Best Food Truck
Two years after firing up the ignition for the first time, the ubiquitous Supper Truck is still rolling strong. Maybe it’s the bright yellow paint job, easily spotted through miles of traffic or concert goers, maybe it’s owner Amy Black’s endless energy and commitment to community, or maybe, just maybe, it’s the excellent southern fusion food, but it seems like Burqueños can’t get enough of this vagabond kitchen’s fare.
Best Place to Find a Food Truck
Breweries and food trucks both started surging in this city at about the same time, and given that the two businesses have notable shortcomings (good beer but no food, good food but no beer), it’s no surprise that they quickly entered into a symbiotic relationship. It’s become something we take for granted that you can drink the city’s best beer while chowing down on some of the city’s best food. This year, our readers chose the expansive patio at Marble Brewery as their favorite place to feast via whatever truck is rolling by.
3) The Talin Market parking lot (Wednesdays at noon)
Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests
Garden patio, trickling water features, authentic New Mexican food and damn fine ... excuse me, damn fine margaritas. The massive adobe paradise of El Pinto has been a favorite place to show off our city to out-of-towners for decades as evidenced by the huge number of autographed celebrity photos that adorn the walls. Although its reputation suffered a slump among locals for a few years, these days El Pinto has returned to the original recipes that made them famous in the first place.
3) Farm & Table
Best Bar Food
There are appetizers and then there are tapas. What’s the difference? Well, how adventurous do you feel when you’re working your way through a nacho plate? Now how about red mole grilled steak tacos? This year, our readers decided to open up their palate and down cocktails with a side of the fancy vittles at Gecko’s Bar. With offerings like black tiger shrimp and scallop ceviche, sautéed escargot, carne adovada and grilled squash, we know exactly why.
Best Fine Dining
This EDo bistro pre-dates EDo itself. Back when the Artichoke Café first started racking up the Best of Burque awards for Fine Dining, the part of town between UNM and Downtown was called Huning Highlands. A lot has changed in that neighborhood since then, but Artichoke is still just as fancily delicious as ever.
Best Late Night Feast
Sometimes we wonder if the Frontier even counts as a restaurant anymore, or whether it would be more accurately described as a feature of Albuquerque’s collective consciousness. The fact is that almost every Burqueño has a portion of their inner life devoted to the sprawling Central Avenue mainstay, an image they can call up when needed to help them power through their lives. But really, it doesn’t matter if it’s real, as long as its doors stay open till 1am to welcome the tired, the studious, the drunk and the lost with visions of sweet rolls and homemade tortillas.
3) Adieux Café
Best Commitment to Local Ingredients
There’s commitment to local ingredients and then there’s commitment to local ingredients. Guess which one Farm & Table has? The first clue is that it’s called “Farm & Table”; the second clue is that it won this category. F & T features cuisine primarily created with locally sourced foods, including a fair amount from the adjoining farmland visible from its lovely patio.
Best Spot for Adventurous Eaters
For some reason, African food just hasn’t taken root in Albuquerque the way it has in other cities. That’s not such good news for our overall cosmopolitan mystique, but at least it means that going to a place like Talking Drums, one of our only African restaurants, still feels like an adventure. Let’s hope more people are willing to branch out.
Best Downtown Restaurant
When it comes to Downtown dining, Burqueños prefer Brazilian food by way of Colorado. Or at least that’s what this year’s winner, the Colorado Springs-based churrasco joint Tucanos, seems to imply. When they tire of gorging on meat-on-a-stick, our residents check out the soups at Al’s Big Dipper, the pizza at Golden Crown Panaderia and the modernist bistro fare of Slate Street, all of which tied for second place.
Best Nob Hill Restaurant
Longtime ruler of the Carlisle and Central intersection, Scalo has been a Nob Hill destination since the days when Nob Hill itself was a destination to be avoided. With authentic North Italian fare, a wine cellar to rival any in Burgundy and plate glass windows through which you can observe the Central Avenue antics while you dine, no wonder the king has once again retained his crown.
Best Restaurant in the North Valley
In our opinion, one of the best things about the North Valley is how it straddles the line between urban and rural, and Farm & Table exemplifies that. With a mere five-minute drive, you’ll go from the bustle of the city to this charming restaurant perched right on the pastoral expanse of farmland and the Bosque.
