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Salvadoran twist on turkey, paired with pupusas

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The pupusas have landed in Old Town with the opening of Gobble This, a small eatery focusing on the cuisine of El Salvador.

Not only are pupusas – an extra-thick corn tortilla stuffed with meat, cheese and vegetables – prominent on the menu, but so is the humble turkey.

Hence the inspiration for the name of the business, at 308 San Felipe NW, a space that used to be occupied by a Greek deli.

Gobble This recently opened at 308 San Felipe NW.

Pan con Pavo, which is Salvadoran-style pulled turkey in tomato mole on a bolillo roll, dressed with cucumber, radish and a mango pineapple habanero salsa, is one of the specialities of the house, said chef Nestor Lopez. Turkey is also an ingredient in the street tacos, as are carne asada (steak) and carnitas (pulled pork).

Each sandwich order is served with a side of curtido, a fermented cabbage salad.

Lopez also runs the Gobble This food trailer, which still makes the rounds Thursdays from 4 to 9 p.m. at Marble Brewery in the Northeast Heights. His business partner, Jenna Shurter, left a career as an optician to join Lopez in the mobile dining and bricks-and-mortar ventures.

The business in the plaza, where many tourists congregate, is a clean bright space with doting service for both dine-in and to-go customers.

“It’s just the two of us,” Lopez said of the venture, where the partners do the inventory and shopping, prep the ingredients, cook the dishes, staff the ordering counter, and clean up the space at the end of the day.

The menu also includes grilled burritos and a combo plate, which is the most expensive item on the menu at $15 but looks as though it could feed a family of four.

In the months to come, the business owners are looking to launch a brunch menu where a couple of Salvadoran staples are planned. The lineup includes a stick-to-your-ribs dish of tostones (fried plantains) served with beans and rice and a scrambled egg; Nestor’s omelet, described as culinary creation making for a bounteous brunch platter indeed; and two pancake offerings – one made with zucchini and served with beans and rice and another that features coconut, and spread with peanut butter and filled with berries and bananas.

Beverages include a coconut milk/coffee cold brew, an horchata latte, and a specialty drink called refresco de ensalada, which is like a drinkable fruit salad.

Gobble This Cafe co-owner Nestor Lopez makes a pupusa, one of the Salvadoran specialties offered at the new Old Town restaurant. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Lopez, who grew up in LA, attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and briefly worked for The Grill in Hollywood before transitioning to chef at Alex’s Gourmet Catering, thus beginning his enthusiasm for mobile dining. While working with Alex, he started catering remotely in New Mexico for large production films and TV shows, such as “Breaking Bad.” His other culinary credits include kitchen manager at Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro.

In 2014, Lopez decided it was time to start his own business and share dishes based on much-loved recipes, courtesy of his mother Noemi, along with his own interpretations. That’s when he hit the road with the food trailer.

Gobble This Old Town business hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Raising the BAR

Nightclub owner Carri Phillis’ Blue Agave Republic has opened in what is shaping up as a food and beverage center at 6001 Osuna NE.

Blue Agave Republic, or BAR, is a two-story restaurant focusing on tapas and tequilas, but that’s not all. The new space features a long bar with big-screen TVs inside the main restaurant and a sprawling patio with an additional bar on the south side of the property. Phillis, who owns Effex Nightclub and Side Effex Gastropub, and head chef Josh Lovato collaborate on the eclectic menu, including a full vegan menu, mixing traditional Spanish tapas with Mexican, American and Asian cuisine.

“We not only want to offer an incredibly unique menu and spectacular array of tequilas and margaritas; we wanted to create a space where Burqueños and New Mexicans are drawn together to celebrate and enjoy friends and family,” said Phillis.

Blue Agave opens at 11 a.m. for lunch, dinner, drinks and nightlife seven days a week.

Every dog has its day

Crews have begun moving dirt at the southwest corner of Main Street and Los Cerritos in the village of Los Lunas to make room for a Wienerschnitzel restaurant. The eatery will be the company’s 11th New Mexico store.

Founded in 1961, Wienerschnitzel has grown to be the world’s largest hot dog chain and is estimated to serve more than 120 million hot dogs a year, along with burgers, secret-recipe chili and Tastee Freez desserts.

Follow The Village of Los Lunas A Community That Works social media on Twitter and Facebook to keep tabs on opening day.

Steve Sinovic covers retail, restaurants and the hospitality industry for the Journal. He can be reached at or by calling 505-823-3919.