In the early seventies, Sam, an Armenian,
no, not New Mexican or even hispanic,
opened La Salita at it's original quaint location
on Eubank and Constitution. Sam's story was just
the prelude for this delicious family journey.
Cindy, little but mighty and her husband,
full blooded Italians, were young New York natives.
They wanted adventure like most young couples do.
The plan was to travel around the United States.
To afford their trip they would stop, stay for a bit
and work in different cities along the way.
They were excited, ready for anything,
but owning a New Mexican restaurant
was probably far from their mind
at the time.
Lucky for us, it is exactly what they did.
They purchased La Salita in 1978 from Sam.
Albuquerque became home.
Cindy and her husband had three beautiful
children, but divorced many years ago.
Cindy forged ahead on her own and made
La Salita a local favorite, where the lines formed
consistently out front, while everyone crowded
into the small but popular location,
where she made the back room into a
second living room for her kids,
where she called home until 2017.
Cindy, wanting to semi-retire,
coaxed her middle daughter and her husband
to come home from Colorado Springs,
(where they met while attending College)
to help with the restaurant.
Cindy, though still involved,
turned over the reigns to energetic, detail
oriented daughter, Stephanie and her resourceful,
business minded and very sweet husband, Erik.
Both foodies who "Just love to feed People"
Smart move it has been!
Stephanie and Erik have elevated
all aspects of La Salita to the next level!
They immediately moved the restaurant up the road
and into a much larger, brighter location.
They have updated all the branding
and decor into a trendy New Mexican motiff.
Stephanie and Erik gutted the new property and
then each item of ornamentation was handpicked to
perfectly portray the vibe they were looking for.
It's all very fresh- the Zia, American flag
and rustic Rt. 66 sign
The walls of NM license plates were collected
from the clientele by Erik for months and
meticulously assembled into a NM type Tiki Bar.
The "on tap area" is a Dos Equis sugar skull,
to the left a XX piñata.
The color palet has remained
simular to the original location, but the lighting
throughout has been elevated to spotlight the art
in just the right way, the trendy music is piped in at
just the right decibels,
very condusive to comfortable dining.
Occasionally they feature live Spanish
acoustic guitar music.
I love the look and the ambiance!
Thankfully they have bottled their red chile, green chile
and delicious salsa. The salsa is served warm by the way,
very unique and very soothing on the throat. Love it!
They sell the sauces and salsa in the restaurant,
at Smiths grocery stores, Albertsons grocery stores
and on-line in their e-commerce store along with other
memorablilia and souveniers.
Their libations are unique and interesting as well,
including several local craft beers and
wine cocktails like agave wine margaritas,
Mimmosas and Bloody Marys with vodka wines.
The ambiance of the new location
is cheery, accousticaly pleasing,
spacious, and most importantly,
it has ample and easy access parking.
They have recently hired a GM, Sara, and Erik said,
"it allows us to have a life outside of the restaurant".
They also now employ 35 local residents
that they consider family, to help
with the catering and the growing needs
of charmed La Salita.
THE FOOD IS THE SAME!
A combination of local flavors -
Spanish, Mexican and
Native American with their
unusual touches thrown in -
No artificial flavors or additives.
Just local flavors, spices, tradition and love.
Red chile paste from Southern NM,
and green chile from Hatch.
They have incorporated the traditional
flavors/techniques into today's trending climate,
by offering MANY vegan and gluten free options.
They use no heavy lards and no chicken broth
in their beans. Slow cooked juicy turkey is used
in place of chicken in all the poultry dishes,
including the popular turkey soup.
Why? Because Cindy made a promise
to original owner, Sam, in the beginning
many many years ago.
Ask them about it on your next visit.
Their loyal customers followed them when they moved.
Five and six generations are fans of the cuisine.
Glen, pictured above comes at least twice a week
and orders tacos and a Tacate everytime.
He says, "The service is top notch,
but I come back for the food"!
Their Rellenos are truly unique.
They use white swiss, unlike tangy traditional swiss.
It is a mild creamy white cheese.
They use no eggs, milk or flour in their relleno batter
to assure them vegan and gluten free.
Stephanie stresses, "We do not smother them either,
because we want them crispy".
Super crispy crunchy they are!
They also offer avocado rellenos. Mmmmm!
Their chiles are meaty and of course Hatch,
lite and did I say crunchy? Delish!
The delectable menu has not changed much
over the decades, except when
the occasional "Burrito de Edwardo"
comes along. Yep, Edward in the kitchen,
inspired it. He made it everyday for himself.
Something that addictive had to be
added to the menu. Now it is a favorite.
Recently, the cheesecake chimichanga has been added,
need I say more.
Their new Sunday Brunch is a must!
Whether you come after church or for
"the hair of the dog" or because
you just want that casual Sunday comfort food fix.
They serve a specialized limited menu from 10-2,
with gluten free blue corn waffles (a fave)
sausage stuffed relleno with an egg on top,
and for the gringos, traditional breakfast.
Catering is very popular at La Salita now days,
because it is affordable, and convenient.
Taco and Frito pie bars, enchiladas made casserole style,
mini burritos are a hit with the corporate lunch
crowd and family gatherings.
Up to 100 is a niche and easy for them to do.
Children and families are always welcome and
the child menu includes fun funnel fries.
Chips and salsa start every meal free of charge.
Cindy, Stephanie and Erik along with the other silent
siblings have developed a special
local restaurant destination.
They have reached a level like few other,
cream of the crop, the tip top and have achieved a truly
unique New Mexican cuisine experience.
It may not be that "small living room" anymore,
but it still has a cozy delicious
home cooked by family vibe.