Pad Thai Cafe

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The most flavorful Thai food in ABQ

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Sixth visit: November 17, 2016
First visit: March 31, 2016 

I have added Pad Thai Cafe to my coveted Top Ten List

Thai Cuisine

How di I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my taste buds can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

Fried Insects

Fried Insects (from Wikipedia)

Thai cuisine (Thai: อาหารไทย; RTGS: Ahan Thai) is the national cuisine of Thailand. Balance, detail, and variety are of paramount significance to Thai chefs. In his 2010 book The Principles of Thai Cookery, celebrity chef, writer, and authority on Thai cuisine McDang writes:

“What is Thai food? Every country in the world has its own food profile. It reflects its culture, environment, ingenuity and values. In the case of Thailand, these words come to mind: intricacy; attention to detail; texture; color; taste; and the use of ingredients with medicinal benefits, as well as good flavor.
“We not only pay attention to how a dish tastes: we are also concerned about how it looks, how it smells, and how it fits in with the rest of the meal. We think of all parts of the meal as a whole – sum rap Thai (the way Thais eat), is the term we use for the unique components that make up a characteristically Thai meal.”

Bird Peppers

Bird Peppers (from Wikipedia)

Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. It is known for its complex interplay of at least three and up to four or five fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. Australian chef David Thompson, a prolific chef and expert on Thai food, observed that unlike many other cuisines:

“Thai food ain’t about simplicity. It’s about the juggling of disparate elements to create a harmonious finish. Like a complex musical chord it’s got to have a smooth surface but it doesn’t matter what’s happening underneath. Simplicity isn’t the dictum here, at all. Some westerners think it’s a jumble of flavours, but to a Thai that’s important, it’s the complexity they delight in.”

Seafood Market

Seafood Market (from Wikipedia)

Thai cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. In 2011, seven of Thailand’s popular dishes appeared on the list of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods (Readers’ Pick)”— a worldwide online poll of 35,000 people by CNN Travel. Thailand had more dishes on the list than any other country. They were: tom yam goong (4th), pad Thai (5th), som tam (6th), massaman curry (10th), green curry (19th), Thai fried rice (24th) and moo nam tok (36th).

There are 19 restaurants in Albuquerque that serve Thai food. Pad Thai Cafe is my favorite, and a cut below you will find Siam Cafe and Thai Kitchen.

Appetizers

Fish Cakes

Fish Cakes

Fish Cakes

Thai Fish Cakes Thot man pla (ทอดมันปลา)
10 pieces served with cucumbers and sweet and sour sauce

These silver dollar-sized fish cakes are deep fried to perfection. The tangy dipping sauce is out-of-this-world spicy. Incomparable.

Pot Stickers

Pot Stickers

Fried Potstickers

8 pork potstickers, seasoned with pepper, garlic, and fish sauce. Served with sweet and sour sauce.

Surely you have had pot stickers before in many types of restaurants. These are among the very best I have had anywhere. Never salty, but just plain delicious.

egg rolls

Egg Rolls

Egg Rolls

Four pork egg rolls served with sweet and sour chili sauce

Smallish egg rolls explode onto your palate. Expertly fried. The dipping sauce is amazing.

Warning: habit forming. You may crave these during the middle of the night.

Tom Yum

Tom Yum

Chicken Tom Yum

Tom Yum Gai (ต้มยำไก่)
Spicy & Sour Chicken soup with lemon-grass, galangal, mushrooms, tomato, lime, cilantro, onion, chili, and fish sauce.

I have eaten Tom Yum all over this country. The Dazzling Deanell agrees that this is the best we have ever had. The spicing is outrageously good. The lemongrass and chiles bathe your taste buds in a rich bath of complex flavors. Fabulous dish.

Entrees

Pad Thai Cafe has an extensive menu. Among mu favorite types of dishes are curries and noodle dishes. Here are some I have not tried yet:

  • Spicy Fried Rice with Chicken
  • Green Curry Fried Rice
  • Pad Lad-Nah (ผัดราดหน้า)
  • Pad Siu (ผัดซีอิ๊ว)
  • Stir Fried Eggplant
  • Spicy Chili Basil Pad Gra Phow (กะเพรา)
  • Pad ped (ผัดเผ็ด)
  • Chicken with Cashewnuts Kai phat met mamuang himmaphan (ไก่ผัดเม็ดมะม่วงหิมพานต์)
  • Moo Thod (หมูทอด)
  • Som tam Thai (ส้มตำไทย) (Papaya Salad), and
  • Laab (ลาบ) (Minced pork salad)

Here is a sampling of what I had. There will be more. Lots more.

Thai Curries

Thai curry refers to dishes in Thai cuisine that are made with various types of curry paste; the term can also refer to the pastes themselves. A Thai curry dish is made from curry paste, coconut milk or water, meat, seafood, vegetables or fruit, and herbs. Curries in Thailand mainly differ from the curries in Indian cuisine in their use of fresh ingredients such as herbs and aromatic leaves over a mix of spices.

The curries at Pad Thai Cafe are consistently the best I have ever had. The smoothness and mouthfeel are exquisite. The flavors explode onto your palate. The heat level can be anywhere you want, from mild to Thai hot (and more). Look at the image of Yellow Curry. I asked Noi to make this Thai hot. It was (see the flakes of red chile?). The heat does not mask the other spicing, a tribute to the excellence of this kitchen.

You can add chicken, beef, shrimp, or fried catfish to any of these. My favorite is the Panang with catfish.

Red Curry

Red Curry
Coconut Milk, curry paste, fish sauce, salt, sugar, basil, and red bell pepper.

