Best of Burque Restaurants 2016
Best of the Rest
Voters believe the spiciest food in town resides at Ragin’ Shrimp, a Nob Hill restaurant that serves Cajun cuisine, seafood, frogs legs and alligator. Serio. Based on the third-party research I engaged in, in order to learn more about this phenomenon, it was determined that such dishes as the joint’s gumbo, as well as sauces like the spicy peanut, lime cilantro and yellow curry make outings to Ragin’ Shrimp a fine and fiery distraction from the banality of life while also inducing those who eat there to say their prayers while gulping down cold beer or ice tea to ameliorate their tongue-twisting ecstasy.
But there are loads of them everywhere one turns in the Duke City. Check ‘em out before the fad fades; it won’t change your life, but later on you can tell everyone that you ate food from the back of a truck.
Well, clearly your favorite place to find a food truck is at a local brewery—with Marble and Tractor finishing in a dead heat, tied for your 2016 winners. We can't argue with that! Both spots host some of the Duke City’s tastiest food trucks at multiple locations, and while the trucks are worth the trip themselves, we certainly suspect that being able to tack on a great local beer or two to your curbside grub makes this a symbiotic pairing too perfect to pass up.
The architecture, the sweeping acreage and storied history are likely just a few of the reasons El Pinto landed as your favorite spot to take out-of-town guests—and why not? The glorious, sprawling patios wind and unwind under the quiet hush of a cottonwood canopy, and newly appointed Executive Chef Marc Quiñones promises clean and distinctive cuisine that innovates while maintaining tradition. Add it all up and you and your out-of-town guests are sure to leave smiling.
Two words: tacos and ‘taters. There are other “Odds & Ends” to be had, but Chef Christopher Cook built Sister’s menu around this binary star of culinary crowd-pleasers, and you’ve rewarded that insight, crowning them with this year’s winning Bar Food. Now, with seven tacos and five fries-or-tots dishes, burritos and stews (including vegetarian and gluten-free) to choose from, you can rest easy knowing that every time you rock your ass off at one of their shows, you can carbo-load after and get some of that fine ass back!
A staple of the vibrant East Downtown dining scene, Artichoke Cafe is this year’s winner for fine dining. Their New American menu, artisanal cocktails and expansive wine list make ordering easy for everyone, and their warm, clean industrial lines turn your meal into a snazzy occasion.
For a change of pace, your runner-up this year, Antiquity Restaurant, is tucked away on a small street in Old Town and serves up French-inspired plates in what feels like your own cozy little corner of the world.
Your two favorite late night spots couldn’t be more different in scale: Frontier has room after room of John Wayne paintings and formica tables filled with coffee-ed-up exam-crammers while Last Call is a closet-sized taco take-away with wacky hours. But both eagerly feed your drinking-induced carbohydrate-
It’s nice to know where your food comes from. It’s even nicer to know that your food came from less that 100 miles away—or sometimes just a stone’s throw from where you’re eating it. As you can probably tell by their name, Farm & Table is pretty serious about using local ingredients in their menu. They get to know the farmers, ranchers, vintners and cheesemakers who produce the stuff that goes into their dishes, and they even grow plenty of their own fruits and veggies in a farm behind the restaurant itself. Can’t get more local than that.
Albuquerque is the kind of place where eating sushi is considered “adventurous.” So, really, we're not that surprised that there's no winner for truly outside-the-box cuisine. And that's okay, since out-of-towners think tasting hot red chile is adventurous. And they think we're a bunch of ninnies? Pshhh.
For best growers’ market, there was an even tie between the markets in Downtown and Los Ranchos. This is because they’re both equally good for finding produce, honey and baked goods that were made in your neighborhood. They’re also good places to meet your neighbors, eat some fresh tamales or breakfast burritos, and cruise for cute dogs to pet. So, before the season’s over, grab your organic cotton tote bag and head out to one (or both!) of these quality markets to support your local growers.
2) Los Ranchos Growers’ Market
According to CNBC, around 60 percent of new restaurants close within their first year. Trying to make it in the Duke City is probably even harder. So maybe there's no Best New Restaurant because we were afraid to try something new, so the place closed down, and now we'll never know that that one new cafe on the block that closed within a month after opening was actually the best we would've ever tasted.
On the other hand, maybe a restaurant closed, not because it was the best but no one tried it, but because it was actually terrible, and so we all celebrated when it closed. Perhaps that's why no one won the sad little crown of being Most Missed. Tough luck.
We've got some incredibly talented chefs in Burque. There is absolutely no doubt about that. The problem here is that they're all so excellent that no single person was able to rise above their golden cohorts. All you chefs can rest easy knowing that at least you're all in savory company.
Burqueños have spoken: It doesn't matter whether you prefer a modern ambiance with minimalist design and stark bursts of color or to dine surrounded by tchotchkes plastered to every inch of the walls, it's all really about the food.
Good restaurant service makes a pretty big difference in the quality of your date night. A seasoned waitstaff is attentive, knowledgeable about the menu and helpful without being pushy. They know the wine list by heart, can recommend what to drink with what dish and don’t leave you waiting around for the bill when you’re done. According to y’all, Artichoke Cafe’s staff nails all those points, and then some. This beloved fine dining establishment has merits besides its quality food, clearly. Friends, remember to say, "Thank you," and tip your servers generously.
The best caterer is my mom when she puts on a giant Crock-Pot of beans and whips up a ginormous pan of green chile-chicken enchiladas. Top it all off with a vast bowl of warm, fragrant natillas, and it's enough to feed an army! But she's not in the business and only cooks for people she loves, so there's no winner in the Best Caterer category. You're all missing out, suckers.
Best Juice Bar: Squeezed/Zeus Juice
Best Korean: Fu Yuang/Arrirang
Best Onion Rings: Pueblo Harvest Cafe
Best Question: Best Answer