Horseman’s Haven Café

4354 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe

I’m pretty sure I might have found a restaurant that serves the best green chile in the state. Nay, not just the best green chile, but perhaps the best New Mexican food I’ve had. Okay, maybe that’s too bold of a statement. Besides, I haven’t eaten at every restaurant in the state that serves New Mexican food. There could be a lovely little place in Datil that really deserves the honor of “the best”.

However, I am going to say that Horseman’s Haven Café serves the best New Mexican food and green chile in Santa Fe. A group of us went to restaurant after our rafting trip, based off of a recommendation of a friend. She did warn us to not be thrown off about the location. It’s located next to a gas station and from the outside looks like it could be an iffy place. But as I’m not particularly prissy, I was game. Besides, I was famished and had already started to secretly eye my friends to see which one’s arm I could gnaw off. The inside of Horseman’s has a typical country diner feel, with an open kitchen, plenty of tables and chairs and booths big enough to seat the nine of us.

I think my friends realized their limbs might be in imminent danger as they kept placing the chips and salsa directly in front of me. The chips were thicker than most  chips I’ve eaten at restaurants. The salsa was full of flavor and fresh. It also was less chunky than most salsa. But while it had flavor, it wasn’t particularly hot.

Seriously, measure the thickness on these things.
Seriously, measure the thickness on these things.

For my meal, I ordered a 3D burrito which comes with papas, a choice of meat and chile. Most of my friends also ordered the 3D as well, with variations on the meat and chile. My cousin ordered a combination plate just so that she could have a side of posole, to which I mocked her openly. I have a deep, abiding bitterness towards hominy–it’s just gross. But I did acknowledge the fact that it was cool that posole was an option as a side item, not something that I find is standard at most restaurants.

Apparently, there are different levels of chile that you can order at Horseman’s. I’ve heard that Level I is hot chile and Level 2 is for people who don’t cry at the end of “The Notebook”—you know, tough hombres. I myself probably fall somewhere like a 1.75. I like my chile really, really hot. If I’m not sweating and crying, it’s just not enjoyable. But I’m not above bawling like a baby if chile is too hot (or at “The Notebook” because come on, he wrote her all those letters). I didn’t see level options on the menu and our waiter didn’t ask us. I’m guessing he looked at us and made a command decision.**

So I’m not sure which level of chile I had smothered all over my burrito, but  that’s okay. Because my burrito was delightful. In fact, I’m going to go out on a very corny limb and suggest that the 3D in the burrito stands for delightful, decadent and delicious! I say decadent because the burrito was huge. I didn’t even finish half the burrito and remember, I was this close to eating my friends before we walked into the café. The chicken tasted fresh, the papas were cubed and fried to perfection and then there was the green chile. I sweated. I cried. The chile was so hot it burned my lips and I fell in love more with each bite and each tear. Everyone else commented that they enjoyed their food as well. I will say the green chile was preferable to the red chile. Those at the table who got the red seemed a bit disappointed over the lack of heat, and I sensed their envious and bitter looks out of the corner of my eye. But that also could have been just looks of embarrassment as I was making odd moaning noises after each bite. I’m telling you, the green chile was good.

burrito
3D burrito with chicken and green chile.

And here’s how you really know Horseman’s Have Café is worth trying out. My cousin insisted I try her posole. I did and guess what? It was great! I might even try it as a side when I’m at Horseman’s next time. Maybe. If the hominy behaves itself.

 

**I went back to Horseman’s in August and asked to have a side of Level 2. I did warn the waitress that if I cried to not take it personally, that it was just likely me being too wussy for the chile. She said that Level 2 only comes as a side, it’s way too hot to have smothered on your food. I put some on my stuffed sopapilla (not as good as the 3-D burrito, but good) and took a bite. It was the hottest, most flavorful chile I have ever eaten. Like seriously, four hours later I could still taste the chile on my lips. Totally worth it. And I didn’t cry!

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Rafting New Mexico

I’ll be honest. I’m not an outdoors person. The last time I went camping I brought a queen-sized air mattress on a frame with me. I also ran electricity to my tent so that I could keep my cellphone charged to order pizza in case my hot dog fell into the campfire. I’m also not particularly adventurous. My idea of a wild time is binge watching episodes of “Breaking Bad.” But I’m trying to change. There are so many outdoor activities that the Land of Enchantment has to offer. And frankly, since “Breaking Bad” is over, I’ve got some time on my hands. So when my friends suggested a rafting trip down the Rio Grande, I agreed to join their outdoor adventure.