Yellow Curry

Yellow Chicken Curry Kaeng Kure (แกงกะหรี่)
Chicken, coconut milk, yellow curry paste, fish sauce, salt, sugar, white onion, and potato

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Curry

Green Curry
Coconut Milk, curry paste, fish sauce, salt, sugar, basil, and Bamboo shoot

Massaman Curry

Massaman Curry
Coconut milk, curry paste, chicken stock, fish sauce, salt, sugar, roast peanuts, yellow onion, and potato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panang Fish Curry

Panaeng Catfish phanaeng pla duk (พะแนงปลาดุก)
Catfish, coconut milk, panaeng curry paste, fish sauce, sugar, Kafir lime leaf.

Panang curry with chicken represents the diversity of Thailand’s southern region. Panang refers to the island of Penang in Northern Malaysia bordering southern Thailand. Use 4 tablespoons curry paste from a fresh curry paste recipe or 5 tablespoons pre-made curry paste if time does not permit making your own paste.

This delicious curry has become my top favorite, and has earned a coveted place on my Best Dishes of 2016 List.

Noodle dishes

Most Americans know a handful of Thai noodle dishes, such as Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles. You need to break out of this rut and widen your sights. Check out this list of Thai noodle dishes.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai (ผัดไทย)
Garlic, shallot, bean curd, rice stick noodles, green onions, bean sprouts, ground peanuts, & lime
Add beef, chicken, pork , or shrimp.

Stir fried medium size rice noodles (sen lek) with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice or tamarind pulp, ground peanuts, egg, bean sprouts, and Chinese chives (kuichai), combined with pork, chicken, seafood, or tofu.

This famous dish has become the most popular dish in many American Thai restaurants. In all other Thai restaurants I have tried, this dish is much too sweet and boring, At Pad Thai Cafe, all of the elements are perfectly balanced. Order it spicy to Thai hot.

A favorite of Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott.

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles 

Drunken Noodles Kuai-tiao phat khi mao (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวผัดขี้เมา)
Stir fried wide rice noodles with fish sauce, chili, garlic, basil, baby corn, carrot, and broccoli
Beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp

The Dazzling Deanell Collins could not stop raving about this fabulous dish. Aces for appearance, taste, and texture. You will not find a better version anywhere else in New Mexico.

Sweets

There are only three desserts listed on the menu:

Khao tom mat sai kluai (ข้าวต้มมัดไส้กล้วย)
Sticky coconut and banana rice cake wrapped and steamed in banana leaf,

Mango Rice Khao niao mamuang (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง)
Sticky rice cooked in sweetened thick coconut milk, served with slices of ripe mango, and

Ice Cream Combo
Three Scoops of Mango, Green Tea, and Coconut ice cream, topped with toasted almonds.

When ordering a lunch special, a dessert-of-the-day will be included, such as one of the four pictured here. The sweet purple rice hes a thick, syrupy texture and is delicious. The tapioca and corn is to me the very best Thai dessert I have tasted. Not too sweet, but just right. If you are lucky, this will be the dessert of thr day, so jeep going back to see what comes up on your next visit.

Sweet Purple Rice

Sweet Purple Rice

Fruit

Fruit

 

Watermelon

Watermelon

Tapioca

Tapioca and Corn

 

 

 

You probably have had the rest. Now you need to treat yourself with the best. Often. Anw when you are finished, go into the Talin Market right next door and  stock up on the makings for creating these dishes right in your own kitchen. Don’t forget to pick up some fresh Bird Peppers. I cook with them all the time. HOT.

What others are saying

Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

Tom Yum and Dumplings

Tom Yum and Dumplings

“When you discover a restaurant as amazing as the Pad Thai Cafe, you’ve got to share it with your friends.  For the most part that means sharing my observations on this blog.  Among my cherished readers are three of my very best friends, fellow foodies who’ll drop what they’re doing to join me for a meal to validate the veracity of the claims on my blog. My second visit to the Pad Thai Cafe was with Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott: Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate; and the Dazzling Deanell Collins.  They were all surprised at the diversity, explosiveness and balance of flavors in every dish we enjoyed.  By meal’s end, there was near unanimous consensus that the Pad Thai Cafe is the Duke City’s very best Thai restaurant.

“Named for a dish that had never before “wowed” me, the Pad Thai Café would be a restaurant we’d have on our regular rotation if we had a regular rotation. It’s one of the very best Thai restaurants in the Duke City.”


Pad Thai Cafe 

(505) 266-0567

PadThai01LocationFairgrounds 
110 Louisiana Boulevard SE Suite A,
Albuquerque,, NM  87108
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Mon – Sat: 
11 AM to 8 PM, except
Closed Tuesday
Sun:  
11 AM to 7 PM

Pad Thai Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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Horseman’s Haven Cafe

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 It’s the chile, stupid… 

Chow Station

First Visit: November 19, 2011

This excellent restaurant may have odd hours, but it is also a local favorite. The Haven has some of the best green chile in the entire state of New Mexico. Service is quick and friendly, and their prices are reasonable. The level #2 green chile is not for the faint of heart, seriously, and some have deemed it as the hottest green chile in the entire southwest. You have to special order it with your meal. But I get ahead of myself.

Green Chile Cheeseburger with level 2 green on the side

I have been on a Green Chile Cheeseburger quest since I came to New Mexico 3-1/2 years ago. I maintain a list of the top ten that I have found in my Hall of Fame page. When I order a GCCB, I get it competition style —patty, cheese, green chile on a nondescript lightly toasted bun — so I can judge the taste and texture without salad on it and without mustard or ketchup (ugh) to adulterate it.  Jane usually orders them straight off the menu, the way that the cooks present them. We compare notes.

The level 2 half GCCB. Wow!

