February 4, 2014

Eatin', Sleepin', Shoppin', Repeat'n in ABQ

While in Albuquerque, we finally understood Walt Jr.'s obsession with breakfast. Dozens of restaurants in ABQ are only open for breakfast and lunch. Dining options become far fewer after 4 o'clock. I don't quite understand why it is, but it's what we found. We also found mexican food in New Mexico, isn't really new or Mexican. One must also understand the difference between chile and chili. You're unlikely to find chili in New Mexico, but you will find they take their chile very seriously.

Anywhere you go, morning, noon or night, you'll be asked green or red. My opinion is that of many, green is always the right answer. The red just isn't that good, but if you insist, try Christmas, a combination of both. Both are hatch chiles, when they ripen they turn red. You might not expect much difference in taste, but there is. Green hatch chiles are bolder and more acidic. I found it similar to tomatillo based sauces. Maybe I just associate the flavor with green sauces, but hatch chiles have far more kick. Quite honestly the only difference my palette picked up from place to place was the heat. All tasted the same, most were medium, but The Doghouse was HOT. I love spicy, Frank does too and their sauce was almost too hot. Thankfully, he ordered a shake with our Frito Pie to neutralize the heat.

After a few mexican meals we decided we prefer influences from Baja and Yucatan regions. Much like Tex-Mex, and southwestern styles found in AZ, we didn't care for mexican food in Albuquerque. We threw in the towel, and tried alternative cuisine options.

The Grove is highly praised. But three out of four sandwiches were a flop. They are known to have the best cupcakes but ours were as dry as the Mojave. It was pretty pricey; a sandwich and drink run about $15. My Italian was devastatingly bad, the BLT and Beef sandwich were nothing to write home about, the winner was the grilled cheese with onions and green chile additions. The salads that accompanied the sandwiches were so earthy, it might as well had been dirt.

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Frontier was another miss, despite its high ratings it fell flat. I tried the carne adovado burrito. I found it inedible, it tasted like chicken in tomato paste wrapped in the most floury taco shell in existence. I've had better microwave burritos. The green side of the Christmas enchilada was better. Breakfast and chicken sandwich were somewhat satisfying, and their famous cinnamon roll was more like a churro.

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The Cube was infinately better, it was featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. We came here after Frontier so I could eat. I ordered the brisket and pulled pork with mac n cheese and creamed corn ($13). The meats didn't have the smoke ring I like to see, but they were tender and went well with the bbq sauce at the table. I wasn't a fan of the mac, but I dug the creamed corn with a heavy helping of black pepper. Marble beers on tap made it all the better.

We also ate at The Range. We had breakfast ($52 for four), overall with the exception of burnt toast it was ok. I had the huevos rancheros, which they've been voted the best and while decent, they weren't even in the top three I've personally tried.

Regretfully, we also tried Kelly's Brewpub. We were starved and thought burgers might be a nice change from the Mexican and breakfast. Service was subpar. Conditions were dirty. We should've walked out, but we stayed and had nachos. Large portion but it was served cold with salsa, sour cream and guacamole in plastic tubs on the side. It was the first I ever encountered a guacamole paste. It was not good. Entrees were burgers (with moldly tomatoes). Drier than dry was the theme. Fries were cold. The highlight was the creamy green chile soup. I actually dunked my burger in it so I could choke it down. I wished I wasn't so hungry under ordinary circumstances I would've spoken to management. At this point, I felt defeated. I just wanted food in my belly and then I'd forget the whole dreadful experience ($65 for three, we sent one burger back).

The final day we ate at the Waffle House ($34 for four) near the hotel. None of us had ever been. It's basic, cheap, and fresh. Service was friendly and attentive. No complaints.

Other than the Chili Chocolate Bacon Donut ($1.59) from Rebel Donuts, my favorite ABQ eats were from the Dog House. We ate here twice. We tried to go the first day, but the kitchen was closed. We pulled in too late. This is a dive, but it's cheap and tasty. The Chile dogs are cut in half so they're pretty flat when served. It was good enough Frank ordered one twice. The Frito Pie pictured has easy chile and meat. It was the best way to keep from setting our tastebuds on fire. The nachos were ok, but the tater tots dipped in that cheese was mighty good. Processed foodie heaven, me thinks. We ordered an obscene amount of food (two burgers, fries and another order of tots not pictured) and drink for four and our bill was twenty six bucks.

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We stayed at Best Western Inn & Suites near the airport. I booked on hotwire for $46 per night. Accomodations were clean and comfortable. Our room had a fridge and microwave too. The hotel offered continental breakfast and happy hour. Both seemed to be nice spreads.

There were two stores we had to check out while there, The Candy Lady and Guerilla Graphix. Both sell Breaking Bad goodies. The Candy Lady is known for making the blue meth as seen on the show. Dime bags are sold for a dollar. She also has stickers, postcards, pez dispensers, tshirts, magnets and keychains. We sampled some homemade candies but they weren't our favorite. The dark chocolate had something funky about it, it was an unusual bitter flavor. Prices are higher than at Guerilla Graphix, where you can find all the same merchandise except for the Pez and t-shirts. Although, they have their own clothing selection at Guerilla. We came to learn that Old Town had several souvenir stores with Breaking Bad paraphanelia for sale. We didn't stop in though by then time was limited.

I will say it was incredibly neat to see so many businesses embrace the city's Breaking Bad fame. It also gave us a deeper appreciation for the show to see the angles and tight spaces that crews had to work with, far more challenging that building a set... I'm sure.

Grove Café & Market on Urbanspoon Frontier Restaurant on Urbanspoon The Cube on Urbanspoon Range Café on Urbanspoon Kelly's Brewpub on Urbanspoon Waffle House on Urbanspoon Dog House Drive In on Urbanspoon Candy Lady on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hmmm, cinnamon roll at Frontier resembled a churro? I've never seen a churro that looked like this cinnamon roll before!