The appeal of Tía Betty Blue’s might seem skin-deep at first. The paint is fresh. The food comes fast enough to service a drive-thru window. A collection of bottled soda pops is so vast, it could be a gimmick. And the image of a raven-haired hottie—Tía Betty Blue, presumably—stares you down from the sign, the walls, the menu. But despite its candy-coated veneer, Tía B’s means business. The food is simple but thoughtful, and it’s different. And as long as food is the priority, who cares how cute the servers are?
As restaurant critic Ari LeVaux explains in this week’s Food section, IVB Canteen isn’t situated in some cutesy walkable community. “The only reason you’d be in the neighborhood is if you were lost or perhaps having some custom plastics manufactured nearby.” But a glass of Slow Down Brown and a brie-filled Frenchy sandwich are enticing reasons to slip out of work a few minutes early and onto Il Vicino Brewery Canteen’s lively patio.
Green chile. Turkey. Cheese. Bread. That’s it. The classic “Albuquerque turkey” sandwich is about as simple as it gets, which means the quality of the ingredients that go into it—and the perhaps atmosphere around it—are paramount. In this week’s food section, professional gobbler Ari LeVaux makes a case that JohnDhi’s nails both ends of the ABQT equation.
The “Albuquerque turkey” sandwich is the lesser-celebrated cousin of the green chile cheeseburger. This simple combination of flavors is found in most any Burque sandwich shop—including Subway franchises—and even in pie-form at some pizzerias. As with the green chile cheeseburger, it’s possible to try too hard. But all that really matters are the bare essentials: green chile, turkey, cheese and bread, in roughly that order. JohnDhi’s BBQ, on Rio Grande and Griegos, makes one of the tastiest versions in town.
Eclectic breakfast and lunch on a quiet Downtown corner
By Ari LeVaux
Café Lush is like a daydream of the way things might be in some future hybrid of Europe and Albuquerque. It’s an urban café on a quiet street corner, with a small menu of simple yet well-crafted dishes and a pledge to use local, seasonal and organic ingredients whenever possible. But unlike in Europe, the red and green chile won’t disappoint—unless you’re a member of the New Mexico anticumin coalition.
Meet Mu-Hua Yang. She and her husband Chen will be opening the Central Deli, downtown’s newest eatery, in the space formerly occupied by Relish at 411 Central NW. The Yangs have owned and operated several restaurants in Albuquerque over the years, but this is their first venture into the world of sandwiches.
The emphasis will be on fresh ingredients, Mu-Hua explains. There will be some old favorites, like a pastrami reuban, as well as some tantalizing innovations, like the curry shrimp sandwich. Hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches, salads... it sure will be nice to have a new lunch option downtown.
This Friday, March 5, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Central Deli will be handing out free samples of their food. The will also be giving 25% off for the entire month of March. I can hardly wait.
Relish just recently closed its Downtown location (though its Menaul one is in fine shape). Opinion? Wonderfully delicious sandwiches with high quality ingredients and creative combinations. Also very expensive, hovering around $10 for a sandwich and side.
So how much should an awesome, take-away sandwich for lunch cost?
Question 2: What’s so hard about making a good vegetarian sandwich?
This was something Relish had(has): excellent non-meat sandwiches that weren’t afterthoughts. Too many restaurants, like a place I checked out today, have exactly one non-meat sandwich that’s called the Veggie and has raw vegetables. What is this? 1950 in Peoria? Meatless sandwiches! Sakes alive!
Anyway, sandwiches are important. To sum up, they should be affordable and the vegetarian ones should be delicious and not random salad bar fixings.