When you’re not quite up for dinner, but still need a little something—and then maybe a little more something—Gecko’s is there to tapa you off. From French helix snails to seared pork chorizo to Southwestern crab taquitos, skipping supper has never been so filling.
Some of us go for the strong cocktails, others for the happy hour view of the blushing Sandias, but it seems like everyone pours into Monte Vista for their piles of finger staining wings. It’s always a fight for table space on 22-cent wing Tuesdays, so bring your game face and an empty stomach.
3) Ribs Hickory Pit BBQ
There’s something sacred about the beef at Holy Cow. Grass fed and 100 percent all natural, the burgers have made waves in our poll for several years now. Add a side of parmesan zucchini fries, and even the famously vegan St. Francis of Paola might have been tempted to sneak a taste.
Best French Fries
French fries. We love them. Whether we’re smoking them as fake cigarettes, building log cabins on our plates or flaunting them about town as something chic and French, we can’t get enough. Our readers say that nobody does them like the block-long Frontier Restaurant.
3) Holy Cow
Who is that mysterious, mustachioed man proffering a steaming pizza on Dion’s signs all over town? Why is he wearing a red scarf? (Go Lobos?) Does he personally toss the many pies that Burqueños come back for again and again? We will continue to look for clues in his delicious creations.
Best Pasta (Western)
According to legend, Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy in the late 1400s. Of course, the fact that various kinds of noodles had already existed in Europe for centuries belies that, but why should the truth stand in the way of a good story? Interestingly enough, though, Joe of Joe’s Pasta is credited with inventing spaghetti in Rio Rancho in 1750, for which he received a knighthood from the Spanish crown. Our readers say that the current Pasta House keeps the traditional quality alive with every noodle dish.
Best Noodles (Asian)
It always makes us happy when a restaurant wins for a category that’s literally in its name, so seeing Asian Noodle Bar take its rightful crown is like watching Arthur draw the sword from the stone. Fortunately these guys aren’t coasting by on their name alone: from pho to lo mein to pad thai, this Downtown joint offers a culinary pan-Asian tour in noodle form.
An oasis in the desert between Denny’s and Kinko’s, Middle Eastern joint Sahara offers a safe haven for diners seeking savory, fresh food. They call their falafel sandwich “famous and authentic,” and after one bite, we’re not questioning them.
If there’s one thing that Gyros Mediterranean is known for, it’s souvlaki. But it turns out that our readers were able to look past the skewered meat treat and somehow ferret out Gyros’ other masterwork: gyros. Let’s face it: When you want spit-roasted lamb meat, why wouldn’t you go to a restaurant that features “gyro” right there in its name?
2) Olympia Café
Their slogan is “You don’t have to miss the flavor of Mexico” because this is a taqueria for people who know how tacos should taste. Whether you want lengua, barbacoa, asada or carnita, the friendly folks at this tiny restaurant will serve it to you in a full-to-bursting tortilla absolutely dripping with flavor. And if you’re in a rush, the take-out window always accommodates a quick pit-stop.
Best Mac and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is some kind of ideal form of American food. Heck, Yankee Doodle even named his feathered hat after it for some reason. When Burqueños need a comforting bowl of like-mommy-used-to-make—but want to keep it classier than Kraft—they head down to Flying Star where it’s made to order and served with love—or at least a dinner roll.
2) The Cube
Texas wins again! It seems like no matter how many local BBQ joints pop up, Albuquerque carnivores just can’t resist the pull of this Austin-based chain. What will it take to unseat the bratwurst baron by the highway? Only time will tell. Until then, keep the smoked brisket, “Bar-b-que sause” (sic) and wet wipes coming.
2) The Cube
How do you like your steak? Vernon’s can do it like that, and they’ll pretend to be mobsters while they serve it. You’ll need a password to get in through the secret door in the back of Los Ranchos Liquors, and the resident “goombah” will make you work for it. Once inside, though, you’ll find a classy, intimate steakhouse that more than justifies the hoops you had to jump through to get there.
There’s an old saying: “If it swims you can eat it.” But we’ve found this not to be true (long story). When you want to bring the sea inland for a spell and be assured it’s delicious, you go to Pelican’s where the Australian lobster tail, coconut shrimp and southern fried catfish are delivered fresh by plane.
A newcomer to the Duke City dining scene, Vinaigrette sprouts above in the salad department. Feeling fancy? Dress up your greens with protein ranging from hibiscus-cured duck confit to fresh fish. Salad has never been so sophisticated.
Relish Gourmet Sandwiches
There’s really only one thing they do at Relish, and that’s make sandwiches that win local award after local award. From the chipotle roasted pork on their Cubano to the homemade mozzarella on their... um... homemade mozzarella sandwich, Relish focuses on high-quality ingredients that keep the accolades coming.
Best Pho (Vietnamese soup)
We already used up our pho puns for the Best Vietnamese category, so we’re just going to have to play this one straight: Pho #1 has the #1 pho. Clear, fragrant broth with a kaleidoscopic choice of meat or veggie options, the warming soup attains a level of harmony at this San Pedro restaurant that sets the bar high for all other contenders.
3) May Café
Best Soup (American style)
The Alibi’s one-time neighbor has moved a few blocks away, but Al’s is still dishing out the great soup and sandwiches that keep the writers stopping by. Our readers agree and took the opportunity this year to single out honors for Al’s soup. It’s hot, delicious and perfect for slurping while leafing through your latest selections from the Downtown library branch.
2) Savory Fare
Toro. Hamachi. Tamago. Anago. There are few places more pleasurable to practice your Japanese fish names than Shogun. With its warm honey tones, sweet sake, searing wasabe and luscious raw fishies, this is our favorite joint to snag a roll or a sashimi slice.
Their website may say “Great quality fish is our #1 priority,” but Alibi readers know that Mr. Sushi’s tempura is just as delicious. With choices like green chile and soft shell crab, the lightly fried delicacies are sure to appeal to both the desert bound landlubber and those nostalgic for the scent of the sea.
Best Indian Curry
Someday, we Americans are going to have throw our hands up and admit that “curry” is just an anglicized word for “sauce,” and it’s no more appropriate for describing complexly spiced Asian dishes than “barbecue” is for all Western meat plates. But that day is not today. Instead, today we will honor Taj Mahal for having the best complexly spiced Indian entrees around.
Best Thai Curry
Orchid Thai Cuisine/Thai Vegan
Red curry, green curry, yellow curry, massaman or panang, whatever your preferred spicy coconut milk concoction, Orchid Thai has your number. But wait, so does Thai Vegan with their red, green and yellow. It never hurts to have a curry joint in every port. Know what we’re saying? *Wink wink* Actually we’re not sure what we’re saying.
3) Thai Tip