a literal translation of a German term for a song (particularly an annoying one) stuck in someone’s head. For some it’s the Gilligan’s Island theme song. For others, it might be “It’s a Small World” or the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” In the…
  • April 1 Pete’s Cafe – Belen, New Mexico
    Located along the braided routes of the historic Camino Real (the Royal Road) which skirts the Rio Grande, Belen remains the hub for two major rail lines. To this day, an average of 70 trains travel through Belen every 24-hour period. In 1901, to capitalize on the railway traffic, the Fred Harvey Company built one of the sixteen Harvey Houses…
  • March 26 Graham’s Grille by Lesley B. Fay – Taos, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    While it may be true that you only have one chance to make a good first impression, history has shown that bad first impressions can be overcome.  Further,  given a second chance, someone making a bad first impression may go on to  make a lasting positive impression.   In 1988, a charismatic  young governor was widely jeered during the Democratic…
  • March 24 Quarters – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Some of my friends accuse me of making my Web site a bully pulpit against chain restaurants and being a shameless “homer” when it comes to promoting locally owned and operated restaurants. I make no secret of my overwhelming preference for local restaurants, but never at the expense of a personal integrity which won’t allow me to pander to local…
  • March 21 Santa Ana Cafe – Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico
    As you gaze in awe at the sheer opulence of the expansive Tamaya hospitality complex and resort and consider the Santa Ana Pueblo’s Vegas-style, high-stakes gaming center or 27-hole, championship golf course, you have to conclude that the Pueblo’s tribal enterprises are flourishing–and you would be right. An entrepreneurial spirit is nothing new to the Santa Ana people. The Santa…
  • March 20 Straight Up Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Hall of Fame New York Yankee Yogi Berra is renown for his malapropisms, notorious flubs that made him one of the most quoted personalities in the sports world.   “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six” is one of his classic examples of misspeak.  In a more serious vein, Pulitzer Prize award-winning…
  • March 13 Josh’s Barbecue – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Perhaps indicative of the world becoming more broad-minded and accepting, “peasant food” (which usually includes traditional foods of specific regions) is now looked upon as a culinary art form in which skillful cooks are celebrated for employing the wisdom of the ages to prepare wonderful meals using inexpensive, generally home-grown, ingredients. In France, the term peasant food is actually translated as…
  • March 6 Las Fuentes at The Bishop’s Lodge – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In 1927, Willa Cather penned one of the very best novels ever written about New Mexico in Death Comes For the Archbishop, an American literary classic based on the the vicissitudes of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy. As the first bishop of Santa Fe, Lamy faced the prolific challenge of reestablishing a congruent Catholic church while facing religious corruption and the…
  • March 3 The Cajun Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Note:  After 24 years of serving Albuquerque in two locations, the Cajun Kitchen closed its doors on Friday, March 11, 2011.  On a notice in the menu, the Hebert family wrote, “It has been a privilege serving the Albuquerque community and have been equally blessed by the support of those who have graced our tables making the restaurant the institution…
  • February 20 Chama River Brewing Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    We were mellowing out to the haunting three-part harmony of the Bee Gees as they crooned “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” when we drove into the Chama River Brewing Company’s parking lot during one unseasonably warm January day. How appropriate. At that moment my answer to the Bee Gee’s poignant question would have been “with an order of…
  • February 19 Chope’s – La Mesa, New Mexico
    During our inaugural visit several years ago, we ran into a former Las Cruces resident now living in the nation’s capital. His near teary-eyed testimony about how much he missed Chope’s was more powerful than a Sunday sermon.   When he kissed the hallowed ground in front of Chope’s, we knew he meant it.  An elderly gentleman recounted the time Chope’s…
  • February 12 Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill & Burgers – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The economic malaise of recent years has prompted Americans to become more judicious on how they spend their disposable income (the little that’s left after all the usual bills, expenses and taxes are paid off).  Instead of splurging on gourmet meals at high-end restaurants, Americans are going to those same high-end restaurants for a reliable old favorite that in years…
  • February 5 Antonio’s Cafe & Cantina – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    A veritable melting pot of cultures from throughout the world, the Duke City has a laid-back attitude toward diversity, a live and let live realization that our differences aren’t as important as all we have in common. Perhaps nowhere is that  acceptance better practiced than at Kirtland Air Force Base, appropriately bordered by Albuquerque’s International District.  Back in the early…
  • January 29 Japanese Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    For generations, traditional New Mexican food as it had been served for generations by Hispanic families in Northern New Mexico was surprisingly rare in restaurants throughout the Land of Enchantment.  Many restaurants throughout the state served “Mexican” style food similar to what our neighbors in Arizona and Texas offered.  That meant insipid chile lacking the flavor and piquancy which has…
  • January 15 Desert Fish – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    If you were entertaining a visitor from Seattle or Portland, would you take them to Long John Silver’s, Captain D’s or even  Pelican’s to show them how the seafood in land-locked Albuquerque measures up to the seafood in those two bastions of fresh, succulent seafood?  Not likely!  You’d probably want to take them to a restaurant which showcases New Mexico’s…
  • January 13 Outlook Cafe – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Some would argue that the city of Rio Rancho was spawned as a dubious marketing ploy designed to bilk gullible New Yorkers out of their savings by enticing them to a vast wasteland under the pretext  that their  “lucrative investment” would  ensure a comfortable retirement in “among the greenest, most fertile valleys in the world.”  Others see those pioneers who…
  • January 9 Pupuseria Y Restaurante Salvadoreño – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the 1980s, several hundred thousand Salvadorans fled their civil war ravaged nation (courtesy, many would say of America’s attempting to turn El Salvador into the Western hemisphere’s version of Vietnam).  Many migrated to large metropolitan areas in the United States where their culture has quietly flourished.  Those immigrants introduced and hooked Californians on their national snack, a modest street food…
  • January 7 ‘O Eating House – Pojoaque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Until the 1990s, Poeh (also known as the Pueblo of Pojoaque) lived up to its name. In Tewa, the traditional language of six of New Mexico’s eight northern Pueblos, “Poeh” means pathway. That’s all Poeh seemed to be–a pathway to somewhere else.  Located fifteen miles north of Santa Fe on U.S. 84/285, Poeh didn’t seem to draw a second glance…
  • January 1 2010: The Year In Food
    Tis the season…for year-end retrospectives in which the good, the bad and the ugly; the triumphs and tragedies; the highs and lows and the ups and downs are revisited ad-infinitum by seemingly every print and cyberspace medium in existence.  It’s the time of year in which the “in-your-face” media practically forces a reminiscence–either fondly or with disgust–about the year that…

2010 (52)

  • December 16 Pelican’s Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The remonstrance from a group of my foodie friends was vocal and animated when I contended that good seafood in the Duke City dining establishments not only exists, some of it borders on greatness.  One ardent detractor asserted that good seafood in our landlocked community is as rare as a good steak was on Gilligan’s Island.  Another argued that only…
  • November 21 Introducing The New Mexico Culinary Treasures Trail
    Charles Darwin, the English naturalist who posited the theory of natural selection concluded that “the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting to their environment.”  Though his theory centered around all species of life, could a case be made that the theory applies to restaurants as well?  Do the very best restaurants stand…
  • November 20 GoNuts Donuts – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Their Points of View. ‘Twixt optimist and pessimist The difference is droll; The optimist the doughnut sees – The pessimist the hole. – New York Sun, 1904 It’s almost deliciously ironic that the “Optimist’s Creed” references the oft-maligned donut. In recent years, donuts and their high-carb brethren have been damned and all but banned by the “nutritionally correct” who believe…
  • November 7 China Best – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the United States Navy and Coast Guard, no one is as revered, respected or admired as a sailor promoted within the enlisted naval ranks to Chief Petty Officer.  The “Chief” is expected to be a source of sagacity, a paragon of good will, an authority on personnel relations and the undisputed technical expert.  In the Navy, if you want…
  • November 6 Jerry’s Cafe – Gallup, New Mexico
    The Land of Enchantment is bisected north to south by the murky and mucky Rio Grande which meanders some 700 miles through the state.  Throughout the millennia, the fourth longest river in America has been the often tenuous lifeline upon which New Mexico’s citizenry has relied for sustenance and for recreation.  Its precious waters are multifarious in their use–from human…
  • November 4 Sevyn’s Cafe – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    During a 1996 episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza, a self-proclaimed “short, balding, unattractive man” made the mistake of telling his fiancee he wanted to name his child “Seven” after his idol Mickey Mantle.  To George’s chagrin, his fiancee’s cousins liked the idea so much they decided to name their own child Seven.  Even as the female cousin was being wheeled…
  • October 25 Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
    “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand…
  • October 15 Maid Rite – Osceola, Iowa
    Several years ago my friend and colleague Bill “Roastmaster” Resnik and I had the opportunity to do what most employees only dream of.  We got to insult a corporate vice president for half an hour in the presence of even higher ranking corporate officials.  The occasion was the vice president’s retirement and we got to roast him– figuratively, but from…
  • October 13 Gale Street Inn – Mundelein, Illinois
    It took 47 years and one visit to the Gale Street Inn to understand why sailing vessels are ascribed the feminine gender. According to a placard on a wall at the Gale Street Inn, a nautical themed restaurant in the Northwest Chicago suburb of Mundelein, a ship is called a she because “there’s always a great deal of bustle around…
  • October 12 Johnnie’s Beef – Arlington Heights, Illinois
    If you think Chicagoland politics are a contentious topic, try debating which restaurant serves up the best Italian Beef Sandwich in the “City of Big Shoulders.” Opinions don’t necessarily vary that widely as there are just a handful of restaurants which have truly distinguished themselves in the preparation of this Chicago staple. It’s in the intensity of the debate with…
  • October 12 Apple Haus – Long Grove, Illinois (CLOSED)
    In grade school back in the 1960s, such characters as Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed filled my mind with wonder and awe as I learned to determine fact from fiction (a process I still employ when listening to  nauseating political commercials which pollute the airwaves).  My mind was a veritable tabula rasa (blank slate) upon which my teachers (and my…
  • October 12 Bacchus Nibbles – Kildeer, Illinois
    In Roman mythology, Bacchus was known as the god of wine and ecstasy. A youthful and handsome god with flowing tresses usually depicted wearing wine leaves or ivy on his head, he represented both the intoxicating and the beneficial influences of wine. Bacchanalian festivals, typified by riotous drunken merrymaking and sometimes orgiastic festivity are still celebrated in institutions of higher…
  • October 10 Gates Bar B. Q. – Independence, Missouri
    The cognoscenti seem to agree that the American epicenters of barbecue excellence are Texas, Memphis, Kansas City and South Carolina. In Texas, barbeque briquettes are burnished with beef–lean beef brisket celebrating the best in king cattle. At Memphis, they go hog wild at the pits for pulled porcine perfection. In South Carolina, the self-professed “cradle of American barbecue,” swine dining…
  • September 24 Luigi’s Ristorante & Pizzeria – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Braciole became a part of American pop culture when Debra, Ray Barone’s long-suffering wife on television sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, prepared a braciole dish everyone in the family liked too much. A notoriously bad cook who may have unintentionally ruined her husband’s taste buds, her braciole was better even than the version prepared by her competitive mother-in-law Marie, the bona…
  • September 18 Mama Lisa’s Ghost Town Kitchen – Madrid, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Steeped in rich history dating from the early 1800s, Madrid has been transformed from a hard- and soft-coal mining town with shafts as deep as 2500 feet down into a distinctive artist’s community. In the 1970s, artists and craftspeople converted old company stores and houses into shops, galleries and services. In doing so, they transformed what might otherwise have become…
  • September 12 El Camino Family Restaurant – Socorro, New Mexico
    America’s oldest and longest continuously used “highway,” El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, (Spanish for the Royal Road of the Interior Land) includes a 404 mile stretch that bisects much of the Land of Enchantment  from south to north.  A large portion of that stretch is barren and desolate, one especially treacherous and dry section even designated by the Spanish…
  • September 11 A Taste of Soul – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “1 think it is important to point out that barbecued ribs, black-eyed peas, grits, and collards may, in fact, be a choice dish to many black Americans. But it also sounds pretty darn good to me, a white man. I grew up on soul food. We just called it country cooking. My grandmother cooked it. My mother cooked it. –…
  • August 29 Three Forks at Rancho De San Juan – Ojo Caliente, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Expansive views of the Jemez Mountains and of Georgia O’Keeffe country–whether bathed in pink, coral and gold sunset hues or under New Mexico’s incomparable cerulean skies–combine with the surreal topography of unnaturally contorted rock formations and juniper laden foothills to form the unique vistas which await guests at Rancho de San Juan, New Mexico’s premier country inn and restaurant.  At…
  • August 26 Wings ‘N Things – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The “language of love.”  It can reduce the most eloquent of women to twaddling teeny boppers and the most macho of men to cooing grade schoolers.  It is most active–some would say most infantile–when the biochemical pathways of love are waxing to a peak during the relationship stages between infatuation and falling in love.  It’s when cute nicknames–those mushy, syrupy…
  • August 21 Rodeo Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Who’s gonna fill their shoes?,” laments the legendary Country music crooner George Jones over the loudspeakers at the Rodeo Grill.  “Who’s gonna stand that tall? Who’s gonna play the Opry and the Wabash Cannonball?  Who’s gonna give their heart and soul to get to me and you?  Lord I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes.” Ironically I was thinking something…
  • August 8 JoAnn’s Ranch O Casados Restaurant – Española, New Mexico
    Shortly after it was announced that Mary & Tito’s was selected as a 2010 recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s “Americas Classic” award, the brilliant Albuquerque Journal columnist Leslie Linthicum wrote a gilt-edged tribute to my very favorite New Mexican restaurant.  Indicating “the red chile at Mary & Tito’s Cafe brings grown men to poetic fevers,” she quoted something I…