I had been told by gastromomes whom I trust that the Haven makes a really great GCCB, so there we were one Saturday afternoon staring at two of the loveliest looking GCCB creations that I have seen. The beef is properly fatty and not dry, but quite moist without being greasy. These are hand-cut and hand0formed beef patties with a tantalizingly irregular shape. No cookie-cutter patties here, Bub. The cheese was properly gloppy (with almost stick-to-your-teeth consistency.) Bun was great, not yuppie style with some seeds baked onto the top.

I ordered two small dishes of the Green for comparison and experimentation. The regular Green is very high on the piquancy scale, which may be too hot for most tourists and gringos. This I put on one half of the burger, and covered the other half with a mixture (half and half) of the regular and the legendary level 2 stuff. Both halves were fantastic, but then I am a chilehead. Jane stuck with the regular Green. A minor point—the Green, while very tasty, could have a slightly more smoky taste.

Really Great Home Fried Potatos

Both lunches were accompanied by a large pile of most delightful home fried potatos that were cooked to perfection. They were slightly crusty, and were probably the best that we have had in New Mexico. Almost worth a special trip from Corrales to Santa Fe.

There may be those who think that eating really hot chile concoctions borders on the macho. Well, these folks don;t appreciate the beauties of properly prepared Green or Red. Get over it. It adds to and complements whatever it is served with. So there.

#3 GCCB

#3 GCCB

The Haven serves many other delicious sounding (and looking) New Mexican dishes. Something for every taste. Maybe I’ll try them sometime. When I get my fill of the GCCBs, that is. The room is truck-stop modern, and all the diners (mostly locals, I surmise) look happy. I know why. Go there and get happy.

The Haven’s GCCB cracked my Hall of Fame, and is now my third favorite GCCB in New Mexico (therefore the universe).

Horseman’s Haven Cafe

(505) 471-5420

Santa Fe
4354 Cerrillos Rd Map
Santa Fe, NM 87507

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Phở #1

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Phở #1 serves up my favorite Phở in ABQ

Pho #1 Panorama

Ninth visit: March 24, 2016 
First visit: June 27, 2008 

There are about 48 restaurants in Albuquerque that serve Vietnamese food. I love Phở. When I moved to New Mexico, I started a search for the  best Phở to be had here.

My Duke City Phở Quest Ends at Phở #1.

Every time I go to a Vietnamese restaurant, I resolve to try something besides Phở. It rarely works. This place has the best Phở I have had since I left Maryland. Almost as good as that at Phở Real in Silver Spring/Burtonsville MD.

I usually get a small Tai/Nam (beef) Phở wherever I go. The version here at Phở#1  is wonderfully spiced and scented (the aroma is critical), is not short on beef, and has ample noodles.

The Food

Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls

Start your meal with some Spring Rolls.

Thin delicate wrappers stuffed with bits of pork and shrimp. Dip in the Peanut Sauce (moderately piquant). The Dazzling  Deanell was, uh, dazzled. So was I, too. These are among the best and freshest Spring Rolls I have had.  Nearly perfect appearance, taste, and texture. A winner.

 

Lemongrass Chicken

Lemongrass Chicken

Lemongrass Chicken with Vegetables in a spicy brown Sauce

The Dazzler likes Phở plenty, but she really loves Lemongrass Chicken, and that’s what  she had. The aroma of lemongrass wafted up from the plate and she knew that she got the right stuff. The veggies (mushrooms, bamboo shoots, red bell peppers, tiny corn ears, and more)were masterfully done. The brown sauce needed a tad more piquancy (red pepper flakes or Bird Peppers?) Very delicious dish. I may even order it next time, if I ever tire of Phở (fat chance).

Phở Tai Man

Phở Tai Man

Here comes the Phở.

Phở or pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles called bánh Phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily served with either beef or chicken. Phở is a popular street food in Vietnam[4] and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world. Southern Vietnamese eat it for breakfast and occasionally lunch, whereas those from northern Vietnam consume it at any time of day.

If you order tai, be sure to get it on a separate plate so that it will not be overcooked by the steaming hot broth.

 

Tai

Tai

Garnish

Garnish

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Phở

Great Phở

Salty Lemonade

Salty Lemonade

Get a glass of Salty Lemonade(Chanh muối) .

Somewhat of an acquired taste, this stuff has been on my radar for about twenty years.

Chanh muối is a salted, pickled lime in Vietnamese cuisine. Its name comes from the Vietnamese words chanh (meaning “lime” or “lemon”) and muối (meaning “salt”). To make the chanh muối, many limes (often key limes) are packed tightly in salt in a glass container and placed in the sun until they are pickled. During the process, juices are drawn off the limes, which dissolves the salt and produces a pickling liquid which immerses the finished chanh muối.

Look no further. Go to Phở #1. Eat. Enjoy.

What others are saying

Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

Stir-fried crispy egg noodle with beef and onion

Stir-fried crispy egg noodle with beef and onion

“Launched in 2004, Pho #1 may well be on its way to earning its name. The seven courses of beef is one–make that seven–reasons why.  Other reasons include a stellar rendition of the name on the marquee; the restaurant’s pho has earned a reputation as among the city’s very best in a city that has embraced pho.

“In a “Chow Down in Burque Town” forum entitled “Best Vietnamese Restaurant in Town” on the omnibus Duke City Fix, Albuquerque’s pho-fanatics weighed in on their favorites.  One of the most frequently mentioned was Pho #1.  Common reasons given were the large number of local Vietnamese families who eat there, the “to die for”soups and the genuinely nice family who owns and runs the restaurant.

“Pho #1 specializes in beef noodle soup, the menu referring to it as “the adventurer’s choice” because of the near limitless flavor combinations in which it is available.  A small bowl of pho is the size of a wading pool, a large bowl the size of a swimming pool.  For a pittance, you can even upsize to an “extra large” bowl which is virtually the size of a pond.  It’s common at Pho #1 to enjoy an asynchronous symphony of slurping, the audible inhalation of noodles being heartily enjoyed by entire families, each member partaking of a different size bowl of pho (similar to the A&W restaurant of old concept of Papa, Mama, Teen and Child burgers).”


