Sadie's of New Mexico is a New Mexican staple. With one of the most impressively large restaurants I’ve ever seen and the ability to consistently deliver high-quality food and drink, you are guaranteed one of the premier eating experiences in the city. Don’t believe me? Try to get a seat there during Balloon Fiesta. Word has already gotten out far ahead of the event, and everyone and their mother (and mother-in-law and their aunts and uncles and cousins) will be lining up to get some of that absolutely immaculate food. Get in line, or get there early. This is the New Mexican food your soul needs to feel complete.
2) Mary & Tito's Cafe
3) Padilla's Mexican Kitchen
Best Green Chile Cheeseburger
There’s something fascinating to me about Laguna Burger winning Best Burger—most likely due to their Laguna Burger, which is a green chile cheeseburger—but getting second in that explicit category. But the votes don’t lie, and you all gave it to our favorite smiling blue man, Blake, and his Lotaburger. They’ve been a staple of the city for so long, it’s kind of unfair to most anyone else in this category, as there are few places that have existed as long as they have. Blake’s has continued to grow and reach new generations with the same recipes and quality that put them on the map in the first place, helping them to cement this win.
2) Laguna Burger
3) The Shop Breakfast and Lunch
Best Frito Pie
Dog House Drive In
Dog House Drive In is just iconic. Their wagging neon sign and building are some form of collective memory that we all share, a piece of our very souls that exists across us all. Their food is nothing to scoff at and the place manages to be packed even during the slower days for eateries. This means they’re doing something right, and in this case, it’s making a damn good Frito pie. Sure, the hot dogs are to die for, but the Frito pie? It’s primo. Enjoy the magic you can find in the simple things at the Dog House Drive In, because it’s a piece of our past that owes its longevity to consistency.
Duran Central Pharmacy is one of those places that both is and isn’t a secret. Everyone seems to know they have the best chile in the city, but they don’t always get the consistent recognition they deserve for it. This is no small victory. This is a city built on green chile. A core piece of our state’s identity, enough so that we’re buying billboards in other states to scream it from the mountaintops. To take home the arguably most coveted award is something that is almost tattoo-worthy. Now, if they do decide to get this as a tattoo, let us know. We’d love to run that as a cover.
2) Sadie's of New Mexico
3) Monroe's Restaurant
Best Red Chile
Duran Central Pharmacy
Duran Central Pharmacy is one of those places that both is and isn’t a secret. Everyone seems to know they have the best chile in the city, but they don’t—wait, hold on, we already did this one. Taking home both Best Red and Green Chile is arguably the most impressive feat on this list, but what’s more interesting is the differentiation of who took second and third place in these categories. Where Duran Central Pharmacy slammed it out of the park on both, the votes are split on red and green consistency for the other places. Either way, now they have to get two tattoos—one on each arm—to celebrate this victory.
2) Barelas Coffee House
3) Los Cuates
Best Carne Adovada
Golden Pride and carne adovada are besties. Putting pork on anything is fine and dandy, but marinating it in red chile first takes it to a whole other level. The delicate balance of the fatty pork and robust chile gives it a hearty feeling that never seems to leave you too full for seconds or thirds or even fourths, in some cases. The point is that you can’t not fall in love with carne adovada, if only for its innate ability to pair perfectly with literally any meal. Okay, maybe not cereal. But you won’t know it till you try it (but please don’t try it, I can only assume you’ll ruin good carne adovada).
2) Mary & Tito's Cafe
3) Cocina Azul
There were very few categories wherein I felt confident I knew who would win before the nominations even came in. This category, though, I felt was locked in stone. What a tortured existence I live, always being right. Frontier Restaurant and their amazing, wonderful tortilla machine just proves that sometimes doing things the right way pays off. There’s nothing that seems to match a Frontier tortilla, and watching them get made en masse in front of your very eyes is one of those magical moments the first time you see it. Speaking of, I need to go grab a dozen myself, so if you’ll excuse me.
2) Duran Central Pharmacy
3) Golden Pride
El Modelo Mexican Foods
Alright, I don’t wanna hear it. Yes, I’m sure your abuelita does deserve this award, but she’s not selling them to the masses and she’s definitely not selling them to me—please let her know that I would love to work out a deal. El Modelo Mexican Foods does, though, and wow. There’s a love that’s put into these that just surpasses the expectations of restaurant tamales and moves into familial territory. You just don’t see this level of quality often, and especially for such a treasured dish, it puts them leagues ahead of the rest of the world.
