Restaurant Review: Sadie’s

It's Time To Rectify A Gap In Our Review Catalogue

Dan Pennington
6 min read
SadieÕs Earned Their Crown
Dare I say, food fit for a King? (Eric Williams Photography)
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I’m gonna go right ahead and say it: This is a review that doesn’t need to be done. Anyone who has lived here in Albuquerque for more than a year has been to Sadie’s. It’s one of the places you instinctively go to when someone visits, because it just hits the spot consistently. It scratches the itch for New Mexican cuisine in a way that no one else quite manages to get right in just the way you want it to.

Everyone has a Sadie’s story, and it’s just kind of a long-held tradition at this point that you’ll go to Sadie’s at least once a year. But in my long look through the history of our reviews, I noticed that we have technically never done a Sadie’s review, at least since 2000 and beyond. Like all the greatest of the city, they too deserve to be included in our catalogue of reviews, saved in posterity with everyone else so we can remember the food they created to give us all the home-cooked style we crave.

I was lucky enough to take a friend of mine who recently moved here and had never been, in order to give her the first time experience. The first thing I did, as many of us tend to do, is give them the tour of the mind-bogglingly large space they have for their location. It is a testament to the absolute power of their food that they can have somewhere that big filled during Balloon Fiesta to go on a two-hour hour wait. It can earnestly feel like the seating never ends in Sadie’s, and you can get lost if you take a wrong turn, discovering yet another room in your quest from the bathroom back to your table.

Let’s talk salsa. Sadie’s has been selling their salsa in and out of state for a good while now, and that Mason jar is iconic on most dinner tables or tucked away inside a suitcase for visitors to take back home, if only to slowly relive the moments of their time here until it inevitably runs out and sadness begins to take hold. It is currently on sale within 9000 stores in the US, so you shouldn’t struggle to hard to find it. It’s an amazing salsa. Plain and simple, they’ve got the fire to back up the taste, making it the perfect introduction to a meal paired with chips. With a modicum of self control, you’ll avoid filling up on them before the meal.

For appetizers, the green chile strips are the go-to for me. These fried delights have all the flavor of green chile you’ve come to love with the added bonus of being crispy, crunchy snacks that you can slowly burn your way through while you wait for the main course. Pair that with their green chile ranch dressing and you have an appetizer that’s absolutely perfect.

Speaking of main courses, we dug in on the Roberto Special (small $15.49, large $19.49) which is a hamburger steak grilled with onions atop a bed of frijoles and papitas, smothered in your choice of red or green chile and then absolutely doused with chile con queso. This is an absolutely decadent piece of dining that just screams happiness when it lands in front of you. The meat is tender, the chile hot and bold and the queso is dripping off the sides of everything, making you struggle to decide where to dig in first. It’s an oozing mess of flavors that you can’t help but gasp at when you first see it and then power through it like a lawnmower powered by Red Bull. It’s addictive in its combination, leaving little room for conversation because you can’t stop yourself from going for the next bite before the previous one is finished.

Not to be outdone, there’s the Stuffed Sopaipilla Dinner ($15.99) which is arguably my all-time favorite dish. A large freshly fried sopaipilla loaded with your choice of “Billy’s Spicy Beef,” chicharrones and beans, grilled hamburger patty or shredded chicken and served with frijoles and papitas. You can opt for the more impressive addition of shredded beef brisket or carne adovada for $1.65, which of course I did because who doesn’t need more carne adovada in their life? Spicy hot meat inside that beautiful sopaipilla, with a huge helping of frijoles and papitas on the side to pair with everything makes for a masterpiece of a dish. I haven’t ever had a carne adovada I didn’t like, but this is one of the few carne adovadas I love, and I will yell it from the top of the Sandias for everyone to hear. It’s tender, it’s spicy and it leaves your sinuses feeling open for the first time in your life and it fills you up with a joy you just don’t find from regular places.

Pair any of this with their margaritas, which are all hand crafted to be about the tastiest way to consume tequila possible, and you have yourself the authentic experience of New Mexico that you need to convince anyone who lives outside of the state that their food will always pale in comparison to the dining experience we offer here. Finish it off with basic undressed sopaipillas (filled to dripping with honey, of course) and you have a meal that is unforgettable.

Like I said, this isn’t a review that is going to be a wild revelation to anyone, but it is one that needs to be on the books. Lest there be a day when people forget, let this article stand as a testament to New Mexican food royalty, where they reign from a castle made of love and good cooking. Thanks for bringing the solid meals I grew up on and will continue to eat until I eat no longer.
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