 

Phở #1 

(505) 268-0488

International District
414 San Pedro Dr SE
Albuquerque, NM 87108

Hours: 10:30 – 9:00 (Closed Wednesday)

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Blade’s – Milagro Wine Pairing Dinner

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Blade's Bistro

Special Event:
Blade’s Bistro – Milagro Vineyards & Winery
Wine Pairing Dinner
March 21, 2016

The Players

Kevin and Anja Bladergroen

Kevin and Anja Bladergroen

Blade’s Bistro, Placitas NM

“Tucked away in the serene town of Placitas, Blades’ Bistro offers savory European and American influenced cuisine, a warm atmosphere and an ever-changing array of daily specials.

“In everyday life, it is the Bistro that is woven into the daily pattern of meals and celebrations. The Bistro is that little neighborhood restaurant where they know who you are, greet you warmly, and serve you satisfying foods that change with the seasons and define Creative Casual Cuisine.

“Blades’ Bistro with its warm atmosphere offers uncomplicated, unpretentious food and daily specials that keep you coming back often. Bistro cuisine is a mix of European and American influence. This is all done with high quality ingredients, “the melting pot of taste.” A little of this and a little of that make rustic food so inviting. This is all brought together country side in a classical Bistro setting.

ABQ Top TenI love this place. The Braised Apple Calvados Sweetbreads (Ris de Veau) are among my all-time favorite dishes. Amazing. Blade’s has earned a spot (currently number 8) on my coveted Albuquerque Top Ten List.

 

 

Larry and San Francisco de Asis with Merlot at Milagro

Larry and San Francisco de Asis with Merlot at Milagro

Milagro Vineyard & Winery, Corrales NM 

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“Handcrafted from Vine to Wine.

“Milagro Vineyards create wines in Northern New Mexico from vineyards located in and around the picturesque village of Corrales. Convinced that wine is made mostly in the vineyard, Milagro meticulously raises all the grapes used to make its wines. Wines are handmade in an Old World style, using barrel aging in fine French Oak and bottle aging, to reflect the “Place” or “Terrior” they come from.

The Garden

The Garden — I spend a lot of time here with my friends.

“Milagro has produced wines from vinifera grapes since the vineyards were planted in 1985. Currently they include small production of a Rose, red & white table wine – Corrales White and Corrales Red – and varietal wines of Chardonnay, Semillon, Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.”

 

Rick and Mitzi

Rick and Mitzi, Proprietors

The Milagro Tasting Room is open on weekends (monthly during warmer weather), and is a lovely place to sit and sip with your friends. Or make new friends. I am here often. The grounds are gorgeous.

Rick and Mitzi Hobson, the proprietors, will be glad to bend your ear about their fabulous handmade wines. Be sure to get on their mailing list for their latest news.


The Food and Wine

Blade Milagro Wine Dinner Menu

Blade Bistro – Milagro Vineyard & Winery Dinner Menu

White Asparagus Soup

White Asparagus Soup

First Course 

Fresh White Asparagus  Soup, with

2014 Milagro Vineyards & Winery Riesling

Had I encountered this soup while I was judging soups at the Roadrunner Food Bank’s Annual Souper Bowl, it would have won the Critic’s Choice First Place Award. And this is a tough competition.

This soup is delicious. Perfect appearance, taste, and texture.  I could eat it every day. And the 2014 Riesling is one of my favorite Milagro whites. Excellent pairing.

Sablefish (Black Cod) Misoyaki Style

Sablefish (Black Cod) Misoyaki Style

Second Course 

Sablefish (Black Cod) Misoyaki-Style Pan seared set atop a cauliflower puree, with

Milagro Vineyards & Winery Library 2010 Old Church Chardonnay

My first sablefish in New Mexico. Veray tasty, and the three-cauliflower puree was truly spectacular. The slight bitterness complemented the slight sweetness of the fish. A beautifully balanced dish.

The Old Church Chardonnay was just right, and while Chardonnays are not among my favorites, the pairing really worked well.

Herb Crusted Colorado Rack of Lamb au Natural

Herb Crusted Colorado Rack of Lamb au Natural

Third Course 

Herb Crusted Colorado Rack of Lamb au Natural and roasted acorn squash, roasted red beets and green beans

Milagro Vineyards & Winery Library 2008 Merlot

Lamb is my favorite red meat, and this is one of the very best Lamb Racks I have had in this state. Done medium rare, it had perfect appearance, taste, and texture. The herbing and the wine reduction were spot-on. I want this again.

The Library Merlot is one of my favorite Milagros, and the pairing could not have been better.

Grand Marnier Dark Chocolate Brownie

Grand Marnier Dark Chocolate Brownie

Dessert

Grand Marnier Dark Chocolate Brownie with a White Chocolate  Ganache

Milagro Vineyards & Winey Library 2009 Old Church Zinfandel

The brownie had a powerfully sweet taste. I loved it. The Zin is among the best that New Mexico offers, and I love it. But I think the pairing was flawed. The intense sweetness of the brownie didn’t work well with the  berry taste  of the Zin — they fought each other.

My dinner companions — Pamela Jackson, Barbara Chase, and Linda Poindexter Chase — also were wowed by this event. None has previously visited Blade’s, and we are all ready to return. I sure hope that Kevin and Anya will keep up a regular train of these events. When they do, get your reservation early. And make sure that you are on their mailing list.


Blade’s Bistro 

Blade's Hours(505) 771-0695

 221 State Highway 165 #L,
Placitas, NM 87043

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Red Rock Deli

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A Bit of the Old World (and Chicago) Right Here in ABQ

Panorama

Fourth  visit: March 18, 2016
First visit: February 4, 2016 

Deli Case

Deli Case

Who’da thunk that there is a restaurant and deli that serves and sells Polish/Ukrainian/Chicago-Style food right here in The Duke City?

Not I. When my friend Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite — told me that I could get a genuine Italian Beef (Chicago Style),  I got the Dazzling Deanell to drive me over there as quickly as possible (but slower than Danica, if you please). She, being adventurous, complied. And now she begs me to go back. I will go here anytime with anyone wishing to go, but you must drive.

Mustard

Mustard

When I walked into the place, it looked as if I were in a deli/grocery. The booths and tables were hidden behind shelves on the left, filled with much that you need to cook Polish. Mustards, sauerkraut, canned fruits and syrups, poppy seed paste for baking, dried mushrooms (the kind that are essential for making a proper Bigos), and the list goes on. Another case displays sausages and other such goodies. Take some home.

The Food

The lure of an Italian beef sandwich drew me here. Since Deanell had never had an Italian Beef, we ordered one and a Lincoln Pork sandwich and split them. Good move.

Italian Beef

Italian Beef

Italian Beef 

Original “Vienna Beef” brand Italian beef, gravy, cheese, hot or sweet peppers on French bread. Get the hot peppers (Gabardine)

I lived in Chicago for 15 years. I ate Italian Beef in all the great places (Al’s #1 Beef  and Portfolio’s were a few), and the Red Rock version wins hands down. Deanell had never even heard of Italian Beef, and swooned at her first bite. She talks about this sandwich continually. Quite an impression.

Best I have ever had. Anyplace.

Lincoln Pork

Lincoln Pork

Lincoln Pork

Art Wienerschnitzel Lettuce, mayo, breaded pork chop, pickles, jalapeno, mustard.

The name of this sandwich is a taleoff on Lincoln Park, which borders Lake Michigan on the North side of Chicago. I lived one block from Lincoln Park, so Naturally I had to try this namesake sandwich.

Superb. Perfectly done.

Chicago Sandwiches

Chicago Sandwiches

 

Polish Polish

Polish Polish

The Polish Polish

Pork, with sweet and spicy BBQ sauce, served on a hamburger bun with coleslaw.

My favorite Polish in Chicago were at Big Herm’s in Skokie  (now closed – sigh) and at Byron’s at Irving Park and Sheridan, just a few blocks from my condo and Wrigley Field. In Baltimore, I had many at Polock Johnny’s. Red Rock is right up there with the best.

 

Ukrainian Borscht

Ukrainian Borscht

Ukrainian Borscht

Not on the menu. This lovely soup is made  by the wife of Mark, the owner. Beets, onions, potatos, pork, sour cream.

This borscht is lighter in color and texture than that which you may have had before. Never mind, it is excellent.

 

Solanka

Solanka

Soļanka

A traditional hearty Ukrainian soup/stew. Beef, sausages, carrots, potatos, onions, and spices.

This soup is also not on the menu, but appears from time to time. Watch for the sign near the front door. The soup is unbelievably good. You need it.

Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage

Beef with rice wrapped in cabbage leaves, slow cooked in tomato sauce. (when available — ask).

Tender, lightly spiced, and delicious. This marvelous dish reminds me of the stuffed cabbage made by my Polish neighbors in Baltimore.

This dish is accompanied with a roll that you should use to sop up all the sauce. Just do it.

Polish/German Platter

Polish/German Platter

Polish/German Platter

Polish sausage and a German beer brat served with sides of potato salad, sauerkraut and sauerkraut stew.

This is the real thing, not like that junk you buy in the supermarket. The sauerkraut is perfect. The sausages are nicely spiced and juicy. The skin pops when you bite into them. The creamy potato salad is as good as it gets. This is a fabulous dish, and has made its way onto my Best Dishes of 2016 List.

Russian Roulette

Russian Roulette

Pierogi . Dumpling made with 10 variants of stuffing Try them fried with onions and bacon. To get a representative sample, order the Russian Roulette.

Mix of 6 different kinds of pierogi with savory stuffing, served with sour cream.

My friend LP loves these things, and the version served at Red Rock easily earned her approval. Mine, too.

There are two choices for dessert.

Sweet Russian Roulette

Sweet Russian Roulette

Sweet Russian Roulette

6 Dumplings stuffed with fruit fillings and sweet farmers cheese. Topped with sour cream and fruit syrup.

These are quite a treat. If you like to experiment, get a smallish of onions and bacon on the side. Our server, Betty, appeared horrified at the suggestion. But the blend of sweet and savory is outstanding. Try it.

Nalesniki

Nalesniki

Nalesniki

Blintzes stuffed with sweet farmers cheese fried with butter. Served with sour cream and fruit syrup.

Most ethnic cultures have a version of Blintzes. Those at Red Rock are especially rich and tasty, being among the best I have ever had.

Nalesniki. The split.

LP, Barb, and I shared the three blintzes in an equitable way.
Next time, I shall order my own. These are too good to share.

 

I am delighted to have found this place. Thanks, Gil. Now I can eat Chicago without the plane trip.


What Others are Saying

Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

“Cities such as Chicago have long realized that these ethnic enclaves offer a treasure trove of cultural and culinary experiences.  Most of these neighborhoods welcome culinary tourism–the opportunity to showcase the cuisine of their homelands.

Denuded Dog

Denuded Dog

“Chicago  boasts of the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw (as many as 183,000 by some estimates) in the world.   Storefronts and restaurants in “Little Poland” on Chicago’s far Northwest side are bedecked in the white and red flag of Poland.  They offer everything from pierogies to kielbasa.  Every Labor Day weekend Chicago celebrates its Polish heritage at the Taste of Polonia festival where Polish cuisine and culture are showcased.

