Dining at San Pedro Mart: Some Baklava for the Road

Albuquerque has an embarrassment of good restaurants. This past Sunday we had planned to visit a local eatery, but they were closed. It was simply no matter. Alternatives abound and we can always return to the original place later.

I’m aware that not everyone subscribes to this idea, but I often find that the less I’m paying and the more…humble, shall we say…the surroundings, the better the food. I used to eat at a place in rural South Carolina with dusty bicycles hanging from the ceiling over a caved-in chunk of concrete floor that was circled by yellow "CAUTION" tape. By the cash register was the most bedraggled shrine to NASCAR I’ve ever seen. It was rather unusual décor, but the grub kept people coming back.

I’d originally heard that the San Pedro Mart Middle Eastern Dining and Grocery was in a converted gas station. So, I was understandably disappointed to find that people were probably confused by J and J Oil and Auto Service next door. It’s more likely that the San Pedro Mart space was once a 7-11. Maybe someone reading this knows. In any case, for some time the restaurant portion was just a few tables and booths underneath a latticework of 2x4”’s covered by exotic carpets. The area is now being expanded--at least, more 2x4”’s are being added--which I take as a good sign.

As for the cuisine, I feel that writing about food is a little like singing about painting. At least, it is when I do it. So, let me just say that if you like Middle Eastern food and haven’t been to San Pedro Mart, you might do yourself a favor and pay a visit. All the stand-bys--falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, dolmas, pita, baklava--are top notch and there is always care taken in the presentation. You should be able to get entirely filled-up for under $10. Maybe a little more if you also have a glass of mint tea. And you should! Then go around the chipboard wall and roam the unevenly stocked grocery store for fava beans and halva. This weekend they even had “good bread” on sale. You better believe it.

John Mulhouse is an Albuquerque-based frequenter of gravel roads, ghost towns, and empty buildings. His blog, City of Dust, features photos and hidden history from all corners of New Mexico and beyond. He publishes a ghost-town-photo-a-day on Facebook.

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Comment by Phil_0 on February 19, 2014 at 1:33pm

Their meats are good, too. Really, really good. I believe this used to be a Circle K, abandoned in the Great Albuquerque Circle K Pullout of 15 years ago or so (this is the same event that spawned the Circle ICs, Circle Rs, and Circle Squares you still sometimes see around town).

Comment by once banned twice shy on February 19, 2014 at 3:00pm

I LOVE this place and somehow just don't get there often enough.  Their falafel is truly the best in town--so light and delicious.  Their pita is also the best in town--a person can go to heaven by eating their hummus and pita bread alone.  Nice owners as well. 

It was a Circle K, back in the day.

Comment by John Mulhouse on February 19, 2014 at 4:05pm

I'm glad to hear there's plenty of agreement on San Pedro Mart. I figured it wasn't just me!

A Circle K, eh? I didn't know that. I guess that's sort of splitting the difference between a 7-11 and a gas station.

Comment by RunLikeADog on February 19, 2014 at 4:15pm
Wow. I thought this place was my little secret. OBTS is right on about the pita and hummus. It fuels most of my long runs and bicycle rides.
Comment by once banned twice shy on February 19, 2014 at 4:36pm

John, I do think people see the garage next door and think they are one and the same.  Don't know why, since the "Middle East Restaurant" sign is rather large. 

Comment by John Mulhouse on February 19, 2014 at 5:28pm

It is kinda of odd to mix the two. Maybe there is a subconscious desire to get an oil change and a falafel from the same business rather than merely the same location.

Comment by The Bindi Queen on February 20, 2014 at 10:00am

Warning - they stop serving food at 6pm!  Great food at San Pedro Mart, but don't forget the Cafe Istanbul on Wyoming at Constitution too.  Their humus is worth getting excited about.

Comment by tesuquedog on February 20, 2014 at 10:03am

Best hummus ever! The pistachio baklava is amazing 

Comment by shotsie on February 20, 2014 at 2:29pm

The pita making machine reminds me of the donut machine at Krispy Kreme - and I've always wanted to throw a party inside their tent...

Comment by John Mulhouse on February 20, 2014 at 8:37pm

I wholeheartedly agree, The Bindi Queen! One should not forget about Cafe Istanbul! Shostsie, judging from the sound system (and stack of hookahs) it seems like at least someone throws parties in the tent.


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