Sunday, October 05, 2008
New Mexico: El Patio
New Mexican Style Cuisine at El Patio.
Before I left for Albuquerque, I asked former residents Bryan and Maria what was the one place that I had to try. El Patio was it. BTW, it's pronounced "patio" as in "outdoor patio" and not the Spanish styled "pah-tee-oh." To do so would be very un-New Mexican.
On the way there, I called Bryan and Maria to ask for menu recommendations. Maria recommended the red chile enchilada with extra potatoes and Bryan recommended the stuffed sopapilla. I would try both.
Tortilla chips, firery hot salsa and a Dr. Pepper.
I'm all alone at El Patio because Maria has flown back to Phoenix so she can go back to work tomorrow. It's a chilly night here in Albuquerque and Maria (Bryan's wife) said that I "had" to sit outside on the patio for full effect. It's no problem getting a table because everyone else is inside keeping warm. At least my server thanked me for sitting outside so she could "cool off" a little.
El Patio is located on a side street off Central Avenue (seems like everything is on Central in Albuquerque) and close to the University of New Mexico campus. Hold on a moment: "university" and "Mexican" together usually means something horrifically crappy but not here at El Patio. They keep things real here.
First up is an order of chips and red salsa. The salsa is smoking hot and I can't take too much of it without burning my mouth and rendering my tastebuds useless, but I want to eat more of it because it's that good.
For my meal, I decide not to hold back. Let me have both the enchilada and the stuffed sopapilla. Immediately, I realize that perhaps I've made a mistake. Both orders are huge. Even though the sopapilla is a side order and not the full dinner, it's massive. Puffy fried dough stuffed with spiced ground beef topped with green chile sauce and cheese - my God, who thinks of these things??? It's amazing. Delicious. The meat is delicately balanced with the spice of the chiles. The dough is chewy and I want to eat more but I mustn't.
The enchiladas are more of the same. One cheese and the other beef, drenched in red chile sauce. It's good. It's hot but the flavor is not as compelling as that of the green chiles. This seals it: I'm a green chile fan, not a red chile fan. The enchiladas come with refried pinto beans which are good, but it's the potatoes that rock the house. I should have ordered a double like I was instructed.
Done. I can't eat another bite.
The bottom line is that it's too much. I can't finish half of either dish. I'm defeated but luckily there are takeaway containers and I pile all my leftovers into the containers for some midnight eating later.
El Patio de Albuquerque
142 Harvard Drive SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106