“Our eyes immediately gravitated on the menu to the Italian Beef sandwich, a Chicago staple.  Also catching our eyes was menudo, a New Mexico favorite among intrepid diners.  The menu has four sections, the first of which lists three Polish sausage options.  Six hot dogs (including Chicago-style and a New Yorker) precede twelve sandwich options (including Angus hamburgers) on the menu.  The “specialties” section of the menu lists the Polish specialties along with the aforementioned menudo as well as blood sausage.”

Red Rock Deli (Polish/Ukrainian/Chicago Style) 

(505) 332-9656
Mon-Sun: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm

East Side
13025 Lomas Blvd NE,

Albuquerque, NM 87112

Deli Counter

Deli Counter

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Posted in Chicago-Style, Polish, Ukrainian | Leave a comment

Delicias Café

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Real Mexican Food

frontLatest visit: March 8, 2016
First visit: March 17, 2012

Delicias Café serves Mexican food modeled after the cuisine of Chihuahua. It is not New Mexican food, and stands out as a good example of the food that  you can expect from the nearest Mexican state just to our south. You will not find elegant food at Delicias, but you will  find hearty stuff at a price that borders on ridiculously low. So dig in.

Culinary Notes

Delicias, Chihuahua

Delicias (Spanish for Delights) is a city in the Mexican state of Chihuahua and serves as the seat of the municipality of the same name. It is located southeast of the state capital, Chihuahua. Delicias was declared an official municipality of the state of Chihuahua on January 7, 1935. Delicias is small industrial city and a major agricultural center located in the Conchos River Valley. The city had a 2005 census population of 108,807 (municipality: 127,211). It was founded on 30 April 1933, making it Mexico’s youngest city. The municipality of Delicias is one of the smallest in the state.The population od the Metro area is 127,211.

Here are three characteristics of this state’s cuisine:

  • Expert beef preparation associated with its arid-inland ranching
  • Much processed food and articles made of wheat flour instead of cornmeal because of its proximity to the USA
  • Mennonite settlements responsible for good cheese

Look for 

  • T-bone and Sirloin — no explanation needed
  • Cabrito al pastor — roasted goat
  • Burritas — wheat-flour tortillas wrapped around various fillings such as machaca (macerated dried beef), ham and cheese
  • Sopaipilla —  to the masa used for making tortillas a bit of baking powder is added. The tortilla is then made, cut into four parts, and fried. This can be eaten with the meal or it can be smothered in “brown-sugar molasses” (melaza de piloncillo) and served as a dessert
  • Menonita or Chihuahua — cheese traditionally produced by the Mennonites
  • Asadero — mainly in Villa Ahumada, a cheese traditionally eaten with Chihuahua’s exceptionally large, thin, wheat-flour tortillas

Here’s what we found:

Chips and Salsa with Horchata

Chips and Salsa
We were offered a complimentary serving of chips and salsa as soon as we sat down. The chips were somewhat thin, but did their job. Tasted fine. The salsa was a fresh tasting, nicely spiced tomato based concoction with chopped jalapeños for heat. The salsa was a bit too mild for me (a confirmed asbestos mouth), and could use more heat, but it was suitable for trepidatious gringos. Tasted very good.

Horchata
In the absence of agus fresce, horchata is a good choice. This version was just fine. Get out of the iced tea habit. Drink Mexican.

Beef Vegetable Soup

Caldo de Res (Mexican Beef Soup)
This is usually an extremely hearty and satisfying soup. Soup is included with most entrées. This bowl contained beef broth, large chunks of vegetables, and a few chunks of beef. Good taste, if a tad salty. Don’t forget to squeeze the lime slice for that slight hint of acidity.

This is a soup that you should make at home for those chilly evenings. Try this recipe for size. Make a double batch.

Mole Poblano on Shredded Chicken Breast

Mole Poblano: on Shredded Chicken Breast
A great mole poblano is hard to find in these here parts.  The version at Delicias is good, but certainly not great. I found the mole to be somewhat fruity tasting, a bit thin, and too chocolaty. It’s as if it was made with Hershey’s chocolate syrup instead of quality Mexican chocolate. And too much of it, whatever it was.
I really prefer this mole served atop whole chicken pieces (breast, thigh, and drumstick that have stewed in the sauce until tender and falling off the bone. I think that using shredded chicken breast falls short of being desirable.  Your choice, though.

Asado Delicias: Three Chile Red Sauce

Asado Delicias: Three Chile Red Sauce

Asado Delicias: Three Chile Red Sauce
This is the  meal that will keep bringing me back here. Most New Mexicans rave about Carne Adovada, and rightfully so. Made correctly, it is a spectacular dish, and one that I use as a benchmark for rating New Mexican restaurants. Asado Delicias is a close relative with one fundamental difference: there are three different red chiles as well as spices in this dish while Adovada has but one —the new Mexico red chile. The marinated pork can be braised or baked to a falling-apart texture.

Delicias red is  earthy, smoky, highly complex, and fantastically delicious. I suspect that the smokiness comes from chipotle chiles, bit the restaurant staff didn’t know what varieties the chiles are. I will make it a high priority task to find out — I want to duplicate this dish in my own cocina.

Here is a very good (I think)  recipe.

All entrées are served with refritos and Mexican rice. Both sides are notably good. The beans have a nice lardy mouth feel.

Flan with Cajeta

Flan with Cajeta
Flan is ubiquitous in New Mexico (and Mexico).  You have surely had it many times in the Duke City. In its simplest form. it is flavored custard cooked in a cup with sugar that has been carefully caramelized. This is the foundation of that at Delicias, but it is served with generous ladling of a cajeta (caramel sauce) and topped with dollops of whipped cream and a cherry. The cajeta tastes like it came from a jar and is overpowering. Much too sweet. This messes with the character of the delicate flan in a way that is, to me, superfluous. What a shame — keep it simple. This should be a delicate dessert that doesn’t threaten a diabetic coma.

