Alibi V.15 No.41 • Oct 12-18, 2006 

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Best of Burque Restaurants

Journey to the Center of the Plate

Welcome to Best of Burque Restaurants! You may have noticed that we've got a spiffy new name (changed from the old Readers' Choice Restaurant Poll) and an appetizing new look to match. Inside, you'll discover close to 100 categories you've never seen before--along with all the tantalizing results, selected through thousands of votes cast by Alibi readers like you. Why do we do it? Because it combines two subjects that are very dear to our hearts: food and Albuquerque businesses. When you vote in a Best of Burque poll, you're rewarding the best local restaurants with invaluable recognition. Not only that, you're helping to amass an indispensable guide to the best food our city has to offer. Just keep eating and voting, and we'll do the rest. Bon appétit!

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Nuts and Bolts

An eye for detail transforms a simple eatery into a welcoming respite from the outside world. It's the little things that keep us coming back to our favorites.

Best Restaurant Design

Flying Star is a Burque fave, no doubt about it, but when it comes to design the owners have spared no expense, and it shows. Cool chrome teamed up with retro space-age décor and eclectic colors make these eateries not only unique but now award-winning.

1. Flying Star Café

2. The Standard Diner

3. Tie: El Pinto, Slate Street Café

Restaurant with the Best Art on the Wall

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People

Good food is only one piece of the puzzle. Without an army of qualified employees and a roomful of patrons to share the experience, dining out just wouldn't be appetizing.

Best People Watching

Who hasn’t spent at least one late-night stretch half drunk, watching the weirdos, freaks and Goths eat sweet rolls and drink the house café mocha creation at Frontier? Canceling your cable is acceptable as long as this big barn is open for business.

1. Frontier

2. Flying Star Café

3. Kelly’s Brew Pub

4. Satellite Coffee

5. Winning Coffee Co.

Best Service (Casual)

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Booze

In The Art of French Cooking, Fernande Garvin says, "Wine makes a symphony of a good meal." Wise words, but let's not be narrowminded--a good beer or expertly

Best Wine Bar

The culinary scene is all aflutter with wine bars at this particular moment, and for good reason. It used to be that drinking an excellent vintage meant committing to an entire bottle. We usually woke up with headaches the next day--if not from consuming all that delicious, if dehydrating, wine, then for what it did to our bank accounts. These days, places like the swanky wine loft at Slate Street Café offer exceptional wines by the half bottle and glass. With more chances for exposure, the fruit of the vine is moving away from an intimidating and mysterious experience to a user-friendly and wallet-forgiving one. We'll toast to that!

1. Slate Street Café

2. Zine Wine Bar and Bistro

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On the Menu

The very best dishes call to us like a siren song. Time and time again, these are the meals we can't help but daydream about.

Best About Fulfilling Custom Orders

Sometimes, you just don't want the onions. Sometimes, that sandwich packed with wholesome goodness could do with an extra dollop of mayo. And steak must always, always be medium-well. When it comes to making sure your taste buds are satisfied and pampered, Burque eaters vote Baggin’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Flying Star Café, Midtown Café, Outback Steakhouse and Scalo Northern Italian Grill as the best establishments to order to your whim.

1. Tie: Baggin’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Flying Star Café, Midtown Café, Outback Steakhouse, Scalo Northern Italian Grill

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State Treasures

There are three reasons why so many people call New Mexico home: They're called breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try as you might, the chile will never work its way out of your system.

Best New Mexican Restaurant

It's all about the papitas, really. Your top two choice's for the year's best New Mexican restaurant came down to a dead heat between El Patio and Sadie’s. The former is a tiny converted house in the University area; the latter, a monolithic North Valley shrine to home-style cooking. They're about as different as night and day, yet both share a near-religious reverence for one thing: potatoes. We wouldn't be able to pick between the two either.

1. Tie: El Patio, Sadie’s

2. Los Cuates

3. Garduño's

Best Chile Relleno

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From the Sea

Man can't live on chile alone! Even here in New Mexico, fresh fish and seafood that's on the docks in the morning can be on your plate by dinnertime.

Best Mariscos/Mexican Seafood Restaurant

Think fresh fish in the desert is an oxymoron? Think again, compadre. Enlivened with lime juice, fresh vegetables and broths, served simmering hot in a soup or just slightly chilled in a ceviche or coctel, the seafood-studded cuisine of Mexico speaks to all the senses with poetic simplicity. Here in Albuquerque, Alibi readers look no further than the Westside, where Mariscos Altamar's dishes are healthy, filling and flavorful. We call that eating well in spades.

