Filipino food! Albuquerque has Filipino food! Ooh, it's always so exciting when we get something new. Fil-Am Fastfood Mart is the name of a little café and market that has been open for a few weeks at 600 Louisiana SE (265-4064), the former home of Asian Palace. Fil-Am's name, including a hyphenation of Filipino-American, makes the place sound like a gas station that also sells beer and cigarettes, but it's nothing like that. The dining room is humble and spare; orders are taken at the counter and filled from a steam table holding trays of noodles, grilled meat skewers, egg rolls and veggies. Service is nonexistent, but who cares, right? The egg rolls, noodles and soup were perfectly fine, but we were most surprised by the pork skewer and adobo pork. (Yay pork!). Both were far more savory than they looked, the adobo benefiting greatly from a dunk in a little cup full of spicy vinegar. Next time I want to try the big rolls stuffed with meat and veggies. You should go! Try something new! Buy yourself a $1.50 jar of spicy vinegar, as Devin O'Leary did. You'll definitely have money left over from your very cheap lunch.
Trattoria Trombino is now known as Trombino's Bistro Italiano (Academy just east of San Mateo, 821-5974). The name change was purely for practical reasons, owner Ray Trombino told me. It seems that, in true Albuquerque fashion, so many people remembered the restaurant's name incorrectly that they were forced to place white and yellow pages ads under both "Trattoria Trombino" and "Trombino's." Ray said, "Everybody knows us, but nobody could find us." He got tired of paying for two listings and decided to give in and just change the restaurant's name.
I had lunch at Fei Café (Central west of Yale) the other day and was surprised and delighted by how much I enjoyed the totally vegetarian meal. No bacon, no sausage, no foie gras gravy on the menu at Fei, but my divided plate of noodles, fish cake and dumplings was still satisfying. Shocking, but true. Check it out if you're going meat free, if only for the afternoon. Get a bubble tea while you're there.
Calico Café, the popular Corrales restaurant, was destroyed by a fire that quickly consumed the building last Thursday morning. I was unable to reach the owners for comment, but Channel 4 News reported that no one was injured in the fire and that investigators said there were no initial signs the fire was anything but an accident. Still, does that suck, or what?
If you want to give a little bit of the flavor of New Mexico, check out www.nmwine.com, where you'll find a list of gift baskets put together by local wineries. For example, from Arena Blanca you can get a bottle of Pistachio Delight wine together with Hatch green and red chile, chile pistachio brittle and plain pistachios for $42. Not bad.
What will you be eating on New Year's Eve? I'm working on a little guide to restaurants that will be open and serving good grub Dec. 31 and/or Jan. 1. If you hear of anything, please let me know and I'll do my best to include it in the guide.