First, an explanation. While you will find, within these pages, information that will help you locate the best micro-brew/Celtic music experience or to scout locations for your Vietnamese-language remake of The Godfather, we want to remind you that we're saving the best for later. Later this year, that is, when the annual Readers' Choice Restaurant Poll hits the stands with hundreds and hundreds of ooey-gooey, scrum-diddly-umptious restaurants that have been tried and tested by our readers. So consider the “Eats and Drinks” section of our Best of Burque poll to be a mere appetizer for the very big meal to come in October.
Best Restaurant in Which to Film a Remake of The Godfather
Capo's (any of them)
Of course you'd only see a long, tracking shot of the dining room as the camera follows the family into a dark back room for a few hours of knee-breaking, money counting and ring-kissing. If none of the Capo's locations were available then Alibi readers suggest the pitch-black interior of Paul's Monterey Inn or the Italian vibe at Trattoria Trombino. For the Vietnamese-dubbed version: Que Huong.
Best Place to Eat While Surrounded by People Who Scare You
A full 76 percent of you said that the people at Frontier give you the willies, making it the most popular response to any of the Consumption categories. On the down side, these figures indicate that you yourself are probably a) creepy b) unattractive c) socially retarded or d) tragically uncool in the eyes of the other customers there. Statistics never lie, folks. We also learned that Albuquerque is jam-packed with freaks who like to eat out, with the remaining 24 percent of responses spread equally around the city. Highlights include “Any place with white people,” “Anywhere around the University,” “Anyplace in the North or South Valley,” “Anywhere in the East Mountains,” and “Anywhere in the far Northeast Heights.” So that leaves us with ...
With a buffet longer than the Great Wall itself (OK, almost), China Star came out on top yet again this year. You also like to stuff your faces at Furr's Cafeteria, that bastion of heat-lamp meatloaf, puckered peas and ambrosia salad. Switching gears, health-conscious Souper Salad gets third place (that is, it's healthy until you go back for your third helping of potato-bacon-cheddar soup and imitation chocolate puddin' ... but we're not telling). Many of you also enjoy the edible diversity at Taj Majal,India Palace and Tomato Café. One reader points out that this category is perhaps an Oxymoron, whileanother instructs you to “See Question No. 2: Best Place to Eat Surrounded by People Who Scare You.”
Best Restaurant for a Quick Lunch
A sit-down lunch in under 15 minutes? “Please approach the blinking light” and belly up to a meal that's fast and tasty at Frontier. Of course, if you're looking for something a bit more—ahem—upscale, we agree that both the Flying Star Cafés (second) and Il Vicino (third)are a good bet. You know, once you get out of line. Of course, the real winners here are speedy servers and lightning-speed line cooks, without whom lunchtime would be a desolate hour marked only by a mountain of greasy drive-thru bags on our sun-cracked dashboards.
Best Place for a Picnic
This includes the foothills, the mountains, the crest and Elena Gallegos Picnic area (in the foothills). To determine second place, we lumped together all your votes for the zoo, bio park, aquarium and botanical gardens, since they're all basically a part of the same organism. Roosevelt Park came in third despite its popularity as a response to Question No. 2 ( ... or is it because of that?). Other favorites were Tiguey Park and Isotopes Stadium.
Best Grocery Store
Whole Foods narrowly beat out every location of Smith's (yes, even “Sketchy Smiths” on Coal), with La Montañita Co-op scooping up a close third behind them. You also get your snack on at Raley's, Albertson's, Wild Oats, Super Wal-Mart and Sunflower Market, in that order.
Best Coffee Selection
Yeah, what do they have, like 700 flavors? We'll have the half-caff venti soy sparkle mocha pumpkin princess latté with organic Nubian jimmies and crumbly pie bits. Wait—does that come in low-carb? It does? We'll take six. Perennial favorites Flying Star Cafés and Satellite raked in the votes for a tied second, while Winnings scored third for its decided lack of corporate heebie-jeebies. Honorable mentions went to Irysh Mac's, Java Joe's and Blue Dragon, all top-notch shops with a fine cuppa joe.
Best Place to Get a Chocolate Fix
Flying Star Cafés
Is it the chocolate eclairs? The chocolate tarts? Cakes? Or is it that half the fun of eating one of these beautiful brown babies is getting to eye them all lustily before you decide? Our lips are sealed (with chocolate cream). For a more concentrated dose of cocoa, The Candy Lady's assortment of erotic and sugar-free confections appeal to both sinners and saints, while Theobroma Chocolatiers tempt chocoholics in two different parts of town. People who've got it bad go to Chocolate Café and Bakery, where they start their day off with a heaping plate of chocolate pancakes swimming in chocolate ganache.
Best Place to Eat to Live Music
O'Neill's has mastered the Bernoullian principle that states hamburgers plus Celtic music times lots o' booze equals a wicked good time. You'll also find fun and Celtic musicat Blue Dragon Coffeehouse, plus espresso and art but minus the booze and burgers. The formula over at Kelly's came in third with their square root of patio multiplied by microbrew. The rest of your votes were divided among Martini Grille, Pearl's Dive, Stella Blue, Assets Grille and Brewing Company plus the recent addition of Zinc.
Part of what makes America so great is our freedom to choose ... from 30 types of beer on tap! After Kelly's, you like to grab a pint from Assets Grille and Brewing Company and sip a cold one in Blue Corn Café and Brewery. Our favorite: O'Neill's, who had a surprisingly strong showing despite the fact that they don't brew beer. Sure, you can still sit down and enjoy a tall, frosty pint of their house beer, but just know that it's actually made by Tractor Brewing.
Best Local Microbrew
In retrospect, perhaps it was silly of us to ask you all to remember your favorite beer after you've had your fill of it. Responses in this category were all over the map but votes for Blue Corn Café and Brewery's various beers put them in second place, Rio Grande Brewing racked up enough for third, followed by Kelly's, Tractor Brewing and Il Vicino. Next time write it on a bar napkin.
Best Place for a Wedding Reception
Albuquerque Biological Park
Just for your information: The Albuquerque Biological Park has four attractions: Albuquerque Aquarium, Rio Grande Botanic Garden, Rio Grande Zoo and Tingley Aquatic Park. You can rent out the first three for functions like weddings. However, Tingley Aquatic Park (also known as Tingley Beach) is scheduled for renovation. Right now we'd say it's only suitable for avian ceremonies.