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 V.16 No.41 | October 11 - 17, 2007 

Feature

P.M.

Best Sandwich

When it comes to this lunchtime staple, the trick is a perfect balance of hot and cold sandwiches to satisfy even the most finicky of appetites. Whether it's a piping-hot, homemade meatball sub or a cold sub with loads of Italian meats and crisp veggies, Baggin's doesn't disappoint. Add an expansive list of sides and the fact that your sandwich invariably comes in a sack-lunch-style paper bag, and it's easy to see why Baggin's comes out on top.

1. Baggin's Gourmet Sandwiches

2. Relish Sandwich Shop

Runners-up: Cheese and Coffee, DG's Deli

Best Salad

Salad is much more than the sum of its part. Il Vicino gets this. Its cooks (or "salad artists," if you will) use their ingredients like brushstrokes on canvas. A swipe of chopped walnuts here, a cluster of spinach leaves there. A happy face made out of shaved onion, gorgonzola and pine nuts. Just kidding. But they'd probably make a happy face for if you asked them nicely. That's artistry, folks.

1. Il Vicino

2. Dion's Pizza

Runners-up: Da Vinci's Gourmet, Sweet Tomatoes

Best Steakhouse

Sure, other foods can try, but it takes a special kind of culinary masterpiece to get an entire abode named after it. With apologies to waffles, from porterhouse to New York strip, steak is a cut above the rest. When you're looking for first-class cow, Paul's Monterey Inn is the place to be.

1. Paul's Monterey Inn

2. Great American Steakhouse, Gruet Grille, Texas Roadhouse (tied)

Runner-up: Gruet Steakhouse

Best Barbecue

The restaurant's slogan says it best: “The sauce is boss,” and it's Rudy's commitment to meat's liquid counterpart that sets it apart from the pack. Whether you choose the “sissy sauce” or the original barbecue, one taste of this savory, sweet and surprisingly spicy condiment will have you licking your chops and grabbing for the napkin dispenser. Rudy's offers all the classic barbecue meats, from smoked turkey to pork tenderloin, and also serves heapin' helpings of sides like creamed corn and potato salad. Enjoy it all with an ice-cold beer and a chuckle at signs taking playful digs at vegetarianism.

1. Rudy's "Country Store" and Bar-BQ

2. Mr. Powdrell's Barbeque House

Runner-up: The Quarters

Best Burger

A burger sounds basic enough. Bun, meat, cheese, condiments, vegetation, bun—a simple formula. But one missed calculation at the grill and you can enter into hamburger hell. Blake’s Lotaburger has stuck to the basic formula for more than 50 years, deviating only by adding green chile. (The green chile is a dead giveaway that Blake’s is a New Mexico-born-and-bred burger joint.) You won’t find pineapple or foie gras on its burgers, and New Mexicans are OK with that.

1. Blake's Lotaburger

2. Fuddruckers

Runners-up: Flying Star Café, Griff's Burger Bar

Best Pasta

For those who have decided to kick carb counting to the curb, this category has your name written all over it. Paisano's, Scalo and Vivace have Alibi readers glad there are still starch providers in the area. With meat- or vegetable-filled ravioli and tender strands of spaghetti, linguine and fettucini headlining the menu, it's no wonder South Beach has once again become a Miami hot spot and not a dietary decision.

1. Paisano's Pasta and Regional Italian Cuisine, Scalo Northern Italian Grill, Vivace (tied)

2. Mario's Pizzeria and Ristorante

Runner-up: Macaroni Grill

Best Bread Basket

Screw that Atkins guy. I mean, seriously, no bread for life just to look good in skinny jeans? To hell with that. Carbs rock and dinner rolls are king. People want to have their bread and eat it, too. Chama River Brewing Co. may know its beers, but the restaurant-brewery has also applied its yeasty knowledge to a basket of risen Zen. How else are you gonna soak up those home-brewed hops and bypass a DWI?