  • July 31 Charlie’s Front Door – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    For almost four and a half decades, Charlie Elias, an avuncular septuagenarian with the energy of a teenager,  has greeted his customers and treated them like welcome guests at his eponymous Northeast Heights restaurant and bar. Charlie doesn’t always make it to work nowadays, but his son Jamie, who’s probably the same age today that Charlie was when I first…
  • July 18 Monroe’s New Mexican Food – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    If I’ve learned anything from dining at Monroe’s, it’s that I shouldn’t leave the restaurant with any regrets.  Invariably what I end up regretting most often is that I didn’t have the green chile cheeseburger, one of the very best in town, if not the Land of Enchantment.  It’s a green chile cheeseburger so good that I’ll order it during…
  • July 11 Los Equipales – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    CLOSED ON FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2015: Crafted from fibrous materials removed from maguey cactus and fixed with leather bands, equipales furniture graces the sala of many a New Mexican home and certainly many more homes south of the border. Originally produced for the comfort of Aztec landlords and priests, equipales furniture has been around since before Columbus. Even Montezuma, the…
  • July 8 Rincon Del Pollo – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 1928, the presidential campaign featured several slogans and ads promising an era of prosperity.  The most memorable of these was a boast that the Republican administrations of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge had “reduced hours and increased earning capacity, silenced discontent, and put the proverbial ‘chicken in every pot.’  And a car in every backyard, to boot.” If a…
  • July 5 Circle T Burgers – Belen, New Mexico
    The year was 1958.  The average American wage-owner’s income was $4,650 per year.  A Ford automobile cost between $1,967 and $3,929.  Milk was $1.01 per gallon.  Bread cost 19 cents a loaf and a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti went for 19 cents a can.  First class US postage was raised to 4 cents after having held at 3 cents…
  • June 14 The Squeeze Inn – Roseville, California
    Tried to amend my carnivorous habits Made it nearly seventy days Losin’ weight without speed, eatin’ sunflower seeds Drinkin’ lots of carrot juice and soakin’ up rays But at night I’d had these wonderful dreams Some kind of sensuous treat Not zucchini, fettucini or Bulgar wheat But a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat Cheeseburger in paradise…
  • June 13 Chuck’s Restaurant – Placerville, California
    In 2009, James Beard Award-winning food journalists Jane and Michael Stern published a terrific tome entitled 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late. Despite the ominous (some might say fatalistic) name, the book is actually a celebration of the best dishes that are unique to this country. The Sterns, who have been focusing on quirky All-American food haunts since…
  • June 12 RedBrick Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The American culture of instant gratification may be precipitating the decline of the independent neighborhood pizzeria. In recent years, this traditional bastion of pizza preparation has been largely supplanted by ubiquitous pizza delivery companies with their gratuitous gimmicks, copious coupons and promises of breakneck deliveries. Pizzaiolis, the artisans who deftly toss and craft prandial perfection in the form of circular,…
  • June 8 La Boca – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, the “show about nothing,” George Costanza declared food and sex to be his two passions, reasoning that “it’s only natural to combine them.”  Jerry’s retort, “Natural?  Sex is about love between a man and a woman, not a man and a sandwich.” George Costanza may actually have gotten it right!  The mouth is actually…
  • May 31 Zea Rotisserie & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Our first visit to Zea followed the day after it was savaged by an erstwhile Albuquerque Journal restaurant critic, but any trepidation we might have had quickly dissipated when we were greeted enthusiastically at the hostess station by Betty, the luminous former waitress at the incomparable and much missed (to this day, I dream of its timbale tuna) Nouveau Noodles…
  • May 30 Angelina’s Restaurant – Espanola, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “I get no respect.”  Comedian Rodney Dangerfield parlayed that catch-phrase into a lengthy and lucrative career.  With his uniquely self-deprecating sense of humor, Rodney invariably made himself the butt of his own brilliant one-liners: “I could tell my parents hated me.  My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.”  Despite his schtick as a perpetual loser, Dangerfield was a…
  • May 15 New Mexico Magazine Presents The Land of Enchantment’s Best Eats for 2010
    Having spent nearly two decades away from my beloved Land of Enchantment, what I cherished most were letters from home (in the years before e-mail) and my monthly copy of New Mexico Magazine.  Every issue transcended  time and distance and transported me back home.  Every vivid photograph was like a series of brushstrokes from God, awash in ethereal, other-worldly colors…
  • May 15 Blue Cactus Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the early 80s I tried to impress my very traditional grandmother by taking her to a recently opened restaurant on Academy Boulevard.  What was not to like?  The restaurant shared the mellifluous name she had proudly worn for over fifty years.  It was a locally owned and operated and had earned several awards.  It boasted a multi-page menu.  Surely Garduno’s of…
  • April 24 La Casita Cafe – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Is there still a place in the American restaurant scene for hometown mom and pop institutions? According to the Nation’s Restaurant News, a respected trade magazine, almost fifty percent of the 100 largest chains saw flat or declining growth rates in sales in 2006.  Those rates are largely attributed to the sheer volume of restaurant concepts (chains) cluttering the landscape.…
  • April 16 Cafe Cornucopia – Bisbee, Arizona
    The Hollywood stereotype of restaurant critics paints them rather unflatteringly as condescending misanthropes to be feared. Those stereotypes would have you believe restaurant critics are eager to pounce on and expose the slightest imperfection.  Armed with pedantic palates and polysyllabic vocabularies overflowing with unfavorable adjectives, critics are painted as joyless beings whose quest it is to impart their misery on…
  • April 13 Cafe Poca Cosa – Tucson, Arizona
    Stereotypes would have you believe English food and Mexican food are at the opposite end of the spectrum from one another…as different as day and night.  Those stereotypes paint English food as bland and unimaginative while Mexican food is depicted as spirited and exciting.  That makes it deliciously ironic that perhaps the foremost authority on Mexican food is an adventurous…
  • April 12 BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs – Tucson, Arizona
    Every region across the fruited plain seems to have its iconic foods–incomparable dishes that define the area because they’re prepared better in that region than anywhere else.  Though there may be many capable practitioners in the preparation of these beloved and celebrated regional favorites, invariably there are restaurants with legitimate claims to superiority–stand-outs which, by virtue of consistent excellence over…
  • April 10 Sakura Sushi & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In describing “food porn,” The New Yorker once wrote, “The point is to get very close to what you are filming, so close that you can see an ingredient’s “pores” which then triggers some kind of Neanderthal reflex.  If you’re flicking from channel to channel and come upon food that has been shot in this way, you will be hardwired…
  • April 3 Chef’s Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    It’s been called the “Harvard of cooking schools” and has been credited with having “changed the way Americans eat” by no less than the James Beard Foundation. World-reknowned French chef Paul Bocuse calls it “the best culinary school in the world.” It has trained more than forty-thousand culinary professionals and counts among its distinguished alumni such Food Network luminaries as…
  • March 28 Cafe Green – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Brunch is the best of two worlds–not quite breakfast and not quite lunch, but the best of both. It’s a leisurely weekend repast which makes you feel you’re getting away with something, as if you’re defying your mom’s mandate not to have dessert before the main entree. The feeling that you’re getting away with something delightfully illicit is reenforced as…
  • March 13 Independence Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    NOTE: The Independence Grill became another casualty of the economy, shuttering its doors on Sunday, March 14th, 2010. Below this review is a photo retrospective of some of the many things which will be missed about this terrific restaurant. On January 6, 1941 as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt closed his state of the union address to Congress, he described his…
  • March 10 Barry’s Oasis – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    I don’t know if there’s any veracity to the adage “don’t trust a skinny chef,” but one thing is for certain. Albuquerque has been trusting a very grumpy chef to prepare excellent meals for more than a quarter century. That grumpy chef is the irascible Barry Schuster, serving great cuisine in Albuquerque since 1979. One of the first things you…
  • February 26 Frattellis – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    In New York City, pizza by the slice is as ubiquitous as towering skyscrapers. Many of the city’s nearly 3,000 pizzerias serve pizza by the slice. Most have been doing so since the end of WWII when recently returned American veterans who served in Italy craved the sliced pizza they had enjoyed during their service. Heck, in the Big Apple,…
  • February 24 Aldo’s NY Pizzeria – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Being within walking distance of my place of employment makes this old fashioned pizzeria an easy choice while excellent pizza and a surprisingly varied menu for such a small storefront makes it the right choice! It’s the right choice for Rio Rancho residents, many of whom have their familial roots in New York City just like Venezia’s Pizzeria has. Moreover,…
  • February 21 La Casa Sena – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    He was an academic prodigy, one of the first two persons admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the Territory of New Mexico. He had a distinguished military career in the Union Army before being mustered out with the rank of Major. He served as sheriff of Santa Fe county for more than ten years and was a…
  • February 14 Cafe Phenix – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “A mythical bird that never dies, the Phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space. It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it. The Phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration.” – Feng Shui Master Lam Kam Shuen, The…
  • February 13 Paul’s Monterey Inn – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The year was 1971. Albuquerque’s population had reached a quarter of a million. The San Juan-Chama project, a system of diversion structures and tunnels for trans-mountain movement of water from the San Juan River Basin to the Rio Grande Basin, was completed. The area’s three military installations: Kirtland, Manzano and Sandia Bases merged under Air Force jurisdiction. Civil unrest was…
  • February 9 The Black Olive Wine Bar & Grill – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Perhaps in time, the Albuquerque-Rio Rancho metropolitan statistical area will be thought of in much the same vein as America’s two most famous “twin city” metroplexes–Dallas-Fort Worth and Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Don’t be surprised if Rio Rancho winds up being the Dallas to Albuquerque’s Fort Worth, the Minneapolis to Albuquerque’s Saint Paul. People have been selling Rio Rancho short for a…
  • February 6 Gold Street Caffe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When you’re alone and life is making you lonely You can always go – downtown When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry Seems to help, I know – downtown Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty How can you lose? The lights are…
  • February 4 Cecilia’s Cafe Featured on Travel Channel’s Chow Down Countdown
    In January, 2010, the Travel Channel traveled from coast to coast to uncover the 101 tastiest places to chow down–“joints serving some of the biggest and best dishes of deliciousness around.” Calling it the “most definitive and appetizing countdown food fanatics have ever seen,” the show featured five one-hour specials that transported viewers “on a non-stop, coast-to-coast, mouthwatering tour of…
  • January 18 Mary & Tito’s Recognized as an American Classic
    The pinnacle of achievement in the culinary world. That’s what a James Beard Foundation award signifies. Deemed “the Oscars of the food world,” by Time magazine, The James Beard Foundation Awards are the country’s most coveted honor for chefs; food and beverage professionals; broadcast media, journalists, and authors working on food; and restaurant architects and designers. Considered the “Dean of…

2009 (64)

  • December 31 Duke’s Steakhouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Did you ever see the customers in health-food stores? They are pale, skinny people who look half dead. In a steak house, you see robust, ruddy people. They’re dying, of course, but they look terrific.” -Bill Cosby Bill Cosby probably didn’t have actor Robert Mitchum in mind when describing the type of people who visit steak houses. Heralded by movie…
  • December 19 Lotus Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Balance. The Diné, or Navajo, of America’s Four Corners Region have a word for it: “hózhó.” The word embodies the idea of striving for balance and harmony along with beauty and order. Every aspect of Diné life–whether spiritual or secular–is connected to hózhó, maintaining balance between the individual and the universe and living in harmony with nature and the Creator.…
  • December 6 The Pink Adobe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • December 5 Coronado Grill – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In 1540 while searching for the fabled seven Cities of Gold, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado camped with his soldiers near the ancient Pueblo of Kuaua on the western banks of the Rio Grande where the city of Bernalillo exists today. Coronado never did locate the mythical Cities, finding instead a thriving agricultural village inhabited since 1300. Only the partially reconstructed…
  • December 3 Introducing the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail
    To New Mexicans, there is nothing as thoroughly soul-satisfying and utterly delicious as our ubiquitous green chile cheeseburger.  We have a fierce pride in that most simplistic, but explosive, flavor-blessed union of a thick, juicy beef patty grilled over an open flame or sizzled on a griddle then blanketed in cheese and topped with taste bud awakening, tongue tingling, olfactory…
  • November 21 Harla May’s Fat Boy Grill – Belen, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Many of us who grew up in small town America during the 60s sometimes pine for the more innocent days of our youth–the days before cable television gave us hundreds of channels (and nothing to watch) and video games became the only form of exercise (albeit, of their thumbs) our children get. Back then, the movie theater was the town’s…
  • November 8 Cafe Pasqual’s – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Pasqual Baylon’s devotion to the Mass and the Holy Eucharist was so fervent that when assigned kitchen duty, angels had to stir the pots to keep them from burning.  It’s ironic therefore that San Pasqual is the recognized patron saint of Mexican and New Mexican kitchens, a beloved saint whose smiling countenance in the form of various art forms graces…
  • October 24 JC’s New York Pizza Department – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Gil’s immutable law of thermodynamics posits that the enjoyment of even the best pizza is correlative with the length of time which has expired since it was removed from the oven.  Pizza tastes best right out of the oven when it is steaming hot and the aromas waft upwards to provide an almost sensual olfactory massage.  That flavor and olfactory…
  • October 18 Tabla De Los Santos – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Professor Larry Torres, the brilliant historian, linguist and writer From Arroyo Seco is incomparable at spinning a yarn, especially when doing so in “Spanglish,” the without-a-pause blending of Spanish and English so prevalent among Latinos in the Land of Enchantment.  A few years ago in the Taos News, he told the story of a little South American boy staying with…
