Namaste–Albuquerque, NM

Namaste
110 Yale Blvd. S.E.
Albuquerque, NM
(505) 266-6900
Namaste

Namaste near the UNM Campus


Although I had a wide choice of Asian restaurants near the University of New Mexico Campus for lunch on Saturday, a tight time schedule caused me to go to one of the places that was most visible and which involved the least travel. Namaste turned out to be an excellent choice both for the food and for quick service. It also allowed me to sample a cuisine I had never tried before, namely Nepali (served here in addition to Indian food).

Albuquerque seems to be a hotbed of Asian food, and I know from both Yelp and Gil’s Thrilling and Filling Blog that many of them are ones I want to try. Many of the best ones seem to be near UNM and along Central Avenue, and hopefully I will be able to make other trips to sample their food as well.

The main downside to Namaste seems to be the logistics of going to it. There are a few parking spaces behind the building along the alley that are reserved for restaurant customers, but if they are full I think people may be out of luck as far as parking is concerned. The restrooms are down a flight of stairs in the basement so it looks as if the restaurant is not accessible, but I do not know if they have other arrangements.

At first I was tempted to try the Indian buffet which they have on Saturday, and the price was right for this. On second thought, though, I saw some Nepali items on the menu and ordered one of these instead. I cannot give a full report of the food served here, but I was very satisfied with what I got.

Nepali Food

Chow Chow

Chow Chow

Chow Chow was one of about six items available from the Nepali menu. My choice was affected by the fact that it is their cheapest Nepali item and also the one that can be prepared most quickly, but I certainly was more than happy with this choice. I commented to the waiter that it looked like Chinese food, and he said it was cooked with soy sauce. It even tasted like Chinese food, which to me was a very pleasant surprise. I have had many Indian style “Manjurian” Chinese dishes which were spicy and had mostly Indian flavors rather than Chinese, but in this instance I was glad the Nepalese have a different cooking style.

The Chow Chow was not spicy and had slightly different flavors than the Cantonese food with which I am all too familiar, yet I think it could be served at Cantonese restaurants and people would think it was authentic. On line recipes for Chow Chow indicate that it always has ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Unlike most Chinese dishes, though, it also includes turmeric (an ingredient of many curries but this dish did not have curry). This was a vegetarian dish, and the vegetables mixed into the noodles gave it added flavor.

The waiter told me Chow Chow was on their buffet on weekdays but not Saturday (the buffet looked rather small and there were only a few customers at the restaurant). For other Nepali dishes, though, I think you have to order them from the menu.

Indian Food
Although I did not try the buffet I saw some of the items they had, and they looked good. They seemed to be predominantly meat items, and they had several types of curry and sauces.

There is also quite an extensive choice of Indian food on the menu (unlike the Nepali menu which only lists about six items).

Other Comments
For me this restaurant was a good choice–I not only enjoyed the food but it made me want to come back to try other things.

The Chai was good, and is definitely what I would order if I go back.

Chow Chow seems to be a simple dish which they made more complex through its flavors, and because of this I have high expectations for other dishes I might try here.

There is another location in Rio Rancho (where I expect parking will not be as much of an issue).

The restaurant is closed between 2:30 and 5:00 P.M.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Indian & Nepali
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Restroom is downstairs accessible by stairs only
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer & Wine

Most Recent Visit: Feb. 17, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Chow Chow, Chai

Special Ratings
star 5 Chow Chow
star 5 Chai

Mary & Tito’s–Albuquerque, NM

Mary & Tito’s Cafe
2711 4th St. N.W.
Albuquerque, NM
(505) 344-6266
Mary & Tito's

Mary & Tito’s


For an in-depth review of this fabulous New Mexican restaurant I would refer the reader to the one on Gil’s Thrilling and Filling Blog. In fact, Gil’s recommendation is the reason I visited this restaurant on one of my all too infrequent visits to the Duke City. There is not much reason to go over territory already covered in his review, but I wanted to experience Mary & Tito’s food for myself.

Gil proclaims Mary & Tito’s “THE very best New Mexican restaurant in the world!”, and as of now I know of nothing that could contradict this. Gil says it took him 45 visits to sample every item on the menu, while I have only tried two, but I have come to the same conclusion. As always, though, I will continue to either try to prove this hypothesis correct or find another one that could reach an even higher level of excellence.

The dining room

The dining room

Knowing how popular this restaurant is, I was a little surprised when I saw how small the dining room was. Going on a Friday night, though (one of the only two nights it is open past 6 PM), there was a table available. The above photo was taken near closing time when the restaurant was practically empty, but I think this is very rare. One thing to keep in mind when visiting New Mexican restaurants is that having a place this small usually means there is very good control of the food going out of the kitchen, and it will probably taste the same no matter when you visit.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

I do not have many comments about the chips and salsa except that they are excellent, and the salsa is not so spicy that it will numb your mouth before you get a chance to taste the food.

Enchiladas

Red enchiladas

Blue corn enchiladas with red sauce

Ordering Enchiladas is relatively simple here. The two things that are the most important to me are standard–the enchiladas as stacked and they come on blue corn tortillas. Neither of these are very common in Las Cruces (where I have most of my New Mexican meals), but they are things I really appreciate when traveling north. Knowing that I wanted to order red chile (on Gil’s recommendation) made it all that much more important to have blue corn tortillas, because I think this is one of the best flavor combinations in New Mexican cuisine.

The only real choice involved with the enchiladas is whether you want red or green chile and whether you want it with meat or no meat (you can also get “Christmas” with half red and half green sauce). My photo is different than the ones on Gil’s blog, though, because mine is meatless (I believe all of his photos show the sauce with meat). This was frankly somewhat of a surprise to me because the meat version of red sauce is very unusual in New Mexican restaurants I have visited. Because my dining companion ordered the version with meat I was able to sample it and determine that this was the best choice, and I’m sure this will be what I order in the future. There is something about this flavor combination that goes together much like I find with the red chile and blue corn tortillas.

Mexican Turnover

Mexican turnover

Mexican turnover with red and green sauce on the side

Another unusual thing about this restaurant was the name Mexican Turnover which is usually called a stuffed sopapilla in other restaurants. If it is possible for anything to be better than Mary & Tito’s enchiladas, though, it would be this. The waiter suggested that I get the sauce on the side since I wanted to try both the red and the green, and I also ate part of it without the sauce. Eating it plain gave me a greater appreciation of just how good the sopapilla was, and having it filled with pinto beans was just the way I liked it. In a way I would say the turnover was better than the enchilada, but really this is almost an impossible choice to make.

Other Notes
I do not have a preference between the enchiladas and the turnover, since I really liked both equally. There are several versions of each one, with different sauces, meats, etc. I think the best sauce is the red chile with meat, especially on the enchiladas.

I thought the green sauce was also excellent, and to me it tasted better on the turnover than the red (both were plain sauces without meat). This is not a conclusive test of one sauce being better than the other, but only that with the sopapilla I think green is a good choice.

The restaurant is justifiably proud of its red sauce, and the waiter explained how they used dried chiles that were then reconstituted into a sauce while adding their special spices to it. Because of this process red chile can either come out very good or very bad at New Mexican restaurants, but at Mary & Tito’s it is arguably the best. At least I think each Mexican food lover owes it to themselves to try it. It is not terribly spicy, but the emphasis is on flavor.


RATING: 26

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Mon.-Thu. 9:00am to 6:00pm; Fri. & Sat. 9:00am to 8:00pm
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No

Most Recent Visit: Feb. 16, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Mexican Turnover, Chips, Salsa

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Mexican Turnover
star 5 Rice
star 5 Beans
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa