By Mina Yamashita
I spend a lot of time driving around looking for individuals, restaurants, food boutiques and other businesses that sustain Albuquerque’s gustatory cravings. In this crazy economy I remain eternally hopeful, buoyed by the seemingly endless stream of entrepreneurs ready to open their doors to the Duke City. From brand-spanking new, to oldies but goodies, here are a few of my latest finds.
Cool Water Fusion Restaurant
2010 Wyoming NE • 332-2665
In its second year, Cool Water Fusion is now offering beer and wine with its meals. Diners can enjoy the excellent short ribs, trout, turkey osso buco and more with their favorite vintage. Hamburgers on homemade buns are juicy and flavorful. The bread pudding is some of the best in town and big enough to share.
4615 Menaul NE • 872-9772
Grandpa’s Grill on Route 66 has a new home and a new name. Phil Chavez is offering up his familiar burgers, chicken, dogs, steaks and condiment bar at The Grill, down the block from Jennifer James 101 on Menaul. Crispy shoestring fries and the mesquite flavor of the grill give the “papa,” “mama” and “little rascal” burgers a nice lift.
2381 Aztec NE • 881-2737
Restaurateur Tom White opened the IVB Canteen this spring, picking up where his Vassar tap room left off. The canteen spacious, and so is a shaded patio filled with picnic benches—a comfortable spot to enjoy the brew, regular live music and a casual menu. There’s no pizza here, but there are satisfying sandwiches, burgers and salads. As always, the ingredients are top-notch, the microbrews are award-winning, and the homebrewed root beer float is a real treat. It’s worth the trip to the canteen’s north-of-Menaul industrial neighborhood.
8019 Menaul NE • 323-5441
Joining the ranks of casual Japanese dining in March, Tokyo Kitchen serves up generous portions of hearty, mom-and-pop-style food. The menu is much broader than the few items shown on the website. Decorative sushi rolls add variety to sashimi and nigiri sushi (the green chile tempura roll is especially tasty). There’s also a selection of Japanese country cooking, such as fried rice, yakisoba and teriyaki chicken. The plates are packed so full, a takeout container is mandatory.
Vic’s Daily Café
3600 Osuna NE, Suite 105 • 341-9710
I’ve passed by the Vic’s Daily Café signs for years. This time, I stopped and found that the small doors on Osuna lead to friendly, home-style dining rooms. Owner Victor Pandazis has served up great biscuits and white gravy on his breakfast menu for 12 years. The pecan pancakes are a daunting challenge—even the short stack. Add to that fresh-cut fruit cups, homemade cakes, pies and strudel, and Greek dishes from family recipes, and you have a regulars’ place for breakfast and lunch.
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