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Albuquerque, NM


christyk
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I will be traveling to Albuquerque, NM for work next week. Any good restaurant suggestions? I will be staying in the downtown area without a car, so suggestions within walking distance would be most welcome.

You should not leave there without a visit to M & J Sanitary tortilla factory... http://cityguide.aol.com/albuquerque/resta...ory/v-101985164

Failing this and a HUGE step below is the locally very popular Garduno's. If you go to Garduno's there are two dishes you want: chili adovada and guacamole made tableside. Overall Garduno's is "vanilla" New Mexican but there are several dishes they do well. The real New Mexican meal is lunch at M & J and dinner in Santa Fe at either the James Beard award winning Cafe Pasqual or The Inn at Anasazi. Both are well worth the drive.

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I'd agree that the food in Santa Fe is well worth renting a car for. I ate at Cafe Pasqual's & Geronimo a few years back & loved both my meals. The Shed was decent too, and some hole in the wall taco place in Taos was maybe the best meal on the trip.

Even more importantly EVERYWHERE around there is worth renting a car for. That whole part of the country is beautiful.

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I'd put Garcia's, another local chain, way ahead of Garduno's. When we lived near it, Azami and I spent way too much time at the Comanche and Juan Tabo location. The one on Fourth Street in the North Valley is also good; can't vouch for the others. I'm also a big fan of the fresh tortillas, green chile stew, and carne adovada burritos at the Frontier, on Central across from the UNM main campus (Go Lobos!).

Azami rather liked Gold Street Cafe when he worked downtown. Where exactly in downtown will you be?

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I'd agree that the food in Santa Fe is well worth renting a car for. I ate at Cafe Pasqual's & Geronimo a few years back & loved both my meals. The Shed was decent too, and some hole in the wall taco place in Taos was maybe the best meal on the trip.

Even more importantly EVERYWHERE around there is worth renting a car for. That whole part of the country is beautiful.

I'm near the end of a trip to Santa Fe, and the breakfast I had at Cafe Pasqual's was one of the best meals of the trip. The Papas Fritas with green chile that I had were to die for (plus I got fried eggs on top :lol: ). We're on a fairly limited food budget and not hitting fine dining places. The best food has been (both a lunch and a dinner) at Tortilla Flats on Cerrillos Road. Anything with their brisket is incredible, and one of my dining companions had pork ribs that were great. The sopapillas there were judged to be the best of all sampled by our little group over a few days. We also had a very good breakfast at The Pantry. We found Tiny's and Tomasita's overrated, though the service at Tiny's was quite friendly.

I head to Taos on Thursday and suggestions are welcome.

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I'm near the end of a trip to Santa Fe, and the breakfast I had at Cafe Pasqual's was one of the best meals of the trip. The Papas Fritas with green chile that I had were to die for (plus I got fried eggs on top :lol: ). We're on a fairly limited food budget and not hitting fine dining places. The best food has been (both a lunch and a dinner) at Tortilla Flats on Cerrillos Road. Anything with their brisket is incredible, and one of my dining companions had pork ribs that were great. The sopapillas there were judged to be the best of all sampled by our little group over a few days. We also had a very good breakfast at The Pantry. We found Tiny's and Tomasita's overrated, though the service at Tiny's was quite friendly.

I head to Taos on Thursday and suggestions are welcome.

If you have the time, in between Santa Fe and Taos is the little hamlet of Chimayo, New Mexico. Rancho de Chimayo is the name of the restaurant.

Go there, order carne adovada and the sopapillas for dessert.

EDIT: And nevermind. They had a fire this summer and won't open again until April 2009. :)

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If you have the time, in between Santa Fe and Taos is the little hamlet of Chimayo, New Mexico. Rancho de Chimayo is the name of the restaurant.

Go there, order carne adovada and the sopapillas for dessert.

EDIT: And nevermind. They had a fire this summer and won't open again until April 2009. :lol:

That was one of the places I have listed in my file of notes, but I hadn't looked up specifics for going there yet. That's a shame. It must have been a devastating fire to close the restaurant for 9 months.

One other place we hit in Santa Fe that I forgot to mention is Second Street Brewery. We sampled/drank a number of the microbrews*, along with an order of excellent green chile cheese fries.

*Kolsch, IPA, Porter, and Cream Stout

ETA: Adding this to a post I made this morning will defy causality, but I don't want to keep creating new posts. Today I had a small but satisfying lunch at The Shed (green chile stew w/pork and potatoes) and, for dinner, excellent sushi at Osaka, in a shopping center along Cerrillos Road. The Crunch Roll was gorgeous and fantastic all around (shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado with rice on the outside and covered in crumbled tempura crumbs).

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I'll third the recommendation for Cafe Pasqual's in Santa Fe. Worth the drive.

Three visits to Cafe Pasqual's over the past six or seven years and all were exemplery. Until this summer. A huge disappointment. Just mediocrity for several of the exact same dishes that I've had in years past. I believe this was a one time event but given that I drove 125+ miles round trip from Albuquerque to eat here (as I have in years past) there can't be too many more meals like this in the future. On my summer's visit I thought of the many, many people that I've raved about this place to and wondered how many of them might have had the same experience as I had that night.

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I was recently in ABQ for work and tried some new places. I went to Cecilia's Café for lunch one day. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in Feb. 09. I had the Carne Adovada. It was super fresh and delicious. The plate looked like something I would make at home, but the flavor outdid the appearance. I would recommend Cecilia’s Cafe. Here's the website: http://www.ceciliascafe.com/index.htm

I also went up to the top of Sandia Peak. They have a restaurant, High Finance, at the top of the mountain. I didn't have dinner there, but the view was pretty amazing. I understand that you can get a discount on your tram ticket if you have a dinner reservation.

I also ate at Tucanos. It is a churrascaria in downtown ABQ. It is a pretty moderate churrascaria. The quality of the cuts weren't as refined as those offered at Fogo de Chao, but for the price ($20 per person), it was pretty decent. It wouldn't be my top pick, but for a group with varied tastes and a moderate budget, it was a decent option. They did a nice job with the feijoada and collard greens on the buffet. Although it wasn't the real deal, I enjoyed my meal.

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French Pastry Shop in the La Fonda hotel on the Plaza in Santa Fe. Cafe au lait and a napoleon make X a happy girl. Tia Sophia's on the Plaza for New Mexican food (disclaimer: the owner is a friend of Azami's). I would choose Second Street Brewery over Blue Corn if you want to visit a brewpub. In Albuquerque, the Frontier for cheap, delicious carne adovada burritos and green chile stew that will probably take your head off this year. Twisters (formerly Hurricanes) isn't bad for fast food New Mexican. My guilty pleasure in the homeland is a green chile grilled cheese at Sonic.

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The rather blandly named Cheese and Coffee Cafe in Encantada Square (2679 Louisiana Blvd. NE) provided my much-needed first hit of green chile after I arrived in ABQ yesterday. I had the Chelsea (turkey breast, provolone, and green chile on grilled sourdough, minus the avocado it usually has), and it hit the spot: crispy, melty magic full of spicy (but not incendiary; must have been this year's mild), unadulterated green chile. Yum.

I was at Encantada Square to pick up a couple of cupcakes at Cake Fetish, one of Albuquerque's surprisingly large number of cupcake shops. I got a Pucker Up! (lemon cake, lemon filling, lemon buttercream, and a candied lemon slice) and a Biscochito, which I don't remember the specific details of other than that it had crumbled biscochito (Mexican Christmas cookies flavored mostly with cinnamon and anise) on top. I am an ardent Georgetown Cupcake fan, but I have to say that I think I preferred Cake Fetish's buttercream. It was very light and had excellent lemon flavor. The cupcake itself was moist and buttery, and the combination was very lemony but not at all heavy.