  • October 16 Porky’s Pride Real Pit BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The genesis of America’s popular music–country, jazz and even rock and roll–is rooted in the soul and sounds of Mississippi Delta blues–sounds born in the disgraceful shadow of slavery and lyrics which echoed the grievous plight and painful lament of workers in plantations and fields.  It is a tribute to the resilience of a people that the music of their…
  • October 9 Salsas Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Salsas Grill features outstanding cuisine served with a Guatemalan flair, style, grace and hospitality. Affable proprietors Olga and Sigfrido Paz and their daughter Angie have decorated the restaurant with colorful nick knacks (mostly bowls and plates adorned with fruits and vegetables) from their native Guatemala. They have decorated the menu with Mexican, Guatemalan and New Mexican favorites prepared exceptionally well…
  • September 26 Fuddruckers – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    The audacious proclamation on Fuddruckers door, logo and Web site, “The world’s greatest hamburgers available” may not be quite complete. Add the words “somewhere else” and most will agree, you probably have a more accurate description of this tremendously popular restaurant chain which actually trademarked the “world’s greatest hamburgers” logo. Founded in 1980 by Phil Romano (of Romano’s Macaroni Grill…
  • September 25 Steve’s House of Pizza – Bedford, Massachusetts
    Memories Pressed between the pages of my mind Memories Sweetened through the ages just like wine Quiet thoughts come floating down and settle softly to the ground Like golden autumn leaves around my feet I touch them and they burst apart with sweet memories - The Lettermen, 1969 Memory–our ability to recall information, personal experiences and processes–isn’t always reliable or…
  • September 25 Mario’s Italian Restaurant – Lexington, Massachusetts
    “People think Chef Boyardee is a great man. I think he’s nothing but a pasta hater. What true lover of pasta could turn it into mush and shove it in a can? That’s not pasta. That’s just plain wrong.” ~ Author Unknown Chef Boyardee and I go way back.  As mentioned (hopefully not ad-nauseam) on this blog, my arcadian upbringing…
  • September 24 Mabel’s Lobster Claw Restaurant – Kennebunkport, Maine
    What comes to mind when you think of lobster?  A rare treat or special event meal?   A delicacy?  Would you believe some cultures still consider lobster “the cockroach of the sea?”  There’s a scientific basis for that.  Neither fish nor mammal, lobsters are arthropods, closely related to the lowly insect.  Like the insect, lobsters belong to the invertebrate (lacking…
  • September 24 The Clam Shack – Kennebunkport, Maine
    The late George Plimpton was a pioneering journalist who garnered much of his acclaim from competing in professional sporting events then recording the experience from an amateur’s standpoint.  From pitching against the National League prior to an All-Star baseball game to quarterbacking the Detroit Lions in an intrasquad scrimmage, Plimpton momentarily lived the dream of every would-be professional athlete. Today,…
  • September 23 Maine Diner – Wells, Maine
    How do you know when a restaurant has really made it?  Is it when that restaurant is recognized by national publications as one of the very best diners in the country?  Or when celebrities go out of their way to dine at its tables?  Is it when more than five-million people have been warmly welcomed at its doors?  When neither…
  • September 23 Woodman’s of Essex – Essex, Massachusetts
    If you can imagine what New Mexico would be like without green chile or the South without barbecue, you can understand what New England would be without fried clams.  Like our beloved green chile, fried clams are an iconic food, so much so that they are almost synonymous with states like Maine and Massachusetts in which they are harvested and…
  • September 21 Union Oyster House – Boston, Massachusetts
    The Union Oyster House, in continuous operation since 1826, is not only the oldest restaurant in Boston, it’s the oldest restaurant in continuous service in America.  In fact, it’s housed in a building which predates the American Revolution.  Union Street in which it is situated was laid out in 1626 and while there are no municipal records documenting the Oyster…
  • September 21 Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse – Boston, Massachusetts
    “When I talk about a great dish, I often get goose bumps. I’m like, whoa, I’ll never forget that one. The Italians are just like that. It’s not all about food. It’s part of the memory.” ~Mario Batali When discussing my upcoming trip to Boston with Dave Hurayt, it evoked a nostalgic sentiment in a fellow gastronome whose opinion on…
  • September 21 Mike’s Pastry – Boston, Massachusetts
    Ralph Waldo Emerson, the founder of the Transcendentalist movement of the 19th century, called America the “Utopian product of a culturally and racially mixed “smelting pot.”  Melting pot rapidly became one of the most frequently used metaphors for describing America.  The term describes the fusion of different nationalities, ethnicities, religions and cultures to form a new, ostensibly better community, a…
  • September 20 Kingfish Hall – Boston, Massachusetts (CLOSED)
    “Endorse what you love.”  That’s the message NASCAR driver Tony Stewart delivers to Eric Estrada, Carrot Top and a host of other candidates the stature of which usually grace Dancing With The Stars and other dreadful reality shows.  If the television commercial is to be believed, what Stewart loves is Burger King, the fast food sponsor who supplanted Subway on…
  • September 19 Sportello – Boston, Massachusetts
    In its April, 2009 edition Saveur magazine feted “12 restaurants that matter,” profiling a dozen restaurants that “represent the best of dining in America today.”  Although that title may at first browse sound a bit condescending, the premise of the article was that restaurants are special places.  ”Everybody has to eat, but going out to eat is a choice.” The…
  • September 17 Gil’s Thrilling Blog Marks One-Year Anniversary
    Very well,” replied the editor-in-chief. “Dine somewhere else to-day and somewhere else to-morrow. I wish you to dine everywhere, — from the Astor House Restaurant to the smallest description of dining saloon in the City, in order that you may furnish an account of all these places. The cashier will pay your expenses.” With that mandate, the editor-in-chief of the…
  • September 10 Albuquerque Tortilla Company Family Restaurant and Carry Out – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Fearful that her dim-witted and loose-lipped husband would tell everyone in the village his good fortune in having found three bags of gold, the woodcutter’s wife concocted a plan.  She had her husband buy her a one-hundred pound bag of flour and when he returned with the flour, she told him to lay down and rest for a while.  While…
  • September 9 Hurley’s Coffee, Tea and Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “May you have food and raiment, a soft pillow for your head. May you be forty years in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead.” — An Irish Blessing Cynics who used to deride Irish food as the worst in the planet would have cautioned you to say a prayer before you ate it, but not necessarily in Thanksgiving for…
  • September 6 Mariscos La Playa – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    While New Mexico has always had restaurants featuring the cuisine of the country of Mexitli of Tenochtitlan (Mexico), the distinction between Mexican and New Mexican cuisine has always been somewhat obfuscated.  There are a number of reasons for this. For as long as I remember, restaurants which serve cuisine we now recognize as uniquely New Mexican (characterized among other things by the use of piquant red…
  • August 27 Mad Max’s BBQ – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    NOTE:  In March, 2010, Max and Fran Montano entered into a lease to buy agreement with an enthusiastic owner who continued to use the recipes which made Mad Max’s the very best barbecue in the Albuquerque area.  By September, 2010 the restaurant was closed.  Max and Fran will continue competing in competitions throughout the region and will also cater events. …
  • August 16 Pho #1 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Beef.  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my pho spoon can reach. Okay, I’m no Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but if I were to count the ways I love beef, the count might stop at seven–as in the special seven courses of beef offered at Pho #1,…
  • August 15 Village Grill – Moriarty, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Since the mid 1920s, New Yorker magazine has been providing insightful commentary on popular American culture in all its star-spangled idiosyncrasies.  One of its most popular features in the 1970s  was the “American Journal” written by the inimitable Calvin Trillin who traversed the continent in search of where real people ate.  The “Walt Whitman of American eats” chronicled his dining…
  • August 14 Quesada’s New Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When we get together, native New Mexicans of my generation who grew up in the state’s mountainous regions sometimes reminisce about trudging a mile or more in feet-deep snow to get to school.  We wonder how we survived the furious snowstorms which killed  reception for weeks to all four (yeah, four) Albuquerque television stations in the dark, pre-historic days before color television (not to…
  • July 20 Calico Cantina & Cafe – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The first time my friends and I visited the Calico Cafe at its original Corrales location, we wondered if the restaurant suffered from an identity crisis. Exterior signage read “Calico Cafe” but the menus indicated we were dining at “Cowgirl’s.” Apparently the restaurant was initially christened Cowgirl’s, but a name change was court-ordered after a naming dispute with Santa Fe’s…
  • July 10 Johndhi’s BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    With the wafting aroma of smoked meats, Johndhi’s, a charming smokehouse restaurant on picturesque Rio Grande Boulevard welcomes you to Bar-B-Querque, a well-earned and time-tested sobriquet. Known as Geezamboni’s since its inception in 1988 until a name change in 2005, Johndhi’s is a North Valley institution popular all year round. Owned and operated by John Nellos of Albuquerque’s first family of barbecue (the…
  • July 7 High Finance – Sandia Crest, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “Getting high” on cannabis is known for increasing appetite.  According to High Times, a New York based magazine which advocates the legalization of marijuana, scientists now know why.  Those scientists have uncovered the part of the brain which makes cannabis users get the munchies for chocolate, pizza, peanuts and more.  It’s hoped that this discovery will help in developing pharmaceuticals…
  • July 6 Los Ojos – Jemez Springs, New Mexico
    Shortly after the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman had the occasion to conduct an inspection trip of frontier outposts in the southwest.  He wasn’t impressed by what he saw in New Mexico, writing in a report that “We should have another war with Mexico and force them to take the Territory (New Mexico) back!” As an unabashedly proud native…
  • June 28 Evergreen Buffet – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    America held hostage!  That was the aptly named title of an ABC late-night news program anchored by Ted Koppel from November, 1979 through January 20, 2001.  For 444 days, the mighty United States of America was indeed paralyzed while 52 Americans were held hostage–tied and blindfolded–in the U.S. Embassy in Iran.  The captors were student revolutionaries incensed at the United…
  • June 14 Brasserie La Provence – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The French have long cultivated the idea–some would say myth–that their cuisine is the very best in the world. This self-aggrandizing hype has been carefully and condescendingly orchestrated for centuries. Even Alice B. Toklas, the American writer far ahead of her time (in 1954, she published a literary memoir with a recipe for “hashish fudge”) was caught up in the…
  • June 13 Mangiamo Pronto! – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    At first browse of a directory listing Santa Fe restaurants, the entree “Mangiamo Pronto!” (an Italian term which translates to “Let’s eat now!) might elicit the impression that the City Different has an eatery offering Italian fast-food: post-haste pasta, accelerated antipasto, insalata al instante.   You get the picture. At Mangiamo Pronto! you certainly won’t find desiccated pizza slices seared to a…
  • June 7 Charcoal Mediterranean Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    If comedian Jeff Foxworthy was Armenian, his repertoire of one-liners might include such gems as, “You know you’re Armenian if you have philo dough, string cheese or See’s candy in your freezer.”  Or perhaps, “You know you’re Armenian if you serve hummus and tabbouleh with your taco chips.”  Then there’s the classic, “You know you’re Armenian if you shovel food…
  • June 6 Cafe Choroni – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the late 1970s before political correctness taught us how racist we all are, it seems every man born to the last name Gonzalez, whether or not they liked it, sported the nickname “Speedy.”  Speedy was, of course, the “fastest mouse in all of Mexico” in the popular Looney Tunes animated series.  The premise of the cartoon was that Sylvester,…
  • June 4 Noda’s Japanese Cuisine – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Note: On December 16, 2010, Noda’s Japanese Cuisine, a Rio Rancho institution for a dozen years, closed its doors.  Owners Masayasu and Setsuko Noda have retired and will be relocating back to Japan.  It was initially announced that their son, an accomplished chef, would be looking for a new home for the restaurant many consider the very best Japanese restaurant…
  • May 30 Antonio’s: A Taste of Mexico – Taos, New Mexico
    Note:  Antonio’s has reopened in Taos.  More details to follow.  A traditional corrido from the Mexican coastal state of Veracruz recounts the story of a smiling woman with magic hands.  The kitchen is the world of Maria Chuchena and the intoxicating aromas and incomparable flavors she concocts in that world are utterly unforgettable.  With her cooking, Maria fills the world…
  • May 20 Seferino’s – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    One of the first things you notice when you step into Seferino’s New Mexican Restaurant is the large portrait hanging just above the hostess station of an avuncular bearded gentleman with an air of dignity and class.  Though he’s been gone for about a decade and a half and the restaurant which bears his name is in a new location,…
  • May 18 Roque’s Carnitas – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In more cosmopolitan metropolises it isn’t uncommon to see sidewalk vendors plying their trade over chuck wagon stands and proffering high quality fast food such as hot dogs, tacos, gyros and sundry quick meal items. Some of the best food in cities such as Portland, Oregon can be found near city parks where enterprising street vendors concoct culinary magic on…
  • May 18 The Shed – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In the culinary world, the name James Beard is revered perhaps above all others. Considered the “Dean of American Cookery,” Beard established a legacy of culinary excellence and became a household name to generations of home cooks and professional chefs. The cookbooks he authored between 1940 and 1983 are considered “a slice of American history” because those tomes span America’s…
  • May 17 Delux Burger – Phoenix, Arizona (CLOSED)
    “I ordered a cheeseburger at lunch the other day. I had never eaten at this particular restaurant before, and whenever I am unsure about the quality of the food at a place, I always order a cheeseburger. How many ways can you foul up something as simple as a cheeseburger? The bread can be too hard, or the meat might not be…
  • May 16 Orange Table – Scottsdale, Arizona (CLOSED)
    There are several scenes in the delightfully heartwarming animated Disney movie Ratatouille that resonate with all gastronomes who delight in the sensual pleasures of the dining experience–those for whom food is an enchanting adventure in the discernment and love of its subtle nuances and overt fragrances, tastes, textures and colors. France’s preeminent chef Anton Gasteau, a pivotal character in the…
  • April 13 Best Lee’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When John Lucas, Elizabeth Eisner Reding and Mike Reding, three trusted gastronomes who frequent this blog, heartily recommended I try Best Lee’s, my initial reaction was, “they’ve got to be kidding.”  Our sole visit to Best Lee’s in Rio Rancho exemplified the mediocrity and boring “sameness” that plagues many of New Mexico’s Chinese restaurants–a homogeneity my discerning friend Bill Resnik refers to as…
  • April 7 La Bamba Grill – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In its April, 2009 edition Saveur magazine feted “12 restaurants that matter,” profiling a dozen restaurants that “represent the best of dining in America today.”  Although that title may at first browse sound a bit condescending, the premise of the article was that restaurants are special places.  “Everybody has to eat, but going out to eat is a choice.” Americans…
