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.