Have you ever gotten a craving for a special kind of food? You are eating breakfast, lunch or dinner and suddenly bacon and eggs won’t do it: California roll sushi is all you can think about.
You go to lunch because it is about noon and you don’t want your blood sugar to drop. You could not make Dim Sum at Amerasia because they don’t open until 11 and it is only 9 a.m. when you come out of the doctor’s office. You drive all the way from Lomas and 3rd Street up to Juan Tabo and Montgomery to visit Mr. Tokyo and they changed their hours. They are no longer open for lunch except Friday and Saturday and this IS TUESDAY. AGGGGGG….. You know what I mean, you just have to have “it.”
I went by Panda Express, loaded up on Asian, and went to my brother Arch’s. We ate almost in silence and then talked about what it means to take away your favorite restaurants. Recently near my son Will’s house they closed a great Indian place called Saffron Tiger. Then I drove by the Quarters on Wyoming and Montgomery and they are closed. People who love BBQ are sobbing all over Albuquerque. Foodies, let’s go down Memory Lane.
It all started, as far as I can tell, with the closing of Paul’s Monterrey Inn. It was just north of Lomas on Juan Tabo. It was a legend. The Rat Pack with Sinatra, Dean, Sammy and that guy who married the Kennedy girl, could have done sets in the lounge where the bar was. The smell when you walked in was old cigars and brandy. I never drank or smoked, but that’s what the late 50s and early 60s smelled like. The food was simple, a huge bloody steak, a crisp salad and a baked potato, loaded. The booths were large and leather, and there was a separate smoking area in the bar. The wait staff was always professional. They had delicious fresh bread and butter on the table as you sat down. It was dark and mysterious, and you just knew Bond, James Bond, would be at the bar if he ever visited Albuquerque. They tore it down last year. THEY TORE IT DOWN. How was it possible? And they put in another boring pizza parlor. (We really needed more of those.) When it was gone, you could hear the faint echo of Taps in the wind. I bow my head as I pass.
Then, we listed our other food places we miss. VIPs Home of the Big Boy. It was in Coronado Mall when I went to high school (1965). That Boy is no more and the burgers went with him. Next the Golden Slipper Dinner Theater across from the Caravan East on Central. The Golden Slipper had melodrama and dinner. The Caravan was the leading honkytonk dance hall; now it is just a parking lot. Ken’s Tiger Den in the North Valley and Wong’s at Eubank and Montgomery are gone. Two dogs didn’t make it, The Dog House on West Central and Chicago Dog. It was next to New Mexico’s own, Mac’s Steak in the Rough. There are only two Mac’s anymore in town.
And finally, the real heart breaker, Carrabba’s Italian food which was next to Outback. Their chicken trio was classical Italy. When the Romans owned it, I am sure they served it in the Coliseum. Do you feel my pain?
It makes me almost as crazy to see restaurants change their menus when they have done so well with the old ones. Dion’s Pizza had the best Greek salad in the world. They use round croutons now, sliced kalamata olives instead of black ones out of a can. And finally, to put a nail in their coffin, KALE. Have you ever eaten kale? Bill loves it in Italian soup Toscano, however, I am fussy. Kale in Greek salad. Well, enough raving. I am just glad the eateries in Edgewood seem to be doing well. Roaring Mouse looking for a good meal, out.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.