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 V.16 No.41 | October 11 - 17, 2007 

Feature

Around the World

Best Restaurant to Pretend You're in a Foreign Country

Known for its cozy atmosphere and reasonably priced meals, India Kitchen is a perfect place to get away from “America” for a little while. The friendly staff goes to great lengths in explaining the menu, so even the most Indian food-ignorant of us can order wonderful food we might not have tried otherwise. You'll eat like royalty without shelling out for a mini-vacation.

1. India Kitchen

2. India Palace Cuisine of India, Orchid Thai Cuisine, Yanni's Mediterranean Grill (tied)

Runners-up: Taj Mahal, Pars Cuisine, Olympia Café, La Provence Brasserie and Restaurant

Best Greek

When it comes to gyros, souvlaki, moussaka and spanakopita, Olympia Café is the place Burqueños go to get their fix. Olympia's win can be attributed to one simple fact: The food is just so damn good. Our mouths are watering just thinking about warm pita stuffed with seasoned chicken, onions, tomatoes and tzatziki. We're calling for takeout right now.

1. Olympia Café

2. Yanni's Mediterranean Grill

Runner-up: Mykonos Café and Taverna

Best Italian

It's a tie! Last year Vivace was honored with "Best Fresh Pasta," while this year they win the broader title of "Best Italian." We think the venerated and recently expanded trattoria—a Nob Hill mainstay since 1996—is nothing short of bellisimo (cue cartoon chef in a puffy toque kissing fingers). Fortunately for Vivace, Trombino's Bistro Italiano resides halfway across town. With their lovely atmosphere, excellent wine list, amazing dishes and Northeast Heights-serving location, it won't be a surprise if Trombino's continues to gobble up titles, similar to the way Garfield gobbles up lasagna.

1. Trombino's Bistro Italiano, Vivace (tied)

2. Scalo Northern Italian Grill

Runner-up: Paisano's Pasta and Regional Italian Cuisine

Best Middle Eastern

The term "Middle Eastern food" is about as nebulous as they come. Middle Eastern food covers a lot of terrain—literally. Thousands of miles, a multitude of cultural and linguistic differences and a huge variety of ingredients exist under this umbrella of cuisine. For example, winner Yasmine's is Palestinian, yet it also serves food more familiar to Lebanese and Syrians. Likewise, co-winners Pars Cuisine is Persian (from Iran), but they make a multitude of Mediterranean dishes, too. Maybe a better term would be "Middle Eaters" cuisine.

1. Pars Cuisine, Yasmine's Café (tied)

2. Yanni's Mediterranean Grill

Runner-up: Café Istanbul

Best French

While "Is that, like, snails?" was stiff competition, we are glad to report that Le Café Miche took the gateaux. What's so very fantastique about Chef Claus Hjortkjaer's French country cuisine and Le Café Miche? Aside from choice meats, foie gras and escargots (like, snails) that would make Julia Child blush, every week Chef Claus hosts numerous interactive events, from cooking classes to lunchtime fashion shows. Vive les snails!

1. Le Café Miche

2. La Provence Brasserie and Restaurant

Runner-up: La Crêpe Michel

Best Vietnamese

Vietnamese food is a melting pot of Southeast Asian and colonial French cuisines. On one hand, it's got vermicelli rice noodles, tender fish cakes and exotic herbs. On the other, there are elegantly fierce demitasses of coffee, sandwiches served on crusty french baguettes and patés. Don't be confused. Be delighted, as many eaters in Albuquerque are at May Café.

1. May Café

2. Que Huong, Café Dalat, Café Trang, Viet Taste, Vietnam 2000 (tied)

Best Thai

You chose Orchid Thai Cuisine as your favorite place to fill up on curries, noodles, sweet, milky coffee and plentiful soups. The little touches—murals of pink-cheeked ladies, lamps of billowing fake flames and the occasional orchid on your plate—blend with an otherwise casual atmosphere for an inviting dining experience. Great lunch specials also make this comfortable restaurant a good place to take a workday break.

1. Orchid Thai Cuisine

2. Bangkok Café

Runner-up: Siam Café

Best Chinese

Chicken feet aren't for everyone. That's probably why so many diners in Burque go for Chow's Chinese Bistro when they're out for Chinese cuisine. Chow's has a large menu, always partnered with seasonal specials, conveniently excised of too-adventurous dishes or hard-to-pronounce names. Mapo doufu is "old lady tofu." Dan dan mein is "no roof noodles." It's all very approachable but still very tasty.

1. Chow's Chinese Bistro

2. Kai's Chinese Restaurant

Runner-up: East Ocean

Best Indian

For those who know it, sometimes no food can top delicious East Indian delights—not even a fine Zinfandel, a filet mignon or that really good thing grandma makes. Here in Albuquerque, we are fortunate enough to have several amazing Indian restaurants, but for Alibi readers, Taj Mahal is No. 1. With their delectable paneer dishes, breads, lunch buffet and beyond (not to mention that incredible wine bottle chandelier), it's no surprise Taj Mahal is so adored.

1. Taj Mahal

2. India Palace Cuisine of India

Runner-up: India Kitchen

Best Korean

Yes! We love Fu Yuang too! We love its awesome family vibe with three generations busy in the kitchen, at the counter and crawling around in diapers on the main floor. We love that the Fu Yuang folks actually grow some of their own vegetables and use ancient recipes handed down from grandma's Buddhist monastery in Korea. We love that they're open for lunch now and have a beautifully remodeled dining room. But we hate that it's not big enough to cram our entire extended family inside for a family reunion dinner. Guess we can't have everything.

1. Fu Yuang

2. Korean BBQ House

Runner-up: Yen Ching

Best Japanese

Japanese Kitchen is a great place to take a first date because you'll surely have something to talk about while you eat. Clustered around a teppan grill, elbow to elbow with strangers, you'll delight in the theatrics of your tableside chef. It all makes for good chit-chat. The conversation might die, however, as you eagerly fill your mouth with delicious rice-based dishes topped with grilled meats of your choice. Beware the hazards of trying the chefs' tricks at home. Flipping eggshells into your hat with a spatula is harder than you think.

1. Japanese Kitchen

2. Crazy Fish, Samurai Grill and Sushi Bar (tied)

Runner-up: Shogun Sushi

Best Mexican

Judging from some of your responses, we think you may be confused here. Though similar in name, Mexican food and New Mexican food are vastly different creatures. Mexican food uses lots of grilled meats, seafood and vegetables, citrus fruits and soft, white-corn tortillas. Think: fresh. New Mexican food, in contrast, approaches vegetables only in chile sauce or garnish form, covers everything in gooey cheese, and fries its tortillas. Think: fried. Does that help? For an even better education in the marvels of Mexican cuisine, try the award-winning fare at Los Equipales.

1. Los Equipales

2. El Norteño

Runner-up: Taquería Mexico

Best Other National Cuisine

We are happy to announce that delightful German wonderland, Dagmar's Delectables, took the "other" category. Whether it's their apple pancakes, black forest cake, frikadelle, bratwurst or jeagerschnitzel, the food is as good as it is hard for non-German-speaking peoples to correctly pronounce. Other "other" contenders of note include the Irish dishes at Two Fools Tavern, Cuban cuisine at Don Yasmany Cuban Restaurant and Bakery and Salvadoran food at Pupuseria-y-Restaurante Salvadoreño. Meanwhile, one reader is really into McDonald's. How novel!

1. Best German: Dagmar's Delectables

 
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