2) Mighty Mike’s Meats Smoked BBQ
3) Taco Sal Restaurant
Sadie's of New Mexico
Will there ever be a moment quite as iconic as the first time you discovered the wonderful relationship between honey and sopaipillas? As a child, there was something so magical about pouring honey on this fried pocket of joy, your hands sticky because you overloaded it with too much honey and because no one had the heart to stop you—this moment. That is the feeling I get every time I have a sopaipilla at Sadie's of New Mexico. Taking people from out of town in to introduce them to this concept is one of the few true joys I still have in this life, because the light that takes over their face just then is simply mesmerizing.
2) Los Cuates
3) El Patio de Albuquerque
Los Cuates is great at a lot of things, but their enchiladas are second to none. For a dish that’s as simple as enchiladas are, it’s a trainwreck if you get the balance wrong. How much is too much cheese? Or not enough? Are the rolls stable enough to hold together until serving time or will they fall apart in the pan? It sounds impossible, but I’ve been served some really bad attempts at them in this city, and it makes the job that Los Cuates does all the more astonishing in how right they get it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go drown myself in cheese.
2) El Patio De Albuquerque
3) Duran's Station
Best Chips and Salsa
Sadie's of New Mexico
Someone told me they thought this wasn’t a worthy category—that good chips and salsa aren’t hard to do, and no one could mess them up. So I present to you Applebee’s chips and salsa, a travesty to the idea of food and culture and a loogie in the eye of God Himself. Abysmal and not worth the $4 you pay for them, you find yourself in need of something to make you believe again. Enter Sadie's of New Mexico. Not only do they sell their salsa very successfully both inside and out of the state, they also somehow make sure you never hit the bottom of your basket or bowl, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that you cannot stop eating.
2) Los Cuates
3) El Bruno's Restaurante y Cantina
Golden Pride already won for Best Breakfast Burrito, so if they can do that with egg, then they can sure as heck can do it without. There’s not much else to say about the magic combination that gives their burritos the deserving title of best in the city besides the fact that they’re our favorite go-to. Enjoyable in a way that you can’t quite ever replicate at home, they are just plain good. You don’t find food this quick, simple and delicious that often, so get on it while the getting is good. They aren’t going anywhere, but you never wanna risk not having an extra burrito in your life when you can get it.
2) El Modelo Mexican Foods
3) The Burrito Lady
Best Indian Taco
Pueblo Harvest at IPCC
Pueblo Harvest at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center was pretty much a shoe-in to win this, because let’s be real, no one else can stick the landing on this dish quite like they can. With its crispy frybread, savory toppings and a heck of a lot of tradition and background holding it up, this is the definitive version of the dish we all love, and you don’t have to wait for the State Fair to come around to get it. At Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Pueblo Harvest has a really fantastic menu, and this may just be the crowned jewel that brings it all together.
2) Twisters Burgers and Burritos
3) Los Cuates
Best Chile Cheese Fries
Bob's Burgers has been around a lot longer than the show, and it excels in ways that the show doesn’t. They’re not as funny as the Belcher family, although they may get into hijinks that we never see, one thing is certain: They’re well loved by the city. Best Chile Cheese Fries is a combination of three essential ingredients that require the right balance to be worthy of even a nod. If any one piece is slightly off or not up to snuff, the whole dish is lost. Having the right size and crispness of fries, the freshest green chile and the right type and amount of cheese all come into play. Want to make great green chile cheese fries of your own? Go study the masters at Bob's Burgers to get an idea how it’s done.
2) Dog House Drive In
3) Dia De Los Takos
This was another category that I assumed would be an open-and-shut case for winner, though I want to give a shout-out to Dia De Los Takos for coming very close to dethroning the city’s taco king. Taqueria Mexico is just plain amazing, and once you know they exist, you realize how much most other places pale in comparison and wonder why we even have a Taco Bell in this city—let alone six of them. I implore you to go get a taco at Taqueria Mexico’s new location, because you truly have no idea what you’ve been missing out on if you’ve never tried their food. This is a prestigious award in a city that’s famous for good tacos and not an honor to be taken lightly.