Albuquerque Mexican Restaurants 1981

This list is presented for anyone who is interested in the Mexican restaurants which were in Albuquerque in 1981.  It grew out of a project I did to write down a list of all the Mexican restaurants from the telephone directory and then to make notes about the ones I tried.

Although the list was strictly for my own benefit while I was in the city, I think it might be of some historical use today.  It certainly provides a clue about the longest running restaurants in the city, since very few of the restaurants which were open in 1981 survive today.

These restaurants were listed under the “Mexican restaurants” section in the telephone directory, and while the list seems fairly accurate, I had no way to verify it.

By “Mexican” this really meant “New Mexican,” since very few restaurants served other styles of Mexican food.

One of my favorite restaurants, El Modelo, was not on the list (but it mainly serves take-out orders and maybe the Yellow Page people did not consider it to be a “restaurant”).

The restaurants I visited are in bold.  All others were simply copied from the phone book to give me possible places to try.

A & B Rest 6004 Edith NE
Abeyta & Bernell’s 2805 San Mateo NE
Acapulco Tacos 5101 Southern SE
Amador Mex Food 4703 Central NW
Amigo’s Cafe 1736 Central SW
Anita’s 3314 Isleta SW
Anita’s 2105 Mountain NW
star 3 Anita’s 3206 San Mateo NE Mod Good food-not too fancy or exp
Antonito’s 5024 4th NW
Aunt Billie’s 9119 Central NE
star 4 Baca’s 3311 Central NE Mod
Backstreet Gourmet Shop 213 3rd SW
Baja Tacos 3527 Gibson SE
Bird of Paradise 5211 Gibson SE
Bob’s Fish & Chips 700 Central SE
Burrito Bar-B-Que 515 Wyoming NE
Camino Alegre 906 Park Ave SW
Camino Real 416 Yale SE
Carlos Taquitos 1634 Isleta SW
star 4 Casa Grande 2525 Central NW Mod Excellent enchiladas
star 3 Cocina de Carlos 4901 Lomas NE Mod
Comedor de Julia 2905 4th NW
Del Valle 1502 Wyoming NE
De Pinos 1435 San Mateo SE
Diner Cafe 4519 4th NW
El Amigo 208 Central SW
El Burrito 602 Broadway SE
El Camino 6800 4th NW
Eloy’s 1826 Eubank NE
star 3 Eloy’s 3617 Wyoming NE Mod
El Parador de Maria 400 San Felipe NW
El Patio 142 Harvard SE
El Patron 2266 Wyoming NE
star 3 El Pinto 10500 4th NW Exp
El Prado First Plaza NW Galleria
star 3 El Ranchito 602 Central SW Mod
El Restaurante del Valle 1411 Isleta SW
El Sinaloa 800 Iron SE
El Sombrero 801 Juan Tabo NE
Enchilada Queen 5409 4th NW
Franco’s 1510 Girard NE
Garcia’s Kitchen 1113 4th NW
Garcia’s Kitchen 125 2nd NW
Green Burrito 804 Broadway NE
Green Burrito 1508 4th SW
Indian Pueblo Cultural Ctr. 2401 12th NW
Julio’s 1408 Eubank NE
La Esquina 60 First Plaza Galleria
La Estrellita 11417 Menaul NE
La Fontana 1103 Mountian NW
La Hacienda Old Town Plaza
La Margarita 4100 San Mateo NE
La Mesa 7509 Copper NE
La Mexicana 6300 San Mateo NE
La Mexicana Tortilla Co 306 Coal SW
La Nana’s 6417 Menaul NE
La Nana’s 4801 Central NE
La Piñata 6820 Menaul NE
La Placita Old Town Plaza
La Quinta 319 5th SW
star 2 La Salita 1217 Eubank NE Exp
Las Cazuelas 4520 4th NW
M & M Cafe 1337 Bridge SW
Mac’s La Sierra 6217 Central NW
Maria Teresa 618 Rio Grande NW
Maria’s Tamale Hut 2900 Morris NE
Marty’s 108 6th SW
Mary & Tito’s Cafe 2711 4th NW
Merlinda’s 1600 Isleta SW
Mexican Carryout Kitchen 4917 4th NW
Mexican Main Foods 922 Coal SW
Mi Casita 8302 Zuni SE
Miguel’s Gibson & San Mateo SE
star 2 Monroe’s 1520 Lomas NW Exp
Monterey Inn 1000 Juan Tabo NE
Ortega’s Old Town Plaza
star 2 Pancho’s 8601 Central NE Cheap
Papa Felipe’s 8806 4th NW
star 4 Papa Felipe’s 520 Coronado Center Exp Good blue corn ench.
Phil’s Coffee Shop 80 Winrock Center
Puente Cafe 2002 Bridge SW
Pup ‘N Taco 501 Central NE
Pup ‘N Taco 4400 Central SE
Pup ‘N Taco 4011 Central NW
Restaurante de Gomez 8531 Northeastern NE
Roberto’s 4615 Menaul NE
Roberto’s 6540 2nd NW
Rutillo’s 11016 Central SE
Sadie’s Valley Bowl 6132 4th NW
Sam’s for Lunch 112 Monroe NE
star 3 Silvano’s 5016 Lomas NE Mod Excel. blue corn ench.
Silvano’s 2509 San Mateo NE
Southwest Sakari 509 Central NW
Taco Phil’s 931 Coors SW
Taco Sal 9621 Menaul NE
Taco Villa 2608 Central SE
Taco Village 4201 Central NW
Tamale Factory 121 Coors SW
Tia Maria’s 3313 4th NW
Turquoise Coffee Shop 4301 Central NE
Western Drive-In 9129 4th SW
El Charro Cafe 121 Calle del Banco
Benny’s 1675 Bosque Farms
Casa Vieja Corrales
El Comedor de Corrales Corrales
Territorial House Corrales
Mexican Carryout Kitchen Rio Rancho
Pete’s Sandia Park
Taco Bell 5 Locations


