Albuquerque’s culinary landscape is as diverse as its mixed heritage. Traditional New Mexican food is always popular and can be found at various locations around the city. Locals have their favorites, some so unassuming from the outside that you’d never guess it was such a popular spot. Of course there are the many newer chains, but if you want an interesting ambience or surprising treats, check out the list below to find some new options for your lunch hour.
Find the hidden La Crepe Michel in the old town for delicious crepes or salads. Stop on Central Ave. (Route 66) at the Standard Diner and closer to Nob Hill, Il Vicino or Brasserie La Provence. In the Heights, the more casual bistro-like Savory Fare and the more elegant Savoy are perfect for a ladies’ meal, and both have great terraces. Read on for more delicious information about these favorites.
The Irish say, “Let’s go have some Craic (pronounced crack, meaning great food, drink and merriment),” and that’s exactly what Two Fools Tavern Irish Pub invites you to do. Right in the heart of Nob Hill, this cozy eatery with its dark wooden booths offers a welcome respite for the hungry. It offers homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and stews and it’s also fun to try the traditional favorites such as Bangers and Mash, Guinness Beaf Boxty and Cottage Pie. First of all, the Irish Nachos are not something you would normally find in New Mexico, nor are the Scotch Eggs or the Galway Bay Salmon Plate. The menu includes all the traditional pub sandwiches and burgers, as well as homemade sweets that you can’t live without, like the bread pudding or the Guinness brownie, served warm of course with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Who can resist? Sunday brunch is also offered.
Local expert tip: The popular Fish ‘N Chips is what Two Fools Tavern orders for its customers. What else would there be in an Irish bar?
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Anyone have salmon and cream cheese? Grilled turkey with green chile or simply the best Reuben in town. These are some of the reasons connoisseurs visit this neighborhood cafe, where the owners make you feel like family. The menu features two giveaways that come from the New York owners: the hearty Big Apple and Liberty sandwiches or the quintessential New York Jewish deli drink, Dr. Brown’s Soda. Serving mostly homemade soups, salads and sandwiches, this casual hangout is a gem for a great lunch. You won’t go hungry here. Fruit and cheese platters as well as homemade cookies and cakes of the day are available. And they’re great for little kids with a simple grilled cheese sandwich. This cafe also offers breakfast and is centrally located just half a block north of the Coronado Mall in Louisiana in the Uptown area. And they also take care of catering.
Local expert tip: The owners make you feel right at home in this cute little cafe in this small strip mall in Albuquerque’s Uptown district.
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The decor is the first thing that catches your attention when you enter Il Vicino. Trendy lighting, colors, a casual yet hip atmosphere and, at the Montgomery location, the snapdragon as an opening to the wood-burning oven. Then the food will definitely put a smile on your face, the huge salads and the wood-fired pizzas – so good. The menu also includes calzones and paninis, but I could never stop myself from ordering my usual No. 7 Rustica pizza, stuffed with artichokes, calamata olives, garlic and capers – delicious. To top it all off, they have their own brewery with award-winning beers and a wine list. The popularity of this restaurant is evident as it now has three locations in Albuquerque as well as a brewery cafeteria, one in Santa Fe, four in Colorado, and two in Kansas! Il Vicino is definitely doing something right.
Local expert tip: The salads are huge and actually quite attractive (especially the Il Vicino salad). The No. 7 Rustica is my favorite pizza!
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Bring your French accent and your appetite to this cozy, hidden spot on one of the pretty alleys on the east side of the historic Old Town Plaza. Unlike New Mexican dishes, you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of this incredible, melt-in-your-mouth French cuisine. The waiters are very professional and pronounce each menu item impeccably. You’ll wish you had studied French in college, but don’t let that stop you. Salads served with Le Crepe Michel’s special vinaigrette dressing, quiches, crepes and delicious sandwiches like the Croque Monsieur are standard fare on the menu. If filet de boeuf (steak) is the dish of the day, treat yourself and enjoy the choice of various delicious sauces. If only I knew how to cook their green beans the way they do.
Local expert tip: The salmon starter (Rillette de Saumon) is definitely a tasty choice, as is the onion soup (Soup a l’Oignon) and crème brûlée for dessert.
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Housed in an old gas station, this trendy, newer Albuquerque restaurant is a great choice for relaxing and a great meal, with its cozy brick-walled interior and upscale ambiance. Host Guy Fieri, who appeared on the TV show “Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives,” proclaimed, “There’s nothing standard about Standard Diner.” Located in the up-and-coming EDo neighborhood east of downtown, the restaurant offers a wide variety of options Dishes ranging from burgers and sandwiches to seafood and several vegetarian dishes such as the quinoa stuffed acorn squash and the tomato basil gratin. Delicious appetizers include customer favorites Cinnamon Baked Brie and Chicken Drummies. The Seared Beef and Lobster Caesar Salad looks appealing and locals will surely enjoy the New Mexico Green Chile Chicken Chowder. It’s too difficult to choose from the 13 desserts on offer, including caramel panna cotta and the smaller lemon berry and chocolate cake shots for $2 each.
Local expert tip: The green chile macaroni and cheese is very tasty and quite generous in portion – you’ll need a to-go box, especially if you added smoked salmon or bacon!
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Relish is an award-winning gourmet sandwich shop that uses high-quality Boar’s Head brand meats and cheeses to create delicious, freshly made sandwiches. They are prepared with homemade dressings and accompanied by your choice of three side dishes: potato salad, apple salad or pasta salad, served with a cucumber. Located on Menaul Blvd. With a second location now open on the west side, this sandwich shop has a sophisticated ambiance with contemporary artwork on the colorful walls and a sofa and magazines in the foreground to relax on. Whether you try a cold or warm sandwich, delicious ingredients like hummus, green beans, roasted red peppers and feta cheese are just a few of the ingredients found in the Mediterranean and served on an Alpinette roll. Green chili, grilled chicken breast and avocado can be added to salads. Children’s plates are $5, individual deli salads are just $1.50, and there’s a daily chef’s soup of the day.
Local expert tip: The muffaleta sandwich is pretty good and often sells out at lunchtime if you can’t beat the rush!
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With a reasonably priced but tasteful menu to choose from, this is a chic, popular lunch spot with both men and women, with its elegant and beautiful dark wood decor. Whether it’s a business meeting or a ladies’ dinner, this menu is sure to please light and hearty eaters with its tasty selections. Appetizers range from cornmeal-crusted calimari and baked goat cheese to an antipasti plate or chopped Caesar salad. There are delicious individual pizzas with interesting ingredients such as spinach, zucchini and herb mascarpone. You’ll also find hearty sandwiches and burgers, or a lighter veggie wrap or seared mahi-mahi tacos. Savoy tries to use fresh, local farm ingredients when possible. There are private dining rooms for events such as birthdays, a separate bar and a lovely outdoor dining area.
Local expert tip: There are so many delicious gourmet delights at the classy Savoy Bar and Grill, but they are all very affordable. Try the ahi tuna salad or the roasted corn chowder…everything tastes good at this elegant spot in the Heights.
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