The Main Attraction
An assortment of the city's best offerings, served warm with complimentary refills.
By Laura Marrich and Steven Robert Allen, Christie Chisholm, Amy Dalness, Marisa Demarco, Hillari Straba, Jennifer Wohletz
Best New Restaurant
Out of the blue this year, Euphoria Smoothies floated in on a heavenly cloud to present us with smoothies, stuffed pretzels and love, man, lots of frickin’ love. The stuffed cheddar and jalapeño pretzel complements the "mochacchino chill," and we compliment you, Albuquerque, on your good taste.
1. Euphoria Smoothies
2. The Standard Diner
3. Slate Street Café
4. Tie: Bumble Bee's Baja Grill, The Grove Café and Market
5. O'Niell's Pub
Best Older/Established Restaurant That's Like New Again
We thought we’d lost them for good, but like those old reruns of “Sesame Street,” O'Niell's Pub is in our hearts forever. Sure, it’s a longer journey to see them at their new location, but we would walk 500 miles, and we would walk 500 more just to be the folks that get to eat their grub for now and evermore.
1. O'Niell's Pub (landslide)
Most Unique Dining Experience
Nowhere else in the city has sitting on the floor taken on such a sumptuous quality. At Pars Cuisine, the low-slung tables and embellished pillow seating has us all feeling like kings and queens of Persia. Well, that, and meat swathed in a rich pomegranate sauce, pulls from ornate hookahs on the patio, the lovely dancing girls and blood-pumping live Middle Eastern music.
1. Pars Cuisine
2. Tie: Rudy's, Tucanos
3. Tie: Graze, Japanese Kitchen, The Melting Pot
Best Never-Fail Restaurant
She's solid. She's dependable. She's somehow still exciting. Like a good pair of black pumps or a trusted set of well-balanced throwing knives, any of the Flying Star Café's six locations can be relied on to give us everything we need with flair. Want lox for breakfast? Got it. How about a hormone/antibiotic-free burger for lunch? On it. Care for a variety of quiches or cakes and sweets so enticing they sing your name like sirens, calling to you from their cases? There's certainly plenty of those.
1. Flying Star Café
3. Il Vicino
4. Yanni's Mediterranean Grill
5. Tie: The Standard Diner, Weck's
Best Place for Kids and Families
If you have nibblers at home, you’ve either been to or at least heard of the new combination amusement park/Italian buffet called ITZ. This place is what children dream of when they lay their little tousled heads down at night, and what parents actually look forward to because the food is really not bad. Not bad at all.
2. Tie: Peter Piper’s Pizza, Red Robin
3. 66 Diner
Best Breakfast Establishment
Their slogan is “A Fully Belly Since ’91” and that's what the fun lovin' folks at Weck's do best. A great place to take the whole family, Weck's has all our favorite breakfast foods from pancakes to omelets, including the "Bowl o' Stuff" Papas—a mountain of hash browns smothered in chile, cheese, eggs and your choice of meat (carne adovada, please!) for about $6. Don't even bother taking off your pink pajama bottoms, you're going to need the extra bit of stretch room.
3. Tie: Le Peep, Sophia's Place, The Range Café
4. Tie: Buster's 66, Mannie's Family Restaurant
5. Slate Street Café
Best Hotel Restaurant
What's more luxurious than rolling out of a freshly made bed, going for a lap in the pool and sitting down to a five-star lunch--without having to bankroll a fleet of hired help to do it? We can't all lead lifestyles of the rich and famous, but when we're staying at the Hilton, we can at least rent one. And when it's time to eat, there's not a more elegant restaurant in Albuquerque--embedded in a hotel or not--than the Ranchers Club.
1. Ranchers Club of New Mexico
3. Bien Shur
Area Most in Need of More Good Restaurants
Our readers think nearly every area of town is in need of more good restaurants, but the one that takes the cake (or is most in need of a cake) is Downtown. We're also in need of a full-service grocery store. (Are any smart developers reading this?) Granted, Downtown's been blessed with a smattering of fine food establishments this last year--including Slate Street Café, Relish, The Standard Diner, and The Grove Café and Market, and a delightful specialty grocery store called Downtown Gourmet--but we're still far from garnering the bevy of local eateries we crave. Inspired restaurateurs, look this way!
2. Far Northeast Heights
3. Tie: South Valley, Westside
4. Far North Valley
Best Undiscovered Gem
This is madness. The way this poll is going, either Euphoria Smoothies is the most exciting franchise to ever set up shop in Albuquerque, or they've got a lot of friends who owe them a favor. They've won three other categories in this year's poll, so as far as being undiscovered, it looks like the cat's already out of the bag on this one.
1. Euphoria Smoothies
2. Slate Street Café
3. Da Vinci's Gourmet Pizza
Best Special Occasion Restaurant
Special occasions can be a birthday, wedding, parole hearing or any time you need to treat yourself to a savory crêpe, a breast of free-range chicken or a medley of homemade ice cream scoops. Artichoke Café has been around for a while now, but they aren’t hurtin’ for company so call first.
1. Artichoke Café
2. Prairie Star
Most Anticipated Restaurant That Hasn't Opened Yet
Of all the restaurants yet to open, the Elephant Bar and Grill is the one Burqueños are most excited about. Elephant Bar is now hiring for its Albuquerque location, according to their website, so we shouldn't have long to wait for this dining adventure with “elephant sized” proportions. Grab your safari hat and get ready to grub.
1. Elephant Bar and Grill
2. Savoy Bar and Grill
3. Jinja (now open)
4. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
5. In-N-Out Burger
Best Restaurant Mascot
To our great delight, this category actually generated a bit of campaigning. The hands-down winner, Piper from O'Niell's Pub, ran a tough ticket this election season, and all his press conferences and televised debates paid off--not to mention all the paw-shaking and baby-licking. Over the last few weeks, voters rushed to the polls to place their nomination for Piper, restaurant owner Rob O'Niell's faithful companion. Congratulations, Piper, you've earned your seat.
1. O'Niell's Pub
2. Bandido Hideout
3. Tie: Bumble Bee's Baja Grill, Hooters
Best Restaurant in Albuquerque
The best restaurant in Albuquerque might not be what you'd expect. It doesn't have cloth napkins and your food isn't brought to you by a man named Jeeves. In fact, this restaurant has a farm-like feel, with its picnic tables and oversized bottles of barbecue sauce. Yes, that's right, we’re talking about Rudy's. Rudy's has the best barbecue for miles. So go on, put that paper napkin in your shirt collar and eat like you don't care.
2. Tie: Ambrozia, Le Café Miche
3. Tie: Artichoke Café, Flying Star Café, Graze
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Wine Dinner Benefitting Working Classtoom at Club Rio Rancho
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