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El Pinto in Albuquerque New Mexico Restaurant Review

Updated on July 23, 2013

El Pinto Entrance

What a comforting entrance to a special restaurant.
What a comforting entrance to a special restaurant. | Source

Superb Flavor

All New Mexican restaurants are NOT created equal. All one has to do is dine at El Pinto in north western Albuquerque New Mexico to find this out!

El Pinto is family owned and operated and has been a staple in the Northwest valley of Albuquerque since 1964. Their salsa is so well received that they bottle and sell it. (see below for a link to purchase this salsa)

Every part of the meal is home crafted and expresses the amazing New Mexican take on Mexican food. There is nothing bland or unimpressive at El Pinto. Yet, you may order your chiles from mild to hot. All of the chiles exude a fresh bursting with flavor taste.

El Pinto is near the Albuquerque Balloon Festival Park and so is easily found by those attending the World Premier Albuquerque Balloon Festival every October in Albuquerque.


Dine Inside or on the patio.
Dine Inside or on the patio. | Source

Chile Ristras

Red Chile Ristra. Product of New Mexico
Red Chile Ristra. Product of New Mexico | Source

Chile Ristras

Traditionally the chiles were preserved air dried in the form of a Chile Ristra. You may still purchase these ristras for use in cooking. However, chiles are more readily roasted, prepared, and frozen in the average home in New Mexico today.

The Hatch Chile is world renowned for spectacular taste. Only the Hatch Valley in southern New Mexico has the combination of soil, weather, and protected seeds to produce the world renowned Green and Red Chile.

Chips and Salas

Chips that are NOT greasy.  Salsa with just the right amount of piquant!  Zippy!
Chips that are NOT greasy. Salsa with just the right amount of piquant! Zippy! | Source

Chips and Salsa

The ubiquitous chips and salsa that are served everywhere in New Mexico are even better at El Pinto.

First, the chips are freshly made and lightly fried. These chips do not exude a greasy residue. They are lightly fried and crisp. Generally, we prefer the lighter cut chips BUT El Pinto makes the tortillas in house, uses them the same day, and they are toothsome and wonderful!

The salsa is the famous El Pinto salsa. It has a bit of a bite but is not made to just tout hot for the sake of hot. If you are a real salsa tenderfoot, order some sour cream or a milk product with the salsa. Milk products calm the heat in the chiles. Water will not cool a hot mouth!

Chicken Enchiladas Green

The flavor is amazing.
The flavor is amazing. | Source

Green Chicken Enchiladas

This is an enchilada dish made with pulled white chicken meat and smothered in green chile sauce.

Green Sauce: The green chile is very famous in New Mexico. It imparts a savory flavor that is unlike that of the red chile. The flavor is deep and rich and can range from a mild piquant flavor to a hot flavor. This dish was requested to be the mild chile. It is an umami type of flavor.

The rice and beans are cooked with as much attention here as the main dishes. This means that although they are a side dish, their flavor stands on its own as very special.

The cheese/queso is a medium flavor American cheese.

All in all this plate was superb.

Taco Salad: Chicken with Green

NO dressing needed!! The green chile flavor is amazing!
NO dressing needed!! The green chile flavor is amazing! | Source

Taco Salad with Chicken and Green

The Taco Salad came in a crispy but not greasy shell. It had layers of pulled chicken, mild green chiles, rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions (just a few), guacamole, and sour cream.

The green chiles created a wonderful flavor base for a deceptively simple looking plate. Mild green chiles were requested on this salad. Due to the full bodied flavors of the salad layers, no salad dressing was required, not even adding salsa!

The Taco Salad was huge and I had to have help finishing it!

Sopapillas are Ubiquitous

Fresh NOT greasy sopapillas served with local honey.
Fresh NOT greasy sopapillas served with local honey. | Source


Sopapillas are regularly served with meals in New Mexico. They are served as often as chips and salsa are served.

These little light deep fried dough pillows are delicious served with honey. Often they are cooked, opened up and filled with savory New Mexican foods such as meat, cheeses, and chiles.

They are a perfect finish to a meal but are often eaten with the meal as the honey you drizzle on them will also calm down a too hot bite of chile!

El Pinto also stresses they use local fine quality honey for their table servings. And yes, the honey is much better than a honey processed and shipped from hundreds of miles away. Also, local honey will help you control allergies.

Outside Seating

Another pleasant environment at El Pinto.
Another pleasant environment at El Pinto. | Source

Even the Parking Lot is Different!

Parking has a garden feel to it too!
Parking has a garden feel to it too! | Source


Nothing is left to chance at El Pinto. The seating outside is in a beautiful area. The parking lot is like parking in a small park rather than a huge hot asphalt mall parking lot.

Inside the doors there is a small waterfall and nice seating area as well.

Also, they bottle and sell their salsa at their front desk.

Salsa from El Pinto

You can own their unique flavors!
You can own their unique flavors! | Source

Just in case

Try their wonderful salsas. Just in case you cannot purchase them where you live, here is a link to purchase them.

These salsas are WONDERFUL!!

How to get there.....

10500 4th St. NW , Albuquerque, New Mexico:
10500 4th Street Northwest, Albuquerque, NM 87114, USA

get directions


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    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Thanks Peggy, when we visit Phx they do NOT serve sopapillas like they do in NM!!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We can get sopapillas in Houston also. This restaurant looks amazing! If we ever return to Albuquerque, I will definitely want to dine there. Thanks for your descriptions and beautiful photos. It is making me hungry for more Mexican food!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      5 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful hub and thank you for sharing.


    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Thanks Mel! We love it too!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      5 years ago from San Diego California

      I grew up in Albuquerque, and I ate at El Pinto many times! Love it! I still love New Mexican style Mexican food. It is very unique. When I first came to California and I went to eat at a Mexican restaurant I was waiting for my sopapillas after the meal. When I was told I wouldn't be getting any you can imagine my disappointment. New Mexico and parts of Arizona are the only place you can get sopapillas. I miss them. Great hub! What a trip down memory lane.


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