Red Rock Deli–Albuquerque, NM

Red Rock Deli
2414 San Mateo Pl. N.E.
Albuquerque, NM
(505) 332-9656
Red Rock Deli

Red Rock Deli


Mark, the owner of Red Rock Deli, seems to be the eternal optimist. While I say Red Rock Deli is closed on Monday, the Red Rock Facebook page says it is “open Tuesday through Sunday.” When I found out he actually spends weekdays in Blanca, Colorado working at his other business (Red Rock General Store) he said he is excited about both business opportunities, and that he enjoys the commute between them every week!

Actually I should point out that Red Rock Deli in Albuquerque is run by Mark’s wife, and the General Store in Colorado is owned by other family members (who also have a deli in the store and serve Polish sandwiches as the one in Albuquerque does). The Albuquerque enterprise resulted from Mark’s desire to operate a full blown restaurant with sandwiches and complete dinner plates. The restaurant is based on food from Mark’s native Poland, but he points out that he loves food from other countries too, and includes menu items from such countries as Germany and Ukraine.

Displays in the store

Displays in the store featuring imported items from Europe

Red Rock is also a European style grocery store selling such items as sausages, pierogi, jellies and preserves from several countries, candy, cookies, and much more. Mark said he makes periodic trips to Chicago (I believe every three months) to buy sausages, etc., and items on the shelves and in the freezer are all well within their proper shelf lives. Apparently there is a very high demand for his European delicacies resulting in a high turnover of the product.

Red Rock Deli used to be located on the far east side of Albuquerque, but recently opened a new store and restaurant on San Mateo Place just north of Interstate 40. It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (closed on Mon.) and has table service for lunch and dinner as well as anything you would like to buy in the store to take home.

Pierogi

Russian Roulette

Russian Roulette

I was very happy for the opportunity to try Polish food for the first time since Maggie’s Cafe in Oklahoma City closed. I think if anyone had tried Maggie’s Polish specialties they would probably welcome the opportunity for more of the same as I did.

I immediately focused on two items at Red Rock Deli that corresponded to some of my favorites at Maggie’s–the stuffed cabbage (golabki at Maggie’s but I am not sure what it is called at Red Rock) and the pierogi. I think both would have been good choices, but my decision was swayed by the fact that the Russian Roulette pierogi plate had a sample of fillings with different flavors such as spinach, cabbage, sauerkraut, and potatoes with cheese. These are mostly evident only by cutting or biting into the individual dumplings to see what is inside (although I think the spinach one had a green color that could be seen through the dumpling). One of best parts of this plate was the variety, although I did like the spinach pierogi quite a bit.

Something especially recommended would be the optional onion and bacon sauce for the pierogi the restaurant makes in house.

I should note that they have frozen pierogi in the freezer section of the store which can be taken home, and I think these are also the ones served on the pierogi plate in the restaurant. Because of this I did not think the pierogi were the best items served at the restaurant, but the flavors were very good, especially with the onion and bacon sauce.

Art Wiener Schintzel

Art Wiener Schnitzel

Art Wiener Schnitzel

I was fortunate enough to be able to split two meals instead of just having my own, so I was treated to half of an excellent Wiener Schnitzel which I would say is the best item I tried. The meat was tender and the breading was excellent, as were the side dishes. The only comment I would make is to ask for a lemon slice to sprinkle on the schnitzel–to me this made it almost perfect (but the lemon is not provided unless you request it).

Potato salad and sauerkraut

Potato salad, sauerkraut, and German mustard

Of the three side dishes I thought the star was the Sauerkraut, which is made in house. This had the flavor I find in good versions of sauerkraut without the acid which is most pronounced in canned versions but which is also present is some home made varieties.

Although I was not a big fan of the Potato Salad my dining companion was, and I certainly did not dislike it in any way.

The German Mustard was very good but I did not find any items that were enhanced by adding mustard to it.

Sausage

Guinness beer brat

Guinness beer brat

On my visit to the new store I tried the Guinness Beer Brat with Sauerkraut. This is called “Double Barrel” on the menu because you get two of them, but since this was a snack for me rather than a full me I just tried a portion of one of them. This was enough, though, to convince me of the excellent flavor. Although I really liked the sauerkraut and the spicy brown mustard, the big attraction for me was the sausage itself, which made me think you can indeed get authentic European sausage in the Southwest.

