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 V.21 No.18 | May 3 - 9, 2012 

Dish Jockey

Stalking the Albuquerque Turkey

Who you callin’ turkey?
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Who you callin’ turkey?

JohnDhi’s BBQ

3851 Rio Grande NW
345-3354

The “Albuquerque turkey” sandwich is the lesser-celebrated cousin of the green chile cheeseburger. This simple combination of flavors is found in most any Burque sandwich shop—including Subway franchises—and even in pie-form at some pizzerias. As with the green chile cheeseburger, it’s possible to try too hard. But all that really matters are the bare essentials: green chile, turkey, cheese and bread, in roughly that order.

The JohnDhi-lightful patio
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
The JohnDhi-lightful patio

JohnDhi’s BBQ, on Rio Grande and Griegos, manages to keep the formula pared down while hitting those few notes with feeling. Good-quality bread from Fano is toasted without having to request it that way—something that should be SOP on every sandwich in the world, but isn’t. Even more importantly, JohnDhi’s doesn’t skimp on the green chile. It has some kick, too. Sides of baked beans are tart and smoky with barbecue sauce. It’s a great bowl of beans. And I should know, ’cause I’m from Boston.

As an alternative, you can always order a BBQ turkey sandwich with a side of green chile. This is a different animal, served on a hero roll and slathered in sauce. It’s also messier and has a Christmas vibe to it, thanks to a healthy dose of red barbecue sauce.

Taking a bite brings your taste buds into satisfying harmony with the smoked atmosphere engulfing JohnDhi’s. You smell it as soon as you park.

In either case, the turkey is pit-smoked. Taking a bite brings your taste buds into satisfying harmony with the smoked atmosphere engulfing JohnDhi’s. You smell it as soon as you park. That charred wood aroma draws you through JohnDhi’s funky, labyrinthine interior, over the uneven floor and past the French posters and Mexican knickknacks, and leads you back outside again to the patio.

If you’re dining outdoors, there’s a decorative waterfall, peeling painted wooden walls, trees sprouting up and bright colors. With this kind of ambiance and a collection of microbrews, JohnDhi’s could get away with middling food. Thankfully, that’s not the case here.

Sandwiches are hardly the only things on the menu. Ribs and brisket spend some quality time in the pit. The salads are enormous, and there’s an impressive lineup of ground chuck burgers. A lobster taco special has been running for long enough you’d think it was gunning for a permanent spot. In fact, the turkey green chile sandwich may not even be the best thing at JohnDhi’s. But in this professional gobbler’s opinion, JohnDhi’s might just be the best place to catch an Albuquerque turkey.

 
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