Best Restaurant in the South Valley
This year, your South Valley preferences run to the far south. El Salvador, to be specific. Fortunately, you don’t have to trek too far overland to get to this pupuseria, which is conveniently located on Bridge Avenue, but still features authentic Salvadoreño cuisine. As for what to try, the restaurant’s namesake pupusas come in a variety of flavors, but our favorite is the revuelta, with chicharrones, beans and cheese.
Best Restaurant on the Westside
There are a lot of great restaurants on the Westside, but this year you couldn’t quite make up your mind between two of the best. M’Tucci’s offers a modern take on classic pasta dishes, while Jinja veers across Asia and the Pacific Rim. If you’re trying to check out all of our winners and can’t decide which of these two to hit first, just flip a coin. You’ll be happy either way.
Best Restaurant in Rio Rancho
The original Rio Rancho microbrewery is still going strong with a bevy of house-made beers and a justly famous thin-crusted, wood oven fired pizza. It’s a bit of a trek from Albuquerque proper, but well worth the journey.
Best Restaurant in the East Mountains
It’s fun to escape Albuquerque and head up to Sandia Crest. The air is clear, the pine forest beautiful and the view magnificent. But you’ll be hungry on your way back down, and our readers suggest you stop at this charming eatery, known for its hearty breakfasts and dinner options like the Turquoise Trail trout.
Best Local Brewery
Bold beer, live music, local fare and a relaxed, community atmosphere are the hallmarks of this beloved Downtown brewery. From their well-balanced red ale to the intense and creamy oatmeal stout to the rich and molasses-y barley wine, Marble boasts a delicious range of hand-crafted, artisanal brews. Whether they’re lawyers celebrating their first case, co-eds taking a study break or artists looking for inspiring company, our readers love stopping by Marble to enjoy a passionately hand-crafted cold one ... or two!
Best Restaurant to Feature as a Filming Location
One of the most iconic “Breaking Bad” locations is the diner booth where Mike Ehrmantraut regularly takes his meals, meets his associates and stoically weathers the violent misery of his life. At Loyola’s, you can replicate his dead-eyed, world weariness on the very same blue-vinyl bench seat ... right before ordering some of the best huevos rancheros in town.
Best New Restaurant
Although its name inspires confusion worthy of an Abbott and Costello routine, The Shop has nonetheless secured a spot on our readers’ favorites list. With an eclectic menu that ranges from chilaquiles to a duck confit sandwich, it’s easy to understand why.
Most Missed Restaurant
Although Blackbird Buvette isn’t going anywhere as a whole, it did recently shut its kitchen down. Gone forever are favorites like the Cajun chicken sandwich, the sweet potato fries and the quesadillas. Our readers may wish to drink a toast to the dearly departed menu, and we suggest that Blackbird itself is the most appropriate spot to tip one back in maudlin memory of meals past.
2) Bella Vista
3) Dos Hermanos
A giant of the Albuquerque food scene for nearly 20 years, Jennifer James has run a long campaign to make us remember her name. And we do, but not just because she’s named two restaurants after herself. It’s her food that makes us whisper “Jennifer James” when our bellies rumble and think ravenously of the always fresh and inventive seasonal offerings at Jennifer James 101. No wonder JJ has been nominated for a James Beard award for four years running.
This year, our readers showed an appreciation for the minimalist, bright and airy interior of this Santa Fe transplant. The quiet decor contrasts nicely with the variety and color on the salad plates, and a pint of Marble ale makes it all go down smoothly.
You can get three kinds of service at Shade Tree: one for your belly, one for your ears and one for your ride. We’re assuming that our readers were thinking with their stomachs when they voted the rollicking Nob Hill restaurant/music venue/motorcycle repair shop tops in this category. But there’s no reason, given the friendly staff, frequent jam sessions and reputation among the cycle crowd, that they shouldn’t win all three.
No half-measures for our readers this year. Instead, they went for the full monty of patios, the expansive North Valley greenland of El Pinto, where the babble of colonial fountains underscores the trilling of wandering mariachis, and where an idyllic New Mexico evening is heightened by the tang of a perfectly mixed margarita. Sure, there are other beautiful patios in town, but El Pinto rules them all.