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 V.13 No.30 | July 22 - 28, 2004 

The Dish

All the News That's Fit to Eat

Margaret Nayder

Pat and Terry Keene will relinquish management of Bien Shur to Sandia Pueblo next month. The Keenes, who also own Artichoke Café, have run Sandia Casino's upscale Bien Shur restaurant for three and a half years. According to Sandia Pueblo Gov. Stuwart Paisano, the parting of ways was amicable. "Our relationships with the Keenes has been fabulous. We were skeptical at the beginning when we started the restaurant, so we solicited the experts [the Keenes] to come in and manage it for us. They were scared too but everyone did a tremendous job." So why spoil the fun? "Growth is putting a damper on it," he says. The pueblo will operate Bien Shur through the end of 2004 when it will be closed for 10 months of renovations that will transform the area into a dining room for the casino's expanded 500-seat buffet restaurant. Construction is already underway for an adjacent hotel that will provide a new home for Bien Shur as well as another proposed restaurant. Paisano said that while the pueblo was interested in attracting national chain restaurants, those restaurants may be located inside the casino or on pad sites nearby. When construction is completed next year, there will be five restaurants in or next to the casino. "We're very interested in diversifying away from gaming and offering a well-rounded type of dining experience," the governor said. (GD)

If you have ever had an authentic Mexican torta, you should get down to Juanita's Comida Mexicana right now. Their torta is made on a fluffy yet substantial toasted roll, filled with an ample portion of chicken, pork, or beans; topped with melted cheese, fresh lettuce, tomato and avocado; and served hot off the griddle. The torta isn't your typical sandwich--in fact, it kicks Subway's ass right up onto street level. Juanita's also serves up tasties from chicharrones to stuffed sopaipillas. Juanita's doesn't look particularly impressive from the street—it's a small one-room café situated on the border between Downtown and Barelas and tucked between an auto mechanic and a beauty parlor—but like most things in life, it's what's inside that counts. The place feels surprisingly cozy given its Fourth Street location; folk art hangs on the walls and the open kitchen lets you watch the action as you wait. Like many other Mexican cafés in the area, Juanita's has a slow, family-oriented feel; they still serve sodas in returnable glass bottles and the same waitress takes orders, rings up the take out, brings drinks and stops to chat. (RS)

Talin World Food Fare is located at the corner of Central and Louisiana. I somehow managed to leave that tidbit of important information out of last week's full page spread on the store. Don't worry, I'm sure I can find a volunteer willing to spank me for my misbehavior. (GD)

The secret to making a low-calorie beverage that doesn't taste like antifreeze may be to use artificial sweeteners (like aspartame, acesulfame potassium and sucralose) in combination. Minute Maid has a new line of "flavored light fruit drinks" that are actually drinkable. We tried the guava citrus flavor and found it to be reminiscent of fruit (it's made with small amounts of juices) and lacking the usual diet flavor. If you're willing to ingest a trio of artificial sweeteners in exchange for a relatively tasty beverage with no caffeine and almost no sugar, then you might check out the Minute Maid Light line. (GD)

Be paid to get fat! If you have a tidbit of news that belongs in "The Dish," e-mail food@alibi.com, call 346-0660 ext. 245 or fax 256-9651. The juiciest tidbits will be rewarded with gift certificates good at local restaurants.

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