1. Chama River Brewing Company

2. Artichoke Café, Mimi's Café, Yanni's Mediterranean Grill

Runner-up: Scalo Northern Italian Grill

Best Soup

The first restaurants in the world came about a few hundred years ago in France. And guess what? The only thing they served was soup. While we'd gladly give up cell phones in exchange for the Medieval ingenuity of soup houses, we're glad Baggin's Gourmet Sandwiches churns out exquisite soups without making us sacrifice our Internet connections.

1. Baggin's Gourmet Sandwiches

2. Annie's Soup Kitchen

Runner-up: Flying Star Café

Best French Fries

It’s true. The fries at Blake’s Lotaburger are irresistible. They’re not too greasy, just thick enough and a seasoned, golden brown. Crunchy and salty on the outside, tender and smooth on the inside. We’re going to go get some right now.

1. Blake's Lotaburger

2. Kelly’s BYOB

Runners-up: Top Dog, La Provence Brasserie and Restaurant

Best Noodles

Duh. The best noodles in town are at Nothing But Noodles. Buttered, smothered in pasta sauce or simmering in broth, there's never any doubt that the star of the show is noodles. That's all this restaurant does. It swears to give you the noodles, the whole noodles and Nothing But Noodles. Amen.

1. Nothing But Noodles (landslide)

Best Pizza

There's something relaxing about watching the pizza-makers at Dion's toss dough into the air until it's perfectly round. A little sauce, a little cheese, a little topping and it's in the oven, on its way to you. The hand-tossed crust may be the key to Albuquerque's favorite pie. Pillowy and never caught with any gooey uncooked sections, the light-colored bread doesn't become greasy the way others seem to. Fresh toppings and tasty side salads don't hurt business either.

1. Dion's Pizza

2. Da Vinci's Gourmet Pizza, Saggio's (tied)

Runner-up: Giovanni's

Best Dish You Can't Pronounce

“I’d like the, uh, bah-bah-ma-watch-a-ma-call-it.”

We’ve all been there. Ordering from some of the coolest menus is an exercise in humility. You can’t spell it, and you certainly can’t pronounce it, but damn it, your date expects you to order it because you told her you spent a year living with indigenous Buddhist/Hindu/Kabbalah-ish holy folk who rock sandals like Slayer fans rock bad hair. Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine and Chai House just might be the place that blows your cover. But hey, whatever it is you ordered will taste fabulous.

1. Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine and Chai House (landslide)

Best Soda Fountain

Who doesn’t love a root beer float? Come to think of it, who doesn’t love milkshakes, malts, Italian sodas and egg creams? People love their soda fountains, and why shouldn’t they? They’re freakin’ delicious. We’re lucky to have several great ones in town, starting with Model Pharmacy, which took home first in this category.

1. Model Pharmacy

2. Route 66 Malt Shop

Runner-up: 66 Diner

Best Wine List

A friendly staff will help you navigate the meaty wine list at Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro. With extensive offerings by the glass and wine flights by the glass or half-glass, Zinc has something for noobs and connoisseurs alike. Sporting wines at many prices and from many regions, a flight is a great way to try some different things on and develop your palate. But not everyone loves wine, so it's helpful that Zinc also has plenty of good beers on the menu for those who are likely to see a beautiful glass of red and think "alcoholic grape juice."

1. Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro

2. Seasons Rotisserie and Grill

Runner-up: Artichoke Café and Wine Bar

Best Winebar

The only way to feel superior to your peers while drinking wine is to drink it at Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro. While it’s nice to hold a delicate piece of stemware in your hand and casually mention that hip-hop and Cristal are an ironic pairing that completely defines the dissimulation of modern media-driven culture, standing in Zinc’s subterranean wine bar while you mutter such a contemptuous observation seems so much more cosmopolitan. Cheers!

1. Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro

2. Slate Street Café

Runner-up: Artichoke Café and Wine Bar

Best Beer Selection

From oatmeal to extra pale, Kelly's has the beer for any palate and, rest assured, these cold ones are made in-house. Sitting on the patio, watching motorists fly by on Central with a pint of pure pleasure is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon or evening. Try a glass of I.P.A. with an order of sweet potato fries the next time you find yourself hankering for a brewsky in Nob Hill.

1. Kelly's BYOB

2. O'Niell's Pub

Runner-up: Turtle Mountain Brewing Co.

 

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