Thai House–Albuquerque, NM

Thai House
2000 Carlisle Blvd. N.E.
Albuquerque, NM
(505) 247-9205
Thai House

Thai House


Thai House is a restaurant that has been around for a while, but it recently moved to a new location on Carlisle Blvd. just south of Interstate 40. Specifically, the strip shopping center in which it is located is at the southeast corner of Carlisle and Indian School, and a very visible neighbor is the I Scream Ice Cream Store.

Thai House's sign is in the window

Thai House sign in the window

At the moment there is no outside sign, and you pretty much have to know the restaurant is here in order to see it. There is a hand made sign in the window shown in this photo, but even with this you almost have to be looking for it in order to notice it. I would say go to the I Scream place and then go one or two spaces to the north for Thai House.

Dining room

Dining room

The interior is very comfortable and “homey.” You almost feel as if you are in a Thai home because it has an open kitchen where you can watch your food being cooked as you sit at the table. The owner makes you feel very comfortable here and takes care of your needs, but she also is busy cooking and performing all restaurant duties in a one-woman operation. She did have some help when I went on a Saturday evening, but the actual cooking is a one person operation.

I have looked at the Yelp reviews and I think they do a good job of describing the restaurant, providing photos, and making recommendations. I can only add my two cents and say that the food tastes exactly as it looks–like it comes from a home kitchen in Thailand.

It was not actually the Yelp review that guided me here, but an invitation by my friend and Albuquerque restaurant expert Gil Garduño who himself had just tried the new location for the first time and was anxious to make another visit (and also included a review on his web site). I had the same desire to make a return visit, and did so on my way back from Colorado to El Paso. One tip I will give travelers is that this restaurant is very convenient from both Interstate 25 and Interstate 40 (but for now just do not expect to see a sign in front of the restaurant).

Pad Khing

Pad khing

Pad khing

When I was in Seattle and went to Thai restaurants frequently, ginger tofu was usually my first choice from the menu. I soon learned that the Thai name was Pad Khing, which was also frequently listed on the menu as ginger stir fry. The flavors of this dish are such that I do not think ordering it with meat causes noticeable enhancement, but the somewhat neutral nature of tofu allows me to enjoy the other flavors even more. I also did not worry about being full after eating a meatless meal because the amount of tofu and vegetables is usually substantial (as it is at Thai House).

Chinese medicine stipulates that ginger should be eaten early in the day when you need the energy it provides. I was never really aware of the principles of Chinese medicine when I was getting into the habit of ordering ginger tofu, but somehow I knew instinctively that it was a very good dish to order at lunch. This carried over to my instinct to order it for my first visit to Thai House at lunch time, although I think the flavor of this dish is good any time you order it. I would say the ginger flavor is somewhat subtle and is blended with the other ingredients in the dish as it should be. The tofu is just my preference and others will want to have meat, but I think it will be good either way.

Pad khing is not a spicy dish because the ginger itself has a very strong taste. The menu states that you can order your own spice level with any dish, but with restaurants like this one where they prepare the food in a home cooking style I usually figure that the chef knows how to add the appropriate spice level for the best flavor. I think I would have liked a higher spice level on this dish, but regardless of this the ginger flavor was very good and I was able to enjoy one of my favorite Thai dishes.

Curry

Massamun curry

Massamun curry

When I sampled my friend Steve’s dish I initially thought it was red curry but I later found out it was Massamun Curry (which I think is derived from Indian style curry combined with Thai flavors). Wikipedia states that Massaman curry typically contains cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cumin, bay leaves, nutmeg, and mace (spices that are not typically used in Thai curries) combined with more local flavors such as chili peppers, cilantro seeds, lemongrass, galangal, white pepper, shrimp paste, etc. I do not know if this is Thai House’s recipe, and I am not sure why their name for the dish is a little different, but nevertheless the dish was very good. Wikipedia also points out that this is a mild curry, so perhaps this is why I did not think it had any lack of flavor even though it had a low spice level.

This dish also had a good amount of potatoes, another feature that I think separates it from the typical Thai dishes that are found in most restaurants.

Soup

Thom khar gai

Thom khar gai

The menu had a couple of soups listed under the “Chef’s Specials” on the menu, one of which was the Thom Khar Gai. This was my favorite dish that I have tried at Thai House so far, and it made me think that the chef’s specials designation has some real substance behind it and is not one made just for marketing purposes. This is a coconut soup flavored with galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, and lime juice (several decidedly Thai flavors). It was specifically the lime leaves that enticed me to order the soup, based on dishes I have had in other restaurants with the same ingredient. The others add an important flavor component as well. I think several dishes at Thai House have some combination of these ingredients, but they are more pronounced in ones where the ingredients are part of the name (the khar in this dish means galangal).

For substance in this dish was mainly provided by chicken (gai) and mushrooms. In terms of flavor I would not try to substitute anything in this dish, including the spice level (it was not spicy but I do not think it is supposed to be a spicy dish).

After having eaten coconut flavored rice in Colorado Springs, I thought this was a fitting finale to this trip where I could indulge to an even greater extent with the coconut theme that seemed to be developing. This was a delicious soup, and one of the best I have had anywhere. It is not something that I normally order, because I usually prefer the curries or the stir fried dishes (such as pad khing). At Thai House, though, I think this is definitely a “must try” (even if others are like me and do not normally order this dish).

Other Observations
The Thai tea and the hot jasmine tea were both especially good.

It takes some time for the food to be served because each order is individually prepared. This is pretty standard for Thai restaurants, though, and it was nothing out of the ordinary.

The default for all the dishes I tried seemed to be at a low spice level, but the menu states that you can order the spice level you want for any dish. If I am able to return I think I would try a higher spice level on the ginger dish, but the others were ones I would not change from the default.

Prices are very reasonable, especially for this type of quality. The menu is posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page. I thought the selection of items was very good, and one of the good things here is that you can talk directly with the chef if you have any questions.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Thai
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Alcohol: No
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 10, 2019
Number of Visits: 2
Best Item: Thom Khar Gai

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine (bags), Thai Tea
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Thom Khar Gai
star 5 Massamun Curry
star 5 Pad Khing

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