1736 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM | Directions 8710435.091099 -106.667461
Good food, busy restaurant, local hangout – I stopped in this place on a whim following a very disappointing meal at the Dog House (a hot dog place a couple of blocks down the street which had gotten good reviews). On my way back to my room, I noticed a HUGE number of cars parked outside this restaraunt, which was odd for the time of day (2:15 pm).
I decided to see why there were so many people here (heck, a full parking lot is usually a sign of a good place to eat, right?). I must say I'm glad I stopped. The food is very good. Although I am not any kind of expert on New Mexico-style cuisine, the flavor was distinctly different than I am used to getting from my home area near San Antonio, TX. It is for that reason I would be willing to go out on a limb and say this has an authentic New Mexico flavor.
There did not appear to be many out-of-towners frequenting the place. It was bustling with activity, and the wait staff was constantly hopping to attend to patrons needs. It took a bit for me to get seated, but considering the crowd I expected it. I was quickly served by a friendly waitress.
I ordered a plate of "karnitas" which appears to be beef slow-cooked with vegetables in a sauce. Almost a stew. The entree came with refried beans, spanish-style rice, a smidgeon of lettuce and chopped tomato, and a homemade tortilla.The whole thing was very tasty, if differently flavored from what I was expecting from a "Mexican" restaurant. The tortilla was what was most surprising - it was very thick, almost like Naan, or perhaps pita bread, and it came with butter, which I observed several other patrons slathering on it.
I got a few odd looks when I placed the meat, beans, rice, and lettuce on the tortilla and attempted to wrap it as I would do for a fajita-style meal, so maybe they don't do that sort of thing here.
Final result - the food is far better than one would expect from the reasonable price they ask for it. The wait staff is efficient and friendly, the atmosphere is festive, if a bit boisterous. All in all, definitely worth a visit if you are interested in a bit of local flavor.
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