Friday, August 14, 2009

Los Alamos, in a Nutshell

I spent the last three weeks in New Mexico - mostly in Los Alamos - for a summer program. (That's also why I haven't been blogging/tweeting much, for those of you that missed me! Anyone? No?)

The first day there I was taken aback when my Yelp list of "highest rated" restaurants in Los Alamos yielded Sonic's Drive-In for #5 and McDonald's as #6! Thankfully there are actual good places to eat around town. This post is for those of you who may find yourself in Los Alamos one day for whatever reason.

Here's the low-down on Los Alamos restaurants:
Bob's Bodacious BBQ/ Hill Diner/ Blue Window/ Origami/ Pyramid Cafe/ Daniel's Cafe/ Central Ave Grill/ Coffee House/ Canyon Bar and Grill

Bob's Bodacious BBQBob's Bodacious BBQ on Urbanspoon
3801 Arkansas Ave
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 662-4227

Probably the best bet for your money in this town. A pulled pork sandwich will set you back $5.99 while half a rack of tender ribs will cost you $9.99 -- both items are at the top of my list for Los Alamos fares. Three different bbq sauces are available table side and there's a special pork sauce available for your pulled pork.

Bonus: Plenty of bottled beers here including what local microbreweries are churning out.

Hill DinerHill Diner on Urbanspoon
1315 Trinity Dr
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 662-9745

A great 50's style dinner dishing up comfort foods with a New Mexican kick. You can find things from chicken fried steak to tortilla burger with sides like fried okra or fried green beans.

What's a tortilla burger you ask? Why, it is a burger patty wrapped in flour tortilla of course, topped with melted cheddar cheese and doused generously with green chile.

Blue WindowBlue Window on Urbanspoon
813 Central Ave
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 662-6305
Relatively pricey compared to the other restaurants in the same strip mall, but a cute place for a nice dinner. New Mex food is not the focus here - blue corn enchilada was stuffed with tons of meat but was dry and undersauced. Instead go with items like the southwest chicken.

OrigamiOrigami on Urbanspoon
182 Central Park Sq
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 661-2592

Because one needs Asian food at least once every two weeks. Don't expect traditional sushi but do expect sometimes-spicy, sometimes-creamy rolls including a fun one called TNT fired up at your table (pictured below).

Besides sushi rolls there are also udon plus the usual popular Japanese fares like teriyaki and tonkatsu. Also available are soon dubu and a few other korean items (Korean-run restaurant, perhaps?). Coming from LA this place is just a-ok but it's a quick-fix for my Asian food cravings.

Daniel's CafeDaniel's Cafe on Urbanspoon
800 Trinity Dr Ste D
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 662-3131

There's a big Haagen Dazs sign out front, but don't be fooled, this place does more than scooping ice cream. For lunch get a salad or a nice sandwich like a beer brat topped with cheese and sauerkraut. The ingredients here are key and high quality. The brat had a great bite to it and hey, it helped my hangover.

Pyramid CafePyramid Cafe on Urbanspoon
751 Central Ave
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 661-1717

It's nice to know there are other options besides enchiladas and burgers in town. Pyramid Cafe serves solid Mediterranean food with a decent selection of beer and wines (they also have wi-fi if you want to live-blog. Oooh). If you get lucky you can catch a dance show here. The lamb shank is purportedly excellent but you can also go light and healthy with a vegetarian couscous. And yes, that is a fried whole green chili on top.

Central Ave GrillCentral Avenue Grill on Urbanspoon
1789 Central Ave Ste 1
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 662-2005

The "fancy" restaurant in town, the entrees here do run for a higher price and the portions are smaller (which might actually be a welcomed change after a while). That said, the food is also more refined. Sit on the patio for a casual dinner or inside for a more business-like or date dinner. There's a bar in the back called Quark where (they claim) "your big problems become small particles of matter" (ha!). I said it's a bar but they still close at 8:30 pm anyway.

The CoffeeHouse CafeThe CoffeeHouse Cafe on Urbanspoon
723 Central Ave
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 662-2233

With a good hot chocolate, good gelato and sorbet, and free wi-fi, this place became my hangout. The limoncello sorbet was so refreshing and the chocolate gelato was dark and rich. The Mexican hot chocolate is not spicy enough, unfortunately. They also serve food with an extensive menu and enlarged portions. During "happy hour" before 7 pm get the daily dish for a discounted price. Their lasagna was too runny to stand up but tasty nonetheless and their gigantic enchilada is enough for 2. Or maybe 3. They're open later than the surrounding restaurants, which really just means they're open til 9 pm instead of 8:30.

Canyon Bar and GrillCanyon Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon
163 Central Park Sq
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 662-3333

The only real bar in town (besides the one at the Best Western hotel). Draft beers, good tequila selection, bottled beers both imported and local New Mexican beers.
Pros: Two pool tables ($0.50 per play), dart board, and the fact that cocktails cost $4.25! (hey, coming from Los Angeles, that's uber cheap).
Cons: For music you need to pay and pick at the jukebox. They also close at midnight even on Friday nights, which means last call is at 11:45 pm.


Kung Food Panda

Welcome back GP! Ya, no one missed you =P

Those fried green beans looks mighty good right now!

Wandering Chopsticks

Welcome back! Hehe. :)

I liked how everything was doused in cheese. My arteries would die here.

Food GPS

Welcome back to L.A. That has to be the most comprehensive restaurant rundown in Los Alamos history. I want a tortilla burger with green chile.


Thanks everyone :D

WC: Yeah my artery was about to die :P enchiladas w cheese, lasagna, or bbq for you?

FoodGPS: Hopefully it'll at least be useful for next year's students? The tortilla burger shouldn't be too hard to make? Wonder if LGO can make the tortilla version of their burger ..


Thanks for the write-up, though I really question when I'll be in Los Alamos. This will be great for your Los Alamos SEO though!


Aaron: haha that's true although I also doubt many people will be searching for los alamos restaurants :P


Seriously, I was going to write exactly what Josh was going to write. They were lucky to have a food blogger like you in town :)

Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital