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 a Chinese restaurant, hence a menu offering both Vietnamese and Chinese food.  Our inaugural visit was shortly after the restaurant’s…

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 share culinary traditions which are celebrated in the Mediterranean Cafe, a diminutive restaurant specializing in the foods of North Africa…

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 proliferation of inexpensive steak restaurants in the 1960s made steak readily available to the common man while the advent of…

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 to order with the realization that tourists really might want to try authentically piquant and seasoned food as the locals…

Conrad’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

There was a time when the name “Hilton” didn’t conjure up images of a ditzy blonde airhead whose celebrity is based largely on promiscuity. Well, maybe not. More than 50 years ago, another ditzy blonde, Zsa Zsa Gabor honeymooned at La Posada in Albuquerque with her then husband Conrad Hilton, a New Mexico native and founder of the historic downtown hotel in which Conrad’s is housed. Since the hotel’s launch in 1939, the guest registry at La Posada de Albuquerque…

California Witches – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

California Witches, “where you can taste California” is the brainchild of two Korean born California transplants who happen to like witches–not the Wiccans who practice ritual observances of seasonal and life cycles or the repulsive old women credited with usually malignant supernatural powers. They assured us they don’t practice the arcane arts, but like “white” magic as practiced by television characters such as Sabrina. Our hope was that they were practitioners of culinary magic. Chef Rachel Park owns three other…

Azuma Sushi & Teppan – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Unfulfilled promise, unrealized potential, what should have been, what could have been–these are among the most tragic sentiments of any vernacular. For the most part, those were also the sentiments echoing through our minds while and after we dined in one of the Duke City’s most serene and attractive Japanese restaurant settings. We should have known better. Azuma is owned by the same gentleman who owns Albuquerque’s two China Star buffets, the Sam’s Club (with apologies to the Walton family)…

Cafe Milano – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

My original introduction to this review became yet another vitriolic rage against corporate chains, a passionate spiel I added to my ratings page. What prompted that diatribe was our discovery of Cafe Milano (formerly Rosa’s Italian Kitchen), yet another wonderful mom and pop restaurant competing for hungry diners with middling chains who deign to offer food which can’t grace their mediocre menus unless it goes through rigorous usability testing (can you say human lab rats). There I go again–railing against…

Peppers – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

True to the restaurant’s name, Peppers chefs play tribute to chiles and peppers so ubiquitous to New Mexico cooking. In many of their creations, they incorporate New Mexico green and red chile, chipotle, Chimayo red chile, Habañero, Serrano, Pepperonici and red and green bell peppers (a chile icon denotes all items in which chiles or peppers are used in the preparation). Despite the often clever use of chiles and peppers, Marriot’s signature restaurant suffers from inconsistency that has kept us…

Fil-Am Fast Food Mart – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The pursuit of the secret to a happy life has led people to metaphysical, psychological and religious paths. Where it really should have taken them is to a tiny Albuquerque restaurant in a nondescript shopping center where the secret to happy living is posted for one and all to see. The elusive secret consists of only six simple steps: (1) Come to Fil-Am Fast Food Mart; (2) Check out mouth watering menu; (3) Select items that appeal to your tastes;…

Great Harvest Bread Co – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The sense of smell, more than any of our other senses, influences our ability to recall past events and experience. Fragrance is considered one of the most potent mediums for conjuring up a memory. True enough, one of the most enduring sensory memories of my youth is associated with the amazing aromas that greeted me each time my mom baked bread in her oven. We also were able to experience olfactory orgasms and sensory sensations in the bakeries of England…

Pastrami & Things – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

During a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, the “show about nothing,” George Costanza and his girlfriend du jour discussed introducing food into their lovemaking. George listed as potential candidates: strawberries, chocolate sauce, pastrami on rye with mustard and honey. His girlfriend, unfortunately, failed to appreciate the erotic qualities of pastrami. Ultimately George met up with a woman who declared pastrami to be “the most sensual of all the salted cured meats.” Their lustful appetites took over and they succumbed to the…

Shogun Japanese Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

It stands to reason that what is conceivably one of Albuquerque’s best sushi restaurants is named for the Shogun, the title accorded the supreme ruler of Japan for about eight centuries. What most people may not realize, however, is that sushi originated in China as a method to preserve fish by pickling and fermentation. Sushi, as we know it today, began to take form in the 18th century Japan when seafood vendors wrapped fish with seaweed and rice as an…

Wingstop – Albuquerque, New Mexico

During his illustrious NFL career Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman passed for 32,942 yards and 165 touchdowns. What it seems he can’t pass is the opportunity to add to his wealth by endorsing mediocre products. How else can you explain the marketing campaign touting Aikman as their “biggest fan?” Maybe he did receive one concussion too many during his playing career? Whatever the case, it appears the future Hall of Famer may have fumbled on this one. Sure Albuquerque is…

Fiesta Flavors – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Mixed fruit cups, buttered corn nibblet cups, fruity refreshing beverages and frozen fresh fruit treats are the centerpieces of several quickly growing niche chains, one of which launched an Albuquerque shop in the spring of 2004. That niche includes both diet and health conscious treat seekers as well as the growing Hispanic market, making the Duke City a natural choice for Fiesta Flavors. Niche or not, the intriguing menu has something for everyone. The fruit cups, whether mixed or as…