  • April 5 Sabroso’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    From the moment they first set foot in the Land of Enchantment, some people just “get it” or perhaps more precisely, New Mexico gets to them.  It weaves its preternatural spell and stirs something deeply in those open enough to its calling.  D. H. Lawrence said it best, “In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a…
  • April 4 Coyote Diner – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Restaurant critics, whether we write online reviews or are published in print somewhere, must think we’re so smart.  We use polysyllabic (there’s one) words when a more prosaic (another one) word will do.  We endeavor (yet another one, but you get the picture) to wax eloquent every time we describe something we obviously like or disdain. Here’s one critic who’s…
  • March 21 Mardi Gras Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Over the centuries, Mardi Gras has evolved in America from a sedate French Catholic tradition to a hedonist’s holiday in which revelers indulge–and overindulge–the day before Ash Wednesday.  Every year Mardi Gras celebrations lure millions of rollickers and revelers to New Orleans where Mardi Gras is celebrated in grand scale.  Extravagant parades, masked balls, raucous convivality and copious consumption are…
  • March 12 The Chili Stop Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Over the years it’s been my experience that almost invariably, New Mexican restaurants which violate traditional New Mexican grammar don’t prepare the object of their grammatical faux pas very well.  The grammatical transgression of which I speak is forgetting the “i” before “e” rule and committing the piquant peccadillo of spelling New Mexico’s official state vegetable with two “i’s” and…
  • March 8 The Original Realburger – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Her sunrise could bring light into a blind man. Her sunset could put tears there in his eyes. Her colors are laying there in brush strokes. Underneath those peote skies. The lay of the land stirs all of my emotions. She heals me with a laid back energy. She holds onto my broken lifeless spirit. And molds me just like…
  • February 28 Kakawa Chocolate House – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In a 1995 episode of Seinfeld, Kramer attempted to deduce George’s ATM code: “You’re a portly fellow, a bit long in the waistband.  So what’s your pleasure?  Is it the salty snacks you crave?  No, no, no, yours is a sweet tooth.  Oh you may stray, but you’ll always return to your dark master, the cocoa bean.” America is, like…
  • February 28 Tomasita’s – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    The decade following America’s Civil War was one of burgeoning expansion westward with railroads leading the way.  Railroads helped open up the Wild West which included the then territory of New Mexico.  They transported wool, hides, piñon, lumber, coal, chile and other agricultural products.  They served as “connectors” between villages, towns and pueblos.  They bridged cultures and transcended distance, traversing through…
  • February 22 Sweet Tomatoes – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the early 1980s, Albuquerque native and Tokyo Olympian Buster Quist (whose brother Terry I worked for at the time) launched within the Coronado mall, one of the Duke City’s very first salad bars.  The salad bar concept was a few years ahead of its time and the restaurant venture went belly up—a condition portly Americans have, not coincidentally, experienced…
  • February 21 Almost Gourmet Soul Food – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    NOTE:  Although the Almost Gourmet Soulfood restaurant is now closed, owner Genice Monroe remains in the catering business, working out of a commercial kitchen in the city.  She is working on a Web site from which you will be able to order the fantastic soul food you fell in love with at her restaurant.  Call Genice at (505) 353-0799 for…
  • February 17 Charlie’s Burgers & Mexican Food – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Ashley’s Convenience Store on the ill-fated corner of Camino del Pueblo and Avenida Bernalillo achieved the type of notoriety which will be forever associated with a tragedy visited all too often upon New Mexico’s streets.  In November, 2006, a driver already inebriated during a U.S. Airways flight, purchased alcohol at the convenience store before resuming his journey home and causing a…
  • February 14 Dahlia’s Central Mexican Cuisine – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Because Mexico spans several climatic zones and a diverse topography, its cuisine varies from region to region. As such, it’s grossly unfair to stereotype Mexican food. It’s true that until recent years, most of the Mexican restaurants in the Albuquerque’s area featured the cuisine of the border state of Chihuahua, Mexico, typified by menus offering refried beans, enchiladas, chiles rellenos…
  • February 8 Nana’s Trattoria & Pizzeria – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    What’sa matta you, hey! Gotta no respect, whatta you think you do, Why you looka so sad? It’s-a pretty bad, it’s-a not-a nice-a place, Ah, shaddap you face! Joe Dolce will just have to forgive me for the liberties I took with the lyrics to his worldwide 1980 number one song Shaddap You Face. Slightly altered, those lyrics express my…
  • January 24 Let Us Eat Soup – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Genesis 25:34 recounts the story of Isaac’s two sons Esau and Jacob.  Talk about a sibling rivalry.  Coming home from an unsuccessful hunt one day, Esau was exhausted and famished.  The aroma of hot, steaming red lentil soup filled the air and he would do anything to have some.   His brother Jacob, a crafty schemer, agreed to give his…
  • January 19 Hello Gyro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Many scholars and historians consider  the ancient Greeks to be the germinal culture and progenitor of Western civilization as we know it.  Greek civilization has been immensely influential in the arts and sciences, politics and language, philosophy and education.  It may surprise you then to learn that what many consider the archetypal Greek dish is, in chronological terms, a relative…
  • January 3 Bode’s General Merchandise Deli & Bakery – Abiquiu, New Mexico
    Mention food and convenience store in the same sentence and the first thing likely to come to mind is one of those perpetually rotating, alutaceous hot dogs seared to a leathery sheen under a heat lamp inferno. Not even a large slushie spiked with your favorite adult beverage would make that hot dog palatable. Mention food and gas station in…

2008 (54)

  • December 27 Paradise Donuts – Bosque Farms, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Though often boorish and crude, America’s favorite everyman philosopher Homer Simpson is prone to occasional bouts of insight. Who can argue with such Homeric sagacity as, “donuts, is there anything they can’t do.” At first browse that statement may appear clouded, make that glazed, but it’s a statement replete with credibility–and not solely with police officers. Cultural anthropologist Paul R.…
  • December 27 Benny’s Mexican Kitchen – Bosque Farms, New Mexico
    “Whenever I need to leave it all behind Or feel the need to get away I find a quiet place, far from the human race Out in the country Whenever I feel them closing in on me Or need a bit of room to move When life becomes too fast, I find relief at last Out in the country.” In…
  • December 19 Mai Thai Thai Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When my buddy Bill Resnik invited me to try a new restaurant called Mai Thai, I immediately wondered if Albuquerque was experiencing a misguided retro renaissance to days gone by when kitschy Polynesian themed night clubs and restaurants were in vogue. For those of you too young to remember, in the 1960s, 70s and even early 80s, Americans held a…
  • November 24 El Bruno – Cuba, New Mexico
    Fool that I am, after my first visit to El Bruno’s in 1997, I spent half an hour pondering how best to describe the restaurant in alliterative prose–adobe abode of amazing adovada, beguiling bastion of bountiful burritos, captivating citadel of chile con queso, earthen edifice of enchanting enchiladas–and while El Bruno is all of those and so much more, a simplified…
  • November 15 Taos Pizza Out Back – Taos, New Mexico
    “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 It’s unlikely the Taos Chamber of Commerce ever used that New Testament passage to lure visitors to Taos, but it would have made an excellent tourism slogan.  Taos, New Mexico seems to have a mollifying effect on weary souls.  It has been…
  • November 7 The Chili Stop – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    NOTE:  On November 15th, 2008, Ron Chavez sold the Chili Stop a mere four months after making green chile a religious experience.  I have not visited the Chili Stop since it changed hands and have heard mixed opinions on the Chili Stop post Ron.  I will update this review after my next visit. Over the years it’s been my experience…
  • September 27 Bravo! Cucina Italiana – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Perhaps the most memorable slogan to surface during the politics “dirtier than usual” Presidential campaign of 2008 was the frequently used American idiom “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” That expression is intended to mean something akin to putting a fresh coat of paint on a piece of junk and selling it for full…
  • September 20 Aqua Santa – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “But the moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. There was a certain magnificence in the high-up day, a certain eagle-like royalty, so different from the equally pure, equally pristine and lovely morning of Australia, which is so soft, so…
  • September 13 Guadalupe Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    1974, Mexico’s Nobel laureate Octavio Paz wrote that “the Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery.” Though perhaps not to the same degree of reverence as people of Mexican descent have for Our Lady of Guadalupe, many diners literally make pilgrimages to Santa Fe’s Guadalupe Cafe.…
  • September 13 Welcome to Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog
    If you got to this page expecting Gil’s Thrilling Web, you’re in the right place. Don’t let the new look and feel scare or fool you. This is the new home for the restaurant reviews on which you’ve counted for years–different format, same place. The transition from static Web to blog was inevitable and years in coming. There are several…
  • September 6 Honnell’s Late Nite Burger – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “America’s celebrity psychologist” Dr. Phil McGraw posits that how you interact with your partner in the first four minutes can set the tone for the day.  Those first and most crucial 240 seconds of each and every day can, in essence, dictate your entire mood and, in the long run, either keep your relationship intact or destroy it.  I’d add…
  • September 5 Marlene’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God. And what is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth. It is to build a house with affection, even as if your…
  • August 30 Los Mayas – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Diego de Landa Calderón, the former Bishop of Yucatán, is a dichotomous figure in the history of the new world.  On one hand, he is recognized as an invaluable source of information on pre-Columbian Mayan civilizations, but on the other, he was directly responsible for destroying much of that civilization’s history, literature and traditions. Given the responsibility of converting the indigenous Maya to…
  • August 23 Los Dos Molinos – Springerville, Arizona (CLOSED)
    Just how hot is the chile at Los Dos Molinos? The New York Times suggests you “travel with a fire extinguisher” and that “everything, with the exception of the margaritas, is incendiary.” New York magazine raves that “Not since Drew flashed Dave has Manhattan witnessed a hotter display than the one at Los Dos Molinos.” The Arizona Central dining guide…
  • August 21 The Hamilton Chop House – Durango, Colorado (CLOSED)
    The Land of Enchantment with its 121,356 square miles of deserts, mesas, rivers, mountains, forests, cities and villages is the fifth largest state in the country.  In 2007, Albuquerque’s KOAT television station began a recurring series in which the station treated its viewers to an aerial perspective of many of the communities in its viewing area.  That unique bird’s eye…
  • August 21 Michael’s Kitchen – Taos, New Mexico
    Murphy’s Law postulates that “if anything can go wrong, it will.” This rather pessimistic and oft-quoted expression has become a catch-all when everything seems to go askew. Murphy’s Law is blamed when you’re in the slowest line at a grocery store behind people who can’t find their checkbooks. It’s the reason the toast you accidentally drop off the table lands…
  • August 20 The Trading Post Cafe – Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
    There’s an old Lebanese proverb that says, “some men build a wine cellar after only finding one grape.” That proverb aptly describes the many rags to riches success stories among Lebanese immigrants to the Land of Enchantment, primarily to our state’s northern villages. Some of the state’s most prominent names in business–Maloof, Bellamah, Hanosh and Sahd–embody the spirit of that…
  • August 20 Landmark Grill – Las Vegas, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once wrote, “Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas.” At one time, Las Vegas was considered virtually lawless, a shameless denizen of murderers, thieves, swindlers, prostitutes and others of ill repute. If you’re thinking I’m describing the formative days in which Las Vegas,…
  • August 2 Fox and Hound Pub & Grille – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    English Parliamentarian and writer Samuel Pepys described the pub as “the heart of England and the church as its soul.” As England has become a more sectarian nation, the pub has essentially supplanted the church as the focal point of the community. Today there are nearly 58,000 pubs in the United Kingdom with almost every village and city in England…
  • July 28 California Baja Grill – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Several years ago, I introduced my good friend John Bennett to the exhilaration of verbal sparring with the shopkeepers at the mercados of Juarez, Mexico, a vibrant border city in which aggressive bartering is considered not only an honorable sport, but the only way to ensure any semblance of a fair exchange. The shopkeepers expect it and will respect your…
  • July 21 Juan’s Broken Taco – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Fusion–the inventive combination of diverse, sometimes disparate culinary traditions, elements and ingredients to form an entirely new genre–has yet to become commonplace in the Land of Enchantment Some restaurants in New Mexico have dabbled in their conception of fusion, primarily by offering dishes from several southeast Asian countries alongside one another as well as dishes that are “inspired” combinations of…
  • July 6 Chow’s Asian Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    With but few exceptions, the Duke City’s Chinese restaurants have a boring sameness (perpetuating the stereotype that all Chinese food tastes the same) with an increasing emphasis on super-sized portions of Americanized Chinese food (fried, breaded and candied meats of poor quality).  One of the few Chinese restaurants which does not perpetuate that stereotype is Chow’s Chinese Bistro in Albuquerque’s…
  • June 27 Sunshine Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry Sunshine on the waters looks so lovely Sunshine almost always makes me high -John Denver A gloomy, gray winter day in Minnesota was the inspiration for John Denver’s number one song “Sunshine on My Shoulders.” During a visit to the Gopher State in 1974, he…
  • June 25 Chino Bandido – Chandler, Arizona (CLOSED)
    Gustavo Arellano has the right idea. The brilliant and hilarious author of Ask A Mexican, a widely syndicated alternative newspaper column, confronts the “bogeymen of racism, xenophobia, and ignorance” with humor. In his weekly column, he defeats stereotypes and those who wield them by using deprecatory wit to exaggerate those stereotypes to the point of the ridiculous. In the Language…
  • June 22 Milton’s Family Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In a 2002 column Jason Sheehan, one of the best in a succession of outstanding Alibi restaurant critics assembled a dream menu of the best foods he had ever eaten, a “desert-island top ten” from which he’d choose if ever asked the question, “If you could eat only one thing every day for the rest of your life, what would…
  • June 15 Leona’s Restaurante de Chimayo – Chimayo, New Mexico
    In his book Authentic Happiness, Dr. Martin Seligman posited that there are two kinds of smiles. The first is called the Duchenne smile, named for its discoverer, French neurologist Guillame Duchenne. This is considered a genuine smile in which the corners of the mouth turn up and the skin around the corners of the eyes crinkle (ala crow’s feet). This…
