Green chile may appear dull when chopped, but the green at Mary & Tito's boasts a musicality that plays well with garlic and other flavors.
BY ARIANE JAROCKI
Even a seasoned Burqueña foodie occasionally misses a great restaurant. When a friend expressed shock at my never having heard of Mary & Tito’s, I felt I’d been shamed by every abuela in a five-mile radius. (For what it’s worth, it’s in a part of town I don’t often visit.) After learning about the awards Mary & Tito’s has earned for both their food and red chile, I ventured out for a taste test.
This is an honest-to-goodness family restaurant. The wall in the hallway is covered in family photos as a home might be. Mary & Tito’s main seating area is an organized hodgepodge of booths and tables. Our waitress had her hands full but reassured us that she’d be right over to take our order. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that great nuevomexicano food often requires a relaxed ordering stance. After ordering, the food came from the kitchen – hot and fast.
And the brief wait at the beginning was so worth it. I opted for the day’s special, the Large Combo. This plate offers a sampling of Mary & Tito’s standouts. The classic dish includes a beef taco, a rolled cheese enchilada and a chile relleno, and it’s served with generous sides of Spanish rice and beans. Typically, in a combo, one item shines above and beyond the rest. In Mary & Tito’s
Large Combo, everything was on par. The taco shell – a freshly fried, crispy vehicle – delivered beefy, cheesy goodness to my mouth.
From there, I moved on to the Christmas-covered enchilada and relleno. The enchilada’s unpretentious filling of cheddar cheese and onions was brilliantly offset by the spicy chile flavor. Green chile may appear dull when chopped, but the green at Mary & Tito’s boasts a musicality that plays well with garlic and other flavors. In my book, the red chile was the pièce de résistance. Its smoky flavor suggests the inclusion of chipotle. The first taste of the red here is all complex, and the back end is pure heat. Luckily, it’s a heat that can be quenched, allowing for continued enjoyment.
I usually prefer my chile relleno topped with only green, but I have to admit it was great paired with the red. Their relleno is filled with a simple, white cheese that didn’t overpower the entirety of the chile, and the breading held up without being thick or eggy in the least. Even the beans and rice, which normally seem an afterthought on a plate like this, were really very good. The beans have a pork-based flavor that makes them a strong contender to be served all on their own.
If you’re a red chile fanatic, you must try the Carne Adovada plate. There’s enough red chile to mix into every bite on your plate, plus extra to sop up with your tortilla. The flautas here are also excellent. Follow my example, and acquaint yourself with Mary and Tito’s.
Resident foodie Ariane Jarocki fearlessly explores and reports on Albuquerque’s restaurant, food truck and bakery scenes for ABQ Free Press.