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The Nob Hill Bar & Grill (3128 Central Ave SE, www.upscalejoint.com, not!) provided a satisfying meal after two weeks of mediocre fast food.  Ambience was hip, cocktails weren't terrible on a Saturday afternoon, and my wagyu burger was pretty damn good.  Other dishes at the table were local organic steak frites and a ribeye in a mushroom demiglace.  This would probably be my local if I lived in the area.

The local wisdom, according to the service crew here, is to stay on Central Ave, whether you are off UNM's campus or downtown, for the best dining/party options.

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The local wisdom, according to the service crew here, is to stay on Central Ave, whether you are off UNM's campus or downtown, for the best dining/party options. 

As a regular visitor to ABQ, I concur.

I usually stay at Hotel Andaluz or the Doubletree downtown.

Favorite downtown spots to eat -

The Artichoke Cafe (http://www.artichokecafe.com/) - Bistro with a decent wine list

Slate Street Cafe (http://www.slatestreetcafe.com/) - Upscale comfort food with a decent wine list

Q Burger (http://www.qburgerabq.com/) - Upscale dive bar (if such a thing actually exists) with a decent burger and good local beers on tap

and finally

Marble Brewery (http://www.marblebrewery.com/) - A dive in the best sense of the word.

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Returned last night from a weekend in Albuquerque for a wedding. Since it was for a wedding, I didn't have quite as much free time and leeway to explore the city as I would have liked, but we still were able to sample a few places. Here are some very scattered thoughts:

  • Gruet Winery - For the price, I think Gruet's basic sparkling wines are a fantastic value, and I'm always happy to drink them. The tasting room experience is fine, although nothing spectacular. We love visiting wineries, and if you're the same then I would stop in. We did the reserve tasting, which is $15 (includes Riedel logo glass), and were able to taste five or six sparkling wines (only one of which I'd seen before) and two still wines (Pinot Noir and Syrah). The other tasting option, which I think was $8, had the two Gruet wines I see out here frequently, and then a number of wines that were off-dry, so I'm confident that we made the correct choice.  Oddly, they open at 10 am weekdays, but not until noon on Saturday, and not at all on Sunday.
  • Season's - Had dinner here on Thursday night, as it was both recommended and was within a block of our hotel (the ridiculously large Hotel Albuquerque). Side note, Albuquerque is not very pedestrian friendly, which shouldn't have caught me off guard but did. Anyhow, it was good. I wouldn't say great, but most of us were happy with our meals, and I would go back. We also hit up the bar on Saturday after the wedding reception, and enjoyed that as well.  They were serving the Deschutes River Ale for $3.50, which was a bonus.
  • Q Bar - In our hotel. It's a strange bar, part cocktail bar, part lounge, part nightclub. They shook my Manhattan, which I didn't enjoy, but they have a relatively extensive bourbon selection, which I did. If you're not sitting right at the bar, however, the wait staff don't know what options they have, and might tell you that they don't carry a particular spirit that you've seen sitting behind the bar.
  • High Noon - Caveat, it was 2:30 pm when I ate here and this was my first meal of the day, so it's possible that anything would have tasted good at that point. That said, I really enjoyed my lunch at High Noon. I had some sort of platter which included a chile relleno, enchilada, tamale and taquito in addition to the ubiquitous rice and beans. I ate it in approximately two minutes.  Nice beer selection, and margaritas were good as well.
  • El Pinto - A bit out of the way (we didn't realize exactly how much out of the way until we were nearly there), but we really enjoyed El Pinto. My enchiladas with both green and red chile were fantastic, and the chile rellenos reminded me of those that my grandmother used to make for me when I was a child. 
  • Frontier - The folks from Albuquerque in our group were huge fans of this place, and I enjoyed my breakfast trip here, during which I ordered the breakfast burrito with carne adovada. My friend ate both that and a green chile cheeseburger, which is an exceptional feat that I would not recommend attempting.

