There is perhaps no other Best of Burque category with more eligible participants, so winning is not an easy task for even the finest of casual dining eateries. Wood oven pizza, an expansive sandwich, salad and soup selection and a dining area consistently packed with locals are Il Vicino's greatest weapons in the fight for category supremacy. And, lest we forget, nothing relaxes the atmosphere like a pint of micro-brewed beer or a glass of fine wine, both available at “the neighbor.”
1. Il Vicino
2. O'Niell's Pub, Flying Star Café (tied)
Runners-up: Frontier Restaurant, The Range Café and Bakery
Sorry, Red Lobster. Ambrozia Café and Wine Bar reigns supreme when it comes to fine fruit of the vine, excellently executed service and fancily concocted foodstuffs. After several years and numerous wins in Alibi reader polls, this Old Town favorite has become a mainstay among those with a taste for fine dining with a New Mexican flare and an appreciation for exceptional wine lists. It's not exactly high drama, but you can sure as hell dine alongside a celebrity if you go on the right night.
2. Seasons Rotisserie and Grill
Runners-up: Ranchers Club, Artichoke Café and Wine Bar
The secret's out. Da Vinci's Gourmet Pizza rocks your world and now they'll rock the worlds of countless other Alibi readers. Not only does Da Vinci's do marvelous things with a pizza pie, its salads are worth telling a friend about, too.
1. Da Vinci's Gourmet Pizza
2. Fu Yuang, Amerasia, Slate Street Café (tied)
Food just has to taste good, and Frontier and Hurricane’s fit the bill. It’s all about mood. Some moods call for fancy, while others beg for a more working-stiff vibe. If you change oil for a living or just want to feel like you do, a greasy spoon is the kind of establishment you’re after. If you’re craving a burrito that would leave King Kong feeling uncomfortably stuffed, Hurricane’s has your number. And, of course, you live to get your grease on at Frontier.
1. Frontier Restaurant, Hurricane's (tied)
2. Murphy's Mule Barn
Runner-up: Mannie's Family Restaurant
Sam Etheridge, chef and owner of Ambrozia Café and Wine Bar, takes this year's honors. And this is no surprise, as his subtly crafted dishes are nothing short of incredible. With his penchant for incorporating local, traditional and pastoral New Mexico flavors with their intercontinental counterparts, Etheridge is a boon to Albuquerque. We dare you to try one of his dishes and not consider the possibility that you are tasting actual magic.
1. Sam Etheridge, Ambrozia (landslide)
And the winner is ... Well, first we'll give you some hints: It starts with an F. It's known for its Southwestern art, including a really creepy kachina doll and numerous images of John Wayne. Weekend nights at 2:30 a.m. and Sunday mornings are probably its busiest times. If you guessed the Frontier, you are correct! Way to go, Alibi readers. You helped prove that we really can't argue with free sauce—even if we have to get in harm's way to get it.
1. Frontier Restaurant
2. Taco Cabana
If your grandma's like ours, she's not one for fancy meals with odd ingredients or avant-garde décor. Instead, she'll be after good ingredients and impeccable service. That's where Christy Mae's comes in. Owned by the Tricarico family, recipes cooked from scratch, in-house baking, hearty soups and beautiful chicken pot pies promise to please your granny and anyone else looking for a down-home atmosphere and good portions at reasonable prices. After all, grandmas are pretty smart.
1. Christy Mae's
Runners-up: Model Pharmacy, Annie's Soup Kitchen
Albuquerque is a place that loves its pets, so it makes sense that when people want to go out for a bite to eat, they might want to bring Spot with them. There are a number of great restaurants in the city that cater to canine-lovers, but Flying Star Café took home the golden biscuit from readers this year. With servers that are happy to bring out a bowl of water for your pooch on its dog-friendly patios, this is a place where you can always find dog lovers lingering.
1. Flying Star Café
2. Kelly's BYOB
Runner-up: Buster's 66 Coffee Shop
The responses for this category were across the board, leaving many, many one- and two-vote takers bloody and broken on the floor. But the eating establishment that came up victorious in this battle of the brawn turned out to be Hooters, a "family-