Alibi V.28 No.41 • Oct 10-16, 2019 

Best of Burque Restaurants 2019

Smorgasbord

Best Comfort Food

Frontier Restaurant

Frontier Restaurant was kind of the obvious choice here. Before the hours changed, there was nary a person in this city who hadn’t ended up at Frontier way too late at night with a hefty amount of booze in their system and the need for a meal to revitalize them before they slept off their bad choices. Even as college students, it was the quick, inarguable go-to for a lunch break, an after-class snack or breakfast while you lost yourself in your studies. Those of us who have lived out of state have had those Frontier-specific cravings, making sure it’s on our to-do list when visiting. Frontier Restaurant will always hold that place in our hearts, with those sweet rolls sitting really high in our regard.

2) The Range Cafe

3) Ragin' Shrimp

Best Buffet

Taj Mahal Cuisine of India

Taj Mahal Cuisine of India lets you go to town with a little bit of everything. It’s such a solid lineup of food that you’re spoiled for choice to the point of rationing space for your favorite dishes. Will that stop you from trying? Absolutely not. So go on, brave diner. Find the hefty plates that will fill the hole in your soul, leaving you whole again. I can rhyme hole with whole. That’s half the magic of the English language.

2) Sandia Casino Thur Shan Buffet

3) Taj Palace

Largest Portions

Weck's

Weck's wins again. I don’t know if they have a set of written or unwritten rules and back-of-house bylaws but if they do, one of them must be “absolutely no one can leave even remotely hungry.” With portions decided on by Andre the Giant himself, you’re guaranteed a near to daunting meal size, no matter what you order. Find yourself lost in a sea of sides, facing an entree that intimidates and a cinnamon roll that leaves you questioning the nature of existence itself. The sizes are large enough to question the legality of it all. Thank you to Weck's for continuing to make breakfast the only meal of the day. You give reason for overeaters of Albuquerque to rejoice.

2) Sadie's of New Mexico

3) Grandma's K & I Diner

Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests

El Pinto

El Pinto in the North Valley is just one of those places where you can’t help but take out-of-town guests. It’s wildly gorgeous and so blatantly New Mexican that it sets a precedent for the rest of their trip. Additionally, they have a menu that absolutely kills it with amazing food. You can’t bring someone here without them uttering “wow” within the first few minute of leaving the parking lot. This is your go-to for flexing on their sensibilities, showing off the true power and allure of New Mexico. Our innate beauty—the state’s, because it sure as hell ain’t me I’m talking about—is on full display here with a menu to match. It’s perfectly balanced, as all things in life should be.

2) Eldora Chocolate

3) Sadie's of New Mexico

Best Bar Food

Sister Bar

Sister
Sister
Dan Pennington
Remember all those amazing things I said about Sister Bar and their cocktails? Double-down on that for their food. From Tots and Tacos at night to a brunch menu that absolutely blows away most of the competition, you’re given a wide range of culinary choice within their humble walls. I’ve arguably eaten more brunch at Sister than I have at almost any other place in town, because it still manages to surprise and impress me with the quality and ingenuity expressed each weekend. My nephew is a particularly big fan of their brunch menu, which at the ripe age of 8 years old, speaks highly to the level of food they pull off. Have you ever managed to impress an 8-year-old with food that isn’t absolute garbage? It’s impossible—unless you’re Sister. Then it’s just Ricotta Pancakes.

2) Brixens

3) Gecko's Nob Hill

Brixens
Brixens
Eric Williams Photography

Best Fine Dining

Farm & Table

Farm & Table is one of the restaurants on this list that I feel deserved more recognition than they got, but they won this category without question. Featuring one of the most dedicated commitments to local produce that I’ve ever seen, their seasonal offerings are completely based around what is in season locally, giving you the freshest meal you’ll ever have eating out in the city. Add on to that some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had with sides that are mouthwatering and delectable on their own, and you’ve got a place that deserves a few of your date night reservations if you’re planning to make an impression.

2) Campo at Los Poblanos

3) Antiquity Restaurant

Campo
Campo
Eric Williams Photography

Best Late Night Eating

Frontier Restaurant

Frontier Restaurant was the straight-shot winner here. You don’t walk into Frontier Restaurant past 10pm and not struggle to find a place to sit. On a Wednesday, no less. It’s just the obvious choice. Why would you ever go to IHOP for a late night snack when everything at Frontier is just better? Plus you get to be watched over by John Wayne, his 1000-mile stare letting you know he approves of you keeping it local. There’s a reason that no one worries about the Frontier ever going anywhere, and it’s because it’s impossible to imagine this city without them.

