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 V.18 No.41 | October 8 - 14, 2009 

Feature

Best of the Rest

Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests

El Pinto

It's the atmosphere at El Pinto that will really charm your visitors. If they love the food as much as the lovely restaurant—open since 1962—they can take the perfect salsa, roasted green chile and red chile sauce back home with them in jars. (MD)

2) Sadie's

3) Tie: Casa de Benavidez, Church Street Café, Los Cuates

Best Atmosphere

El Pinto

Behold the majesty of the waterfall as it trickles upon the flagstone and dances before the geode. Admire the lush North Valley vegetation inhabited by night creatures that sing just for you. Test the limits of your stomach capacity as you moon over photos of celebrity patrons. Yes, sweet diner, "the salsa twins" are smiling down at you. (JCC)

2) Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro

3) Artichoke Café and Wine Bar

Best Undiscovered Gem

Casa Vieja

Q: Can a restaurant be an Undiscovered Gem if its grand opening in May was to great fanfare? A: Who cares? Casa Vieja truly is a gem, even if the secret is out. Since dusting off the 300-year-old building and restoring it to its ’40s era look, co-owners Kate and Josh Gerwin have been pushing the boundaries of New Mexican cuisine with spectacular results. From the drinks (sour cherry martini with Corrales cherries) to desserts (green chile chocolate soufflé), you can count on Casa for forward-looking regional cuisine the likes of which you've never seen. (ALV)

2) JJ's Pizza

3) Chillz Frozen Custard

Best Seafood in a Landlocked State

Pelican’s Restaurant

Seafood gets a bad rap in the desert, but happily places like Pelican's are helping us change our landlubbin' ways. Start with sizzling mussels and move onto a school of fresh fishes. With a nod to local ingredients, sea meets land when piñon-crusted tilapia graces the menu, and it's topped with red chile butter. (MD)

2) Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen

3) Tie: Mariscos Altamar, Nantucket Shoals, Shogun Sushi

Best Brew Pub

Marble Brewery

Marble Brewery opened its doors in the spring of 2008, and since then it’s become a favorite haunt of Burque beer fans. Go in for a flight—10 little glasses of every beer on tap—and taste the meticulously brewed rainbow, each beer distinct and complex. In the relatively short time it's been open, Marble's taken over the town, and you'll find a variety or two—brewed in giant steel vats in the back of the Marble building—at the respectable bars in town. (MD)

2) Kelly's Brew Pub

3) Chama River Brewing Company

Best Greasy Spoon

Frontier

Oh, other greasy spoons; it’s not that we don’t love you. We do, but, c’mon! It’s Frontier! It’s the nexus for all things Albuquerque: Dick Knipfing sightings, Western-style hash browns and the most mind-bogglingly diverse meeting of people from all walks of life. There may be no gum-smacking waitresses who calls you “honey,” but in all other respects, it’s the greasy spoon of our dreams, cauldron of hot salsa-y chile and all. (EAH)

2) Tie: Hurricane's, Mannie's Family Restaurant

3) Tie: 66 Diner, Owl Café, Route 66 Malt Shop

Best Fine Dining

Artichoke Café and Wine Bar

A well-deserved win, once again. Downtown's lovely and refined Artichoke Café continues to wine, dine and class up Albuquerque year after year. (JCC)

2) Jennifer James 101

3) Seasons Rotisserie & Grill

Best New Restaurant

Casa Vieja

Where to start? This Corrales newcomer in fine-ish dining does everything very well—menu, service, presentation, the whole nine. Rich mushroom soups, risottos and pulled pork sandwiches are only a few of the intoxicating mentionables. Heady and thoughtful drinks made with ingredients like elderberry don't hurt, either. Hats off to Casa Vieja. (JCC)

2) Farina Pizza and Wine Bar

3) Straight Up Pizza

Best Chef

Josh Gerwin from Casa Vieja

After a few years cutting his teeth in Napa, Calif., Chef Josh Gerwin came home to New Mexico with his wife and business partner Kate. First came the Curbside Café in 2008, a successful food truck and catering service in Santa Fe known for its affordable but high-end eclectic menu. While the truck rolls in Albuquerque now, the couple recently leased the charismatic and historic 300-year-old Corrales adobe Casa Vieja. Gerwin's ability to create daring yet recognizable dishes from surprising ingredients—his crab-stuffed chile relleno with corn smut, for example—keeps diners learning and on their toes. While many key ingredients in Gerwin's dishes are locally produced, their presence is revealed not with a self-righteous chanting of the "L" word, but in the naming of the actual farms from where the ingredient came. Gerwin is the chef who will introduce you to your farmer. (ALV)

2) Jennifer James from Jennifer James 101

3) James Oh from Pacific Rim Asian Bistro and Buddha Lounge

Best Restaurant in Albuquerque:   Yanni’s Mediterranean Grill and Opa Bar
Sergio Salvador salvadorphoto.com
Best Restaurant in Albuquerque: Yanni’s Mediterranean Grill and Opa Bar

Best Restaurant in Albuquerque

Yanni's Mediterranean Grill and Opa Bar

The fact that (like the Frontier) this Nob Hill restaurant has slowly taken over almost the entire block is a good indication of its popularity. With classic Greek food, an elegant atmosphere, excellent service and a well-stocked bar, you've got the recipe for Albuquerque's favorite dining experience. (DOL)

2) Artichoke Café and Wine Bar

3) Pacific Rim Asian Bistro and Buddha Lounge

Best Anything We Forgot

New categories according to you, our insightful readers

Best Milkshake: 66 Diner

Best Wine Steward: Casper at Scalo

Best Margaritas: Ezra’s Place, Sadie’s

Best Burrito: Federico's, Santa Fe Peppers

Best Chicken Tortilla Soup: Frontier

Best Pizza Tossing Tricks: JJ’s Pizza

Best Nomination for Food Network’s “Diners Drive-ins and Dives”: Grandma’s K & I Diner

Cutest Waitress: Kayla at The Library

Most Missed Restaurant: Kim’s Vietnamese Gourmet Cuisine

Best Place to Pretend You Are in a Hair Salon: Laru Ni Hati

Go Now Before They're Gone: Mad Max’s BBQ

Best Drink in Town: Madame Butterfly at Pacific Rim Asian Bistro

Best Dim Sum: Ming Dynasty

Best Tea / Best Place to Try a New Tea: New Mexico Tea Company

Best Happy Hour (Drink and Food): One Up Elevated Lounge

Best Place to Get Hard Cider Other Than Jubilation: Please, Tell Me.

Best Gluten-Free Restaurant: Paisano’s

Best Outside Air: Ponderosa Eatery and Saloon

Best Portobello Mushroom Burger: The Range Café

Best Odd Food: Sakura Sushi

Best Wood-Fired Pizza: Scarpa’s

Best Afternoon Tea: St. James Tearoom

Best European Bakery: Swiss Alps Bakery

Best Restaurant/Market: Talin Market World Food Fare

Best Chai: Taj Mahal

Best Place for Carnivores: Tucanos

Best Snack: Walker’s Popcorn

Q: Would ABQ Support a Traditional “Chicken House”-Style Restaurant? A: Yes, If They Served Green Chile.

Best Home Cooking: Mine

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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