Spring is in the air along with her attendant awards seasons and brunch-worthy holidays. Where will this year’s finest gather should you find occasion? I submit (for your consideration) Delish. Just off Alameda as it climbs to Rio Rancho, this 8am-to-3pm bistro, boasts tall windows and high ceilings, feels like a mash-up of industrial and shabby-chic. It’s a warm, roomy space—with a giant family table mid-room—and surrounding tables set far enough back to be equally great for an intimate catch-up with a friend. In short, something for everyone.So, too, with the menu. They have a breakfast and lunch menu, even separate hours—but truth is, everything’s available whenever. And while the menu isn’t over-stuffed, I had a tough time deciding—always a good sign.For breakfast, there are a few schools of thought: sweet, savory and the off-shoot: vegetarian. For sweet, they offer French toast and the Æbleskivers (Dutch pancakes) intrigued me, but I settled on the equally intriguing strawberry-banana Dutch Baby ($11). It’s a hot skillet with a slightly dense puff pancake sizzling therein, topped with a luxurious blend of fruit-and-sauce, then dusted with powdered sugar. It came with a breakfast meat side—and the pomegranate and molasses baked ham was a gamble. The pomegranate’s acid didn’t seem to mesh with the deep, earthy taste of the molasses, but the ham itself was a thick-slab of salty heaven.For the savory lovers out there, the biscuits and gravy stack ($12) comes piled up on a bed of breakfast potatoes, and it’s basically a Leaning-Tower-of-Scrumptious. Start with a couple of fresh-baked biscuits, slathered with “scratch-made” country gravy, plus crisp bacon, an egg, and either red, green or both—however you like. It’s a sturdy and memorable start to your dining day. Each component holds its own in a masterful balance of taste and texture, and despite being full when I was done, I caught myself thinking about when I might eat it again.If you’re on the hunt for a vegetarian option, but don’t want anything sweet, you could do worse than a straight-forward bowl of breakfast potatoes covered in green chile ($2 +$2). It’s a build-your-own side dish, but it’s both filling and flavorful. Throw in an espresso ($1.75) and you’re out the door for under $6 before tip—not too shabby! If it’s lunch you’re after, again, the menu is well-curated to offer tastes and options without overwhelming—which is much harder to pull off than it seems. Salads, burgers, grilled cheese or specialty sandwiches are the basics, and after much hemming and hawing, it was the Cuban-style grilled cheese ($12) that I chose. The reason? It was the surprising and welcome addition of carne adovada to this otherwise Cuban-style fare. Served on slices of grilled jalapeño cornbread, and accompanied by a habañero ginger pickle, this pork sandwich was always going to be a surprising first bite. I wanted a bigger pop and more heat from the pickle, and I’m not sure if it was the smoked gruyere or the char on the bread, but the “smoke” eventually took over. Even still, I’d definitely order it again.When it comes to something I’d normally never order, I give you the Crab Louie ($12.50). It’s a good thing I did! This pure delight of a sandwich mixes startlingly fresh, juicy crab salad with avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato—all the juices captured perfectly in the ciabatta-style bun. There’s absolutely nothing heavy about this rock-star of the lunch menu, and I invite all you almost-never-choose-fish-types (like me) to give this sandwich a chance. As it was a chilly day, I took it with the tomato-basil soup, but I think a side salad is probably the ideal side.For dessert, take the Xango ($4.99). It’s a cheesecake chimichanga—which could easily go wrong. Delish’s is surprisingly light though, with a crunchy crust, drizzles of silky caramel and a dollop of whipped cream for the kid in us all. Speaking of, there’s an affordable kid’s menu—provided your kiddo doesn’t prefer an entire plate of bacon ($4 for 4 slices). If anything takes the shine off, it’s price—though Delish is certainly on par with brunch spots citywide. I’d also like to see a few more local beers on offer, but, really, I’m grasping here. For a quality breakfast or lunch with stark attention to detail, local sourcing and even artistic presentation—they absolutely deliver. I’ve barely scratched the surface of an exacting yet satisfying menu, and I cordially invite you to do the same.
Delish3705 Ellison NW #A(505) 899-0197http://daretoindulge.com/Hours: Tue-Sun 8am-3pmVibe: Bistro-industrial meets shabby-chicAlibi Recommends: Breakfast: biscuits and gravy stack and espresso; Lunch: Crab Louie and a beer!