Road Journals Blog—You’d probably expect to find Mexican restaurants in ABQ, as the locals call Albuquerque, but not a mega-Mexican restaurant that can seat 1,200 people at a time. You might not expect a dynamite Italian restaurant, but ABQ has one of those, too. I was lucky enough to encounter both on my Albuquerque media tour.
El Pinto  A destination restaurant where you can dine inside a maze of rooms or outside on a shaded patio. Try one of its tequilas (some 140 different kinds), the fluffy sopapillas made with organic flour, the filling chicken enchiladas (I prefer them with green chili), and a margarita (on tap). It has a salsa factory on site that it claims makes more than two million jars a year. Tip: If the salsa is too hot, drink milk.
Torinos' @ Home  Located in a shopping area, this Italian restaurant—run by a wife, who is from Torino, Italy, and a husband, from France—is an unexpected surprise. The day we supped, Torninos' offered addicting gnocchi with braised brisket and a house-made sausage, moist and slightly spicy. The menu changes seasonally and everything but the bread—from a local French baker—is made from scratch.
What surprising restaurants have you discovered?
This article was first published in August 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.