"What Would You Like?"

Photo by Linda Compton
Photo by Linda Compton
Photo by Linda Compton
Photo by Linda Compton

Stepping out of the heat and bright sunshine, I walked into the cool, nicely appointed New Mexican restaurant. It's my favorite. I have been looking forward to this lunch for awhile. Going back and forth in my mind about what I would like to have, since I love it all. I can't think of another restaurant where I actually love everything on the menu, although at La Salita's I really do. And it is always perfectly prepared. No surprises, nothing but consistenly great dishes; just as I remember them and just as I anticipate and look forward to them being. With the most delectable red chili around!

Given that there is so much change in our world and the various uncertainties we all face, it is not only nice, but it is actually comforting to know there is a welcoming place you can count on to have just what you would like, every time. No unwanted changes, no disappointments. Will I have one of my usual favorites, or try one of the specials? And I always vow to leave room for what are surely the best sopapillas in New Mexico. Always hot, always fresh and fluffy, served with excellent honey.

There behind the cash register, as spirited, warm and wonderful as ever, is co-owner, Rory. She looks up, and with her signature smile: big, warm and uncannily knowing, she says, "I am SO not surprised to see you!"

Pleasantly amused and curious, I ask, "Oh, and just why is that?" Spunky and beautiful as always, she also looked like that proverbial cat that ate the canary. Well, she explained, I hadn't been in for awhile and she was thinking about me just yesterday. So she fully expected to see me soon. Talk about feeling welcomed, cared about and connected! I filled her in on our move to the new property and building project, and she gave me quick updates on the kids, restaurant and their lives. After being seated, Cyn came out from the kitchen to visit and look at pictures of the property on my smartphone. As lovely as ever, she was her usual lively and generous self, making appreciative sounds and comments as she looked at the little photos with enthusiastic interest.

Located in the Northeast Heights, La Salita is a family restaurant that has been serving Albuquerque for five generations. While the cuisine is always superb, they serve much more than fabulous food.

The value of a true neighborhood restaurant is hard to describe. What I do know is that Cyn and Rory are completely committed to providing their customers with a remarkable dining experience every time you visit. They have dedicated, long-time staff, who are friendly, gracious and professional. And fun. But the thing is, I feel more like family than a customer. And they know what is happening in my life, and I receive updates on the kids - now grown, accomplishing impressive milestones, and making their own unique contributions.

Since the kids are grown, after 25 years of being closed on the week-ends, La Salita will now be open on Saturdays! This is great news, given that many times countless customers have wanted to bring out of town visitors in on the week-ends, but couldn't. While I always understood and respected this "family first" decision, I was quick to add my voice to the chorus of loyal diners there that day who were celebrating the announcement. La Salita will certainly see us on Saturdays! Always full, with excellent service, and usually little or no wait (since the expansion and remodel a couple of years ago), I imagine Saturdays will also be hoppin'.

The on-going tradition of great food and super service will certainly be extended along with the hours. And all that we have come to count on and so enjoy will be there. But more than that, this gathering place continues to be a delicious destination where guests are taken, old friends get together, and new friendships are forged.

And because I know Cyn and Rory, I know that cravings for the best New Mexican Cuisine, as well as the hunger for community and a sense of connection, will continue to be satisfied.

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