Albuquerque Restaurant Week is about to be upon us, which means that some restaurants around the city are offering lunch and dinner specials to tempt diners into trying something new. These fixed-price, multi-course menus are available from March 4 to 11, ranging in price from $15, $25, $35 or $45 per person.
I want to highlight the menus that I’m particularly excited about trying. Which is not to say that they all won’t be good: This is an opportunity for these chefs to put their best foot forward, so expect to be impressed. Make your reservations now, as these places will fill up quickly. Check out albuquerque.nmrestaurantweek.com to see all the participating restaurants.
Pueblo Harvest Cafe
Last year David Ruiz, Executive Chef at the Pueblo Harvest Cafe (2401 12th Street NW, inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center) introduced a “pre-contact” menu—that is, a menu based on foods that Pueblo people of New Mexico ate before Spanish conquest. Well, he’s crafted another multi-course pre-contact dinner menu for Restaurant Week, and gosh does it sound great. For $35 per person, you get 3 courses; here’s your options: Starters—Salmon belly tartare or bison carpaccio (GF). Entrées—“Three Sisters” in cast iron: four seasonal squashes with corn purée and black bean cornmeal fritter; or pan-seared New Mexico trout with yam purée, wild greens, prickly pear syrup and amaranth; or roasted squab with puffed amaranth, sage stuffing, corn pureé and maple glaze. Desserts—Wojapi: slow-stewed berries with red corn maple crumble; or walnut cookies with candied pistachios and walnut caramel.
We know that you already love Chef Ahmed M. Obo’s unique pan-African cuisine, because the guy keeps opening new locations. For Restaurant Week, Jambo Cafe (1105 Juan Tabo NE) is serving a vegan-friendly three-course menu that involves some of my favorite ever ingredients: lentils and curry. For $20 per person, you get a lunch that includes: Starters—curried roasted garlic and coconut cream bisque (vegan) (Winner of the 2018 Souper Bowl's Cream Soup category); or goat cheese and pistachios with organic greens, drizzled with apricot tarragon vinaigrette. Entrées—coconut seafood stew with mussels, calamari, shrimp and mahi mahi in a red wine caper tomato sauce served with curry and green onion roti; or Ethiopian lentil stew (vegan) with eggplant and mixed vegetables slow-cooked in a spiced coconut sauce over basmati rice; or marinated Moroccan spiced lamb kebabs with pomegranate cucumber yogurt sauce over saffron mashed potatoes and garlic roasted Brussels sprouts. Dessert—dessert du jour.
Zacatecas Tacos + Tequila
Zacatecas (3423 Central Ave. NE) gets as close to some of the great Baja/Mexican food I miss from California as possible here in the desert, and I love them for that. Their dinner menu for Restaurant Week is full of veggies, ancho and serrano chiles and cotija cheese. Sign me up. The three-course menu is $25 per person. Starters—Potato soup with Negra Modelo and Tillamook cheddar, topped with serrano pico de gallo; or chile relleno with dried ancho and goat cheese, topped with a fresh herb escabèche and served with a mixed green salad; or blackened shrimp over buttermilk pancakes with chipotle butter and pico de gallo. Entrées—black molé-marinated brisket tacos with pickled red onions, sesame seeds, chipotle crema and cotija cheese or shrimp and grits tacos with roasted rajas, smoked paprika, grilled scallions and cotija cheese; or rainbow swiss chard tacos with roasted corn, poblanos and red peppers, topped with pico de gallo and cotija cheese. Desserts—vanilla bean and dulce de leche fried ice cream served with cinnamon whipped cream and cherry chocolate sauce; or canela rice pudding with nutmeg whipped cream, prickly pear coulis and almond tuile.