The “General Store”
The new building, like the old one, is filled with display shelves stocked with imported food and other goods from Europe. While most of it looked very good and would be very useful if I knew how to cook, I decided I could at least get good use out of the sweet items that were available here but probably nowhere else that I knew about.

Cookies and candy

Cookies and candy from Red Rock Deli

These are several of the cookies and candy they have available, but buying these was a shot in the dark from the vast array of items that are available. All of them made very good snacks, and I did not try anything that I would not buy again.

Items Previously Sold at the Eastside Store
There is one special item I bought at the old store, though, but could not find at the new one (perhaps it was there and I missed it). This was one of the more expensive candies, but I thought it was the best.

Mella chocolate

Mella jelly in chocolate

The Mella Galaretka w Czekoladzie (jelly in chocolate) came with 16 rather small but very rich pieces of chocolate candy filled with orange flavored jelly. It reminded me of the old orange slice candy I used to enjoy when I was growing up, except that the one here has a slightly more liquid texture (like a jelly).

The Mella candies

The Mella candies

This is what the inside of the box looked like, and the 16 pieces lasted for a surprisingly long time. Even though I was taking a long time eating them in order to extend the time I could enjoy them, they stayed fresh for several months (they could not last indefinitely because they were too good not to be enjoyed).

I had never really explored the world of Polish chocolates before, but it turned out to be surprisingly worthwhile.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Polish
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Mon.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 6, 2019
Number of Visits: 2
Best Items: Schnitzel, Sauerkraut, Guinness Beer Brat

Special Ratings
star 5 Art Wiener Schnitzel
star 5 Guinness Beer Brat
star 5 Pierogi
star 5 Sauerkraut
star 5 Potato Salad

Papa Felipe’s–Albuquerque, NM

Papa Felipe’s
9800 Menaul Blvd. N.E.
Albuquerque, NM
(505) 292-8877
Papa Felipe's

Papa Felipe’s


When I lived in Albuquerque for a short time in the early 1980’s I made a list of all the Mexican restaurants in the city and then proceeded to make comments and rate the ones I visited (see my blog post Albuquerque Mexican Restaurants 1981). Papa Felipe’s was on this list, although at the time it was located in the Coronado Shopping Center. Furthermore I rated it as four stars out of four (one of the few that I considered to be this good).

Since then I have had enormous curiosity about whether it has stood the test of time, until I was able to visit again in 2019. The short answer is that I was not disappointed on my return visit, and I think this is still a very good New Mexican restaurant. In truth, I think all the restaurants on my 1981 list were New Mexican style, while today there are many restaurants with south of the border style food that might compete as the city’s best Mexican restaurants.

Since the days Papa Felipe’s was in Coronado Center it has had a somewhat upscale setting and the large number of booths give it a coffee house feeling. I do not consider it to be expensive, but it is not a mom and pop restaurant which generally have the cheapest prices. It is still a comfortable restaurant with good food, and probably most importantly for my most recent visit, is open until 9:00 p.m. (this seems to be very late for most restaurants in Albuquerque).

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

I thought the chips and salsa were very good–a good start to what turned out to be a good meal.

Enchiladas

Christmas enchiladas

Christmas enchiladas

The regular order of Enchiladas is served with corn tortillas and comes rolled. The blue corn tortillas I ordered, though, dictates that it be served flat (and the regular order will also be served flat if you request it this way). I definitely recommend the blue corn tortillas, though, since this is one of the important elements of northern New Mexican food that I really enjoy. Although the flavor of the blue corn is sometimes barely noticeable in an enchilada, I think what I like most is the lack of corn oil flavor I have always found with this type of tortilla.

I thought a good choice for this meal would be to order the enchiladas “Christmas” (both red and green chile) which if nothing else at least makes the dish very colorful. As usually happens with me, though, I preferred the red chile in terms of flavor. Still, though, the green chile was better than I find at most restaurants, and was a worthwhile experience. As for the red, it was not only good, but was one of the best I have found in town (as I did in the 1980’s).

The restaurant has a sign warning customers that the green chile is “hot,” but it does not reach the level I find at some Hatch, Las Cruces, or rural northern NM levels (I put it at four chiles out of five). The red was what I call a “solid 4” (hot enough to have a good flavor but you do not get a chile overload on your tongue).

The drawback to these enchiladas, though, seemed to be the cheese they put inside. It did not seem to melt sufficiently when they cooked it, and I did not like the harder than normal texture it had.