  • June 8 The Old House Gastropub – Corrales, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    There’s a European joke that uses stereotypes to deride British cooking, one of the most maligned cuisines in the world culinary stage. As the joke goes, in the European conception of heaven, the French are the chefs, the British are the police and the Germans are the engineers while in the European conception of hell, the Germans are the police,…
  • June 2 Chicago Beef – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Ask any Chicago transplant in Albuquerque or anywhere else to list the five things they miss most about the Windy City and it’s a good bet the list will include Italian beef sandwiches, a staple in Chicago. Citizens of the Toddlin’ Town are almost as passionate about this sloppy sandwich as they are Da Bears. Chicagoans grow up worshipping at…
  • June 1 Bellagio Buffet – Las Vegas, Nevada
    Comparing the Bellagio Buffet to the buffets proffered at other casino hotels isn’t quite akin to comparing a Bacchanalian festival to a swinish feeding troth, but it might be close.  That’s because the difference in quality between the Bellagio Buffet and its nearest competitor is several degrees of magnitude. It’s the one buffet in Vegas in which you might actually…
  • May 31 Bouchon – Las Vegas, Nevada
    Thomas Keller is the owner and chef of one of the world’s most highly acclaimed and famous restaurants, but despite all the accolades and honors the French Laundry has garnered over the years, he isn’t nearly as famous or popular as his celebrity protégés. One protégé is a provincial rat named Remy whose aspirations to become a great chef despite…
  • May 31 Amlee Gourmet Restaurant – Las Vegas, Nevada
    There’s a Cantonese saying that translates to “anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven is edible.” The Chinese diet counts as delicacies some things which would repulse the more sensitive American palate. It’s not just the Chinese who will imbibe, ingest and intake what we might consider sundry strangeness. Each culture, including American, has foodstuffs…
  • May 30 Rosemary’s Restaurant – Las Vegas, Nevada (CLOSED)
    You might think that a chef and proprietor whose restaurant has garnered almost every conceivable accolade might be almost unapproachable, perhaps even haughty and aloof…that being among the gastronomic glitterati, he wouldn’t make time for admirers of his culinary craft. We learned during a June, 2006 visit that THE Michael Jordan (the other one was a pretty fair basketball player)…
  • May 29 Ristorante B&B – Las Vegas, Nevada (CLOSED)
    A pair of trademarked orange Crocs on the reception kiosk was as close to Mario Batali as we got. It’s as close as some of the wait staff has gotten in the months since Ristorante B&B launched. We had expected no less. Batali has parlayed his celebrity chef status into a veritable empire of highly acclaimed restaurants in New York…
  • May 28 The Paradise Grill – Las Vegas, Nevada (CLOSED)
    Americans spent several billion dollars a year on products touting their ability to provide fresh breath.  Ultrabrite toothpaste promises to “give your mouth sex appeal” while Colgate’s Oxygen toothpaste’s slogan is “Pure, Fresh, Clean.”  Fresh breath is so important to our culture that we even insist our pets have it. Milk Bone Dog Biscuits pledge to “freshen breath naturally” so…
  • May 27 Ping Pang Pong – Las Vegas, Nevada
    The complaint I hear most often about the Duke City dining scene is that we have a lamentable lack of quality Chinese restaurants. This is a sentiment that’s been echoed ad-infinitum on Chowhound and other restaurant blogs. In my years of reviewing Duke City restaurants, I’ve deemed only nine Chinese restaurants worthy of taking up space on my Web site.…
  • May 18 The Cup – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Buxom silent screen siren Mae West was so renown for her use of double entendre that she once said, “If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would ask for the double meaning.” When my wife suggested we have breakfast at The Cup, I wondered what she really had in mind. The Cup, after all, did not impress her…
  • May 15 Barb’s Place – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 These lyrical words from the King James version of the Holy Bible have been attributed to the most sagacious of Jewish monarchs, King Solomon. They have been recited, sung and published in numerous prayers, songs and books. The words posit that there is…
  • May 3 Richard’s Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In 2006 and 2007, the CalorieLab compiled the “fattest state” rankings based on a risk factor assessment provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. CalorieLab determined an overall increase in obesity in all states but California. Garnering the discomfiting dishonor as the fattest state in the union two years in a row was Mississippi. The Magnolia State…
  • April 24 Sushi King – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I– I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost The path to becoming a sushi aficionado is, in some ways, an assertion of individualism. You might also consider it an expression in audacity. Sushi, as most of us know, is not for everyone. Even…
  • April 19 Ruben’s Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    During the Mexican Revolution of 1910, many women joined the army both in response to the tremendous need for their service, but also to accompany their husbands, many of whom were conscripted into service. Traveling with the revolutionary armies, it was often the role of women to forage for food and cook meals. As much as possible, the women who…
  • April 12 Taj Palace – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Indian cuisine is one of the world’s most diverse and sophisticated cuisines, fashioned over time by ancient traditions, diversity of religion, climatic variety and the influence of neighboring countries.  It is so diverse, in fact, that the characterization “Indian cuisine” would be wholly inaccurate. There are more Indian cuisines than there are regions in this ethnically diverse subcontinent comprising 17.5…
  • April 6 Eldorado Court – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In Spanish, the word Eldorado translates to “the gilded one” or the “golden one” and refers to an imaginary place of great wealth and opportunity sought in South America by 16th-century explorers. In Santa Fe, Eldorado means a stately landmark hotel just off the historic Plaza in which guests are graced by the art of hospitality in lavish accommodations. The…
  • March 26 El Modelo – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Growing up in the 60s in a bucolic village in Northern New Mexico, we had no idea about such things as political correctness or multi-culturalism.  My friends included descendents of Montezuma, scions of the Spanish explorers, Native Americans from a nearby Pueblo and even a few “white” kids.  None of us really thought about things like “inclusion” and “diversity.”  We lived…
  • March 8 Osteria d’Assisi – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Historians have characterized the discovery, exploration, and colonization of the Americas in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as having had three express purposes: glory, gold and God. This holds true in New Mexico where Spanish Explorers may have come for glory and gold, but finding neither, stayed for God.  Believing the large population of native peoples needed to hear…
  • March 5 Las Mañanitas – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Estas son las mañanitas, que cantaba el Rey David, Hoy por ser día de tu santo, te las cantamos a ti, Despierta, mi bien, despierta, mira que ya amaneció, Ya los pajarillos cantan, la luna ya se metió. This is the morning song that King David sang Because today is your saint’s day we’re singing it for you Wake up,…
  • March 4 The Original Wineburger – Phoenix, Arizona (CLOSED)
    Every year, children of all ages fall in love all over again with the heart-warming 1947 Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street. We’re aghast when the district attorney demands that defense lawyer Fred Gailey provide “authoritative proof” that Kris Kringle is “the one and only Santa Claus.” We share Gailey’s seeming desperation when he offers as evidence, a solitary letter…
  • February 21 Crab House at Pier 39 – San Francisco, California
    Every town has them–the touristy attractions every out-of-town visitor wants to hit and locals avoid like a Lobo basketball team coached by Ritchie McKay. To visitors, these attractions represent what your town is all about and nothing you tell them will dissuade them from thinking so.  After all, your local Chamber of Commerce paints these attractions as “can’t miss” and…
  • February 21 Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop & Soda Fountain – Las Vegas, Nevada
    While Ghirardelli chocolate is available worldwide, there are only a few shop locations–mostly in California with outliers in Las Vegas, Chicago and in two Florida cities. Named after Italian chocolatier Domingo Ghirardelli who brought his chocolate from Peru to San Francisco, Ghirardelli Shops are a true chocoholics dream where you can purchase a tempting assortment of chocolate confections and gifts.…
  • February 20 Destino Nuevo Latino Bistro – San Francisco, California
    In 2004, The Economist (a British weekly news publication) proclaimed that “Peru can lay claim to one of the world’s dozen or so great cuisines.” In 2005, Bon Appetit declared Peruvian “the next hot cuisine,” extolling its “vibrant ceviches, crispy, spiced rotisserie chickens and packed-with-flavor empanadas” then encapsulating its declaration with “this is one cuisine we could eat every day.”…
  • February 16 Blue Heron Restaurant at Sunrise Springs – La Cienega, New Mexico
    Fewer than ten miles separate the historic Spanish village of La Ciénega from Santa Fe, and though both have largely retained vestiges of their storied and proud histories, the differences that set them apart are as vast as El Camino Real, the Royal Road that has connected them for centuries. While Santa Fe has entered the 21st century as a…
  • February 6 Athens Eclectic Greek – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    There’s an expression in Greece that all roads lead to Athens. If restaurateur Gus Petropoulos has his way, all Albuquerque streets will take diners to Athens Eclectic Greek Cuisine, the restaurant he launched in August, 2007. Petropoulos is a veteran of culinary competition, having owned six restaurants in Florida before setting up shop in the Duke City. His new venture…
  • January 24 Chef Jim White’s Cafe & Catering – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Long before the Food Network made chefs legitimate on-air celebrity icons, Albuquerque had its own larger-than-life, media-savvy celebrity chef who, it seemed, spent almost as much time on the airwaves as behind the stove. Chef Jim White was a peripatetic presence on television where he hosted short cooking segments on two Duke City television news programs in addition to having…
  • January 23 Downtown Gourmet – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    “People who know nothing about cheeses reel away from Camembert, Roquefort, and Stilton because the plebeian proboscis is not equipped to differentiate between the sordid and the sublime.” – Harvey Day I don’t know whether or not Mr. Day intended his quote as a condescending affront toward those lacking appreciation for some of the world’s most fetid fromage, but the…
  • January 16 Have Your Cake Bakery & Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Leave it to the wonderfully irascible and irreverent comedian George Carlin to put things in perspective in his retort to a popular English idiom. “When people say, ‘Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too.’ What good is a cake you can’t eat? What should I eat, someone else’s cake instead?“. The idiom “to have one’s…

2007 (48)

  • December 22 El Charritos – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    New Mexico born Hispanics of my generation grew up watching not only American “shoot ’em up” Westerns featuring rugged cowboys, rowdy rustlers, round-ups and home on the range, but the Mexican equivalent–movies featuring the exploits of charros, the traditional cowboys of central and northern Mexico. Despite my admiration for the charros of the cinema, it took more than 20 years…
  • December 18 El Charritos – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Many New Mexico born Hispanics of my generation grew up watching not only American “shoot ’em up” Westerns featuring rugged cowboys, rowdy rustlers, round-ups and home on the range, but the Mexican equivalent–movies featuring the exploits of charros, the traditional cowboys of central and northern Mexico. Despite my admiration for the charros of the cinema, it took more than 20…
  • November 14 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    >Compared to the extraordinarily perceptive 19th-century detective Sherlock Holmes, his best friend and confidante Dr. John H. Watson was an ordinary man, a perfect “foil” for the brilliant Holmes. Though lacking his friend’s deductive abilities and almost prescient ability to solve problems, Dr. Watson was, however, prone to occasional observations of brilliance and statements of profound eloquence. For example, in…
  • November 8 Villa del Mar – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Who hasn’t dreamt of a luxurious Mexican Villa overlooking pristine sandy beaches and translucent blue waters–a distinguished gate, thriving gardens and a capacious floor plan with earth-toned terracotta and ochre floors and walls festooned in vibrant colors? Think of it–your own personal chef preparing the briny delicacies of the sea for your every meal, the soulful voice of a Mexican…
  • November 7 Tocororo Cafe – Madrid, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    New Mexico is a dichotomous land, a land which welcomes contrast and diversity, where the state-of-the-art trappings of modern society are juxtaposed against ancient cultures with traditions that have gone largely unchanged for centuries. It’s a land in which the sophisticated and the rustic are equally at home. It’s a land in which the best New Mexican cuisine might just…
  • November 6 Cafe San Estevan – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In 1598, don Juan de Oñate led an expedition of Spanish colonists–including eight Franciscan friars–to the east bank of the Rio Grande near its confluence with the Chama River. There they founded San Gabriel, New Mexico’s first capital at a site close to present day Okay Owingeh, one of New Mexico’s great Tewa speaking Northern New Mexico Pueblos. Nine years…
  • October 14 Painted Horse Coffeehouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the summer of 2000, prominent artists throughout the Southwest resoundingly answered the call to submit their design ideas for painting on an unconventional medium–a horse cast in a durable resin blend. This particular canvas was chosen to commemorate the introduction to North America of the horse. More than five centuries ago, Spanish Conquistadores explored New Mexico astride the noble…
  • October 13 Cafe Voila – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Mon ami Francophile who spends months vacationing in France likes to talk about his dining experiences in the land of haute cuisine and haughty waiters, regaling anyone who will listen with tales of surliness, scorn and condescension the likes of which Americans are unused to. His favorite tales of woe involve a churlish waiter at a sidewalk cafe in Paris…
  • October 11 Honey Bear’s Barbecue – Phoenix, Arizona
    Depending on the type of egg, the minimum temperature for frying an egg is said to be 144-158F and on scorching summer days in Phoenix, television news shows perennially traumatize visitors and tourists by frying an egg on the city’s sidewalks. If blistering heat is the reason the Phoenix area has so many outstanding barbecue restaurants, I’m all for Albuquerque’s…
  • October 9 Patsy Grimaldi’s Pizzeria – Scottsdale, Arizona
    America’s most storied non-franchised pizzeria is Patsy Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, New York.  Grimaldi’s can trace its pizza lineage to the opening of the very first pizzeria in America in 1905. It may also be the country’s best pizzeria as its credentials will attest.  Zagat reviewers named it the number one pizza in New York City from 1997 through 2003.  City…
  • September 29 Sandia Crust Pizza Company – Cedar Crest, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Deadheads and pizza have been inextricably tied since 1993 when (legend has it) an audacious pizza delivery boy absconded with several cassette tapes from Jerry Garcia’s kitchen counter.  It didn’t take long before late-night Grateful Dead radio programs around the country were playing second- and third-generation “dubs” of the rough mixes that have come to be known as “The Pizza…
  • September 17 Tucanos Brazilian Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Many New Mexico born Hispanics of my generation grew up watching not only American “shoot ’em up” Westerns featuring rugged cowboys, rowdy rustlers, round-ups and home on the range, but the Mexican equivalent–movies featuring the exploits of charros, the traditional cowboys of central and northern Mexico. My friends and I could only dream about overcoming marauding Indians, desperate rustlers and flooding…
