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 V.18 No.41 | October 8 - 14, 2009 

Feature

P.M.

Best Sandwich

Relish Sandwich Shop

Hey, guess what? Relish’s Uptown store is now open for dinner. Think about how much you love Relish’s sandwiches—how its chefs knead out creamy globes of mozzarella fresh each day, how they take time to hand-crank black pepper onto each sliced-to-order tomato. Now imagine the care and attention they lavish on every step of assembling your beloved, award-winning sandwich and what kind of magic they could work on a meal like dinner. Now go get the car keys, because your fantasy is a short trip away from becoming a reality. (LM)

2) Baggin's Gourmet Sandwiches

3) DG's Deli

Best Salad

Dion's Pizza

Maybe it’s funny that Dion's Pizza continues to win accolades for salad, but those teenagers really know what to do with a head of lettuce. Soaked in that delectable Greek dressing, some people probably don't even realize they're eating raw vegetables. (JCC)

2) Flying Star Café

3) Tie: Il Vicino, The Grove Café and Market

Best Steakhouse

Paul's Monterey Inn

Food trends come and go, but steak is forever. Proof positive comes in the form of Paul's Monterey Inn, a lava-rock-and-red-vinyl-booth-encrusted joint that's been around since “Mad Men” wasn't so much a historical drama as a documentary. The place isn't quite the same since the smoking ban, but you can still watch seniors down red meat and drink martinis—and two outta three vices ain't bad. (DOL)

2) Tie: Marcello's Chophouse, Vernon's Hidden Valley Steakhouse

3) Gruet Steakhouse

Best Barbecue

Rudy’s “Country Store” and Bar-BQ

We'll forgive the fact that it's a chain out of Texas—mostly because we can't stop eating the no-nonsense oak-wood-smoked brisket, sausage, pork and chicken. We love the cheesy, misspelled condiment labels, the stacks of white bread, the butcher-paper-wrapped meat, the picnic tables and the galvanized horse troughs full of beer. After all, that's what a barbecue is supposed to look like. (DOL)

2) Mr. Powdrell’s Barbeque House

3) The Quarters

Best Burger

Blake's Lotaburger

Amidst chain-dominated fast-food joints, Blake's makes burgers more like the hamburger huts of yesteryear. It's still meat on a bun delivered minutes after ordered, but these beef patties respect themselves more than the too-common diabetes dens that shall remain unnamed. (JCC)

2) Owl Café

3) Tie: Bubsters Burger Grill, Independence Grill, Little Red Hamburger Hut

Best Pasta

Vivace

Pasta seems simple, but there are so many ways it can go wrong. That's why it's nice to have a restaurant that does it right. Vivace chef and owner Joey Minarsich whips up more than 30 pasta dishes from scratch, from mezzaluna alla bettola to rigatoni con salsa rosato. Delizioso! (CC)

2) Tie: Scalo Northern Italian Grill, Trombino's Bistro Italiano

3) Paisano’s Pasta and Regional Italian Cuisine

Best Bread

Golden Crown Panadería

Sure, you love bread, but sometimes a loaf just seems too pedestrian. Some days, you need your bread in the form of a Thanksgiving turkey or a horse-drawn buggy. Thank your bread-sculpted stars for Golden Crown. It also has green chile bread so good you’ll howl, as evidenced by the coyote that decorates each loaf. There’s no reason why bread should be boring. (EAH)

2) Great Harvest Bread Company

3) French Riviera Bakery

Best Soup

Flying Star Café

This is not a soup town. Few places do it, and do it well, so coming by a truly excellent bowl of liquid sustenance is as rare as sighting a pegacorn flying over a double rainbow. Nevertheless, good soup does indeed exist here, and our readers find it at Flying Star Café. (JCC)

2) Annie’s Soup Kitchen

3) Baggin's Gourmet Sandwiches

Best French Fries

Blake’s Lotaburger

Some studies have shown that potatoes cooked at a very high heat produce carcinogens. But who cares what some egghead scientist in a lab eating bean sprouts says? French fries are among the world's most satisfying foods. And in this corner of the world, Blake's does them the best. (JCC)

2) Two Fools Tavern

3) Tie: O'Niell's Pub, Slate Street Café

Best Tacos:   Taquerîa Mexico
Lindsay Holmes
Best Tacos: Taquerîa Mexico

Best Tacos

Taquería Mexico

Well, if you can't trust the tacos at a place called Taquería Mexico, what can you trust? Don't let the humble exterior fool you. In fact, use it as a guide. There are no blue Margaritas here. This is serious street food straight outta Mexico. Fight for one of the few tables, or line up with the hungry construction workers outside. Throw some carnitas, a little beef or (if you dare) chicharrónes on a tortilla and get to munching! (DOL)

2) Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill

3) Pericos Acapulco Chillys

Best Pizza

Dion's Pizza

Is it the crispy crust? The choice toppings? Whatever the reasons, longtime 505 favorite Dion's Pizza grabs the gold in this most coveted of categories. (MD)

2) Farina Pizzeria and Wine Bar

3) Il Vicino

Best Calamari

Scalo Northern Italian Grill

Isn’t it just a little weird that fried tentacles have made a home for themselves on menus across America? ... No? Not weird? When the craving for deep-fried sea monster strikes, Burqueños know they can wash it down with a superb Chianti at Scalo. (JCC)

2) Pelican's Restaurant

3) Tie: Seasons Rotisserie & Grill, Yanni's Mediterranean Grill and Opa Bar

Best Hotdogs

Dog House Drive In

Hotdog, this place is on a roll! For the two years we’ve run the Best Hotdog category, you’ve declared the same wiener. The other places just can’t ketchup—our readers relish Dog House Drive In the most. (Corny puns? Never. Corn dog buns.) (LM)

2) Top Dog

3) Bob's Burgers

Best Nachos

Gecko’s Bar and Tapas

Less of a food item and more of a social interaction over beers, nachos are an underrated nosh. Anybody can throw melted cheese over some chips, but Gecko's goes whole hog with chicken, cheddar, green chile and .. oh, my lord, black bean pepperoni puree! (DOL)

2) Tie: El Pinto, Los Cuates

3) Tie: Kelly's Brew Pub, Taco Cabana

Best Egg Rolls

Asian Noodle Bar

Do deep-fried crispy rolls with sweet chile sauce sound good to you? Well, our readers say Downtown's Asian Noodle Bar does it up best, and we've got no reason to argue with them. (DOL)

2) Chow's Asian Bistro

3) Japengo

Best Sushi

Shogun Sushi

If your sushi requirements include inventive rolls, friendly staff and food delivered on boats, then Shogun Sushi is quite a catch. This Nob Hill mainstay has all of your rainbow roll, green chile roll and saki needs covered. Vegetarian? Yeah, they’ve got food for you, too. (EAH)

2) Pacific Rim Asian Bistro and Buddha Lounge

3) Tie: I Love Sushi and Teppan, Japanese Kitchen

Best Meat Loaf

Tie:66 Diner, The Range Café

There’s only one thing that could be better than a meat loaf sandwich from the 66 Diner or The Range Café, both of whom tied for best loaf of meat: Those same meat loaf sandwiches with more slices of meat loaf acting as the “bread.” We know. So genius. (LM)

2) The Standard Diner

3) Flying Star Café

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar

No buffalos were hurt in the making of these wings. Folks have stampeded Buffalo Wild Wings since the franchise opened in Albuquerque last summer, with its beer and other non-winged dishes on the menu. But BWW keeps the sports-watching, wing-craving crowd satisfied with buckets of coatings far beyond the hot, vinegary sauce that Buffalo, N.Y., made famous. (LM)

2) Hooters

3) Tie: Seasons Rotisserie & Grill, WingBasket, Wingstop

Best Soda Fountain

66 Diner

Here's a suggestion: Next time you go to the 66 Diner, ask for a chocolate-banana malt or milkshake. It's not on the menu, but it will live on in your dreams long after it's gone. That's one of the great things about this Albuquerque institution—you can get what you want, you'll get it fast and it'll knock your argyle socks off. (CC)

2) Model Pharmacy

3) Route 66 Malt Shop

Best Bar Food:   Two Fools Tavern
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Best Bar Food: Two Fools Tavern

Best Bar Food

Two Fools Tavern

When you fancy meeting your mates for a pint and a craic, Two Fools Tavern is pleased to supply your bangers and mash. Traditional Irish pub fare, from beef boxty to corned beef and cabbage, and a meticulously designed interior make Two Fools as close to the real deal as you’ll find. And if there’s one thing we should trust the Irish about, aside from where me pot o’ gold is, it’s fried food and spirits. (EAH)

2) O'Niell's Pub

3) Gecko's Bar and Tapas

Best Wine List

Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro

“I’m really in the mood for an Acacia Merlot, but the truth is, I sound so much cooler ordering the Dehesa la Granja from Spain.” Yeah, we’ve all been there, and the best place to find yourself in this predicament is Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro. From a spectacularly appointed restaurant replete with rich, dark wood to a “storm the Bastille”-style cellar bar, Zinc’s wine list has familiar favorites and esoteric exotics. By the half-glass or whole bottle, from New Zealand’s “Bordeaux” blends to homegrown sparklers, Zinc pours to your heart’s desire. If you can’t decide, try a flight or ask your server. They’re more than happy to direct you to a wine that complements your meal, and, surprisingly often, your pocketbook. (MT)

2) Artichoke Café and Wine Bar

3) St. Clair Winery & Bistro

Best Beer Selection

Kelly's Brew Pub

Albuquerque’s favorite patio is also home to its favorite beer selection. With more than 20 of its own brews on tap, Kelly’s covers the gamut, from Weizens and Apricots to Porters and Stouts. And if for some reason there’s nothing you see to your liking, no worries: At Kelly’s, you can brew your own. (EAH)

2) O'Niell's Pub

3) Tie: Chama River Brewing Company, Marble Brewery

Poll results reported by Erin Adair-Hodges, Jessica Cassyle Carr, Christie Chisholm, Marisa Demarco, Ari LeVaux, Laura Marrich, Devin O'Leary and Maren Tarro.

 
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