Besides, this particular rafting trip seemed fairly safe. Run by Cottam’s Rio Grande Rafting Company, the Racecourse is their most popular option. Compared to Cottam’s other trips, including the Taos Box, which requires a helmet as you travel 16 miles through Class III and IV rapids down the Rio Grande Gorge, the Racecourse seemed like a breeze. It’s a two-to-three-hour guided trip that lets participants experience Class I to III rapids, helmet free. Since our trip was in late July towards the end of the rafting season, I figured the waters would be much calmer than those in the early spring runoff.

Our group met at the designated location site, the Rio Grande Gorge Visitor’s Center in Pilar, NM. We climbed into Cottam’s vans and were driven about 45 seconds down to the rafting launch site. Lathered in sunscreen, fully hydrated, and wearing my provided flotation device, I was feeling pretty good. Then our guides started going over the safety procedures. Like how to ensure you don’t fall out of the raft. Like describing what to do if the raft tipped over. Or if your paddle smacked you in the face and you lost all of your teeth. Okay, maybe I imagined that last one, I’m not 100% sure. As photographers took group pictures, I briefly considered the idea of just buying an 8X11 and telling everyone that I had gone rafting, when in reality I would just wait in the van for my friends. But screw it, I had already paid for the trip and I owed it to myself to try something new. So I went ahead and climbed aboard.

rafting
Can you see me up in the blue raft?

Our guide was funny and personable. He pointed out geological sites along the way (really old black rocks versus even older gray rocks is about as much as I comprehended) and shared some history of the area. The scenery was gorgeous and I felt myself relax as we floated down the Rio Grande. My only goal was not to fall out of the raft. It’s not that I’m afraid of water. No, my real fear was not being able to get back into the raft. I had watched a great number of people try to climb back into rafts over the years. And even the most graceful people somehow end up flailing around in the bottom of the raft face first in the crotch of the person that pulled them out.

As we came upon our first rapids, our guide gave us directions on how many times to paddle and in what direction. We worked as a team as we went through the white water. It was exhilarating and fantastic! The rest of the trip included periods of calm water followed by varying levels of rapids. In several locations, our guide encouraged us to get out and swim. While I did not take up this offer, my friends reported that the water was cool and refreshing. The rapids were challenging and wonderful all at once. I was amazed at how quickly the time went by on the river and was disappointed that the trip was over as we floated up to our final destination. Luckily, the chips and cookies Cottam’s provided eased my pain.

rafting6
You can’t tell, but I’m laughing as we go through some rapids.

So overall, my adventure was immensely satisfying and entertaining. I would highly recommend rafting in New Mexico and Cottam’s Rio Grande Rafting Company. In fact, I enjoyed myself so much, that I plan on tackling the Taos Box next year. Just be forewarned. If you find me face first in your crotch as I’m flailing around the bottom of the raft it’s nothing personal. I’m just looking for my next big water adventure.

Los Cuates – East Mountains

Los Cuates has five restaurants in the Albuquerque area. This review is based solely on the location at 1250 Hwy 14 in Sandia Park, NM. 

According to the Los Cuates website, they “offer freshly prepared food and a warm ambience that exudes an affordable dining experience,” and I agree. The food was good, the atmosphere was warm and friendly, the service was good, albeit a bit slow, and the price was surprisingly affordable.

We arrived at Los Cuates on Saturday at about 6:00 pm. The restaurant was not crowded. When we walked in, we were greeted and seated right away by a smiling and friendly hostess. At our table, the waitress arrived quickly, brought chips and salsa, and took our drink orders.

CHIPS AND SALSA

Thin & crispy chips! Mild salsa and hot (l-r).
Thin & crispy chips! Mild salsa and hot (l-r). Good separate or mixed together!

New Mexico — the land of free chips and salsa! The chips were thin, crispy, warm, and delicious. The only problem here was an unusual amount of “crumbs,” broken bits of chip too small for dipping. When we pointed this out to the waitress, she quickly whisked them away and brought us a fresh batch. As for the salsa, Zia and I loved it! It was dark and spicy with a unique smoky flavor you don’t normally find in restaurant style salsa. However, it was pretty spicy, so the waitress brought out a milder option, which was more tomato-based, rather than chile-based. In my opinion, both salsas were very tasty.

