Why do we include picks for eats and drinks in our annual Best of Burque? Because we can. And also because without the fantastic food and luscious libational offerings here in the 505, we'd be just as boring as those other cities with no red or green. So read up, keep eating it up, and expect a full-on report for your esculent sensibilities in our annual Reader's Choice Restaurant Poll coming up in the fall. And remember, being in Albuquerque is a lot like being in Valhalla, only with tortillas and horchata.
This category is always rife with weird-but-honest answers, and this year is no exception. The top three this time around are, “I am way too fat,” “buffets are evil” and “the rotating vending machine at work.” Zoinks! I bet this guy or gal never has any spare change. The top three actual winners are Tomato Café in first place, followed by Sushi and Sake, and a tie for third place between Pancho's and Taj Mahal's lunch buffet.
How do you spell the perpetual winner of this category? Some of the more grammatically challenged offerings are “fronteer,” “fronteir” and “Frontier cimminon rolls.” But it's OK, because there are no words that can fully describe the orgasmic pleasure involved in taking that first warm, butter-dripping bite of a Frontier sweet roll. No. 2 this year is Weck's, home of one vegg-a-listic omelet and in third place is our favorite bacon barn, The Range Café.
Best Wine Shop
Jubilation Wine & Spirits
We get some creative votes in every category, but this one takes the bottle. Honorary first place goes to the troubled comedian who wrote us that the best wine shop in town is “my ex wife's house—man can she whine.” On a serious note, it's sometimes difficult to get a decent, reasonably priced bottle when you need one, for such commemorative occasions as a first date, a dinner party or a meeting with the ex. Top props this year go out to first-place winner Jubilation, second-place winner Quarters Discount Liquors and coming in third is the worldliest market of all, Cost Plus World Market.
Flying Star Café/Satellite
Beans, beans, musical fruit, the more you—oops, wrong kind. Flying Star/Satellite is the perennial favorite in this category, and this year's Best of Burque winner for best brew. Runner-up is Java Joe's, and bringing up third is Winning Coffee Co. With all of the terrific spots to get a hot cuppa, it's totally messed up that so many votes received were for really questionable coffee, i.e. Circle K, Burger King, Waffle House, Folgers and the UNM Health Sciences Department (this vote may have been an inside job).
Best Candy Store
The Candy Lady
We all love The Candy Lady. Who wouldn't? She's in the lead for many chocolate- and caramel-coated reasons, but the very best vote commentary read “the old woman's chocolate penis candy.” Short, sweet and to the point. Second place this year goes to Buffett's Candies, while Theobroma Chocolatier comes in third. Honorable mentions include “the place that sold crack,” “Dollar Tree” and “Sears.” See, and we thought all they had were tools and house paint!
Best Place to Eat to Live Music
Pearl's Dive (R.I.P)
Vegas, ahhh Vegas. Where else in the continental U.S. can you get a steak, a whisky sour and listen to a third-generation Wayne Newton impersonator? For those of us who prefer to skip the drive and the pink flamingoes, here are the top picks for a plate and a set that's closer to home: Third place (tie) is Martini Grille, the Blue Dragon Coffeehouse and Garduño's, second place is Kelly's Brewpub, and coming in first is the now-closed Pearl's Dive. It is a credit to the shared memories of many nights at Pearl's that they were posthumously chosen as the best. Rest in peace, and we will never forget you.
Kelly's on Central took this category in a landslide, and it's no surprise. Where else on the strip can you sit for hours on a heated patio and still get the same great service as when you got there? Or have an eggplant parmesan sandwich and a handful of IPAs and still leave at the end of the night with your socks? Chama River Brewing Co. came in second, and Turtle River Brewing Co. brings up third. The best long answer for this category deserves adequate mention, “don't drink beer.” Yeah, OK, Dr. Phil, whatever you say.
Best Local Microbrew
Kelly's Oatmeal Stout
Whew, the list of votes for this one took some time to tally. First place goes to Kelly's “Oatmeal Stout,” with the backups being their house porter, weizen, blonde and apricot varieties. So basically, everything at Kelly's rocks. Second place is the “Sleeping Dog Stout” at Chama River Brewing Co., and third place is a tie between Il Vicino's IPA and Tractor Brewery's “Honey Wheat.” And, if you can believe it, our wannabe Dr. Phil chimed in again with “still don't drink beer.” Who let this guy in, anyway? Try the house-brewed root beer at Il Vicino—a sugar buzz might help kill the bug up your butt.
Janiah Turner from Burt's Tiki Lounge
Counting the votes for this category was tougher than an Applebee's sirloin, but count them we did, and here are the results: Third place is reserved for Kristen Simpson from The Range Café, second place goes out to Daniel Cornish from Macaroni Grill, and duh-duh-duh-daaaaah, the best server in the 505 is Janiah Turner from Burt's Tiki Lounge. A day in the life of a server deserves hazard pay, and mad props are well-deserved by anyone who spends his or her days putting up with short breaks, cookzillas and the Steve Buscemi-esque non-tippers. So honorable mentions will be appropriated as follows: Tyler Anderson from Il Vicino, Mary from Isabella's, Aaron from Mannie's, Dominic Terry from the Olive Garden on the Westside, Emily from The District (she sings some mean karaoke), Joshua from P.F. Chang's and last but not least, we'd like to include the write-in votes for “the redhead from Ragin' Shrimp” and “nice blonde lady at Bandido's on Central.” Don't forget to tip your servers, because if you don't you will go to hell when you die.