Despite the cheese (which was either not prepared properly or else this is the style they do it) this was one of my favorite New Mexico style enchiladas I have found anywhere, and overall was very good. Even the green half was quite good, but I like the red half better.

Chile Relleno

Chile relleno

Chile relleno

When I sampled a friend’s order of Chile Relleno it was quite a surprise in a good way. Not only did it taste very good covered with green chile, but the batter around the chile relleno was flavorful enough to almost be competitive with the ones at Chope’s in southern New Mexico. Of course most Albuquerque residents cannot travel to a location south of Las Cruces for their chiles rellenos, but I think the ones at Papa Felipe’s are very satisfying and are a very good alternative.

Other Notes
The whole beans here were excellent, and the rice was “OK.” Both plates came with a salad (no dressing–just the raw elements of lettuce, tomato, and cheese). These side dishes were very good, but mainly because of the beans.

I requested the sopaipillas with my meal, and I was very happy because this allowed me to have the perfect “blue corn enchilada” experience. The chiles rellenos were supposed to have their own order of sopaipillas to be served for dessert, but these never came. This was one of several issued I found about the service where certain items are available if you want, but you have to request it. Another issue is that by the time anyone comes around so that you can request something, you may not really want it anymore.

The bottom line is that this is some of the best red and green chile I have had anywhere, but I particularly like the red.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Full Bar

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 5, 2019
Number of Visits: 2
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Chile Relleno, Salsa, Beans, Sopaipilla

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Green Enchiladas
star 5 Chile Relleno
star 5 Beans
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa
star 5 Sopaipilla

Coffee Emporium–El Paso, TX

Coffee Emporium
5827 N. Mesa St.
El Paso, TX
(915) 584-2255
Coffee Emporium

Coffee Emporium


Although Coffee Emporium is quite popular and gets good reviews, it was not really on my radar until the time I visited. I do not drink coffee, and even having the chance to drink the best coffee (as in New Orleans) is not enough for me to acquire a taste for it. Nevertheless, the coffee here is reputed to be some of the best people have had.

What I know about this shop is that it had a long time owner who retired about 2017, and since that time it has done some minor things to reinvent itself. I think it downsized a little bit, but still maintains the theme of coffee plus treats (candy, etc.). I saw quite a large selection of sweets, which interest me even if I am not going to order any coffee.

The sweets are not made on site (I think some of them were before). What they have, though, is gourmet and comes from sources that seem to have been sought out so that customers would have the best items available.

Chocolate Candy

Coffee flavored chocolates

Coffee flavored chocolateses

I thought that since I was not drinking coffee that I would at least see if they had some good coffee flavored candy. The answer was yes to the coffee flavored part and yes to the good part. I certainly do not include every store I visit on the blog (mainly because of time constraints), but when I get very good leads that I want to share these will be included.

Sweet Shop box

Sweet Shop box

The coffee flavored chocolate came from a company in east Texas called Sweet Shop USA. I had never heard of them, but they make some very good chocolates.

The chocolates are sold individually, and I chose three that were made with different coffee flavors so that I could pick a favorite (at least in terms of coffee flavored candy).

It turned out that my favorite was the Latte (shown in the photo with a swirl on top). I thought I would like it less because it had more of a milk chocolate, but it had a strong coffee flavor (which is a good thing for candy) and had a good flavor overall.

The Cappuccino flavored chocolate had white stripes on top, and although I did not think the coffee flavor was as good as the latte, it had a very good chocolate flavor and overall was a very good candy.

The plain looking dark chocolate with a bean on top was Espresso. This completes the continuum on the scale that the chocolate was probably the best of all of them, but the coffee flavor was the least evident that I could tell.

All of the candies were very good and made an impression on me to the point that I wanted to include them in the blog.

Sweet Shop address

Sweet Shop address

There are many choices in El Paso for good candy, but the chocolates here were some of the best and most decadent I have had. I really enjoyed the coffee flavors, although they have many varieties of chocolate with other flavors.

I did not try their drinks but many people like them, and I can tell that much attention is paid to the details in the way they are made.


RATING: *

Cuisine: Coffee
Cost: *

Most Recent Visit: *

Number of Visits: *

Best Items: Sweet Shop Chocolates

Special Ratings

star 5 Sweet Shop Chocolates