Mexican food moves into Rio Rancho. Federico Cardenas is a San Diego native who grew up in a restaurant family—his parents are from Michoacan and have been in the business 30 years—and finally saved up enough money to move away and open his own place. Offhandedly, I asked him why he chose to move to Albuquerque. He told me he chose not Albuquerque, but Rio Rancho, specifically because it was a city with very few Mexican restaurants. “It's paying off so much!” he told me with a level of enthusiasm and satisfaction that is unusual for the owner of a brand-new business. Adding to the attraction of this big fish in a little pond is the fact that Federico's Mexican Food (1590 Deborah SE, near Kmart, 891-7218) is open 24 hours. To the best of Fred's knowledge, Taco Bell is the only other all-night restaurant in the area. No wonder he's got folks lining up for full-pound burritos at 2 a.m.! Oh, did I forget to mention? Federico's specialty is burritos that he uses 14-inch tortillas and stuffs them until they weigh a pound. Even the breakfast burritos weigh a pound. He's also got flautas (fried rolled tacos, sometimes called taquitos), menudo (Saturdays and Sundays), and churros. The churros are the only menu items that aren't made from scratch. One thing he doesn't have: sopaipillas. “My distributor said, ’Oh, I can sell you sopaipillas,' but if I don't know how to make them, then I'm just not going to serve them.”
Congratulations to the 12 New Mexico students who this week received a total of $23,500 in scholarships from the New Mexico Restaurant Association. Gena Calderon, Kerri Danieli, Brei Garley, Grissel Lazcano, Morgan McCreary, Meraya Martinez, Kyle Storey, Samantha Taylor, Adriana Vigil, Reagan Wheeler and Jenna Williams are all pursuing degrees in the hospitality industry. We hope you all study hard, graduate and open fabulous restaurants.
Hey, have any of you eaten at a particularly good food cart lately? I'm interested in tracking down some of the best ones. I do not want to hear your nightmare stories about that one time you were drunk and ate a hot dog and got sick. I do want to hear about that one time you were pleasantly surprised by the delightful food coming out of a humble cart. Tell me what you ate, what the cart was called and where you found it. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.