We have here some ups and downs. The food is basically good, but (with the exception of the Asado) slightly flawed. I will, of course, be back to try other delightful sounding dishes. The pastel de tres leches looks marvelous (yeah, I’ll go out of my way for tres leches).

I need to repeat that the Asado Delicias is spectacular. At $7.85 including the soup, this is surely one of Albuquerque’s best bargains.

Horchata, chips, Salsa, and Corn Crema

Horchata, chips, Salsa, and Corn Crema

March 8, 2016 

Well, I said I would return and try the Asado Delicias: Three Chile Red Sauce again. Still truly . Amazing! But there is more. On this visit, I was joined by the Dazzling Deanell Collins (her Birthday) and Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite. The food is even better than I remembered, and many seafood selections have appeared on the updated menu.

Lime Marinated Shrimp

Lime Marinated Shrimp

The chips and salsa are as good as ever, flavored liberally with jalapenos, as was the delicious Corn Crema dish,

The Birthday girl had an amazing Shrimp dish marinated nicely in lots of lime. She also had a Tostada de Mariscos con Pescado. Fine dishes, and we will surely have these again.

For me, the highlight of the meal was the {astel de Tres Leches.

Pastel de Tres Leches

Pastel de Tres Leches

I employ this desert as a benchmark to test the quality of Mexican (and Cuban) restaurants. This Tres Leches passed all the tests: Appearance (perfect), taste (perfect, and texture (perfect). The texture is moist (and not soggy) with almond-flavored milk.

This is the very best Tres Leches I have ever had in New Mexico. It is so good that I would make a special trip for it. So will The Dazzler.

Oh, yeah. There is now beautiful and colorful new furniture. Great addition. 

New Furniture

New Furniture

What others are saying

Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

Chiles Rellenos en Nogada

Chiles Rellenos en Nogada

“When my compadre Rico Martinez craves “real Mexican food,” he heads to Delicias Cafe which he considers “better than any Mexican restaurant I’ve tried in Albuquerque.”  Rico has become Delicias unofficial publicist, waxing poetic about his new favorite on Urbanspoon and telling everyone he knows about it.  I wish he had told me sooner.  Delicias is every bit as good as he said, maybe better.  Best of all, it’s got that real south-of-the-border authenticity aficionados like Rico and me crave.

“That authenticity is confirmed by my friend and fellow blogger Steve Coleman of Steve’s Gastronomic Home Page.  Steve is an authority on Mexican food, having traveled extensively throughout our southern neighbor.  For years he also chronicled his visits to Mexican restaurants in El Paso on his very well written blog.  He knows what he’s talking about so when he says “one thing I like about Delicias is its ability to reproduce the same kind of experience that could be found by walking into any restaurant at random in Cuidad Juarez or other cities in the state of Chihuahua, you can take it to the bank.”

Rico Martinez — Friend of the Sybarite

“The BEST Mexican food I’ve found in the North ABQ area

Chorizo Skillet (Photo by Rico Martinez)

“We love real Mexican food (not New Mexican), and often drive to other parts of Albuquerque to get our fix. So I was very curious to discover a REAL Mexican restaurant just a block from my office. And I was thrilled to try it and discover it’s BETTER than any Mexican restaurant I’ve tried in Albuquerque.

“When I started eating at Delicia’s just a couple of months ago, the restaurant was usually empty. I knew that would change, and sure enough, word is getting out about this place. I’m telling everyone about this place that serves incredible Mexican food in huge portions with great, low prices AND has a great atmosphere and excellent wait staff. What’s not to like about that?”

Delicias Café

Photo by Gil Garduño

(505) 830-6561

Northeast Heights
6001 San Mateo Blvd NE Map.5ce8f03
Albuquerque, NM 87109

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Casa de la Vieja Escuela Mariscos (Somewhat Closed)

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Casa de la Vieja Escuela Mariscos

Snow in Corrales

Mostly closed after a meteoric rise. Call for an appointment.
Sigh. Sic transit gloria mundi.

We will open for special occasions. Email me through this blog.

1,528tth visit: November 15, 2015
First visit: July 3, 2008

Maryland-Style Crabcakes

Maryland Crabcakes

Scrumptious Maryland-style crabcakes. These are authentic competition-style crabcakes made with backfin lump crabmeat delicately spiced with Old Bay Seasoning and tenderly fried to a delicate golden brown. Eat them on saltines, like the natives of Bawmer do. No other crabcake in New Mexico even comes close to these.It is a shame that this place closed almost as soon as it opened. Eating by the pool was a delight.
Sic transit gloria mundi.

Grilled Mahi-Mahi

Grilled Mahi-Mahi

Mahi-Mahi is one of the easiest of all fish to grill. It takes to the Weber like bears take to the woods. This version was prepared with a lime-garlic-green chile marinade, and has one of the finest flavors I have had. Tender and flaky, while still retaining the juiciness.

 

Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo

Chef Jane’s Shrimp & Andouille Gumbo

Gumbo is a stew or soup that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo)..

Andouille. The recipe was brought to the New World by the French colonists of Louisiana, and Cajun andouille is the best-known variety in the United States. The spiciest of all the variants, Cajun andouille is made of butt or shank meat and fat, seasoned with salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic, and smoked over pecan wood and sugar cane for up to seven or eight hours at approximately 175°F (80°C). The resulting sausage is used in a wide range of Louisiana dishes, such as gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and étouffée.

LaPlace, Louisiana, has proclaimed itself the Andouille Capital of the World, and holds a huge festival every third weekend of October, in which a ceremonial queen is chosen as Miss Andouille. LaPlace is also the home to Jacobs Sausage and Bailey’s Sausage. Both are family owned businesses that have more than 100 years of documented sausage making. To this day, both families dispute the origin of the sausage and its true creator in modern form.