2) TIE: Sister Bar/The Last Call

Best Commitment to Local Ingredients

Farm & Table

As stated above, Farm & Table are the undisputed local royalty of, well, local. Working directly with all the farms, they’ve managed to make themselves the poster children of local food. Yes, a lot of places do local food, but others miss the panache that gives Farm & Table the praise they so rightfully deserve. It’s always like stepping into a fairy tale when eating there, and the food is so gorgeously plated that you wonder what you’ve ever done in your life to deserve such finery and kind treatment. I’ll never not have nice things to say about Farm & Table because they always find new ways to impress and surprise me.

2) UNMH Espresso Cafe

3) Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm

Best Place for Adventurous Eaters

Dia De Los Takos

Dia De Los Takos was initially presented to me with almost no comment, just a menu and a “You have to go.” I was skeptical of a taco place inside a go-kart center, but I have yet to be unimpressed by what I try. Every visit unfolds a new layer of style and innovation in taste. Adventurous sells it as something that is off the beaten path or weird, and in some ways, it is. But in other ways, it takes familiar tastes and styles and just plays with them in a bold fashion, unafraid of mistakes because they don’t seem to make them. All they do is create gold, the taco philosopher’s stone of the city in their hands.

2) Ragin' Shrimp

3) Campo at Los Poblanos

Best New Restaurant

Sixty-Six Acres

I was lucky to see Sixty-Six Acres come together. The growth of the idea to what is now in operation was a fascinating process to watch, and I am truly proud of the restaurant they’ve become. There was no bump in the road that would slow them down, no idea too big to execute. There were plenty of risks and plans that shouldn’t have worked along the way, but they refused to take no for an answer, and as a result, gifted this city with something unique and distinct, giving us all a menu that is accessible but wild. You can’t tame them, only jump on board for the amazing ride they offer. If you haven’t made the trip in to try out their unique brand of food, you need to change that immediately.

2) Restoration Pizza

3) The Kitchen by 135º

Best Chef

Israel Rivera at The Shop

And here I thought we had finished writing about The Shop! It’s inauthentic to say that no one else deserved this award, because the chef community in this city is filled with amazingly talented individuals who have pushed our foodie culture to new heights, but it’s also inauthentic to say Israel Rivera didn’t slam dunk the win on this. With one of the most popular restaurants on the list, Rivera has clearly created a place where food is more than just sustenance. Their skill in the kitchen is just astounding. We can espouse the wonder of The Shop and their killer menu, but it all comes down to the dedication to perfection that Rivera pushes in the kitchen and the standard of quality they hold their staff to.

2) Jennifer James at frenchish

3) Shawn Weed at The Acre

Best Decor

Eldora Chocolate

Eldora Chocolate is another one of the places that took home quite a few wins.For best decor, it makes sense that a place based around doing amazing chocolate simply would match that in their interior. With the feel of a retro kitchen in place and immaculate designs worked into the walls, the combination of hardwood floors and white walls gives a sense of being home again. It gives you the joy of feeling like you’ve earned a sweet treat for doing nothing but existing. It takes you back to something wonderful and simple.

2) The Range Cafe

3) Brixens

Best Service

UNMH Espresso Café

Working in a hospital is hard. I assume. No one in their right mind would ever have me work in a hospital. It’s a job that takes an emotional toll on anyone, with so many people spending a lot of time inside while dealing with a whole range of problems that most of us hope will never happen to us or those we love. It’s hard to imagine that you don’t get the snippy, worn customer from time to time. But maybe that’s where their magic comes from, the understanding of a situation that others are in. Finding that love and compassion to still smile, to get coffee into the hands of those who truly need it after a particularly rough night, to be gentle and kind on people’s toughest days, that alone screams best service to me.

2) The Shop Breakfast and Lunch

3) Ragin' Shrimp

Best Caterer

My Sweet Basil

My Sweet Basil breaks the mold of what you expect from a catering company. In my time doing events and catering, I found that thinking about fringe menu options for dietary reasons is usually the last thing on people’s minds when planning a big event. With My Sweet Basil, it’s at the forefront of the conversation. Knowing people will be able to eat nearly everything on the menu, regardless of who they are, while also being absolutely delicious, gives them a big leg up on the competition. As food trucks continue to grow and become a bigger piece of the food scene here, it’s good to see that variety is also growing in terms of social food-centric events.

2) The Shop Breakfast and Lunch

3) Ragin' Shrimp

Best Dog-friendly Dining

Flying Star Cafe

Dogs are more important than a lot of people in our lives. I’ve never yelled at a dog for licking me, but I’ve definitely scolded friends for it. So why not offer the amenity of eating out with our furriest companions? We’re a very dog-friendly city, but some places go the extra mile. Flying Star Cafe has big gorgeous outdoor seating, with dog bowls and leash holders, allowing you a little bit of relaxation so you don’t have to worry about asking for little things to keep your dog happy while you’re enjoying a meal. So, folks and furry friends, get out there and enjoy! You got plenty of spaces to enjoy the sunshine and the folks passing by.

2) Ragin' Shrimp

3) Quarter Celtic Brewpub