Best red and green chile – El Pinto in Albuquerque

In New Mexico, the chile is king and queen. That’s why the El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina in Albuquerque serves authentic New Mexican dishes made of the best red and green chiles they can find.

Old New Mexican hospitality

Rustic and inviting, the El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina is located in a sprawling, old adobe hacienda-style building surrounded by tall cottonwoods in the North Valley. It’s true, El Pinto is a huge restaurant, but it’s surprisingly cozy– the meandering floor plan creates many smaller, more private, dining areas furnished with colorful table settings. Flowering plants, outdoor patios, fireplaces, decorative tile, and fountains make El Pinto a favorite venue for weddings and other celebrations in Albuquerque.

Authentic New Mexican cuisine

Family-owned El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina features grilled steaks and ribs marinated in El Pinto’s signature red chile sauce, authentic New Mexican combo plates, sopapillas, freshly made guacamole, and all things green chile. We enjoyed a festive New Mexican lunch at El Pinto during the holidays, and the food and margaritas were great. Only the nachos — named the “Best Nachos in America” by the Wall Street Journal — didn’t quite live up to their name. Tasty, but not crisp or cheesy enough to top our list.

Tequila time in Albuquerque

The people at El Pinto know their tequilas. Albuquerque locals recommend that you ask for the silver tequila upgrade for your margarita, and fresh lime juice.

Not that crazy about tequila? El Pinto also serves Tecate, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial, and Dos XX Lager on tap, a decent selection of wines, and an assortment of mixed drinks. Here’s another inside tip from my Albuquerque friends: the popular El Pinto Chili Con Queso is free during happy hour on Friday (4-6:30 p.m.) – so get there early!

Eat where the celebrities eat in Albuquerque

While you’re sipping your margarita and munching on tasty New Mexican cuisine, keep your eyes open for celebrities! Hallways are lined with of photos of well-known personalities and dignitaries who’ve eaten at the El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina in Albuquerque – among them President Barack Obama, President George Bush, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Governor Sarah Palin, to name just a few.

Take home some heat

Before you leave El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina, stop by the gift shop and buy a jar of salsa as a remembrance of Albuquerque. If you’re adventurous, ask about their exclusive Scorpion Salsa made from the Trinidad Scorpion – an extremely hot chile pepper! This limited-edition item sells out as soon as it hits the marketplace. But it doesn’t hurt to ask!

El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina
10500 4th Street Albuquerque, NM 87114
(505) 898-1771