Roadrunner Food Bank's annual Souper Bowl, held on Jan. 24, raised more than $30,000 for hunger relief. The food bank provides more than a million pounds of food every month to homeless shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens throughout New Mexico. More than 20 restaurants competed in the Souper Bowl, serving up samples to hundreds of hungry guests who then voted for their favorites. Copeland's of New Orleans won first place for their crawfish and corn bisque; Ranchers Club's seafood bisque earned second place and Trattoria Trombino took third with an unlikely sounding favorite: spinach and mascarpone soup. A panel of six judges also chose favorites in a blind tasting. Critics' Choice Awards went to McGrath's at the Hyatt (green chile chicken with wild rice), Copeland's of New Orleans (the crawfish and corn bisque again) and Peppers of Albuquerque (green chile crab chowder with red chile dumplings). Flying Star Cafés and Gold Street Caffe tied for the Best Presentation award. Desserts were more prominent at this year's Souper Bowl and several stood out. The Marriott Pyramid wowed the crowd with a sparkling apple cider dessert soup, chocolate passion fruit mousse, lemon cream puffs and chocolate espresso pyramids.
Nobody's going to go home hungry from Chilacas, a cool little burrito joint that opened last week at Juan Tabo and Montgomery (11225 Montgomery, where Fajitaville used to be). The concept is simple: A variety of ingredients are combined in an almost infinite number of ways while you watch. First, diners choose between a burrito (it weighs more than a pound), bowl (fillings in a bowl with no tortilla), tacos (soft or crunchy), nachos (with blue corn chips), salad or low-carb bowl. Behind the counter, workers move along Subway style, adding ingredients as you pick meats, beans, rice, cheeses, salsas and other toppings. I tried a bowl with fluffy cilantro-lime rice, refried beans, smoky barbacoa (chipotle-braised brisket) topped with some green chile and a little chipotle salsa. The spicy meat and salsas spread flavor throughout the rice and beans and it was more food than I could finish. My companion and I devoured an order of nachos topped with thick, saucy ground beef, queso, salsa and sour cream while checking out the decor. The dining room is bright and fun, with small tables in the center and a couple of couches in the corner. A flat screen TV broadcasts MTV2 above a half-dozen video games that we guessed must be pretty popular with students from nearby Eldorado High School. If you're in the neighborhood and hankerin' for some tasty, filling and fast Mexican food then you should probably check out Chilacas. Call 294-0140 to place an order to go.