All the New Mexican food in in Albuquerque is great and all, but if you want something a little different, something a little closer to... oh... actual Mexican food, pay a visit to Pro's Ranch Market on the west side of town.
To say it's a big grocery store with a food court is hardly doing it justice, but that's essentially what it is. It's easily the most festive grocery store I've ever been to, and if only ALL food courts were like this. All the food preparation areas are visible to the public, so you can watch Mexican women make fresh tortillas (does that make them tortilleras?) or tamales--something I could do for hours. These chicks know what they're doing--they're real pros. There's a steam table with the dozen or so hot dishes prepared that day... I finally got to taste the birria I never got to taste in Mexico (delicious, of course). There's a huge--and hugely popular--juice and beverage counter, and my personal favorite, the torta counter. Their tortas are as good as I had anywhere in Mexico... if you like a little bit of everything (including head cheese, but you'll hardly notice it), the torta cubana is fantastic: your choice of grilled meat, plus two or three other coldcuts in there, plus cheese (normal and head) and avocado cream and... I know I'm forgotting something... on a toasted roll. When I saw torta ahogada up on the board, I got really excited, but a couple of questions revealed that what they make is not the classic torta ahogada of Guadalajara. Still, I'm sure it's great. The prices are, of course, super reasonable.
This is a mini-chain of markets--most of them are in Phoenix, with a handle of others in New Mexico and Texas. I wonder how we can get them to open one in New York City...
I can dream, can't I?
Pro's Ranch Market
4201 Central Ave NW
Albuquerque, NM 87105