MARGARITA

Zia’s mom ordered a margarita on the rocks. No one else ordered a “drink” drink, so we all got to take sips. The margarita was REALLY good! So good in fact, that if I were not driving, I would have ordered one of the large sized ones for myself. (Los Cuates offers two margarita sizes, a “normal” sized one like you’d expect in a typical margarita glass, and the “large,” which is roughly the size of a mop bucket…with a salted rim.)

Margarita in a Cactus Glass.
Margarita in a Cactus Glass.

SERVICE

When the waitress returned, she told us that she was new and still learning the menu. I appreciated that, and I also appreciated that she was very friendly and quick with a smile. Before I talk about the food, I will say that a mistake was made in the kitchen with entering our order into the system. This was not our waitress’s fault. We noticed that our order was taking a long time, as people who came in after us were already being served. Eventually, a manager came out and told us what had happened, at that he was at fault, and that they would have our order out very soon. To make up for the snafu, they brought out extra sopapillas, which I thought made up for the error.

THE FOOD

Now for the food! I’ll give a quick tour around the table. Zia’s dad ordered the Tacos, Zia’s mom ordered the Indian Taco, Zia ordered two bean tostadas from the a la carte menu, and I had a special called the “New Mexican Combo.”

New Mexican Combo
New Mexican Combo: Taco, Enchilada, 1/4 rack ribs, RBI. Star of the plate = Red Chile Ribs!

The NEW MEXICAN COMBO was a taco, a cheese enchilada, and a ¼ rack of pork ribs (about 3 small ribs worth) with the standard rice, beans, and iceberg lettuce (RBI) on the side. The highlight of the meal was the ribs. They were slathered in a red chile sauce, and were tender, spicy, and tasty. The taco and cheese enchilada were good, but not remarkable. The seasoned ground beef in the taco was nicely seasoned and very good, and the garnishments were all fresh and delicious. The shell was the downside — not that it was bad, just ordinary.

INDIAN TACO

It was determined by a very informal non-poll that the Indian Taco was the best entrée on the table. The base was basically a very large, flat sopapilla. In the center, it was heaped with seasoned ground beef, cheese, beans, lettuce, and tomato. It might not look like much, but the combo of the slightly sweet “fry bread” (I still maintain that this is a sopapilla) and salty seasoned ground beef was kind of magical.

Indian Taco -- SO GOOD
Indian Taco — SO GOOD

TOSTADAS (“BEAN DIP”)

According to Zia, she was expecting two flat, crispy corn tortillas, topped with refried beans, lettuce, cheese, onion, and tomato.  This is the way tostadas are served 75% of the time in restaurants (and 100% of the time at home). You should be able to pick them up and eat them fairly neatly — like a flat taco. So when the tostadas arrived, she was a little… bummed. As you can probably see in the photo below, the tostadas were actually two very large shells, filled about 1.5″ deep with refried beans. That’s a lot of bean. Zia was able to pick & dip her way through about 2/3 of one tostada before giving up. She also said that the shells were stale.

Tostadas, aka "two large orders of bean dip"
Tostadas, aka “two large orders of bean dip”

TACO PLATE

One of the greatest things about living in New Mexico is the ability — nay, the right — to order a Taco Plate almost anywhere. NM tacos typically come with seasoned ground beef, grated cheddar, diced onion, shredded lettuce, and diced tomato. Salsa on the side. Because they are so standard in composition, it’s easy to compare one taco plate to another. The verdict here is that Los Cuates puts out a solid taco plate. Not the best in the state (or even in the East Mountains), but pretty good. The highlight of this taco plate, according to Zia’s dad, was the seasoned ground beef.

Taco Plate -- a NM Staple!
Taco Plate — a NM Staple!

NO SUCH THING AS A BAD SOPAPILLA

Due to the aforementioned snafu with our order, the server brought out what seemed to be around 100 sopapillas (probably more like a dozen…but it seemed like a lot more). They were somewhat dense & chewy (which may or may not be your thing), fresh, and hot.

Sopapillas = good. More sopapillas = better.
Sopapillas = good. More sopapillas = better.

THE CHILE

We ordered both red and green on the side for the table. Both were fine but not knock-your-socks-off amazing. The red had a little bite to it, and the green was milder but had nice big chunks of green chile in it.

THE CHECK

When I’m ordering, especially when I’m hungry, I don’t always pay attention to prices; I mostly concentrate on the food. (This has burned me before. I once paid $60 for a steak at a restaurant in California. Talk about sticker shock!) Fortunately, at Los Cuates, sticker shock worked in our favor. Our bill for four adults, including a cocktail, was only $55 before the tip. We all thought this was very reasonable!

