The Top Ten

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Last updated: March 26, 2019

I am often asked “What is the best restaurant in Albuquerque?” This question  has no definitive answer. Best what? New Mexican? Fine dining? Greek? Seafood? Best according to whom? You get the idea. Moreover, I will never give a restaurant a numerical rating. Too subjective.

This, then, is a list of my top ten favorite restaurants in the Albuquerque area. I think that they are among the best that Albuquerque has to offer. These are the places that you are likely to find me eating my favorite dishes   This list represents just my opinion, and therefore not subject to argument. It is difficult to choose just ten, and many great places do not make the list. For example, anything by Denis Apodaca is among my favorites, but they don’t make the list. The new Sophia’s Place comes really close.

Antoinette & Mary with their James Beard Award medals

Mary & Tito’s isnumber 1 because it is my favorite restaurant in New Mexico. If you look at the Zomato (ugh) Albuquerque page, you will notice that Frontier is ranked number 1, reflecting its huge following. I like it a lot, but it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of cracking my list. Does being Urbanspoon’s number 1 make it better than, say, Jennifer James Frenchish? In a pig’s eye. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Don’t trust the reader’s polls published annually by The Weekly Alibi , Local-iQ, and Albuquerque The Magazine (ATM). The source of the data does not seem to be trustworthy.

Are there other lists that you might take note of? Sure.
I maintain a small number of such specialty lists on Yelp.

All of the places on my list are great, and many gastronome and foodie friends agree with me to some extent. Don’t bother to tell me that El Pinto and Sadie’s are great. They are not; they are tourist places and for this trade, deservedly popular. I live here and I eat here and I know better. So should you.

  1. Mary & Tito’s Cafe
  2. Joe’s Pasta House 
  3. Campos at Los Poblanos 
  4. M’Tucci’s Italian Market and Pizzeria,  M’Tucci’s Italian,
    and M’Tucci’s Moderno    (Yeah, all three!)
  5. Budai Gourmet Chinese  
  6. Namaste
  7. High  Point Grill
  8. Poki Poblano Fusion Lounge   (Sadly, Cosed)
  9. Seasons Rotisserie & Grill
  10. Pad Thai Cafe 

Honorable Mention

Were I to write an ABQ Honorable Mention List, it would contain such favorites as (in alphabetical order):

all of which I have reviewed in various places. Most are also reviewed here on this blog. 

New Mexico Top Ten

Were I to list my Top Ten from outside the Albuquerque area, it would contain (in order):

  1. Sparky’s Burgers & BBQ (Hatch),
  2. Plaza Cafe Downtown (Santa Fe),
  3. Lambert’s Restaurant and Bar (Taos),
  4. Cowgirl BBQ (Santa Fe Railyards),
  5. ACEQ (Arroyo Seco),
  6. Rancho de Chimayó Restauranté (Chimayó),
  7. Owl Bar & Cafe (San Antonio),
  8. Pink Adobe (Santa Fe),
  9. The Artesian Restaurant (Ojo Caliente), and
  10. Cafe Pasqual’s (Santa Fe).

The No Scum Allowed Saloon would surely make the list if they served food.

BTW, I refuse to contribute reviews and comments to Zomato. They are a bunch of pinheads. Most serious ABQ foodies have also abandoned them, too.


10 Responses to The Top Ten

  1. Los Ranchos Curmudgeon says:

    Hmmm….Yanking The Larry’s Chain: While I can appreciate Y’all must be dancing as fast as you can to see…well actually eat…everything, I’m surprized Y’all haven’t visited Antiquity in Olde Town, given its been around for 60ish years !! Stretching things a bit, given most references to ABQ’s population includes Los Lunas (LOL), hopefully Y’all might drive 22 minutes from The Big I to try out Luna Mansion if at least for a NM ranking (Can see biased Comments here as well
    Back to the Big 10 or Honorable mention: I’ve made quality/price comparisons for Shrimp Tempura of long time, family owned Mr. Tokyo (JT & Montgomery) with Azuma, the Bennigan’s Japanese replacement at San Mateo/Academy, and Ichiban Corrales/528. For $9.95 Mr. Tokyo can’t be beat, IMHO.

    • Thanks, Bob. Nice to see that you found me. Welcome aboard.

      I don’t eat Japanese.

      Someday when I have reached my diet target weight (8 lbs to go), you, Gil, and I should break bread together.

      • Los Ranchos Curmudgeon says:

        Aaah Sooo! 8 lbs to go….I’d say piece of cake, but that would seem tacky under the circumstances. Keep up the good work on the diet which ‘I hear’ is supposed to be a challenge per the ginormous calories/sodium hidden in restaurant offerings! On the other hand, some say the Japanese diet is pretty healthy.
        Yes, breaking bread or sopapillas is good.

  2. Maria B says:

    Hi Larry,
    I recently moved to Albuquerque (NE area) I wonder if you know a great and non expensive place to eat seafood and also a place for great barbacue! and how about a nice buffet restaurant?
    Thank you,

  3. inma says:

    I will stay on Albuquerque on October… Many thanks for the list!! It is nice to have a really Top 10 restaurants from a local. Cool!!

  4. Michael says:

    Hi Larry,
    Thanks for the list. I arrived in Albuquerque about 3 weeks ago. I’ve been using your recommendations as a sorta check list. I enjoyed your writing and seemed we had similar food likes and dislikes. Out of the places I’ve been once found the Corn Maiden to be outstanding! Ile let you know what else I find while I’m here.
    Thanks again,

  5. Ed says:

    1. Padilla’s
    2. Perea’s
    3. Los Cuates
    4. Sadie’s
    5. Duran Pharmacy
    6. Ortega’s
    7. Cocina Azul
    8. Casa de Benavidez
    9. El Pinto
    10. Mary & Tito’s
    11. Vic’s Vittles
    12. K & I Diner
    13. Cervantes
    14. Monroe’s
    15. El Patron
    16. Hurricane’s
    17. La Salita
    18. Acapulco Tacos

    Been here for 39 years

  6. Billy says:

    Hey man I met you at Costco I see you tried that chicken fried steak place I mentioned, glad you liked it, there’s one more placeand it’s in Fort Sumner New Mexico it’s called Fred’s this version is done best with green and cheese if you ever go through there give it a go ill be at sparkys tomorrow for the blessed patty melt mmmmmmmm

  7. Cameron says:

    Ohhh, I agree on Sadie’s and El Pinto! I don’t get it. Lots of ppl love those places and to me they’re just ordinary. That being said, I’ve been here about 8 yrs from CA and have never been to Mary & Tito’s so I hope they’re open on Sundays? Love the Corn Maiden, Blade’s, Indigo Crow, Two Fool’s Tavern, El Bruno, Joe’s Pasta, Turtle Mountain, St. Clair.. so gonna have to try the ones you’ve mentioned that I haven ‘t been to since you have many of the ones I love on your list… I’ve been disappointed with Namaste tho.. Cheers..

  8. Cameron says:

    Have been to Mary & Tito’s twice now and love it! Excellent food, one time I just had a simple lunch special with a ground beef taco and chile relleno and it was very tasty and the taco shell had a hint of char.. excellent red sauce! They know how to get FLAVOR in there..

    Also made it to M’Tucci’s and omg, so good! had the Affumicato (?) pizza and wow, it was the best pizza we’ve had in this state! Also the house salad was excellent with pickled onions and olives! And a lemonade with sage.. sounds strange but it was delish. It was a light meal but looking forward to going back for one a heftier meal!

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