In non-food news, we did the Sandia tramway, and it was fantastic. Stunning views, and a really cool experience.  Finally, throughout the weekend I had a chance to sample a local whiskey, Taos Lightning, which I quite enjoyed.

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Took JPW's lead and checked out the Artichoke Cafe. A mature clientele and rather formal for a cafe, but an excellent suggestion. My friend enjoyed her Wagyu tartare with foie gras and caviar ($15 special). My other companion, the skeptic (how dare he doubt a donrockwell.com member suggestion!), was won over by a rich acorn squash ravioli. My duck breast was paired with a pan-Asian fried rice ($26), very nice. And I enjoyed my go-to Averna for an after dinner.

Revisited the Nob Hill Grill, enjoyed the burger again. The Jack Rose cocktail was a bit too sweet, and a bit too red, so I switched to the Gruet brut and felt better.

Have visited Seasons twice now, once in the upstairs bar patio during the summer, and recently at the downstairs white tablecloth service with the full menu. Both times I've enjoyed the half rotisserie chicken ($18) and every other plate my friends have ordered have also been simple and satisfying.

Had some time to grab breakfast at the Grove Cafe and Market, and had some beautiful poached runny eggs over local prosciutto, asparagus, parm, and grilled sourdough with a side of red chile raspberry jam ($11).

All of these places have fresh local ingredients, and it I love the high quality, each has been a tonic especially after a week of really mediocre meals. I will say that many of the ABQ menus tend to look kinda the same, haven't yet seen any non-traditional saucing or offal-based plates.

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I like Albuquerque a lot.  I've travelled there annually for over twenty years and have found a few restaurants (i.e. Frontier for breakfast burrito,) that we like.  But generally Santa Fe is a step above.  It's almost an hour's drive but well worth the effort. 

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We'll be staying in Albuquerque for a couple of nights in April, before driving to a wedding in Chinle (on the Navajo reservation, on the edge of Canyon de Chelly). Last time we were in Abq. was quite a few years ago & we stayed in Old Town at Casa de Suenos. Updated info. on where to eat a couple of local dinners and even where to stay (Bottger Mansion B&B?) would be appreciated.

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So we stayed 3 nights in ABQ Old Town at the Bottger B & B and liked it/them a lot. Happy hour drinks/apps. one afternoon & dinner at the bar of High Noon another were both enjoyed, as they make great margaritas (the mulled cucumber one was my favorite) & have above average food. Dinner at Seasons was very good but I didn't like the fact that both the prime rib & the chicken's tastes were overshadowed by the smoked flavor. I liked dinner at Antiquity even more but, again, the smoke on the steak my wife ordered was too prominent. My pork was excellent. And their wine list is very gently & fairly priced, especially in the mid-range $50-90/bottle selections.

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Azami and I left the kid with his grandmother and hit two of Burque's premier rooftop bars to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. We started with a couple of classic cocktails ($11 each) -- pisco sour and Sazerac -- and an olive and cheese plate at the Hotel Parq Central's Apothecary Lounge. The cocktails were right on -- perfectly balanced and classic. The olive and cheese plate was generously laden with plain roasted almonds, mixed olives, water crackers, and cubes of Manchego. Nothing special, but a nice set of nibbles to go with our drinks and glorious sunset.

We moved on to LVL 5 at the Hotel Chaco, Albuquerque's new fancy hotel near Old Town. Azami skipped a second tipple, while I had local Gruet Brut Rose -- a delightful, slightly sweet, nicely fruity glass of bubbles. Dinner was a special tagliatelle with shrimp and sweet corn in a green chile asiago cream sauce for Azami and a vegan cannelloni for me -- chickpeas and tofu rolled in thinly sliced zucchini, topped with roasted tomatoes and kale and served over quinoa. Azami enjoyed his pasta, which had "the kind of heat you can't stop eating." My cannelloni was fantastic. I wouldn't have guessed the filling was vegan if I didn't know it was, it was that creamy and ricottalike. I just finished the leftovers for lunch and wish I had more.