Chef Jane’s version has no okra, and is thickened and taste enhancer with file powder. This version is spectacular, and is now a favorite dish among the visitors to Casa de la Vieja Escuela Mariscos.

Green Chile Cheese Dogs 

Green Chile Cheese Dogs

Green Chile Cheese Dogs

GCCDs in a seafood house? Why not. Some kids will not eat seafood, but I’ve never seen a kid who doesn’t like hot dogs.

All ingredients on his plate are from Costco. Hebrew National all-beef dogs. Nondescript buns. 505 Green Chile. American cheese   slices (never cedar — it doesn’t melt to a required gooey mess).

My 80-year-old sister from New Jersey loves these things.

Strawberry Blueberry Pie

Pamela Jackson's Strawberry Blueberry Pie

Pamela Jackson’s Strawberry Blueberry Pie

Chef Pam

Chef Pam

Pamela Jackson’s perfect Strawberry Blueberry Pie. This is as good a pie as any I have had in the Duke City. It is served with a dollop of Vanilla gelato from Frost in ABQ Uptown, which serves the very best gelato in ABQ. Go there for sure.

 

Tri-fold Omelet con Salciccia

Omelet with Sausage and wine sauce

Omelet with Sausage and wine sauce

Beautiful hand-made two-egg tri-fold omelet.

The sausage is from M’Tucci’s Italian Market and Deli. Gentle fennel seed and other spices, this is one of my favorite buys from the delightful deli. The Dazzling Deanell agrees, too.

I only make this delightful dish for overnight guests.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Grits

Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Grits

Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Grits

Served with a Tomato Salad in an Avocado Oil Vinaigrette.

Lightly saute some 21-26 tail-on shrimp in avocado oil (complements the salad) and butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon Until barely cooked. Pile on the grits (with butter and a little Parmesan added during the cooking). Pour some white wine into the pae and reduce by two-thirds and cover the shrimp/grits.

Adding lemon zest before serving brightens the dish. Basil or lemongrass adds a nice touch. Mess with the amount of garlic until it satisfies you. This  is a simple and very tasty dish.


Eat by the pool

Eat by the pool

 

Yes, it snows in Corrales. No meals by the pool today.

 

Casa de la Vieja Escuela Mariscos

Hours

 

Phone: Are you kidding?

CorPhone: Arrales
3 Old School House Rd
Corrales, NM 87048

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Posted in Closed, Eclectic, Seafood | Leave a comment

El Patio de Albuquerque

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One of my first New Mexican loves

el Patio

First visit: June 14, 2008
Eighth visit: October 1, 2015


I first came across El Patio when I arrived in town from the East Coast and was staying temporarily in a villa on Sigma Chi bordering the north side of the UNM campus. While exploring the beautiful campus, I found Central (and Frontier, naturally) and a few steps south of Central brought El Patio into view. Lovely and welcoming, I of course sat down on the patio and dived into a most amazing cuisine, the likes of which I had never encountered before. I got hooked, and still am. I became a confirmed chilehead.

Blue corn enchiladas with fried egg on top. Amazing. Carne Adovada Stuffed Sopaipillas. Chiles Rellenos. Green Chile Stew. Green Chile. Red Chile. Christmas. And the list goes on. I found that I could talk with patrons sitting at the tables around me, and they were happy to bring me up to speed on the cuisine of The Land of Enchantment. I loved the food. I loved the people.

Chile Rellenos

Chile Rellenos

Chile Rellenos

This is the first dish I ad at El Patio. If you haven’t been here yet, it should be your first dish, too.

Light egg batter fried to a slight crisp, these are delicious. The chiles are hot but not incendiary, and the lovely green taste shines through. I had them Christmas, but I recommend you get them smothered in Red, which is among the tastiest Red in town. The beans are exemplary.

Combo Plate #1

Combo Plate #1

Combo Plate #1

On our last visit, the Dazzling Deanell couldn’t’ make up her mind, so she settled for the Combo Plate. Chile Relleno, Cheese Enchilada, and a Chicken Taco graced the handsome plate. She declared the meal a huge successm and wanted to know when we could return. Soon, Deanell.

sopasSopaipilas

Al new Mexican meals should end with Sopaipillas, especially when they are as good as these. Large, round, puffy, and beautifully fried, the dough had a slight hint of sweetness. Ask your server to bring them piping hot after you have finished the entrées. .

These Sopas are among the very best I have had anywhere.

 

I knew then that moving here was not a mistake. I never want to return to the East Coast. Or anywhere else for that matter.

What others are saying

Gil Garduño—New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.

Carne Adovada Burrito

Carne Adovada Burrito

“El Patio is ensconced in a converted home just south of Central Avenue on Harvard Drive.  A telltale sign you’ve made it to the popular restaurant on this relatively low traffic drive is the can’t miss Taos blue Mexican picket fence.  Beyond the fence lies the patio (El Patio), essentially the entire front yard, which is shaded by tall trees, a welcome respite from the sun’s heating rays.  El Patio’s patio also welcomes dogs.

Carne Adovada

Carne Adovada

“For the duration of its three decade plus, El Patio has been family owned and operated.  Founding owners Dave Sandoval (a fellow Taoseño) and wife Gloria Sandoval remain involved, but much of the day-to-day operation has been transitioned over to their progeny, sons Thomas and Christopher who have made some changes, including the addition of a catering service and a sales operation which markets El Patio’s fabulous salsa and green chile.  Both can be purchased in the restaurant and at several stores throughout the Duke City.”

El Patio de Albuquerque

el Patio Hours(505) 268-4245

El Patio de Albuquerque Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Honorable Mention, New Mexican, Organic | Leave a comment