Without a doubt Bocadillos, the small little sandwich shop resting in the Wells Fargo building Downtown, has become one of Albuquerque’s shiniest gems. With a combination of slow-roasted meats in the middle of toasted buns and a Route 66 vibe, owner and chef Marie Yniguez put all her heart into every dish. But outside the delicious sandwich shack, Yniguez also provides for the community. From feeding kids in the city to giving back to charity, Yniguez has made her mark as a shining example of the Albuquerque area.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Yniguez at Bocadillos. Yniguez boasts a busy schedule, and I was excited to learn all about her projects and her rise to fame in the culinary industry. After being on major Food Network shows, she was as humble as they come.
“I’ve been cooking my whole life. Coming from a family raised by a single mom, we all just started cooking for ourselves,” Yniguez explains. “In Albuquerque, I worked with a lot of people in the scene; but after time went on, I decided to stop working for other people and start my other thing.”
That’s when Bocadillos was officially conceived. With Yniguez’ love of entrees that were featured in the middle of two slices of bread, she knew exactly what type of menu she wanted to develop.
“Automatically I thought of sandwiches. Let me do it my way. Let’s do it slow-roasted,” Yniguez laughs. “I wanted to really be patient with the prep, instead of throwing together some cold cuts.”
In 2009 the South Valley Economic Center picked up Yniguez and her idea, and finally, it was established. After years of developing clientele and popping up two more Bocadillos shops, Food Network gave her the call. That’s when Yniguez attained national attention, putting Albuquerque on the map.
“That opportunity gave me the chance to show people who we were. This is Albuquerque, and Albuquerque is the heart,” Yniguez says. “Doing stuff for charity, kids and feeding the community: That’s what it’s all about.”
Born and raised in Albuquerque and splitting time with Hurley, N.M., a little mining town close by Silver City, Yniguez maintains a pride for New Mexican culture more than anyone I’ve seen. Seeing her business as an opportunity to invest in the local area, she always remembers these locations were the influence on her culinary endeavors.
Doesn’t local love give you that insatiable hunger for some local eats? Of course it does. And the time and heart Yniguez puts in her community is the same process she puts in her food. Slow-roasted to perfection. I always wondered how Bocadillos prepped for their menu. It was something I wanted to learn myself, because if you haven’t had a chance to taste one of these succulent sandwiches, then you need to head there now. But if you’ve had the pleasure, learning how Yniguez spearheads this procedure will only give you more respect to the eatery.
“We start prepping our meat in the afternoon. Almost at 3 o’clock every day, the meat goes in. Then when we head back to the shop. We take it out at 6 o’clock in the morning,” Yniguez says. “It’s roasting the whole night. Two hundred pounds of meat cooking in a basic conventional oven. We keep it slow and low between six and 12 hours.”
Right when I arrived at Bocadillos, the prep line was getting the meat ready for the day. As they shredded the meat, you could tell the meat was juicy and tender, soaking in its own juices. Perfection. Meat that melts in your mouth and delivers total sensation to your taste buds in every bite. No additives necessary. And when they cook the pork, they strain out the juice to make their amazing Cubano sauce. No wasteful prep happening here.
Taking a first glance at Bocadillos’ atmosphere, it doesn’t scream New Mexican. Personally, I see all corners of Southwestern-style decor surrounding the eatery. This is one of the big factors—besides the food of course—that separates it from the rest. Yniguez has been all over, and she uses these experiences to her advantage.
“I’ve lived all over the place, and also cooked in so many different restaurants. In everything I’ve learned in my past, especially in my younger days, I kind of brought all that knowledge and put it into New Mexican food. I’m New Mexican all day long,” Yniguez smiles. “I know what to put red and green chile on and what you cannot! It’s different. It’s New Mexico, but it’s not. It’s different, old school, and that’s how I was raised. It’s very plain and homey, and at the end of the day, I want our patrons to feel at home.”
With Bocadillos being Yniguez’s first and main endeavor in the New Mexican culinary world, she had her sights on developing some other ideas. One of these new projects is her food truck, Smokin’ Fred’s ’46. A project inspired by her time on the show “The Great Food Truck Race,” Yniguez’s idea came as an epiphany after dealing with the hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I already had the idea of starting a food truck during the pandemic, because our business took a hit hard like every other business in the city. So I was trying to figure out how we could get to the people, if they couldn’t get to me,” Yniguez explains. “After working on a food truck in Alaska for the Food Network show, I realized exactly how I wanted to design and establish my truck.”
When Yniguez arrived back in Albuquerque, it took her only four months to put all the pieces together, thus the emergence of her new project. Interestingly enough, the name Fred’s comes from Yniguez’s stepfather, whom she credits with showing her foods outside of the standard New Mexican food.
Yniguez continues to expand both in culinary presence and business, but after 30 years in the industry, she says she is still learning. Now, as she sees Bocadillos fully established, she’s ready to sit back and let her food cook.
Slow Roasted Bocadillos Downtown
200 Lomas Blvd. NW Suite 110
Neighborhood: West Downtown
Phone: (505) 243-3995