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 pretentious three- and four-star restaurants. There’s absolutely nothing pretentious about Acapulco Tacos & Burritos. To the contrary, this humble denizen…

The Point Grill – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

“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 his dramatic gestures. In one episode Archie did himself in by tying a noose and hanging himself as Edith prattled…

Walker’s Popcorn Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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 was brought to the “first” Thanksgiving” (at least the one taught about in history books) by the Iroquois and since…

Plum Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“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 the ancestors of today’s Asian plums.” In China, plums symbolize good fortune while the blossom of the plum tree is…

Central Grill and Coffee House – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Life is short. Eat more pancakes and fewer rice cakes”. ~ Unknown With an almost reverential zeal they come, their cellphone cameras at the ready. The enthusiasm for their pilgrimages has brought them to this hallowed destination from every corner of the country. Some know next to nothing about the city, save for it having been the hometown of chemistry-teacher turned meth-kingpin Walter White. They don’t regard the city with the ignominy with which it’s been portrayed, but as a…

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 are always surrounded by aromatherapy. We experience it when we bake bread in our hornos and roast chile in our…

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 (Hi Darren) as he ravenously devoured a plate or six of cookies, a fusillade of crumbs flying from his chewing mouth.  Grade school teachers use nom nom…

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 thieves on one hand; on the other, paisanos with surprisingly kind-hearts who asked nothing more from life than loyal friends…

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 poet Bu-Isaq of Shiraz who described his beloved as: “lithe as a fish, eyes like almonds, lips like sugar, a…

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 restaurants in the Albuquerque area, I omitted Ryan’s very favorite — and he yelled at me (good-naturedly (I think)).  I…

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 really took off in the Duke City. Published in such online mediums as TripAdvisor (founded in 2000), Yelp (launched in…

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 unindoctrinated 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 pristine veneer and effusive, over-the-top flamboyance. These guys and gals are impressed only by New Mexican food the way their…

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, if not the world. Sugar Nymphs Bistro is helping Peñasco lure some of those suitors away…at least for a spectacular…

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 ways of the world and felt silly and embarrassed about being so inexperienced. All my new friends in Massachusetts seemed…

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 much, it might help if you know that there are two things in life he’s passionate about–the Denver Broncos and…