Only in the past couple of years did some smarty-pants (the mayor, actually) come up with a nickname meant, I guess, to make ABQ seem super-funky-fresh—much to the apparent chagrin of locals who know better. ABQ is proudly built on ever-spreading layers of green chile & grime; it’s neither tourist- nor marketing-friendly.
But a Q kinda looks like an open mouth with a tongue hanging out, à la mine gaping at all the crazy cheap eats whenever I’m there—which is a lot lately—so it’s appropriate enough.
The Blackbird Buvette is not as all-fired stylish as either the Frenchified name (the word means “refreshment area”) or the backstory—it’s owned by raw-boned band The Dirty Novels—would suggest. It’s a borderline dive downtown that, on a Sunday afternoon, was empty but for a server, a barfly, & a fry cook who were hard to tell apart, except that the fry cook was the one who got up to toss my jalapeño bottle caps into the deep-fryer from, almost no doubt about it, the freezer & dump them in a basket with a side of bottled (I guess to go with the caps?) ranch.
Which isn’t to say they weren’t delicious—warm, greasy, crispy breading contrasting with hot-sour pepper slices & cool creaminess. As I’m learning from David A. Kessler’s The End of Overeating, more on which in another post, junk like this is so addictive because every last molecule of every ingredient, no matter how fattening, salty or sweet on its own, has been stretched, squeezed & skewered to contain even more fat, salt & sugar; even nature doesn’t abhor a vacuum as much as the processed food industry does. And even nature doesn’t tinker with our wiring as much as the processed food industry does, until we’re on the fritz of greedy frenzy.
Anyway, same went for the house burger with green chile & sweet potato fries; not all that much care went into their making—the smallish patty was cooked to medium-well, which is overdone as far as I’m concerned, & the spuds weren’t likely hand-cut. But then, a burger & fries don’t need a lot of love to come out basically okay.
And since it keeps 15 local brews on tap & hosts the Geeks Who Drink weekly, I guess the Blackbird Buvette comes out basically okay with the locals too.
For a real rib—& gut pit, & soul—sticking lunch, however, nearby Cecilia’s Cafe fares far better, as this humble little display with its all-in-good-fun award suggests.
I covered the killer chiles rellenos here, but I was very nearly as enamored with my Indian taco.
As with the chiles, the simplicity of the dish was so impressive; compared to the usual bowling ball of fried dough & shredded cheese you could practically take to the alley & win one for the team with, this one layered atop a gently fried disk little bigger than a burger bun only fresh green chile, lettuce, a little cheese & a whole lot of carne adovada, cubed pork made tender yet incendiary by marination. Especially juicy, it did soften the taco shell a bit too quickly—but I could overlook the loss of a little crunch for the gain of the kind of all-over mouthfeel that’s making me salivate to remember it, right this second.