Best of Burque Restaurants 2016
By Renée Chavez & August March
Eatin’ ‘round the globe in 505 days.
Our readers agree that when it comes to the best Greek cuisine, Yanni's and Lemoni is the one to beat. From dolmathes and souvlaki to kotopoulo and moussaka, this tried and true Nob Hill staple is the clear winner. Enjoy the tasty eats surrounded by white columns, bright, happy paintings of the Mediterranean and open windows with a nice, warm breeze that give an elegant atmosphere without feeling kitschy.
Best Middle Eastern
Mmmmm … that moment when the warm, succulent juices from your beef and lamb shawarmah start oozing onto your fingers, running down your hand and dripping off your elbow, but it's all so delicious that you don't even care. Finish it all off with a Turkish coffee and piece of baklava with pistachios, and you'll have no doubts that this little shop has earned this win.
2) San Pedro Mart Middle East Restaurant & Grocery
Two words: lobster ravioli. If that's not enough to induce a foodgasm, then consider that this swanky family trattoria serves up the very best traditional Italian grub, from the perfect simplicity of mozzarella caprese to rich veal marsala with fresh portabella mushrooms. And did we mention that the service is incredibly friendly?
Sure, in middle school your French club made lumpy crêpes with Nutella, but have you ever had a crêpe filled with boeuf bourguignon, ratatouille or smoked salmon with apples? Oh, right, you voted for this place. Of course you have! Let us commend you, dear Burqueños, on your fine taste. With white linen tablecloths, artistically-folded napkins and a drool-worthy dessert list, La Crêpe Michel sure knows how to make the French proud.
How best to describe the food at this colorful, bamboo-accented restaurant? A few comments on their Facebook page sum up all our deep, delicious feelings: “PHO me up, fam!” Seriously, their popularity is out of control: “People will throw down for some Viet Taste! Almost got into a fight with 3 guys for a parking space.” So there you have it. The food is so good you may have to fight for it but it will be absolutely worth it.
From kow pad ga prow goong to ka nom jeen green curry, voters agree that Thai Cuisine is the best place for, well, Thai cuisine. Even better, they don't use any MSG, and just about every dish is 10 bucks or less. That's a heck of a lot cheaper than a plane ticket to Bangkok!
2) Thai Orchid
3) Thai Tip
Elvis is in the building! Chef Elvis Bencomo, that is. And his twists on tasty Latin cuisine have clearly won the foodies of Burque over. With offerings like bacon-wrapped plantains, chicken and churros, octopus nachos and Brazilian moqueca stew, it's impossible to leave unsatisfied. We especially like to go during happy hour for $5 sangria and half price bocaditos!
You like big buns and you cannot lie? Well, we like mini buns of the steamed pork variety. Or the steamed red bean paste buns … really we like everything from Budai. Ask anyone on the street where to go for the best Chinese cuisine to be had in the Duke City and they'll surely tell you to visit this gourmet restaurant. Whether you've got a craving for kung pao chicken or have been searching far and wide for crispy flounder in black vinegar, this place will have you rapping and rhapsodizing about their savory dishes.
Taj Mahal Cuisine of India
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, may be a mausoleum, but the contents of the Taj Majal in Albuquerque will give you life. Winner, winner, at this place you can enjoy your chicken dinner! With perfectly spiced signature dishes like garlic naan, murg tikka makhani and tandoori khoobiyan, you can't go wrong. And how about a refreshing, sweet lassi to drink? Don't mind if we do.
Magokoro Japanese Restaurant
“Honest food from the heart” is not just some fake tagline for this place. You can actually taste the love in every bite. Take the beautifully composed donburi bowls. They're works of art, carefully composed and bursting with color and flavor. If you're not on a diet, go for the deep-fried squid or shrimp tempura. Or if noodles are your thing, go for dinner where the savory tonkotsu pork broth ramen will make you a true believer in the soul-healing powers of ramen.
So, let’s get this right. The instructions on the BOBR ballot specifically said “Best Mexican Restauraunt,” sabes? But, it’s no surprise Albuquerque voter-residents displayed their hearts on the sleeves, here. Nuevo Mexicano cuisine is a beloved part of being Burqueño. In other words, Sadie’s won.
In the mid-80s, Sadie’s was housed in a bowling alley on north Fourth Street. It was a damn popular hang out amongst locals, hipsters and college kids back then. And the food was to die for, even if you could never knock down more than three of those pins at a time, in between grateful, hunger-sating bites of delicious enchiladas and fluffy sopaipillas. When they moved to a singular location up the road, the excellence grew.
But if you dig Mexican food, then check out El Sabor de Juarez or Chicharroneria Orozco. Just saying.
Ragin’ Shrimp does the delicate jewels of the sea with flavorful—some would say raging fervor—and folks in Burque dig that. Nexus Brewery got second in this category because they have the gumbo and Cajun chicharrones thing down. Frank’s Chicken and Waffles, a place we have often dreamt of—because maple syrup and fried bird meat on the bone appeal deeply to our sense of what this country should be—rounds out the bunch at third.