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Some what mixed feelings about Albuquerque.  On one hand we went to some great places, on the other, much of the city seemed to be a car-driving, strip mall kinda place.  It didn't strike me as being a particularly attractive city, although the surrounding Sandia mountains were certainly lovely.  Glad we went, since we had never been before, but not sure its a place we would rush back to.  We had decently priced direct flights from BWI via Southwest Airlines.

Hotel Parq Central - A very nice boutique hotel spread over several buildings with good central location.  Our reservations included a better than expected continental breakfast, with freshly made quiches and baked goods, along with the usual cereal, yogurt, and fruit.

Apothecary Lounge - Hotel Parq Central's rooftop bar and lounge which is open to the public.  Excellent sunset views over the city and the Sandia Mountains. Good classic cocktails and ok/decent bar menu.  Definitely recommend for a sunset drink.

Grove Cafe & Market - Farm-to-table cafe and restaurant for breakfast and lunch (no dinner service).  Since it was only a couple of blocks from the hotel, we ended up going three times.  Good salads and sandwiches.  The avocado toast was excellent.  Nice outdoor patio even if the temperature is hot.     

Farina Pizza - From the owners of Artichoke.  In 2015, Time Out named Farina the 17th Best Pizza Joint in the U.S. They make a good pizza, but 17th Best seems like a stretch.   

Humble Coffee - I didn't see a lot of coffee shops and a bartender told me that the whole third-wave coffee scene hasn't really taken over Albuquerque, but these guys make a good latte.

Red Door Brewing Company - On the other hand, the brewing scene has definitely taken off.  There are a number of breweries downtown and Red Door occupies a former bank, although the space is very contemporary feeling.  It was quiet on a Thursday afternoon so I was able to sample a few beers.  Their cider, which had been steeped in blood orange, was very refreshing on a hot, dry day.  I would have liked more time to explore the beer scene, which seemed to be unexpectedly strong. 

Albuquerque Museum - An art and history museum in Old Town Albuquerque.  We saw an excellent jewelry show which featured examples of traditional New Mexico jewelry making as well as contemporary pieces.  Interesting permanent collection of local artists.  Cool building.  Worth a visit if museums are your thing.  

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center - An interesting museum about the region's native pueblo culture.  They have a medium sized collection which takes less than an hour to view.  Excellent pottery collection.  I got the feeling that they have more events on the weekends.  Worth a visit if you want to learn more about pueblo culture.  

Old Town Albuquerque -  The San Felipe de Neri Church is cool.  The rest is pretty much a tourist trap of crappy gift shops and high priced galleries.  Pretty disappointing frankly.  

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The restaurant 10-3 at the top of the tram just opened (there was a previous restaurant that closed, and a new owner rebuilt a new one).  The restaurant is quite good, and has a lovely view.  We had green chile stew that was tender and had a nice kick to it, served with fry bread.  I also had a really delicious kale Caesar with anchovies and roast butternut squash.  The salad was a big portion, and the stew was a bowl (we should have split this).  But it was all very good.  The tram is fun, has a nice view and we did the hike up to the cc stone cabin after which was beautiful on the day we went.

For dinner we went to Old Town just because people said we should see it.  Agree we don't need to see it- very touristy.  We ate at Church Street Cafe which is in a very cool building.  The food was fine, but nothing special.  The plates of food are huge though, so order less than you otherwise would.  Plus they give you sopapillas at the end for dessert that you want to save room for. I had a combo platter- enchilada, chile relleno, tamal.  The tamal was to me dry- I make better at home, much to my satisfaction.  The chille relleno was the best of the three, and next time I would get just that.  The enchilada was fine.  Neither red or green were hot.

Our first Uber driver recommended Monroe's (more hole in the wall, but good) or Capo's.  Both of those looked popular.  We just were already downtown and at that point too tired to worry about going somewhere else, but then we ended up passing both on the walk back to our hotel.  Oh well.

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