Red Chimney Pit Barbecue in Carlsbad
Nothing in Bernalillo County can touch this jewel. Open only on weekdays, they start cooking the day before because slow smoking is the only way to get these butter-soft meats. My favorite is pork you could cut with a plastic spoon. They have excellent barbecue sauce and good renditions of all the standard sides.
A huge menu, and every flavor tasty. Their korma and saag dishes are exceptionally well-balanced and rich in flavor. The meats are always completely tender. Don't miss the butter sauce dishes, chicken or fish. The service is unusually gracious and attentive, with cloth napkins and table coverings and quality glass in the table settings.
Jonathan Perno of Scalo
He has completely remade this restaurant. I rank it one of the two best restaurants in town (along with Seasons). Before I even knew they had a new chef, I had two of his dishes that made me sit up and shout: a delightfully subtle and complex cream of cucumber soup and a plate of barbecued pork. Right away I asked my server, "Is there a new chef?" The old Scalo was consistently pretty good, but Jonathan has taken it into the stratosphere. I've eaten here dozens of times since he took over, and every sauce is noteworthy by itself and perfect for the entrée. It's no longer really Northern Italian; the dishes range over the whole of Continental cuisine and often the whole world. A good example of this world blend is the scallop appetizer with kataifi (fried chiffonade of phyllo, resembling shredded wheat) sauced with a mango avocado cream.
Best Restaurant We're Sorry Is Now Closed
When they opened well over 20 years ago, they were the only real sushi bar in town. In their time they never failed to turn out scrupulously fresh sushi, including a few items I had never encountered in my twelve years of sushi addiction in the San Jose area, such as shiai (unbled tuna belly) and natto (fermented soybeans).
Best Restaurant Bathrooms
The Men's Room at Jennifer James
This is an aesthetic marvel. The floor is so clean I would eat from it. There are always fresh flowers and attractive art. A scented candle gives the air a subtle perfume.
Best Restaurant South Of Albuquerque
Martha's Black Dog Coffeehouse in Socorro
Martha's makes all the standard coffee drinks including perfect espresso, but I go there for the food. Her housemade soups rank with anything I've had in the best Albuquerque bistros. Creative specials include influences from all the cuisines of the world, with an Asian special every Tuesday night. It's also the best spot in this small town for special diets, with several vegan and vegetarian selections.