LIVE MUSIC

The building runs north-south. We were seated at the north end of the restaurant. At the south end is the bar, and there was a band playing in the bar that night. Needless to say, the bar area was very noisy with a live band playing. Where we were seated, we could hear the music, but it wasn’t too loud at all. So don’t be worried about dining there during live music nights.

SUMMARY

Overall, I recommend Los Cuates in Sandia Park. While I wouldn’t make a special trip all the way from Albuquerque just to eat there (when there’s four other locations already in Albuquerque), if you’re enjoying a day in the East Mountains or cruising the Turquoise Trail and craving New Mexican food, then it’s worth stopping in.

Also, look at the cool door handles:

I want these on my house.
I want these on my house.

 

Everything Is a Snake

I don’t like to run. In fact, I have always hated running. My first memories of this hatred go back to about 7th grade, when I was always near the back of the pack during PE class jogs, despising every second, having to force one foot in front of the other, fantasizing about various ways to get out of the final quarter mile.

If I fell into a hole or tripped on a giant rock right now and sprained my ankle, I wouldn’t have to endure the last 100 yards of this hell. If I passed out, someone would carry me.

This went on through high school, where I only played sports that required very little distance running — no soccer, basketball, or track for this girl. I never jogged for exercise or “fun” during my college or post-college years.

Then, a few years ago, I decided to give running a try, because everyone seemed to be doing it, and hey — it’s free. I started a Couch to 5 K program, and did OK with it. Then I just kept forcing myself to run a few times a week. My feelings went from “seething hatred” to “dread” to “mild distaste” to “hey this is almost tolerable.”

So now here I am, forcing myself out to run a couple of times a week. I just moved from sea level to 7,000 ft. so the acclimatization process is kind of painful, but I’m working through it.

And then this happens:

Snake in the Road
Snake in the Road — I was in a hurry, hence the bad framing and lack of a snake head.

Now, I live in the mountains and I know there are rattlesnakes out here. This isn’t the first one I’ve seen. There are also tarantulas, centipedes, scorpions, coyotes, and probably bears and mountain lions.

But here’s the thing about seeing a snake while you’re out running. You unstrap your phone from your arm and take a picture (zoomed in, of course). Then you carefully skirt the snake, giving it a wide orbit just in case it is a snake with a ‘TUDE. Then you continue on your way. And then…. no matter where you look, everything is a snake.

Tiny lizard running into the grass = snake.

That twisty swervy crack in the asphalt up ahead? BIG SNAKE.

Twigs by the side of the road = whole bunch of snakes.

Tumbleweed blowing across the road behind you? Sounds like a snake to me!

Dainty yellow butterfly alighting delicately on the blooming purple sage?  DEFINITELY A SNAKE!!

You get a little jumpy, is what I’m saying. And the rest of your jog is socked in by an overwhelming paranoia that the snakes are plotting against you and surely this will be like a bad Sci-Fi movie where a jogger gets eaten by a 40-foot rattlesnake before the opening credits even start, and that jogger is you.

The last half-mile is a steady uphill slog. I can barely walk it without passing out, much less run it. So I trudge onward and upward. One foot in front of the other, cursing these stupid ideas of “running” and “exercise” and “health” and scanning the brush and road, seeing the snake in everything.

Onward. Upward. Left, right, left, right.

If a snake bit me right now, I wouldn’t have to go this last half mile. If a snake bit me right now, someone would carry me home.


 

Blake’s Lotaburger – Breakfast Burrito

Blake’s Lotaburger is a staple of New Mexico fast food cuisine, with 76 locations currently operating statewide. Around since 1952, Lotaburger specializes in fresh hamburgers, particularly green chile hamburgers. And lucky for me and for you, many of the locations serve breakfast burritos. Their basic breakfast burritos are made with two eggs, hash browns and either red or green chile. From there, you can choose from a selection of additional options, including beans, sausage, bacon, and more. Even better, Lotaburger allows you the option of smothering your burrito with red or green chile sauce. Which to me, anything smothered with green chile is just happiness.

 

insidelotobreakfastburrito

Great ratio of goodness!

On this occasion, I selected a sausage breakfast burrito with green chile and smothered with green chile sauce. It was topped with cheddar cheese and garnished with lettuce and tomatoes. The burrito had the perfect ratio of ingredients, just the right combination of sausage, egg, hash browns and green chile. Even better, the green chile had quite a kick to it. Often (and especially at fast food places) the chile is super mild, which, to a native like me, is just sad.

In my mind, there were only two small factors that kept this from being the perfect breakfast burrito. The cheddar cheese that topped the burrito looked as if it had been microwaved and was a bit too chewy. Additionally, the tomatoes that garnished the burrito were full slices, not cubed. And while I enjoy a good tomato, I prefer full slices in a sandwich. Having them on a breakfast burrito left me a wee bit flummoxed. These two factors aside, Lotaburger offers fantastic breakfast burritos for Blue Collar foodies on the go!

O’Niell’s Pub – Albuquerque – Pub Food, Upgraded

NOTE: We were there to eat, not drink, so this review focuses on the food & service at mid-day on a Friday.

WHERE IT’S AT:

O’Niell’s is located in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill neighborhood, on the southwest corner of Central and Washington. They have a nice-sized parking lot behind their building, so parking was easy. Granted, we were there at 2:00 pm on a Friday. Maybe it fills up at typical “bar times.”

Normally, if I walk into a place called a “pub” with the purpose of having a meal, I set my expectations about the food pretty low. I’ve come to expect “typical or standard barroom fare,” to mean “a lot of salt and a lot of fat,” things primarily designed to get you to order more beer or cocktails.

So, this was my expectation when ZIA and I walked into O’Niell’s last Friday to attend a going-away luncheon for a co-worker.

My first impression of O’Niell’s was how clean, open, and well-lit it was. We were immediately greeted and directed to where our party was seated, outside on the patio. O’Niell’s is, true to its name, a “pub” first and foremost. The bar is impressive, almost completely taking up one side of the restaurant. The seating is open table, with no partitions between tables. Although it wasn’t very crowded when I came in, I could see this place getting very noisy with a large crowd.

We didn’t have to wait long for our waitress to arrive and take our drink orders. I wish I could remember our waitress’s name, because she was awesome — fast and friendly.

THE FOOD:

And now for the best part…the food! I ordered the “Irish Cuban,” a Cuban sandwich with the addition of corned beef to give it that “Irish” twist. Let me be clear, they don’t substitute the pulled-pork for corned beef; they ADD the corned beef, along with slaw, pickles and mustard, and the results are mouth-watering. I would come back here just to have another one of these sandwiches! O’Niell’s offers a great variety of side-dishes, and I chose the fries. The fries were good, but nothing exceptional. This was the one thing that was definitely just “barroom fare.”

O'Niell's Irish Cuban Sandwich -- it was awesome!
O’Niell’s Irish Cuban Sandwich — it was awesome!

Zia ordered the St. Patty Melt, a seasoned ground beef burger with sautéed onions and Swiss cheese on grilled rye bread. This sandwich was also good, and that’s coming from me, a guy who hates rye bread! There’s something about caraway seeds that are like Kryptonite to me. But this rye bread was very light, not overpowering. She also ordered the coleslaw as a side dish. It was the same mayo-based slaw that was on my Irish Cuban. It was very good, coarse cut and delicious.

ZIA SAYS: The St. Patty Melt was good, but nothing unique or memorable. It was like any other patty melt pretty much anywhere. The cole slaw was very good.

O'Niell's St. Patty Melt, it was OK
O’Niell’s St. Patty Melt, it was OK

For dessert, we shared a slice of Irish Cream cheesecake. For me, as I’m sure it is with most people, it’s almost impossible to not love cheesecake. This was no exception. It had a graham cracker crust and was served with three ample dollops of whipped cream. The Irish Cream flavor was too subtle, but overall it was good end to the meal.

Irish Cream Cheesecake
O’Niell’s Irish Cream Cheesecake — it was good but not Irish enough.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:

My only suggestion would be to install some misters out on the patio for hot days. Otherwise, this was a great dining experience and I would recommend O’Niell’s to my friends.


For more info, visit: oniells.com/

Cervantes Restaurant – Albuquerque – Great Red & Relleno

Cervantes  |  Albuquerque | 5801 Gibson Blvd SE 

A chile relleno is a hard thing to master. You have to get the ratio of cheese to chile to breading just right, or you end up with a mess. Too much breading and it’s heavy. Too much cheese and you lose the chile. Too much sauce on top and you get a soggy mess.

For me growing up, chile rellenos were always crispy, served right out of the grease with just a hint of red or green on top. My dad would stand over the stove, one hand holding a slotted spoon poised over the pot of popping grease, the other hand held out for balance, it seemed, all fingers thickly coated in batter and flour. As soon as a relleno turned a medium brown, it was scooped up and served. Letting it sit on a stack of paper towels for a moment was allowed, but only long enough to let a little oil drip off. Not long enough for it to cool down or soften in its own juices.

