Location820 Bridge Boulevard SW
Albuquerque, New Mexico
To get to the best Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque, you have to cross the Rio Grande. You are still in Albuquerque (Mexico is more than two hundred miles downriver) but once you get to El Paisa, a cash-only, all-day joint with a big patio, and stare down a paper plate of carnitas tacos, you may well find yourself wondering what country you’re in. They’re not overstuffed like so many American versions, but sensibly proportioned, showered in cilantro and white onion, and double-wrapped in corn tortillas. They’re best smothered in salsa verde and washed down with a 64-ounce Styrofoam cup of horchata, intensely cinnamon-y and neither chalky nor overly sweet.
There are also solid tortas and gorditas on offer, but whatever you get, I advise you to try the desebrada en verde burrito, the filling of which is a spicy, preposterously soupy pork stew with chunks of potato suspended throughout, without any stabilizing rice or beans. I can now eat one without it spilling all over my hands, but getting there took some work.