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Los Cuates prides itself on making food that is ‘spiced perfectly’

Elegance meets tradition at Los Cuates on Coors NW, a local New Mexican chain serving authentic food in a distinctly Southwestern atmosphere.

On a recent visit, I tried the stuffed sopaipilla plate ($11.95) and got Los Cuates’ full range of flavors. They make everything in-house, so the sopaipilla was gigantic and piping hot. It was filled with a mountain of delicious shredded beef, but the beef was more like a tender roast or even a brisket. The flavor was phenomenal, delicately spiced and slow-cooked for hours.

The chile con queso at Los Cuates is made up of hot red peppers and green chile. (Jason K. Watkins/For The Journal)

The beef filling was so finely shredded, it was hard to tell the difference between it and ground beef – but the flavor and texture were so much better than ground beef.

The red chile smothering the sopaipilla was excellent and as authentic as it gets. As a native New Mexican with an occasionally East Coast tongue, I appreciate when chile is spicy but edible. Los Cuates’ wasn’t very spicy at all, but it had a terrific flavor. In fact, the restaurant prides itself on being “spiced perfectly,” not too mild and certainly not too hot to enjoy.

Another barometer of the quality of a Mexican food establishment is the state of their beans and rice. At Los Cuates, the beans are spot on, refried to perfection and full of fresh bean flavor. Rice, though, is usually trickier: Los Cuates’ rice is good but it doesn’t have the moist tenderness your abuela makes.

I started the meal with another staple of local cuisine, chile con queso ($6.95). It was so good, I could have (ill-advisedly) made a whole meal out of it. Hot red peppers and green chile were sparingly mixed into a fresh, bubbling cauldron of cheese. Still-dripping freshly fried corn tortilla chips were served on the side, and the combination was spectacular.

The atmosphere is grand and the service is top notch. They cater large parties and have two other locations in town, though the Coors Boulevard location is the newest and grandest. Parking is plentiful, and a large mall is located conveniently nearby.

A full children’s menu is available, and the place is exceptionally family friendly. During the spring and summer, a large patio accommodates al fresco diners.

Los Cuates has been in business for nearly 40 years, so the recipes are tried and true. It’s also very affordable, given the portion sizes and the prices. An excellent place to take the family after church, they serve a full breakfast/brunch menu all day on Saturdays and Sundays.

But it really makes a great spot to meet friends for happy hour. If you only bring enough appetite for a mixed drink and a small plate, the chile con queso is the way to go.

2 1/2 stars

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