Freight House Kitchen & Tap – Bernalillo, New Mexico

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 edifice as having served its purpose, a structure which should be razed to make room for a modern complex. Still…

Poki Poblano Fusion Lounge – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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 sarcastic vein to refer to virtually anyone who has made an exit or vacated a premises, especially in dramatic fashion.…

ABQ BBQ – Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico

“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 was Memphis I wanted; unctuous pork slow smoked over hickory and served “wet” in a tomato and vinegar-based sauce. It…

The Safari Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“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 mystery, Mount Kilimanjaro attracts visitors from all over the world. Often called “the roof of Africa,” the towering, snow-capped, conically-shaped…

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 the course of 23 years, Jeff and his wife, life and business partner Katie Gardner owned and operated eleven restaurants…

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 eclectic restaurant owned and operated by Pakistan emigrant Babu Bhatt in an uproariously funny episode of Seinfeld. As Jerry Seinfeld…

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 all well. You might remember Frank Willis as a heavily coveted recruit who played basketball for the University of New…

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. We’ve been magically transported to Vietnam every time Anthony Bourdain visited. Bourdain had the rare ability to develop intimate connections…

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 many levels–some literal and some allegorical. In the literal sense, these few lines may evoke images of a romantic dalliance…

Toltec Brewing Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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 call a Big Mac? Vincent: Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac. ~Pulp Fiction 265…

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 me to correct my oversight. Ever since Mayor Abraham’s gentle prodding, your humble blogger has been much more diligent about…

Stripes Biscuit Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Southern humorist Jerry Clower once quipped “One of the saddest things is the sound of them whomp biscuits being opened in more and more houses these days. Whomp! Another poor man is being denied homemade biscuits. No wonder the divorce rate is so high.” There’s more than a bit of underlying truth to Clower’s humor. Southerners take their biscuits seriously. “Whomping” or “whacking” biscuit cans on the kitchen counter to open them is akin to parents letting their children answer…

California Pastrami & More – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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 the erotic qualities of pastrami and thus, their relationship terminated. Ultimately George met up with a woman who echoed his…

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 pleasures. In my case, the deal is a visit to Olive Garden once a year in exchange for all the…

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 to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything,” Kuralt avoided the interstates, instead traversing America’s back roads and byways…