Good food is only one piece of the puzzle. Without an army of qualified employees and a roomful of patrons to share the experience, dining out just wouldn't be appetizing.
By Laura Marrich and Steven Robert Allen, Christie Chisholm, Amy Dalness, Marisa Demarco, Hillari Straba, Jennifer Wohletz
Best People Watching
Who hasn’t spent at least one late-night stretch half drunk, watching the weirdos, freaks and Goths eat sweet rolls and drink the house café mocha creation at Frontier? Canceling your cable is acceptable as long as this big barn is open for business.
2. Flying Star Café
3. Kelly’s Brew Pub
4. Satellite Coffee
5. Winning Coffee Co.
Best Service (Casual)
You want to be fed, but you also want to have a good time, right? It's not just about what's on the plate. It's about how you're treated. You don't need someone to wipe your face when you dribble soup down your chin. You aren't looking for a stiff, proper sort of waiter in a penguin suit. You just want a server who's friendly and attentive. Someone who knows how to engage in small talk, how to explain the menu and how to keep a water glass full. According to our readers, the friendly, professional folks at Rudy's know service better than anyone in town.
2. Tie: Il Vicino, Sadie’s
3. Flying Star Café
4. Tie: Slate Street Café, The Range Café, Relish Sandwich Shop
5. Tie: Baggin’s Gourmet Sandwiches, O’Niell’s Pub, Yanni’s Mediterranean Grill
Best Service (Fine Dining)
When it comes to fine dining, service is everything. The Ranchers Club delivers not only a quail or two, but also smooth, ultra-polite and polished service that’s so good, you have to wonder if there isn’t a server academy they hold on the weekends.
1. Ranchers Club of New Mexico
2. Seasons of Albuquerque
3. Artichoke Café
4. Scalo Northern Italian Grill
5. Tie: Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro, Graze
We don't know many chefs that hold college degrees in psychology, but Sam Etheridge is one. And an understanding of the human psyche goes a long way in explaining how, behind the helm of five-year-old Ambrozia, he's managed to toy with our innermost predilections to such a delicious end. Order the “burger and fries” sometime. You'll get a butter-soft duck burger topped with crispy, housemade duck bacon and melted foie gras. (Etheridge likes to play with ingredients in multiples of three, just like his mentor Johnny Vincencz.) The "fries" are made from polenta, the ketchup is à l’orange. Incredible!
1. Sam Etheridge of Ambrozia
2. Tie: Jennifer James formerly of Graze, Heath VanRiper of Prairie Star, Tony Nethery of Relish
3. Wayne Leach of Le Café Miche
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