Springtime is rolling in, and as we see the temperature slowly rising, the time for kicking back and dining on a patio is here. However, restaurants have been slowly opening to 25 percent capacity inside. With COVID numbers trending on a decline, establishments are gearing up to rebound from the lockdown(s). One of my favorite New Mexican spots, El Patio, and its owner, David Sandoval, are ready to kick up the heat.

El Patio is one of Albuquerque’s staples when it comes to good local New Mexican cuisine. With two locations—one on Harvard near the university and the other on Rio Grande Blvd.—El Patio has been whipping up Southwestern-style cuisine for over 30 years.

“I’ll tell you what, it’s been a struggle. We aren’t the only ones. But fortunately for us, we have a patio,” owner and founder David Sandoval explains. “That’s what helped us get over those hurdles from the pandemic. But still, you’re limited.”

Both of Sandoval’s eateries feature classic New Mexican culture. With each patio, you are greetedby the heart of Americana served up with warm, delicious entrees. This is where El Patio has thrived. Sandoval’s combination of atmosphere and food gives the restaurant the upper hand.

If you’re a first-timer, the first gaze you give the menu might be underwhelming. You may say, “Oh, these are just basic New Mexican options.” Well, that may be true, but Sandoval and his crew have perfected these items. Classic dishes that maintain their builds, yet garner a taste of nostalgia. If you want my advice, you can never go wrong with their huevos rancheros Christmas-style. This classic will touch every inch of your soul, elevating your expectation of what New Mexican cuisine should taste like.

With El Patio’s consistent quality of food and customer service, they have been able to maintain perfection even through adversity. “Fortunately for us, our customers have been helping us out,” Sandoval claims. “With our patio, we have been always able to provide the perfect spot for each customer. It seems like we are getting over that hump. Now that the nice weather is coming in, it’s exciting to see people gather outside and dine.”

After COVID ravaged menus across the state, some restaurants have cut back their options to save money. With limited menus, your favorite dishes may not be included. Sandoval made sure that was not going to be the case for his business. “We were proud that we kept all our options available, even if that meant buying the items that we don’t sell a lot,” Sandoval says. “We made sure we had every single option available for the customer who wanted to eat that dish.”

A staple in the community, El Patio continues to have a constant flow of customers. As patios are becoming more appealing and the sun brings us out of hibernation, El Patio is the place to enjoy the authentic taste under the blue sky.

El Patio

142 Harvard Dr. SE & 3851 Rio Grande Blvd. NW

(505) 268-4245

Cost: $$

Neighborhood: Nob Hill & Rio Grande

Category: New Mexican

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Cade Guererro

Cade is young journalist who has worked at publication in Austin, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. He focuses on the cultural topics of Albuquerque.

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