  • September 14 Tawan Thai Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Note: This review was written about a Tawan Thai Cuisine location in Rio Rancho that no longer exists. The original Tawan Thai at 200 Wyoming Blvd, S.E., also closed in late 2008. For Rio Rancho’s Thai cuisine aficionados the sky was bleak only briefly. The despair they felt after the closure of Hong Thai was replaced scant weeks later by…
  • September 8 El Tovar – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
    When Spanish explorer García López de Cárdenas first laid eyes on the Grand Canyon, surely his reaction wasn’t “it’s just a great big hole in the ground.” That was the reaction of a friend of mine, who much like other modern Americans is so caught up in the trappings of pop culture and “technolust” that he’s lost the ability to…
  • September 7 El Rancho – Gallup, New Mexico
    In the 1930s and 1940s, sometimes considered the halcyon days of Western movies, the Four Corners region was the site of many cinematic classics, quite a few featuring battles between the cavalry and “misplaced” American Indians.  Never mind that the Cheyenne and the Sioux actually lived hundreds of miles (and several states) away, the region’s dramatic topography was a perfect backdrop…
  • August 13 Deli Mart West – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The human capacity for developing attachments can be a bit of a conundrum. Although my very being is eternally rooted in New Mexico, returning to America in 1987 after three years in England made me feel as if I had left my home behind. Similarly after two years in Massachusetts, I returned in 1979 to my beloved New Mexico with…
  • August 12 Lamy Station Cafe – Lamy, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    History might best be defined as the interaction of people with one another and with their environments. Often those environments and the people indigenous to them are hardened by conditions and circumstances. Fewer than 200 years ago, French and American traders endured tremendous hardship and peril on the route that came to be known as the Santa Fe Trail which…
  • August 11 Cafe Trang – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In years of dining in Vietnamese restaurants, we’ve always marveled at the close-knit extended family structure evident in the daily operation of Vietnamese restaurants. Getting to know the wonderful families that run those restaurants, we learned how the lives of individual family members are almost always intertwined with an extended family structure that might include grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters,…
  • August 4 Jasmine Thai & Sushi – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Sometimes the most delicate and beautiful things in nature are spawned in conditions that are wholly antithetical to their survival. The delightfully fragrant jasmine flower, for example, is thought to have originated in the Himalayas, a mountainous region prone to extremely harsh weather.  The jasmine’s delicate star-shaped flowers yield a light and sweet fragrance tinged with a hint of the…
  • August 2 Billet’s Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Americana has spawned many unique cultures, counter-cultures and fringe groups. Some of those cultures operate equally well in any spectrum. Take for example the biker culture in which Fortune 500 executives as well as bandits, desperados and those in between are fervent in their pursuit of two-wheeled motorized activity. This is evidenced by the throngs of bikers on both sides…
  • July 25 Mariscos Culiacan – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    As a precocious product (some might say victim) of the American public school system, I learned more about the geography of old Mexico from one song than from twelve years of the best education our tax dollars can buy. Legendary Mexican crooner Jose Alfredo Jimenez immortalized the city of Culiacan in his hauntingly stirring ballad El Caballo Blanco which recounts…
  • July 21 Stop And Eat Drive In – Española, New Mexico
    Stop And Eat–Although it seems this 50s style drive-in has always been at its Paseo De Oñate location, it hadn’t yet opened in 1598 when don Juan de Oñate led his expedition of Spanish colonists to the east bank of the Rio Grande near its confluence with the Chama River. That’s where they founded San Gabriel, New Mexico’s first capital…
  • July 16 Felipe’s Tacos – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    The rich folklore of the Hispanic culture of New Mexico and southern Colorado is preserved largely through cuentos (stories, legends and myths) passed down from one generation to the next. Among my favorites is a short story of how God named His people. According to this cuento, God passed out so many names–Ortega, Lopez, Gonzalez, Sanchez–that He ran out of…
  • July 16 Pizzeria Espiritu – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    The name Pizzeria Espiritu reflects the deep-seeded faith of its founder and owner Tom Berkes, the liturgy and music director at St. Joseph’s Church in Cerrillos since 1990. A liturgical music composer, Berkes plays guitar, piano and harmonica for the small Catholic parish on the Turquoise Trail. Berkes is probably more well known for the fun and festive pizzeria he…
  • July 13 Japengo Sushi – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The Chinese philosophy of yin and yang posits a dualistic universe in which both sides of opposite forces are each part of a whole and work together. Examples include good and bad, male and female, light and dark and positive and negative. These opposing forces are equal and necessary for harmony. A dualistic nature is what we uncovered at Japengo…
  • July 7 Viet Taste – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In the “gobble and go” pace of contemporary American life, it’s sometimes difficult to remember what you ate during your last meal, much less recall the sensory experience of that meal.  When that happens to true gourmands, they will actively seek a memorable dining experience in which all five senses are invoked. One of the best restaurants in Albuquerque in…
  • June 29 The Cup – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Back in the mid 70s, anyone in Albuquerque’s southeast quadrant who wanted privacy knew they could find it at the Burger Chef restaurant in the Gibson and San Mateo area. It was the place in which employees from nearby Sandia and Kirtland conducted one-on-one meetings when they didn’t want to be disturbed. Once a burgeoning franchise second only to McDonald’s…
  • June 25 Sushi Eye – Tempe, Arizona (CLOSED)
    To Western diners used to restaurant ambience defined by an effusive, sensory bombarding, over-the-top flamboyance, many Japanese restaurants feel stark and barren in comparison. That austerity is actually by design. The Buddhist teaching of “wabi” which means “quiet of tranquility” posits a non-attachment to material things. Wabi values the ability to make the most of starkness and poverty by cherishing…
  • June 24 Banana Leaf – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Banana leaves, although completely inedible, are used for slow, moist cooking of tough meats as well as for quicker steaming, baking or grilling of delicate ingredients such as chicken and fish. Used while still fresh and green, they lend a very moist quality to any food prepared in them and also imbue foods with a delicious herbal flavor. While Southeast…
  • June 18 Hot Diggity – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Oh, hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me How my future will shine Hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me From the moment you’re mine HOT DOG!! In an age of auditory bombardment, we all occasionally experience a phenomenon known as an “earworm.” Earworm is a literal translation of a German term for a…
  • May 11 Sabroso – Arroyo Seco, New Mexico
    We’ve all heard the expressions from a jack to a king, from a moth to a butterfly, from a lump of coal to a diamond, but who’s ever heard…from a chicken coup to an elegant gourmet restaurant?  That sounds like more than a bit of a stretch, yet that’s the metamorphosis that transpired decades ago at what is currently the…
  • May 7 Cake Fetish – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Americans are absolutely food obsessed!  It’s become alarmingly obvious in our culture of caloric overachievers that few of us miss any meals. It’s also telling (yet seemingly innocuous) that many of the terms of endearment we use for one another are related to food.  Terms such as honey, sugar, pumpkin and others are regularly used by sweet talking lotharios of…
  • May 6 Asado Brazilian Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When it comes to diplomatic coups, one of the least known for which President George Herbert Walker Bush is credited is the introduction to the United States of the popular Brazilian Churrascaria (steakhouse) Fogo de Chão (literally Fire of the Ground). During a visit to São Paulo, Brazil, the 41st President of the United States was so impressed by the…
  • May 4 Rice ‘N Roll – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The 1970s have been characterized by writer Tom Wolfe as the “Me Decade” and derided by cynics as the “Disco Era.” It was an era of contrasts: the national crisis of confidence described by President Jimmy Carter as a “malaise” and the ubiquitous yellow smiley face; the melodic, velvety stylings of the Carpenters and the edgy, funky beat of disco;…
  • April 30 Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Shortly after Louisiana and Mississippi were ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, one of the local television stations in South Louisiana actually aired an interview with a woman from New Orleans. The interviewer was a woman from a Boston affiliate, so she asked the interviewee how such total and complete devastation of the churches in the area had affected their lives.  The…
  • April 29 Señor Murphy Candymaker – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    In the Land of Enchantment, piñon is as valuable as gold if not more, particularly in recent years when drought conditions have ravaged acres of piñon forests.  Piñon trees produce good harvests every seven years or so with the best bounties being found at elevations between six and eight thousand feet.  The roasted flavor of good piñon is intense–sweet with…
  • April 22 Consetta’s Green Restaurant – Jemez Springs, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In 1995 Jemez Springs was selected by the National Civic League as the “All America City” in recognition of its citizens’ collective grass-roots efforts to improve their quality of life. Nowhere is that more evident than at the aptly named Consetta’s Green Restaurant on scenic Route 4 which is traversed annually by more than two million visitors. Consetta’s desire is…
  • April 17 Sushi Gen – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Years ago I co-managed a project with a diminutive Vietnamese lady who later left the company and moved to San Diego.  What she looked forward to most about moving was not proximity to her family, but the availability of all-you-can-eat (AYCE) sushi bars in Southern California. “How good can AYCE sushi be?” I opined.  We found out during a 2001 visit…
  • April 14 Don Yasmany Cuban Restaurant & Bakery – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Cuando salí de Cuba, dejé mi vida dejé mi amor. Cuando salí de Cuba, dejé enterrado mi corazón. When I left Cuba I left my life, I left my love When I left Cuba I buried my heart. In a powerful expression of hope, frustration, nostalgia and introspection, the song Cuando Sali De Cuba reflects the heartfelt anguish and pain…
  • April 2 Casa Chaco – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In A.D. 850, the ancient Anasazi began building the pueblos archaeologists posit were the hub of an ancient culture inhabited in its heyday by more than 5,000 people. By A.D. 1000, Chaco Canyon was the flourishing heart of religious and governmental life for an advanced culture that has since been assimilated by Native American pueblos dotting the Rio Grande valley.…
  • March 25 Adelita’s Mexican Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    No matter where you travel in Latin America, you’ll find grilled meat (carne asada) on the menu. Restaurants called parrillas which specialize in grilled foods also grill seafood (mariscos) and poultry. Particularly popular in Argentina and Colombia, the mixed grill called Parrillada Mixta (or just parrillada) can be any combination of grilled meats, poultry and seafood. My inaugural experience with…
  • March 9 Thai Basil – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Lemongrass, mint, ginger, lime, chile peppers and particularly Thai basil combine in congruent deliciousness to make Thai cuisine among the most popular ethnic cuisines in North America. As one of the most popular culinary herbs in the world, basil is a richly aromatic, slightly spicy ameliorant to many of the best dishes proffered at all Thai restaurants.  Also known as…
  • March 3 Great American Steakhouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Since the nineteenth century, land and cattle companies have been established throughout the west to buy, sell and lease land for grazing and breeding beef cattle. During years of ample water, high beef prices and fortuitous grace, profits are generally high. While most Albuquerque urbanites might not know or concern themselves with the history of cattle raising in the old…
  • February 9 Bombay Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The unmistakably pungent aroma of exotic spices wafts through the air and remains with you long after you’ve finished your meal at the Bombay Grill, a 2004 entrant in the growing northwest Albuquerque dining scene (which, unfortunately, is dominated by mediocre chains). That’s the last time you’ll see “mediocre” and Bombay Grill in the same sentence because this charming and…
  • January 26 Puerto Peñasco – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Mexico’s Sea of Cortez has been likened to an enormous net for its capacity to support more marine life than any other body of water on Earth.  Over 3,000 marine species, including more than 900 species of fish, call its azure waters home.  The bounties of the Sea of Cortez sustained the indigenous tribes of pre-Colombian times and today delight…
  • January 26 Mucho Gusto – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    On the surface, Laura Esquivel’s wonderful 1990 tome Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water For Chocolate) is about the struggles of a couple passionately in love but cruelly fated to be kept apart.  Below the surface, however, is a brilliant novel that celebrates the passion food can–and does–inspire. Tita de la Garza longs her entire life for her lover Pedro…
  • January 19 Best Lee’s – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    When does confidence become audacity? Is there a point at which a claim becomes braggadocio? To what extent can you trust a review on a hometown magazine? These were all questions we sought to answer during our inaugural meal at a Rio Rancho Chinese restaurant with the quaint name “Best Lee’s.” Best Lee’s is ensconced in the Southern Plaza Shopping…
  • January 6 Murphy’s Mule Barn – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    A mule is an animal with long funny ears he kicks up at anything he hears His back is brawny but his brain is weak he’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak and by the way if you hate to go to school You may grow up to be a mule. – Bing Crosby Murphy’s law, a popular adage…

2006 (48)

  • December 24 Scarpas Brick Oven Pizza – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In another review, I discussed the debate concerning pizza by the slice versus pizza by the pie.  That debate is tepid in its intensity compared to the debate between proponents of thin-crust and aficionados of thick crust–and we’re not talking about gourmet pizza (which is typically thin) versus deep dish pizza, not to mention New York style versus Chicago pizza…
  • December 22 Great Fortune Chinese Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    According to the Chinese Restaurant News, a respected trade publication, there are now approximately 36,000 Chinese restaurants in America.  That’s nearly three times as many Chinese restaurants as there are McDonald’s franchises.  That’s more than the number of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King franchises combined. No longer considered exotic, Chinese restaurants are part of the fabric of American culture. There…
  • December 9 Mariscos La Playa – Espanola, New Mexico
    Even though it seems most women celebrate it every year in perpetuity, a woman’s 29th birthday actually occurs only once. On my mom’s umpteenth 29th birthday we wanted everything to be perfect so we took her to her favorite mariscos restaurant for a fabulous meal of Mexican seafood served impeccably. We baked her favorite cake, a rich, moist carrot cake…