Most Wanted Ethnic Cuisine that's not in Albuquerque
For some reason, this type of cuisine always wins this category. We guess Burqueños just have a serious hankering for Ethiopian dishes like shiro, atkilt wot, azifa and gomen with a generous serving of injera bread. So if you know any Ethiopian chefs, tell them Albuquerque would be an excellent place to open a restaurant. It might even win Best New Restaurant next year!
Basil Leaf Vietnamese Restaurant
In the battle for Southeast Asian-originating noodle soups laced with tender bits of beef or chewy chunks of chicken and nuanced with fresh vegetables galore, Basil Leaf wins this year’s top honors. Our city is graced with a vibrant and versatile population of immigrants from Vietnam, so it’s been a given that these humans contribute wonderfully to our local culture. As a consequence of that cross-cultural fertilization, our town boasts one of the most diverse and damn good collection of Vietnamese eateries this side of Ho Chi Minh City. They’re everywhere; from bakeries to sandwich shops to fine dining centers like Basil Leaf, which represents a style that our readers find absolutely buku.
Crazy Fish Sushi Bar and Grill/Shogun Japanese Restaurant
A million years ago, I took my prom date to a sushi joint called Minato, which was in the PNM building Downtown. She freaked out and still won’t approve my FB friend request. I tried the same strategy a thousand years ago as an undergrad and noticed the opposite effect, wherein the right combination of California rolls, Sapporo and a decent saki was a bonding experience. In this century, if you wanna give my game a go, check out first place winners Crazy Fish and Shogun Japanese Restaurant. If your craving becomes habitual, there is also the second place recipient, Azuma Sushi & Teppan.
Best Indian Curry
Taj Mahal Cuisine of India
For some reason that still remains opaque to me, every summer my mom would spend a weekend laboring over a home-cooked Indian-style curry meal. She certainly wasn’t Indian but her yearly epicurean feast always ended up being a fantastic and belly-busting mélange of Indian, New Mexican and German gustatory tastes. When I traveled through India in the 1990s, all I could afford to eat was dhal and rice though, so I’d never know the truth about curry. That is until I checked out Taj Mahal—which coincidentally inhabits the former home of one of this city’s all time best Italian joints, Mama Mia’s—whose spicy curry remains an outstanding palate pleaser to our readers too. And get this: It’s available without fresh tortillas or hot-off-the-grill latkes, a miracle for someone with my experience.
Best Thai Curry
I’ve never really been to Thailand. Once I spent the night in the transit lounge at the Bangkok Airport, but it was an uneventful experience. It was uneventful except for the restaurant I happened upon while trying to find someone else in the place who spoke English or Spanish or Yiddish. Finally, an old man in a Hugo Boss three-piece suit directed me to one of the best meals of my life. I’ve dug the Thai version of curry ever since. It’s delicately potent with an aftertaste that lingers, opening the sinuses and the mind with piquant possibilities. You can have that experience too, dear reader, by visiting number one winner, Thai Cuisine, or the Thai Orchid, which earned second place in our readers’ poll.
2) Thai Orchid
Best Noodles (Asian)
Noodle and ramen houses have been a staple of postmodern urban living since the 1980s. Witness director Juzo Itami’s arthouse breakout about the growing power of pasta in Tampopo, a comedy that cemented the cuisine’s popularity in Japan and did much to encourage its proliferation as a much loved dish on the West Coast of America. The love spread through our land, and Burque ended up with great noodle houses like number one, O Ramen and Curry House, and number two, the Asian Noodle Bar. If you think that ramen equals convenient dorm or camping fare, think again; Japanese truck drivers as well as Alibi readers can’t get enough of the chop stick-twisting stuff.
I could eat falafel sangwichs all day. I’d put the falafel on pita, on Texas toast and, yes, even on a hearty hunk of fry bread. But for the best in non-home-cooked mashed and fried up garbanzo beans available in Burque, I’d head on over to Sahara Middle Eastern Eatery for my latest shameless attempt at sustenance. The laid back atmosphere, distraction-free environment, decent prices and plentiful portions at Sahara make any experience there an authentic interaction with the tasty food diversity on offer in the University of New Mexico environs or anywhere in Albuquerque for that matter.
Mmm … gyros. That’s what you get when you mix up beef and lamb, put the combination on a rotisserie and cook the whole damn thing into delightful slices of fleshy food borne upon fresh unleavened bread and wrapped up with grilled onions and a lovely tahini sauce. If that description piques your interest, then may I suggest two local Greek eateries? Gyros Mediterranean should be your number one destination; it was our readers’ too. After you’re done discoursing there, amble on over to number two ranked Olympia Café (They’re in the same neighborhood, separated by two city blocks.), where you can indulge again.
2) Olympia Café
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