Eat Like a Local: Albuquerque, New Mexico
For Yahoo Food’s travel summer series, Eat Like a Local, we’re taking you on a cross-country food crawl, city by city. Here’s where to chow down in America’s lesser-known destinations without sticking out like a sore thumb.
Albuquerque, New Mexico may be slightly overshadowed by its touristy neighbor Santa Fe, but that dusty mountain-and-desert terrain is home to culinary gems that will have you rethinking your Southwestern road trip route. The city’s dining scene, once strictly the provenance of north-of-the-border Mexican cafes and greasy spoons, is beginning to embrace farm-to-table dining and artisanal eats in a big way.
And where are they? Local food writer Andrea Feucht, a frequent contributor to the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico Magazine, and The Guardian, and the author of “The Food Lovers’ Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos,” is here to tell you.
Best Hole in the Wall: Mary & Tito’s
"Everyone that knows New Mexican food likes this place a lot," Feucht said of the retro diner-styled cafe, which opened in 1963. "It’s not gourmet food by any means," but its red chili (a simple concoction of pureed red chili peppers) is "the best thing that they do," she said. Mary & Tito’s is particularly known for its carne adovada: morsels of pork marinated in the red chili and baked for a full five hours. (2711 4th St. NW, Albuquerque, NM; 505-344-6266)
Photo credit: Monte Carlo Steakhouse and Liquor Store/Facebook
Best Dive: Monte Carlo Steakhouse and Liquor Store
This may be the first combination steakhouse-and-liquor-store to pop up on our radar. “It’s divey because the atmosphere is straight out of the ’70s and ’80s, with not a lot of upgrades,” Feucht said, describing a dark, wood-paneled interior and walls lined with chintzy knickknacks. Although at the steakhouse waiters serve up “really good steaks that they age themselves,” it’s not exactly for those seeking a healthful experience. “It’s not a place where you’re going to deliberately order the vegetables,” she said. Noted. (3916 Central Ave. SW, Albuquerque, New Mexico; 505-831-2444)
Best Dark and Sexy Date Spot: The Cellar Bar at Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro
As its name suggests, the Cellar Bar is both “very dark” and a “very good blind date place,” says Feucht (who speaks from personal experience)! Its moody atmosphere and red-hued, wood-paneled walls help set the romantic tone—and puts people in the mood to drink. ”What they sell a lot of is their French 75,” she continued, referring to the classic New Orleanian libation of Cognac, lemon juice, Champagne, and simple syrup. (Nob Hill District, 3009 Central Ave. NE, Albuquerque, NM; 505-254-9462)
Photo credit: thegrovecafe/Instagram