What to Eat Right Now

In this new column, edible recommends five (or so) of our favorite things we are eating around town right now. School is out and the blazing desert heat already upon us, so we are kicking off with foods that scream summer in Albuquerque. While these tasty selections may not be conducive to achieving your ideal Tingley Beach-bod, they’ll certainly stave off those summertime blues.

Pop Fizz: Frito Pie and a Cucumber Chile Lime Paleta

Albuquerque is blessed with a plethora of stellar paleterias, but Pop Fizz, located at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, offers an exceptional selection of fruit and cream paletas along with my favorite Frito pie in the city. A couple years ago, the late, great Anthony Bourdain visited the Five and Dime in Santa Fe for his food travel show Parts Unknown and (accurately) described the feeling of its Frito pie as “warm crap in a bag.” New Mexicans were not happy, and Bourdain subsequently apologized for the unflattering characterization. While I have no qualms forking Fritos out of a bag, Pop Fizz really raises the bar by offering a large plate full of the corn chips, nacho cheese, cheddar cheese, pinto beans, tender pork, red chile, lettuce, onion, and tomato. The spicy red chile primes your palate for a refreshing paleta dessert. Options include avocado, mango, Matcha Mint, vegan cookies and cream, and, my personal fave, cucumber chile lime.

Laguna Burger: the Laguna Burger

Did Albuquerque really need another green chile cheeseburger? If you’ve stopped by the new Laguna Burger restaurant on Twelfth Street you’ll know the answer is yes, yes we did. Originally based at the Laguna Pueblo, popular demand for the “World Famous Laguna Burger” prompted this new location in a Pueblo-owned commercial development space directly across the street from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The burger consists of a half-pound of fresh Angus beef—smashed down to the perfect level thickness (or thinness) to achieve a great char— melted cheese, chile, crisp lettuce, tomato, onion, and a locally-baked bun. Thick milkshakes, chili cheese fries, hot dogs slathered in queso blanco, and green chile stew round out the menu. Oh, and they’ve got a full bar, and, yes, the friendly staff can make you a “Lit Shake” with booze in it. A perfect destination to sit out on the patio and enjoy a gluttonous summer afternoon.

Malaguena’s Latin Tapas : Patatas Bravas

We can’t talk about a perfect summer burger without mentioning fries, and Malaguena’s Latin Tapas’ crisp and spicy patatas bravas are some special spuds. Served with a smoked tomato aioli, you won’t be able to put this snack down. Malaguena’s is a “mobile food kitchen” with a serious commitment to supporting local farms and creating elevated food truck fare—think ceviche, chicken carbon, calamari, and fresh salads. Pair your patatas with an IPA at Marble Brewery Downtown, where the truck is parked every Tuesday. Check for other times and locations on their website.

Coda Bakery (formerly Banh Mi Coda): #6 Heo Nướng (house-marinated grilled pork sandwich) and Fried Scallion Tofu

Forgo the egg salad and bland turkey sandwiches on your next picnic and stop by Coda Bakery to pick up some of the best banh mi this side of Hanoi. This place is always busy, with good reason. The Vietnamese sandwiches are large, inexpensive, and packed with flavor. Your choice of meat, egg, or tofu comes with pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeño, cucumber, cilantro, and Vietnamese mayo slathered on a fresh French baguette. For a side, I almost always opt for the fried scallion tofu. I never realized how delicious tofu could be until I tried Coda’s, which is housemade with organic soy milk, and served with a tangy dipping sauce. Other favorites include the flakey meatball pate chaud, chewy sesame balls, and Vietnamese iced-coffee. So if you’re not taking any exciting vacations this summer, you can at least stop by Coda Bakery in the International District and transport your taste buds.

Top to bottom: Burque Bakehouse, Hundred Hands Coffee, Kombucha Project

Downtown Growers Market: Burque Bakehouse’s Seasonal Danish, Hundred Hands Coffee’s Nitro Cold Brew, Kombucha Project’s Ginger Kombucha

Maybe getting up early on a Saturday doesn’t sound particularly appealing, but the breakfast fare at the Downtown Growers Market at Robinson Park will make it worth your while. Make your first stop the Hundred Hands Coffee booth and grab a Nitro cold brew, then head next door to Burque Bakehouse for an almond croissant, cruffin, canelé, pecan sticky bun, or seasonal Danish. Bakehouse Danishes come in sweet and savory options and feature local fruit and veggies. Options include kimchi and egg; mushroom; creamed kale and calabrian pepper; fig and concords; and mulberries and creme. Once you are properly hopped up on sugar and caffeine, spend the rest of the morning stocking up on the best local veggies, bread, cheese, and flowers in town. Before heading home, grab a glass of healthy ginger kombucha at the Kombucha Project and all your summer indulgences will be forgiven.

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Candolin Cook is a history doctoral student at the University of New Mexico, an associate editor for the New Mexico Historical Review, and editor of edible Santa Fe. She spends much of her free time washing carrots and radishes at her husband’s vegetable farm, Vida Verde Farm, in Albuquerque's North Valley. Come check out their booth at the Downtown Growers Market, and follow her farm life on Instagram: @candolin and @vidaverdefarmabq.