Best of Burque Restaurants 2016
By Joshua Lee & Monica Schmitt
The fans want the chef’s autograph.
A suggestion: Call them “mini dinners,” instead. “Appetizers” sounds so bourgeois. Oh well, when in Rome … Whatever you want to call them (even if you're wrong, which you are), they can be more fun to eat than real food, but only if they're done right. And no one makes mini dinners better than Gecko's Bar and Tapas. We don't know if it's just because we have a few beers in us by the time they get to our tables, but Gecko's chorizo blue cheese queso (Does that translate as, “cheese cheese”?) might be the greatest thing created by human hands, and they ain't no slouches when it comes to classics like curly fries or onion rings, either.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Here's a fact that's so true, you won't even have to look it up: In olden times, “the Ancients” would practice a ritual known as “the Dipping of the Wing,” wherein a village's holy man would plunge a ceremonial chicken wing into a number of “sauces” prepared by initiates using traditional herbs and holy plants with the intention of purifying the entire group (spicy or greasy foods can be quite cleansing when taken in large quantities). It's nice to know some things haven't changed. We still want options. And at Buffalo Wild Wings, “option” is the name of the game. They've got so many different styles of wings, you're liable to pop a blood vessel trying to pick one. We suggest closing your eyes and pointing randomly at the menu.
Sure, Blake’s is technically a fast food joint, but you wouldn’t know it if you ate the burgers. You won’t find any of that beef-in-a-tube crap here. Just 100% premium Angus beef, cooked to order and big enough to knock a full-grown man unconscious (please don’t hit anyone with a Blake’s burger). Add to that its status as the only major local burger chain and New Mexicans’ love of local business, and it’s obvious why we love it so much.
2) Holy Cow
Best French Fries
Blake's obviously holds some sway here in Duke City, and those who speak out against them have been known to suddenly “disappear” under mysterious circumstances, but never let it be said that we're cowards. We don't mind standing up to those fat cats, because we have truth on our side. And the truth is Blake's only won best french fries because our readers love their amazing french fries. No gimmicks or leaning on voters, or anything. Yeah, we said it. It's called courage.
Can we drop the act for a minute? Any stoner or mutated turtle with nunchucks can tell you that pizza is the greatest food of all time. It combines the most important parts of a healthy diet—cheese, bread and toppings—into one, please-them-all cure for hunger that will never be beat. We're done, here, folks. There are no more food discoveries to be made. You might as well go home. The rest of this poll is just padding, and you know it. Granted, we came to this conclusion after two bottles of wine and a Margherita pizza from Farina Pizzeria, so we might have been a little biased. Cowabunga, indeed.
2) Amore Neopolitan Pizzeria
No Clear Winner
It's clear why there's no winner for best pasta. ABQ's role in the rise of the so-called AntiPasta Movement is shameful and embarrassing. Here at the Weekly Alibi, we know it's in bad taste to use a reader poll to espouse our own opinions, but sliding past this subject without saying anything would be insensitive at best and unethical at worst. We believe that every food type should be recognized for its merits within its own specific context. Pasta might be nothing more than carbs and good intentions, but that's no reason to exclude it from the public conversation.
What is it about the taco? So simple, yet so perfect. You'd be hard pressed to improve on such a design, so the only real way to stand out is to find a better delivery method. And Sister Bar definitely figured it out. It's no surprise you voted its taco number one. Everyone knows they go down easier when complimented by alcohol, live music and one of the best retro arcade collections in town (and the fact that it's 20 paces from our offices makes it even tastier).
Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q
Reader reaction to the best barbecue category was a bit more passionate than anticipated. You sent us some reasonable arguments, some not-so-reasonable arguments, bribes, cajoles and even one threateningly worded note pinned to our staff writer's chest while he napped on a couch in his office. (Not cool, guys.) But the results are finally in, so you can go ahead and tone it down a notch. The winner: Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q. And let's be honest. With a name like Rudy, you damn well better be good at barbecue. Or football.
3) Whole Hog
Monte Carlo Liquors & Steak House
Would you pass up a steakhouse located in the back of a liquor store? If you knew how delicious the steaks were, you most definitely wouldn't. The chefs at Monte Carlo Liquors & Steak House are no newbies in the kitchen. It doesn't matter whether you order the T-bone, the rib eye or the top sirloin, each steak is fresh and served cooked to perfection.
Everyone knows the fish along the Bosque are subpar at best, so where is a New Mexican to find some fishy fare around these parts? The answer is Ragin' Shrimp, where you can find fresh, unique dishes with a Cajun twist. You'll forget you're in Albuquerque. You'll forget you're in New Mexico. You'll forget you're in the desert entirely after taking a bite of this juicy, fresh seafood. Coconut shrimp, hush puppies and even frog legs are just a few options from this spicy and enticing menu. So hop aboard and pretend you're in Cape Cod because at this place, you might as well be.
If you're someone who doesn't think that a salad can possibly constitute a whole meal, I'd like to point you in the direction of Vinaigrette. These folks have got it made: salads with beets, salads with meats and even salads with dried cherries and toasted pecans. And get this: 70 percent of the restaurant's organic produce is grown on owner Erin Wade's 10-acre farm, and all food waste from the restaurant goes back to the farm to feed the animals. Simply put, you don't want to miss out on this circle of salad life.
Relish this: local ingredients hand-made into creative and mouth-watering sandwich combinations on crispy toasted baguettes, always paired with a fresh pickle spear. Add-on options include bacon, avocado and green chile of course. Try this place once and you'll be hooked on their Cubano sandwich for life. It's no surprise that this specialty shop is the winner for this category.
Best Soup (American style)
No Clear Winner
Poor soup. Everyone always forgets about it. This humble wallflower gets outshone by bright red chile and dazzling desserts and 10-pound burritos. But some day it will get its revenge. So you better vote on soup next year ... or else.
Best Gluten-Free Dish
No Clear Winner
Do you even know what gluten is? Perhaps you ascribe to the This Is the End definition: “Gluten is a vague term. It’s something used to categorize things that are bad. You know, calories—that’s a gluten. Fat—that’s a gluten. ... Gluten is bad shit, and I’m not eatin’ it.” Well, then you must not eat anything at all, and that’s why you don’t know where to go for gluten-free food.
Best Philly Sandwich
Don't worry—you don't have to travel all the way to Philadelphia to get an authentic Philly sandwich. Filling Philly's takes the cake when it comes to serving up a satisfying cheesesteak in Albuquerque, and the buns are even flown in from Pennsylvania. Local beers, Cheez Whiz and an extra friendly staff seal the deal for this perfect lunch locale.
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