Greek food should be meaty, cheap and served quickly, or at least that’s what our readers decided this year. Olympia Café is a University area institution, and almost as many people have stood in its lobby line over the decades as have at the nearby Frontier. A quarter chicken, a Greek salad and a thick, rich Greek coffee will hopefully continue to delight skint undergrads for many years to come.
Best Middle Eastern Restaurant
It’s warmer with Shwarma—especially the chicken, beef and lamb varieties at Sahara, replete with flavors of the desert. The falafel is one of the University area’s best, and both vegetarian and meat eaters will find a toothsome assortment of hummus, pita and beautifully plated salads.
A long-standing favorite of Nob Hill diners, Scalo’s pasta is fresh and the sauces full of Northern Italian flavor. Try the gnocchi or a bright antipasto to whet your appetite. And finish it off with a rich espresso—perhaps on the patio—while the fall weather permits.
La Crêpe Michel rolls the lightest crêpes around your favorite fillings. Traditional plates—composed of pâté de campagne or tiny gherkins—and a fabulous array of desserts such as Napoleons and several varieties of crème brulée—keep regulars coming back for more. Walk off your indulgences with a stroll around Old Town.
Once you dine at Viet Taste, you can’t pho-get it. Whether ordering shrimp vermicelli, lemongrass tofu or sweet and sour catfish soup, the flavors at this favorite Vietnamese restaurant are pho-tastic. Are we pho-cing it a little? It’s kind of pho-dictive. We might need some pho-ssistance. Pho-real.
2) May Café
3) 2000 Vietnam
Somewhere there is a place where all is lemongrass, coriander, coconut milk and curry … where we sup from hollowed-out pineapple rinds and plates garnished with edible flowers. That place is Orchid Thai Cuisine. And also possibly Thailand. But Orchid Thai is a lot closer.
2) Siam Café
From the day it opened its doors, CoolWater Fusion has served up the best of local ingredients using a blend of French and Italian cooking techniques. From its mouthwatering short ribs to whole rainbow trout wrapped around the vegetable du jour and one of the best renditions of bread pudding on the market, CoolWater knows how to move across culinary borders and find the most delicious flavors around.
This student ghetto institution on tree-lined Harvard Avenue is a perennial favorite among those who like their Chinese food fast, good and cheap and their service friendly and smiling. American Chinese classics like sweet and sour pork and kung pao chicken appear as eminently affordable lunch specials and are served with a crispy egg roll and a side of vegetables. And on a cold day, a cup of the hot and sour soup is enough to make you forget that other restaurants even exist.
You think you’re just going to Smith’s to pick up a frozen pizza for dinner when the neon light of Taj Mahal calls you to enter its sacred dining room. Burqueños have taken countless pilgrimages to this unassuming Indian restaurant in search of comfort, love and healing. Mission accomplished.
2) India Palace (closed)
Sometimes the best doesn’t last. As of early summer, this Tokyo-style eatery closed its doors “temporarily,” leaving its baffled fans waiting for word of its rumored reopening. The home-style Japanese curry over chicken or pork cutlets was a house favorite, as were the donburi bowls laden with sashimi, or other delicacies, and steamy rice or noodles with condiments. Cross your fingers and hope it comes back.
Best Southern Food
Step into the Nexus and strange things happen. Cornbread becomes slathered with butter, fried chickens bed down on waffles, fiddles fiddle, magnolias bloom, BBQ sauce falls like rain, beer flows in perpetuity and good ol’ boys are nowhere to be found. Sweet alternative universe of the American South that is the Nexus, how we love thee!
Most Wanted Ethnic Cuisine That's Not in Albuquerque
There is no cuisine as unique as Ethiopian with its stretchy, yeasty injera bread and spicy stewed meats and vegetables. But our voters will be happy to know that Talking Drums, an African restaurant already established on south San Pedro, serves a variety of savory African dishes and has recently added Ethiopian fare to its menu.