The four-star rating system was as follows:

star 4 Very Good.
star 3 Good.
star 2 Fair.
star 1 Poor.

Additional Comments

The four-star rating system was based on my experiences throughout New Mexico, particularly in Santa Fe and Española.  Baca’s and Casa Grande were the two notable restaurants in Albuquerque which I thought could be classified as among the best in the state.

I had expected Albuquerque to be the New Mexican food mecca in the state, and I was surprised by the number of three and two star restaurants I found.  I was not really surprised, though, that several of them were in Old Town or the other tourist areas.

In looking at the big picture, I would make the following observations from this list:

  • At the time, Albuquerque had one of the highest number of Mexican restaurants per capita in the United States.
  • The restaurants were located throughout the city, and were quite prominent in the areas which I knew to have a large Anglo population.
  • Almost all of these restaurants were what we now call “New Mexican” cuisine (not south of the border Mexican style food as is more the case today).
  • Many of my expectations for New Mexican cuisine today are based on my early experiences in Albuquerque and other areas of the state.  Thus if enchiladas are rolled instead of flat, the chile does not have a really good kick, or sopapillas are served only for dessert (and not with the meal) this is just not real New Mexican food to me (although it might still be good).  Also, they really should use blue corn tortillas (although in 1981 only about 50% of the restaurants did this).

4 thoughts on “Albuquerque Mexican Restaurants 1981

  1. When I was a college student in the late 60’s early 70’s, back when the Frontier restaurant was the Country Barn, I would frequent Pup ‘n Taco . I could buy a combination burrito, a bean tostada and 2 taco’s for $1 exactly, including tax.

    • I think there were still a number of good deals for $1 or less through the late 1960’s, but in the early 1970’s they began to disappear quickly. When Pancho’s Buffet in El Paso raised the price of their buffet from 99 cents I remember thinking this was the last of this kind of deal (this would have been in the early to mid 70’s). However, it sounds as if there was not much comparison between the quality of Pancho’s compared to Pup’ n Taco. Pancho’s was really not the best Mexican food, and when they built restaurants in other cities outside of El Paso it really had little resemblance to Mexican food at all.

  2. I first ate at Acapulco Tacos & Burritos (5101 Southern SE/San Mateo )
    4 stars! Green Chile Steak Burritos!
    It was a green tin shack & metal roof with gravel drive.
    The Truth will set you free! John 14:6

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