  • December 1 The Falls – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    New Mexico has been gilded with incomparable scenic beauty and an abundance of sunshine. Cerulean skies graduate in depth of color the higher above the horizon your eyes climb, interrupted only by velvety smooth red-rock outcrops and snow-capped mountains. Fiery sunsets and brilliant sunrises give the illusion that God just threw a bucket of paint into the sky while processions…
  • November 25 Mariscos Costa Azul – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Costa Azul…The Blue Coast…the name evokes images of pristine sandy beaches, translucent blue waters, lush verdant jungles and brightly plumed birds. For Santa Fe diners, the name may also evoke involuntary salivation and pangs of hunger which can be quelled only by the incomparably fresh and delicious mariscos (seafood) at one of the City Different’s best Mexican restaurants, Mariscos Costa…
  • November 24 El Siete Mares – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Crossing the Rio Grande onto Bridge Boulevard isn’t quite as adventurous as crossing the Rio Grande into Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, but the flesh-rending razor wire fence atop the walls and roofs of some businesses will tell you this isn’t the kinder, gentler side of Albuquerque either. Fortunately the matador motorist mentality so commonplace in Mexico’s fourth largest city isn’t something…
  • November 22 Mis Amigos – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    For years Los Cuates has been one of the Duke City’s most revered New Mexican restaurants. One of the most popular New Mexican restaurants in the city, diners line up before its opening and late-comers wait as long as it takes for a table to come open. In February, 2003 after the death of its founder and proprietor Frank Barela,…
  • November 19 Pueblito Mexicano – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Even onto the 21st century the distinction between Mexican and New Mexican cuisine has been somewhat obfuscated. Restaurants which serve cuisine we recognize as uniquely New Mexican (characterized among other things by the use of piquant red and green chiles instead of jalapeno) bill themselves as Mexican restaurants. The situation is exacerbated by ancianos (New Mexico’s elderly population), many of…
  • November 7 Neko Sushi – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In 1968, Mexico City played witness to one of the most overt and controversial political statements ever issued during the modern Olympic Games when African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos extended their right arms upward and clenched their gloved fists in a black power salute. During our inaugural visit to Neko Sushi in the Sun Country Plaza, we…
  • October 29 Marco Pollo Charbroiled Chicken – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    While eating a store-bought rotisserie chicken is somewhat more appealing than than consuming the very last one of Quickie Mart’s perpetually rotating, alutaceous (seared to a leathery sheen under a heat lamp inferno) hot dogs, the prospect of a desiccated rotisserie chicken carcass for dinner is hardly tempting. Experience has taught us that while slightly less leathery, restaurant rotisserie chicken…
  • October 20 Kim’s Vietnamese Gourmet Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    During a memorable 1974 episode of MASH, it was Hawkeye Pierce’s turn at being physician of the day. Throughout the day he treated local indigenous personnel, all of whom identified themselves as “Kim Luck” when they reported in. Eventually Hawkeye turns to Radar O’Reilly and says “Kim Luck? This is the fifth one today.” He then asks the local, “Can…
  • October 19 La Hacienda Express – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    You know you’re in New Mexico when you can order breakfast burritos under the golden arches or green chile cheeseburgers at Wendy’s. In doing so, however, you just might be sacrificing tastiness for the sake of expeditiousness. An excellent alternative to chain-induced heartburn and burger boredom is a stop at La Hacienda Express, a favorite of locals in the know.…
  • October 13 Sal-E-Boy’s Pizzeria – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    For decades Rio Rancho has been called “Little New York” and indeed, for decades New Yorkers made up a large percentage of the population. It wasn’t the proverbial “swamp land in Florida” marketing scheme that brought sophisticated New Yorkers to the barren western wasteland that was Rio Rancho. It was the promise of sunshine and outdoor activities in a bustling,…
  • October 7 La Costa Azul – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Costa Azul…The Blue Coast…the name evokes images of brilliant sapphire blue waters, perilous promontories and pristine sandy beaches which seem to go on without end. With over 1,000 miles of coastline along the translucent Pacific, Mexico has spawned a thriving tourist trade, particularly in heavily developed resort locations. Increasingly, Mexico has also become known for high-quality seafood (mariscos) so fresh…
  • October 1 The Hole Thing Donut Shop – Red River, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    A less optimistic man than I once lamented that the healthiest part of the donut is the hole, but you’ve got to eat the entire donut to get to it. To me, that’s a “glass is half empty” perspective on one of the most popular breakfast and dessert items in the world. With almost thirty percent of American adults indicating…
  • September 30 Altitudes Restaurant & Wine Bar – Red River, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    No place is so dear to my childhood, As the little brown church in the vale. Step out of Altitudes Restaurant & Wine Bar on a dark moonlit night and the first thing you see is a large, illuminated alabaster cross atop a wooden church steeple. Directly beneath the cross is a colorful stained glass window depicting Christ, the Good…
  • September 29 Matilda’s Restaurant – Espanola, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In Asi Es Nuevo Mexico, the official state song of New Mexico, former Lieutenant Governor Roberto Mondragon extols in a rich timbre, the incomparably beauteous flowers of The Land of Enchantment–its women. When the verse “lindas mujeras que no tiene igual” (beautiful women without equal) was written, the composer must certainly have had Matilda Guillen in mind. At 81 years…
  • September 22 Dave’s Not Here – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Dave’s not here. You really can’t blame him. After all, a Santa Fe district court judge issued (and later rescinded) a temporary restraining order alleging Dave (Letterman) had been tormenting a city resident for more than ten years by using coded words and signals to woo her on his television program. A better theory than mine is posited by David…
  • September 15 Capo’s Bottega Ristorante Italiano – Bernalillo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Fifty years ago when Frank Venaglia opened the first of his family of Capo’s restaurants in Albuquerque, the Italian term “capo” didn’thave quite the notoriety it does today thanks to countless Mafia movies and the Sopranos television series. In the Mafia, capo is a shortened term for “caporegime” or “capodecina” which essentially translate to a high-ranking family member of a…
  • September 13 Ambrozia – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    theophany: an encounter with a visible manifestation of a deity. Greek mythology chronicles the adventures of the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus whose primary sustenance was ambrosia, a magical repast which bestowed immortality upon those who consumed it, including humans. The word ambrosia literally means “sweet smelling or delicious,” an appropriate description of the wonderful meals proffered at Ambrozia,…
  • August 27 JB’s Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The first thing that comes to mind when someone invites me to a buffet is a paragraph from E. B. White’s 1952 classic Charlotte Web.  In that paragraph, an old sheep describes the county fair to Templeton the lovingly irascible rat: “A fair is a rat’s paradise. Everybody spills food at a fair. A rat can creep out late at…
  • August 19 La Norteñita – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    The only disappointment (and it was a minor one) we experienced during our inaugural visit to La Norteñita was in not hearing the lively Mexican polka “Mi Nortenita” crackling over the restaurant’s tinny speaker system. That would have made our visit to “Old Mexico” complete. More than most Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque, La Norteñita (the little northern girl) has the…
  • August 6 Cloud Cliff Bakery & Cafe – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In the 1880s, Northern New Mexico was a prolific wheat growing region. More than 250 varieties of wheat grew in its rocky but fecund soil. Thanks to a rural revitalization program called the Northern New Mexico Organic Wheat Project, the region’s wheat production is becoming genetic diverse once again. Today under the program’s auspices, more than 20 families are growing…
  • August 5 Graze – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    When uncredentialed food critics (like me) sing the praises of a restaurant, their fulsome rants might not garner much notice, but when professional chefs and critics are unabashedly effusive about that same restaurant, you’d be well advised to listen. Graze, launched in December, 2002 by chef luminary Jennifer James, has had all the cognoscenti waxing poetic. La Cocinita magazine’s best…
  • June 30 Trombino’s Bistro Italiano – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    In describing George Lindsay’s character Goober on his self-titled show, Andy Griffith said Goober was the type of person who would sit down at a table and say, “Hey, this is great salt.”  Had he dined at Trombino’s Bistro Italiano, I believe Goober might have limited his compliments to the salt (okay, maybe he would have added the bread). Our…
  • June 16 La Esquina Restaurante – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    It’s pretty common knowledge that several years ago, a state legislator submitted a resolution to declare “red or green chile” the official “state question“. On April 8, 1999, Governor Gary Johnson signed the bill making the resolution law. Less known is the fact that the New Mexico state legislature also passed a resolution approving an official state answer.  It’s no…
  • June 10 Buckingham Smokehouse Bar-B-Q – Las Vegas, Nevada (CLOSED)
    Las Vegas has established itself as one of America’s, if not the world’s, preeminent dining destinations. Many of the world’s most famous and successful chefs have launched flamboyant restaurants that celebrate their self-aggrandizing greatness in magnificent pantheons of gustatory grandeur. Fortunately for true gastronomes who don’t worship exclusively at the tables of gastronomic glitterati, Las Vegas has also attracted its…
  • June 10 505 Southwestern – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Area code 505 was one of the original area codes established in 1947 and for nearly 60 years, that sole area code sufficed to serve all of New Mexico.  With the state’s surging population, however, numbers available with the 505 prefix were eventually exhausted.  The Federal Communication Commission provided area code relief in the form of a second area code (575).    …
  • June 9 Windy City Pizza & Subs – Las Vegas, Nevada (CLOSED)
    Ask any Chicago transplant to list the five things they miss most about the Windy City and it’s a good bet the list will include Italian beef sandwiches, a staple in Chicago. Chicagoans grow up worshipping at the tables of Italian beef sandwich shops and are almost as passionate about this sloppy sandwich as they are Da Bears. After my…
  • June 9 Satay Malaysian Grille – Las Vegas, Nevada
    While Albuquerque has come a long way toward becoming a cultural melting pot, a dramatic dearth still exists when it comes to a pot of another sort–the pot in which enculturated diners might find simmering some of the world’s most flavorful cuisine: Ethiopian, Basque, Russian, Hawaiian and Malaysian, for example.  Fortunately, more cosmopolitan dining destinations such as Las Vegas are…
  • June 2 Taka Sushi – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a restaurant by its exterior facade…or even its interior for that matter A good example of this is Taka Sushi, a venerable Japanese restaurant on the city’s southeast quadrant. From the outside, Taka Sushi lacks the polish and veneer of its competitors, appearing more like a remnant…
  • May 22 Ay Caramba – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Ay Caramba!  That tired old Spanish expression was part of American pop culture long before Bart Simpson popularized its usage on episodes of The Simpsons animated television series.  The expression translates to “confound it!” or maybe “Holy Cow” and is generally used to register surprise.  You can almost imagine the Mexican equivalent of Robin, the Boy Wonder of Batman fame exclaiming…
  • May 17 El Paragua – Española, New Mexico
    “If small businesses are the backbone of American commerce, then the good old-fashioned lemonade stand is the spinal cord.”  That sagacious metaphor (for which I unfortunately cannot take credit) is an apt description for how El Paragua transcended its humble beginnings to become one of the culinary crown jewels of Northern New Mexico. In 1958, the Atencio brothers, two precocious…
  • May 10 Spice Islands Cafe – Mountain View, California
    During a two-hour layover en route to a business meeting in Silicon Valley, I managed to devour every single delectable word of Garlic and Sapphires, the raucously entertaining bestseller to be by Ruth Reichl, erstwhile restaurant critic for the New York Times.  The book–woven with the same incomparable alchemy with which she crafts her restaurant reviews–was transcendent in its ability…
  • May 5 Hong Thai – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Cloistered in the tiny, nondescript Lujan Plaza shopping center and away from the maddening traffic cavalcade that has become Rio Rancho Boulevard, Hong Thai operated for nearly a year (since April, 2005) before we knew it existed (our first visit was in March, 2006). We thought the shopping center’s southwest corner was still occupied by a mediocre Chinese restaurant. Boy,…
  • April 30 McGrath’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    At the turn of the 19th century, “Sex and the City” in Albuquerque may have meant a trip to the area near the bustling train station in which nearby “hospitality houses” catered to rail-riding clientele. The heart of the Duke City’s red light district was the area around Third and Copper where ladies of the evening entertained their guests in…
  • April 22 Tony Roma’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    With more than 260 locations worldwide, Tony Roma’s can be found from Aruba to Venezuela and 25 countries in between. As of August 30th, 2005, one of the most famous barbecue chains in the world can also be found in Albuquerque where truly great barbecue is more scarce than precious, life-giving water. Alas, while the addition of Tony Roma’s may…
  • April 21 Boba Tea Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    On June 7, 2005, the launch of Albuquerque’s first made “you suck” acceptable in polite vernacular. Long a pop culture term of mock derision, “suck” refers, in this case, to the drawing in of liquid refreshment by creating a vacuum in the mouth. More specifically, it refers to the act of sucking through an oversized straw, the tea, milk tea,…
  • April 20 Gruet Grille – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In an inordinate number of the thousands of newspaper restaurant reviews I’ve read over the years, the savvy, sophisticated restaurant critic is typically accompanied to the week’s anointed dining destination by a nameless and faceless “dining companion.” In some cases, the sole purpose of the dining companion seems to be serving as a “foil” for the sage critic. Where the…
  • April 1 Starky’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Sometimes a new restaurant makes such a tremendous first impression that you’re torn between wanting to shout from the rooftops about your new find and wanting to keep your new find to yourself so that the new gem remains your carefully guarded little secret. Wanting to ensure the restaurant has a prosperous future, you’ll naturally take the former course and…
  • March 29 Chinois – Las Vegas, Nevada (CLOSED)
    It’s been well established that world-famous chef and restaurant impresario Wolfgang Puck can talk the talk. Chinois, a critically acclaimed fine-dining fusion restaurant located in Santa Monica, California is, in the estimation of many, proof that he can also “walk the wok.” So successful was his original Asian and French influenced fusion restaurant that he launched a branch within the…
  • March 28 Mesa Grill – Las Vegas, Nevada
    With an upset rematch victory over über Japanese iron chef Masaharu Morimoto in a 2003 Iron Chef competition, (arguably) America’s preeminent grill master and New York City restaurant impresario, Bobby Flay became more than a pretty face on several Food Network television shows and the CBS morning news. He cemented his credibility as a legitimate force with which to be…
  • March 27 Carnegie Deli (CLOSED)
