This Restaurant In New Mexico Doesn't Look Like Much - But The Food Is Amazing
We’re told to place a lot of stock in first impressions, but there are definitely times when traditional wisdom is just plain wrong. Take restaurants, for instance. There are plenty of places with enticing exteriors where the cuisine doesn’t live up to expectations. Conversely, joints that appear sketchy or underwhelming from the outside may be hiding some of the best food you’ll ever taste. That’s certainly the case with El Modelo Mexican Foods in Albuquerque.
Forget the location – in a bland, bordering on gritty part of Duke City.
Forget the exterior – cheerfully painted but a little worn around the edges.
Instead, focus on the food and on the history of this joint.
El Modelo first opened in 1929, when Mrs. Carmen Garcia began making fresh tortillas every day and selling them to the public. Since then, the building has been replaced, but it remains at the same address: 1715 2nd Street SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102.
You don’t stay in business for 88 years without doing something right. In addition to offering homemade tortillas, Mrs. Garcia employed a man named Petra Vargas to help her expand her business to include tamales. Smart move!
Both the tamales and tortillas were hugely successful and continue to be popular to this day – you can buy them in bulk.
Although El Modelo was sold to different owners in 1985, its great deals and delicious dishes endure.
The pork tamales arrive buried under a deluge of red chile.
Other menu standouts include the burritos – try the chile relleno or beef brisket one. There’s also an unusual beef taco that features green beans, because Mrs. Garcia’s son was a big fan of the vegetable. Weird, but it works.
The restaurant has gained a loyal following for its stuffed sopaipillas.
Order one for breakfast and bite into a parcel of eggs, potatoes, chorizo and chile that’ll start your day off right. And you can never go wrong with a honey-drizzled sopaipilla.
In terms of value for money, the Mexican plate alone consists of 10 separate items for under $9 and it’s large enough to share.
This is the way to go if you’re a first time customer because it allows you to sample the tamales, tacos, enchiladas, spare ribs, chile chorizo, and sopaipillas in one fell swoop.
Although customer service is good at this Albuquerque institution, the place is always hopping. If you’re short on time, call in your order in advance.
Otherwise, just order at the counter and watch the food being made, assembly line style, while you wait.
El Modelo is a hole in the wall spot, so you either take your food to go or settle down at an outdoor table, some of which are shaded.
The restaurant is open every day from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Credit cards are accepted.
Next time you’re craving authentic New Mexican comfort food, give this spot a chance. You won’t regret it! To check out the full menu,
visit the restaurant’s website.
Have you eaten at El Modelo?
You may also be interested in some of New Mexico’s other culinary hidden gems. Read about them
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