1. Mariscos Altamar

2. Los Esquipales

3. El Sabor de Juarez

Best Old-school Seafood Purveyor

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Ordering Asia

East meets Wild West--quelling our yen for exotic fare is easier (and tastier!) than ever, thanks to an abundance of Asian cuisine in Albuquerque.

Fanciest Asian Restaurant

Funny how Asian food can be inexpensive cart-style or white tablecloth, depending on your needs and wants, but we’re still waiting for cheap sushi. OK, maybe that’s a bad idea. In the meantime, Chow's Chinese Bistro takes the rice cake with a fine dining atmosphere with reasonable prices.

1. Chow's Chinese Bistro

2. PF Chang's

3. Azuma Sushi and Teppan

4. Japanese Kitchen

5. Tie: Eurasia Bistro, Japengo

Best Everyday Chinese

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Gluttony

Pigging out is a cheap, sordid kind of thrill. It's fine to plunge head-on into troughs of food every once in a while ... just unbutton your pants a little first or you might hurt yourself.

Best Local All-You-Can Eat

Stuffing your gut has never been classier than when you’re doing it at Tucanos. Home of the best salad bar on the planet, this meat-on-a-blade venue even has a red light, green light system for pacing your gut from roasted chicken to rare sirloin, with every meat in between.

1. Tucanos

2. Furr's Cafetiera

3. Tomato Café

Best Lunch Buffet

Getting loaded at lunchtime is back in vogue, and in this town, you have choices our grandparents could only have dreamed of. Tired of the usual chicken-fried stuff, you voted Taj Mahal for top honors and noontime heralds, so go ahead, get the extra plate of naan. You know you want to.

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The Main Attraction

An assortment of the city's best offerings, served warm with complimentary refills.

Best New Restaurant

Out of the blue this year, Euphoria Smoothies floated in on a heavenly cloud to present us with smoothies, stuffed pretzels and love, man, lots of frickin’ love. The stuffed cheddar and jalapeño pretzel complements the "mochacchino chill," and we compliment you, Albuquerque, on your good taste.

1. Euphoria Smoothies

2. The Standard Diner

3. Slate Street Café

4. Tie: Bumble Bee's Baja Grill, The Grove Café and Market

5. O'Niell's Pub

Best Older/Established Restaurant That's Like New Again

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Off-Hours

Because sometimes you're just too tired--or tipsy--to cook for yourself.

Best Late-Night/All-Night

What can we say about the Frontier that we haven't already said? Chances are, you're in the Frontier reading this right now. So glance around, take in the bustling atmosphere, the furrowed brow of the students, the paintings of pots, the smell of fresh tortillas, the amateur poets lounging in those hard booths. Then glance down at your buttery sweet roll that cost you $1.39 or the Western hashbrowns with cheese and green chile for $2.60. Then yawn and rub your eyes and realize it's 4:30 a.m. and you should have been home long ago.

1. Frontier

2. Tie: IHOP, Taco Bell, Taco Cabana

3. Tie: Frederico's Mexican Food, NYPD, O'Niell's Pub

Best Choice for Take-Out

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Dessert

Never mind what mama said about eating your vegetables--dessert is always the best conclusion.

Most Unique Dessert

There's a reason this place is named Euphoria Smoothies. I've got four words for you: stuffed chocolate crumb pretzel. The thing is filled with creamy chocolate and covered in chocolate drizzles and crumblies. The moniker could also have something to do with the “Raging Bull” smoothie, a power lifter in which Red Bull is a key ingredient. Though that's less likely to induce "euphoria" than it is to bring on the "hyper-talkative ADD" portion of your afternoon.

1. Euphoria Smoothies

2. Ambrozia

3. Flying Star Café

Best Use of Chocolate

Chocolate is like sex. It's almost always good--but it has the potential to be spectacular. Tender, balanced, redolent and slightly spicy--a good piece of chocolate can satiate like nothing else. Creativity goes a long way too--which is why The Melting Pot won this category. For a mere $16, this restaurant serves you and your dinner date a smooth, bubbly bowl of chocolate, and provides you with all the poundcake, brownie, cheesecake, pineapple, strawberry and banana pieces, and marshmallows dipped in Oreos and peanuts, you can muster. Gets us hot and bothered just thinking about it.

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Best Anything We Forgot

Stick a fork in us! We're positively stuffed full of this year's contestants, but we've saved a little room for a few of your own suggested categories and winners.

Most Caffeinated Beverage

There's no surprise here. The most caffinated beverage in Albuquerque goes to the Black Velvet at Satellite Coffee. If you need more than just a little pick-me-up, this is the drink for you. But proceed with caution. This drink is not for amateurs. Seriously, it's like crack in a cup! Black Velvet makes even the most hardcore coffee drinker a little jittery.

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