    Father Mark Schultz, the charismatic priest at the San Antonio De Padua church in Penasco, jokes that the reason Catholics are required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays is not because there’s a shortage of cows. That’s certainly true. There is more beef on the hoof in America than there are tax-paying citizens. That’s why it’s always puzzled me…
  • March 25 Spiedini – Las Vegas, Nevada
    Spiedini is a magnificent sensory feast that begins when your olfactory senses first catch a whiff of the intoxicating emanations wafting from the kitchen as you drop your car off at the valet parking station. It continues as you step into the marble tiled floors of an ultra modern, visually appealing restaurant extravagance. Your tactile senses are aroused as you…
  • March 10 Copeland’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Having lived 90 miles outside of “The Big Easy” for almost eight years, we were naturally filled with the spirit of laissez les bon temps roulette (let the good times roll) when we found out the 48th Copeland’s restaurant in America was launching on our backyard in Albuquerque’s West side in November, 2001. We had been back in Albuquerque for…
  • February 24 Yen Ching – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Have a yen for Chinese or Korean cuisine? Can your appetite be sated only by the nasal-clearing, smoldering heat of Szechwan style cooking? Are the cravings that consume you affixed on succulent sushi and eye-watering wasabi. If all four of these options sound good but you can’t make up your mind, there’s only one dining destination that–under one roof–can satisfy…
  • February 16 Cafe Lalibela – Tempe, Arizona
    One of the first things that caught my attention during a 2006 visit to Cafe Lalibela were beautiful, brightly painted depictions of revered Christian events such as Christ carrying the yew hewn cross to Calvary. The art shouldn’t have surprised me. Ethiopia’s (especially the city of Lalibela’s) historical ties to Christianity span several centuries. Lalibela, the city for which the…
  • February 14 Cyclo Vietnamese Cuisine
    Ultra-chic owner, captivating chef and hostess extraordinaire Justina Duong has the perfect personality to run a successful, cutting edge restaurant. Effusive, charming and gracious, she makes you feel at home in the restaurant she launched in late 2002 and has become as much a draw as any of the wonderful cuisine she offers. Named for a pedaled, three-wheeled, hooded passenger…

2005 (38)

  • December 26 Eurasia Bistro & Sushi Bar – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In an ideal world, the culinary connotation of the term “Eurasia” would be a fusion of the distinct cuisines of both continents available all under one roof under which culinary adventurers would be like Venetian explorer Marco Polo tasting all the Silk Road has to offer. We should have realized that while the continents of Europe and Asia may be…
  • December 8 Perennials Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    What most people seem to know about Perennials Restaurant is that it’s owned by the parents of Albuquerque’s own Neil Patrick Harris, a 1991 graduate of La Cueva High School, who at age sixteen, landed the lead role in Doogie Howser, M.D. The television series about a teen prodigy doctor propelled him into teen heartthrob status. After two visits to…
  • November 25 Super Smokers – Eureka, Missouri
    Note: On January 6, 2006, The St. Louis Business Journal announced that Super Smokers closed unexpectedly. As it turns out, only one of the five St. Louis area restaurants remains open. This will add several miles to our trips to Chicago, but any detour that leads to outstanding barbecue is well worth it. St. Louis, Missouri isn’t widely recognized as…
  • November 23 Hackney’s – Lake Zurich, Illinois (CLOSED)
    The second city doesn’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to burgers and if you have to hire a hackney (carriage or automobile) to get to Hackney’s, by all means do so. Hackney’s, a family tavern with a history dating back to the 1920s has a half dozen franchises throughout the Chicago area and features burgers worth…
  • November 23 Siegelman’s Restaurant Deli – Arlington Heights, Illinois (CLOSED: 2011)
    Who would have thought that a nondescript restaurant in a nondescript shopping center would feature food beyond description–food for which you run out of adjectives and synonyms for delicious (let’s see: savory, scrumptious, yummy, tasty, mouth-watering, appetizing, delectable, luscious)? In Siegelman’s, the quintessential Jewish deli, we found some of the very best pastrami (and it’s no surprise that it carries…
  • November 22 Swedish Bakery – Chicago, Illinois (CLOSED on February 28, 2017)
    In New Mexico, which is very proud of its “tri-cultural” heritage, the contributions of Native Americans, Hispanics and Anglo-Americans are manifest in its languages, architecture, cuisine and cultural events. While New Mexico has certainly not shunned multi-culturalism, the lack of concentrated communities of residents from other heritages has meant those heritages aren’t celebrated as prominently, if at all. As much…
  • November 21 Weber Grill – Wheeling, Illinois
    In 1952, George Stephen invented the original Weber kettle grill and with his innovative design, sparked a backyard revolution. As a result, the XY chromosome compliment was no longer a handicap (or more accurately, an excuse) for men throughout the world when it came to preparing meals for their families. Since the discovery of fire, man has viewed his domain…
  • November 20 Culver’s – Lake Zurich, Illinois
    Want a better franchise burger? Wisconsin residents might steer you toward the trademarked ButterBurger, specialty of the house at Culvers, a franchise serving the Midwest since 1984. The ButterBurger is made from ground chuck seared on a hot grill at 475 degrees then sandwiched between a “lightly” (that’s a matter of opinion) buttered, toasted bun. While butter burgers have long…
  • November 19 Lambert’s Cafe II – Ozark, Missouri
    In 2004, the Travel Channel, notorious for the compilation of “top-ten” lists celebrating America’s hedonistic excesses named Lambert’s Cafe the number one restaurant in America in which to pig out. Gluttons gorging on gargantuan, gut-busting platters of oysters, steak, pizza, pancakes, burgers and more were showcased in all their gastronomic glory as they taxed the limits of their engorged bellies.…
  • November 18 Johnnie’s Grill – El Reno, Oklahoma
    The 2005 edition of Roadfood–Don’t dare leave home without it or you stand to miss out on some of America’s culinary treasures as deliciously described by Jane and Michael Stern, revered restaurant reviewers nonpareil. Through fantastic food-finding forays, the Sterns have blazed a path through the highways and byways of America, chronicling their visits to restaurants heretofore known to and…
  • November 15 A&W All American Food – Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Family trips bore out the fact that my parents had saintly patience as their six kids sat in the back seat of the station wagon and belted out, “Let’s all go to A&W. The food’s just great at A&W.” As kids, we pestered our parents with Madison Avenue jingles for every fast food restaurant we knew. A&W was our favorite–and…
  • October 27 Pizzeria Bianco – Phoenix, Arizona
    To celebrate the 100 year anniversary of pizza in America, aficionado Ed Levine ate nothing but pizza for an entire twelve month period, taking a representative pulse of the best from among thousands of pizza purveyors. His terrific tome, Pizza A Slice of Heaven, provides a definitive guide to a much-loved product that in its elemental form is simplicity itself–bread,…
  • October 25 Lee’s Sandwiches – Chandler, Arizona
    For years, the American viewing public has been subjected to the bombardment of the airwaves with the exploits of Jared. Once a corpulent fellow who weighed 425 pounds, Jared metamorphosed into a 190-pound shadow of his former self largely through a calorie reduction effort comprised principally of submarine sandwiches proffered by America’s most prolific sandwich chain. Many of us caloric…
  • October 6 Cafe O – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Within a few weeks after its launch in late 2003, it seems all the restaurant critics for Albuquerque’s periodicals had waxed poetically effusive about Cafe O, a novel counter eatery whose menu purports to offer a “taste of the world.” Considering those food critics are all women, I pictured genteel dainty sized portions of water cress embellished finger foods and…
  • September 25 Embudo Station – Embudo, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Few things in life are as romantic as dining on the banks of the slowly trickling, mocha-colored Rio Grande on a crisp early autumn night with only a hint of moonlight to illuminate your partner’s visage–unless maybe it’s dining by that same river as it rages murkily, carrying off the Sangre De Cristo’s winter ablutions during its spring runoff. Located…
  • September 24 Gypsy 360 Cafe & Espresso Bar – Arroyo Seco, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Whether bathed by the sunshine of a dazzling daytime sun or illuminated by the shimmering glow of a starry moonlit night, the 360 degree views from the village of Arroyo Seco are enticing enough to convince any weary sojourner, wandering vagabond or peripatetic gypsy to end their nomadic ways and settle down. Your vantage points to the immediate north and…
  • September 4 Señor Lucky’s – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Senor Lucky’s closed in February 2006. A thriving gambling hall, bordello and saloon once occupied the space in which Señor Lucky’s is now situated. It was operated by 19th-century matriarch, Gertrudes Barcelo (better known as Doña Tules) who entertained guests with dances, drink and cards, amassing a fortune as one of Santa Fe’s most infamous and enterprising citizens. Historians believe…
  • August 26 Ben & Jerry’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Ben & Jerry’s is a different kind of restaurant–one with a social conscience–serving premium ice cream. Founded on and dedicated to a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity, its mission consists of three interrelated parts–a product mission, an economic mission and a social mission. Its product mission is to make, distribute and sell the finest quality all natural ice cream…
  • August 21 Le Cafe Miche – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Cafe Miche has been regarded as one of Albuquerque’s best restaurants since its 1996 launch and according to the Zagat Survey, was the number one rated French restaurant in the state for three consecutive years. Honored with an Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator magazine and boasting of one of the city’s best wine lists, Cafe Miche has a passionate…
  • August 20 La Placita Dining Rooms – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    For convenience, if not for fiery New Mexico authenticity, you can’t beat La Placita, a yawning restaurant housed in the historic Casa de Armijo hacienda on Old Town Plaza. The Casa de Armijo was built in 1706 and occupied for many generations by the prominent Armijo family. Over the course of its three hundred year existence, the three foot thick…
  • July 31 Rio Chama Steakhouse – Santa Fe, New Mexico
    The murky Rio Chama meanders through the high plateaus of northwestern New Mexico surrounded by multi-colored sandstone cliffs reminiscent of Georgia O’Keefe’s landscape paintings in which colors seem to defy nature. The ambiance at the Rio Chama Steakhouse is of muted earth tones and subdued Southwestern patinas. Exquisite elegance is in evidence throughout the restaurant as this truly fine dining…
  • July 7 Topolobampo – Chicago, Illinois
    A quote attributed to Marcel Marceau, the French mime famous for his sad-faced clown, aptly describes my attempts at describing a meal at Topolobampo: “Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us without words.” Life’s vicissitudes often include moments which move you deeply and stir your very soul. Our inaugural dining experience at Topolobampo was not so…
  • July 2 Bob Chinn’s Crab House – Wheeling, Illinois
    Over 900,000 customers in 1999 couldn’t be wrong when they spent over $28M, the third largest revenue for the year among independent (non-chain) restaurants at Bob Chinn’s Crab House in land-locked Wheeling, Illinois. In 2004, Bob Chinn’s was fifth in revenue among America’s independents. Fresh seafood flown in daily to a capacious restaurant is the reason why. Turn-away throngs of…
  • June 24 El Bandido Hideaway Del Valle – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Armed with Andrea Lin’s terrific Duke City Fix review of the El Bandido restaurant on Central, we set off on a Friday night to visit a branch of a restaurant at which we hadn’t dined since 1999. El Bandido Hideaway del Valle, we figured was affiliated with the Central Avenue restaurant renown for its creative advertising (stationing a sign carrying…
  • June 18 The Blue Dragon – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In truth, the Blue Dragon is a coffee house in the style of New Orleans or San Francisco more so than it is a Cajun restaurant, but since it serves better Cajun food than anyone else in Albuquerque, Cajun is as good a category as any in which to place it. This Dragon serves up the best muffalatta in town,…
  • June 13 Typhoon – Portland, Oregon (CLOSED)
    Among restaurant critics the term “edible art” is so overused it’s become trite, but it really is an apt description for the incredible Thai cuisine crafted by chef Bo Kline. Hailed by Bon Appetit as “one of the hottest chefs in America,” Kline has become somewhat of a regional impresario with six successful Typhoon restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. Kline’s…
  • May 31 Quizno’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Just as owning a BMW might diminish your appreciation of any other car you’ll ever have (unless it’s another BMW), eating sub sandwiches in New England will devalue your estimation of any sub sandwich you’ll ever have anywhere else. From Maine to Delaware, sub sandwiches in all their sobriquets (grinders, torpedoes, heroes, etc.) are so far superior to sandwiches served…
  • May 21 Asia Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Proprietor Nan Nguyen and his wife launched Asia Restaurant in April, 2002 and have experienced steady, if not spectacular customer traffic.  Repeat business from faithful patrons in a small, intimate setting with only 12 tables give the Nguyens the opportunity to get to know their clients. Although both from a small village in South Vietnam, Nan worked for years in…
  • May 6 Conway’s Red Top – Pueblo Colorado (CLOSED)
    Bigger may not always be better, but it can be pretty darn good. The gargantuan world famous hamburgers at Conway’s Red Top earn their “one’s a meal” reputation, but fell short in my estimation as one of the best hamburgers in America. A “people’s choice” mainstay in local newspapers, those humongous burgers earned acclaim as among the best hamburgers in…
  • April 30 Mediterranean Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    In ancient times, the Mediterranean Sea was a “superhighway” of transportation, facilitating cultural exchange and trade between the region that fashioned Western civilization as we recognize it today. As the sapphire heart that gives life to the countries surrounding her, the Mediterranean was the seat of empires for millennia. The countries bordering the Mediterranean share more than history. They also…
  • April 21 Gruet Steakhouse – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Is there anything finer than a sizzling, flame kissed slab of prime beef overfilling your plate at a fine high-end chop house? Steak used to define fine dining and wealth provided the delineation between the type of steak each patron could afford–select, choice or prime, a classification based on marbling (the more the marbling, the more tender the steak). The…
  • March 28 Joe’s Real BBQ – Gilbert, Arizona
    No ordinary Joe is this, critics would have you believe. Instead, they insist, this is one of the best 59 restaurants in the Phoenix area (Phoenix magazine, 2002). Located in a 1929 brick building that saw its “hay day” in the golden age of agricultural Arizona, it retains the charm that helps make downtown Gilbert a popular destination. A 1948…
  • March 26 Casa Grande Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)
    Arizona’s Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is one of the largest and most mysterious prehistoric structures ever built in North America and serves as the most impressive remnant left by the Hohokam (those who are gone) culture. In many ways, Albuquerque’s Casa Grande restaurant may be a remnant, too–albeit, a remnant of restaurants which prepare unadulterated New Mexican food made…
  • March 2 Nouveau Noodles – Cedar Crest, New Mexico
    In the west, it’s generally accepted that the human tongue can discern only four different tastes and that all tastes in the dining experience are combinations of those four: sweet, bitter, sour, and salty. By contrast, the Chinese have long believed that the human tongue possesses a fifth taste sensation–one that can detect pungent foods.  Chinese postulate that each of…