We had avoided this restaurant for ten years, thinking that it was located in a "tourist area" and couldn't be that good. Also, a few locals panned Church Street. On our eleventh trip to New Mexico we decided to give it a go and see for ourselves. Boy, are we glad we did. We had studied the cafe layout and even read their menu online, so we knew enough to ask to be seated in the rear patio area. Good decision that. (Actually Church Street has two open-air areas for eating. There is a small patio at the front of the restaurant---with umbrellas for shade---good for people watching.) The rear patio is absolutely charming and typical of so many restaurants in New Mexico. There are shaded areas, tables with umbrellas, a grape-vine arbor, a small "waterfall" and lots of decorations of interest. Yes, service can be a little slow when the place is jumping, but remember this is New Mexico, the land of poco tempo. While we are at it, please note that this is a NEW MEXICAN restaurant, not Mexican. What's the difference? First and foremost the biggest difference is the use of New Mexican chile. If you are unused to spicy (as in hot) food, then either ask for your chile on the side or request a sample. As for the rest of the restaurant, there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating inside. The cafe, for the most part, is an old adobe and one of the oldest building is all of Albuquerque, if not the oldest. Rooms are beautifully decorated and chairs/tables comfortable. The "new" dining area is something to see, so if you don't happen to be seated there be sure to at least take a look. We have eaten both breakfast and dinner at Church Street, and you cannot go wrong with either. This place serves---hands-down---the best Chile Rellenos that this reviewer has ever eaten. Soups, salads, lighter fare, sandwiches and the like are all good. Checkout the complete menu online at www.churchstreetcafe.com. We've never been disappointed. Reportedly, much of the menu comes from old family recipes handed down from one generation to the next. The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week, except Sundays when they close at 4 p..m. If you happen to be fortunate enough to be seated in the rear patio, ask for Tony to be your server or at least say hello to him. Tony is a gem and so is this venerable cafe! Beer and wine available.
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