My first authentic New Mexican meal was at El Patio last weekend. The BF and I had flown into Albuquerque last Friday for a wedding and we were hungry after getting off the plane. El Patio is a small restaurant a few blocks from the University of New Mexico. From downtown Albuquerque, it was just a quick 10 minute bus ride (on the 66 or 766) and a 5 minute walk.
I was excited to try the famed sopapilla, which is a cross between a pita and a donut. When it came out, I saw that it was more like a deep-fried pita: a big airy pocket inside, and crunchy, almost flaky dough on the outside. I think I was supposed to squirt honey in it, but I wanted to try just the bread part first — it was pretty good.
I also ordered what the menu called a ‘stuffy’: a sopapilla stuffed with pork and then smothered in a red salsa and cheese. One new thing I learned that day is that what I think of as salsa, New Mexicans call ‘chilli.’ The red salsa/chili had quite a kick to it, but was too heavy on the cumin for my taste. The crispy deep-fried texture of a freshly fried sopapilla was wasted in this dish because it was covered in sauce. I also didn’t care much for the pork inside because it reminded me a little of canned dog food.
The BF ordered just a tortilla wrapped around an avocado, if I remember correctly. It came with a side of rice, beans, and some sort of steamed potato with green salsa/chili. We had already accepted that a vegan would be lucky to find vegan food at all in New Mexico, so he wasn’t too picky about taste.
He also had a taco, which I took a bite out of. The refried bean taco tasted as expected and not like anything I’d fly out of the state to eat. I think I prefer my southern Californian fish tacos.
Although I was excited to try New Mexican fare, the meal at El Patio was just merely okay. It wasn’t that any of the dishes we had were exceptionally bad. They just weren’t that good. Or maybe my mouth just isn’t used to the local cuisine.
142 Harvard Dr SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106-3521