You don't earn the title "The Salsa Twins" for nothing. Brothers Jim and John Thomas take their salsas very seriously, as they are essentially a family heirloom, made using recipes handed down by their grandmother. The twins' parents first opened El Pinto as a seven-seat restaurant in 1962. The name's translation ("the spot") has become more and more appropriate over the course of the now world-renowned eatery's history. Jim and John took over the business in the early 1990s, expanding it into a 12-acre destination restaurant that seats more than 1,200 locals and visiting celebrities, presidents, and wedding guests in five patios, three indoor dining rooms, and a cantina.
But they wouldn't have experienced such profound success?and earned their nickname?were it not for their signature salsas. When customers began requesting that they bottle the mouthwatering condiments more than 10 years ago, Jim and John started a cook-and-bottle night shift at the restaurant. The popularity of their products has grown faster than a cactus in Martha Stewart?s sandbox; you can find them at leading retailers across the country, and you may have seen Lester Holt enjoying them on Today. The twins use flame-roasted and hand-peeled green chilies from New Mexico in all their products, which they manufacture onsite. Their 8,000-square-foot production facility was featured on an episode of History's Food Tech show.
And green chilies aren't the only ingredients the twins are picky about. Somewhere in a supply warehouse between California and New Mexico, thousands of avocados are slowly ripening in three temperature-controlled zones, destined for the restaurant's famous guacamole. El Pinto?voted Best New Mexican Restaurant by Albuquerque The Magazine?mixes fresh onion, housemade salsa, and the kind of creamy hass avocados you can only find in California. You'll also taste the verdant mixture atop El Pinto?s nachos, which the Wall Street Journal has called some of the best in America. The restaurant's combination of Old-World hospitality and authentic ingredients has also earned it numerous awards from the Weekly Alibi, with some of the area's best sopapillas and margaritas.
The aromas of sizzling fajitas and marinated shrimp mingle in Mariscos Altamar?s dining room while hosts welcome diners with charming Spanish greetings. Along with the Aztec paintings, Owner Hector Hernandez?s menu, with seafood as the primary focus, hearkens back to northern Mexico where he grew up. Along with grilling steaks and spooning ranchero sauce over chiles rellenos, chefs also stuff saut?ed crabmeat into enchiladas and fry platefuls of breaded shrimp.
The dining room maintains an airy ambiance with its light wooden tones and neutral-colored walls, and an aquarium full of small fish and adorable baby Poseidons catch diners' eyes at the entrance. On Thursday and Saturday evenings and Friday afternoons, the restaurant regales guests with the lilting melodies of live musicians.
For more than 50 years, Ned's on the Rio Grande's homemade green and red chilies have graced their signature sandwiches, burgers, and Mexican specialties. Plates of their famous Stormin' Normin sandwiches—stuffed with Boar’s Head turkey, ham, pastrami, swiss, and cheddar cheese—share table space with tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. Come Sunday morning, the kitchen’s skillets host simmering omelets and various New Mexican specialties. Football games appear on the television screens throughout their bar, and the restaurant's patio hosts regular live bands and irregular appearances by guitar-playing cowboy ghosts.
Pasión Latin Fusion chef Elvis Bencomo blends flavors from across South America into plates of contemporary fusion fare. Small creative touches showcase the extent of his culinary skill; the breading on the fish tacos incorporates banana chips for extra crunch, and a hint of red chili enlivens the specialty bread pudding. In the colorful dining room, waiters wend their way between tomato-red balustrades to fill patrons' goblets with beer and wine or check the anti-gravity generators that keep cast-iron stoves floating above the floor.
Cecilia's Cafe prides itself on serving authentic New Mexican cuisine. The kitchen staff have followed this mission so well that it has been praised by Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The eatery's generations-old recipes include Stuffed Sopa, Machaca Burrito, Chicharrones and Carne Adovada