Most times I go to a new (new to me) Mexican or New Mexican restaurant, I get a combo plate of some kind. I usually look for the combo plate that includes a taco, enchilada, and relleno. It is the crispy, rightly-ratioed version of the relleno of my childhood that I’m looking for.

Most restaurants get it wrong*. The typical problem is an overabundance of batter, more pancake-like than anything else, and/or an overabundance of sauce on top — a “smothered” relleno is a soggy relleno. Or they use a Poblano pepper. And that’s just weird.

But Cervantes…. Cervantes gets it right. I ate at Cervantes in early July 2014, and in true Me style, ordered a combo plate with relleno.

NOTE: Thank you, Cervantes, for putting the taco on its own little plate. Many restaurants put the taco alongside everything else (between the enchilada and beans, for example), which means the bottom of the taco sits in the bean juice and red/green sauce until you pick it up, at which time it promptly falls apart because the integrity of the shell has been compromised.

Cervantes - Combo Plate 2

Above: Combo Plate #2: Taco (on its own plate!), Enchilada, Relleno, Carne Adovada + RBI (rice, beans, iceberg)

Anyway, the first thing I did was take a bite of the relleno. It was a little too smothered for my personal preference, but the relleno underneath was actually crispy! It had some texture to it. The chile had great flavor, there was just the right amount of cheese, and the batter wasn’t overpowering. AHHHH! (Insert mental image of the heavens opening up and angels singing here.)

I was thrilled to have found what I consider to be a properly cooked (and delicious) chile relleno at Cervantes.

SURPRISE ON THE PLATE:

The combo plates come with the typical sides of beans and rice, but also with a little dollop of carne adovada. The carne adovada (shredded pork in red) was absolutely the best thing on the plate, and that’s saying something. I was disappointed that there was only a little scoop – maybe 1/3 cup. Next time I will order more adovada.

WHAT ELSE WE ORDERED:

Carnitas plate: Cubed pork in a roasty green chile sauce. Served with RIB and hot, homemade flour tortillas. It was really good! Peppery, porky, green chile-y, but not spicy. (If you want spicy, you have to get something with red.) The flour tortillas were fantastic!

Cervantes - Carnitas

Above: Carnitas plate: Cubed pork in green chile sauce, RBI, homemade tortillas

The meals also come with sopapillas, which makes me beyond happy. The sopapillas are a little bit dense, but still delicious, and they are served with local honey.

KEEP IN MIND:

The red chile is hotter than the green, and the day I went it was pretty spicy. Not “OMG Bring Me Milk Now” kind of hot, but it was spicy enough for me to take notice! Just the perfect amount of heat. I ordered my meal Christmas style, and the green chile was super flavorful, but not at all spicy.

ABOUT CERVANTES:

Cervantes has been around a long time – according to the sign outside, since 1973. The building exterior and the neighborhood are not impressive. Which is pretty typical of really awesome NM restaurants. The slightly shady neighborhood and run-down looking building and abandoned Pizza Hut building next door let you know you’re in for a treat.

The google internetz machine calls this the “International District.” Having lived and worked in Albuquerque for a long time, I would call this the “Base District” (or probably just “Over by base”) because it’s right outside Kirtland Air Force Base. Specifically, outside the Gibson/Louisiana gate, at the corner of Gibson and San Pedro. This makes it an easy lunch for anyone working at Kirtland, but also puts it within easy reach of UNM, Nob Hill, and even the airport.

The interior is kind of dark and cozy and typical of a legit New Mexican restaurant. Not trying too hard, but trying enough. The walls are hung with lovely local art – paintings of adobe in the snow, and the like. I visited Cervantes in early July, and the interior was decked out in July 4th décor. And not just the obligatory flag here and there – they go all out. And from what I’ve heard, they do this for all major holidays. I’d like to go back around Christmas.

SUMMARY:

Cervantes is really really good. It is legit, authentic, traditional New Mexican food, with excellent red chile and a chile relleno — (almost) just like you’d get at my dad’s house.

*Yes, after decades of searching for a relleno cooked the “right” way, and 95% of the time finding rellenos cooked the “wrong” way, it has occurred to me that maybe my family and I make and prefer our rellenos the “wrong” way. But I’m sticking with this, regardless.


 

Visit the Cervantes website here > CERVANTES