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Word up: ABQ bookstore lands on list of world’s best

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One of the world’s best independent bookstores is doing business in Albuquerque’s Old Town Plaza, according to readers with Atlas Obscura, a “global community of explorers” that shares travel and destination stories online.

The website polled its users for Independent Bookstore Day recently about the best independent book sellers around the globe, coming up with a list of 62, the majority of them in America.

“To mark the occasion, we asked Atlas Obscura readers to tell us about their favorite local booksellers, and the response was overwhelming,” according to Atlas Obscura. “From small towns to big cities, hundreds of readers wrote in to explain exactly why they love their favorite independent bookstore, in words and in photos.”

Treasure House Books & Gifts has been a popular attraction for locals and visitors since 1974.

The Duke City’s Treasure House Books & Gifts, 2012 S. Plaza NW, which has been in business since 1974, was singled out as one the best indies.

“We were kind of surprised, but honored,” said John Hoffsis, who owns the business with his dad James, the founder, who recently turned 90, and shows up for work most every day.

John modestly thinks customers, a mix of locals and tourists, must like its quirky charm and large selection of books focusing on New Mexico and Southwest topics and subjects.

Here’s the hearty Atlas Obscura recommendation from customer Robin Gomez:

“Treasure House Books & Gifts is a distinctive book shop in the center of Albuquerque’s Old Town Plaza. Under carpet now, its original wood floors, now creak and groan with the movement of customers.

James Hoffsis, left, and his son, John, at the Treasure House Books & Gifts in Old Town, which has been rated one of the world’s best independent bookstores. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal )

“Large glass windows set in thick adobe walls face the gazebo across the way in the Plaza’s square. The book shop is exactly the same as it was when it was opened 44 years ago. The owner, John Hoffsis, a soft-spoken gentleman with a kind face, is always generous in sharing his extensive knowledge of the books on his shelves. He is a true and steady supporter of local writers, knows most of them personally, and schedules author lectures and book signings at the little folding table in the middle of the shop.”

Sounds like a local treasure, indeed.

New Taco Cabana opens

Make it store numero seis for Taco Cabana in the Albuquerque area.

The Mexican food chain opened its sixth eatery near Cottonwood Mall last week at 3801 Seven Bar Loop NW, in the same retail center as the Home Depot.

Taco Cabana has opened a Cottonwood location at 3801 Seven Bar Loop Road NW. Welcoming guests to the new eatery are Yuniel Lozano, left, store general manager, and Ed Rodriguez, a co-owner of the Albuquerque-area stores. (Steve Sinovic/Albuquerque Journal)

The new Taco Cabana joins five existing taquerias spread throughout Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

“Area residents are hungry for something like this,” local franchise co-owner Ed Rodriguez said during a recent visit to the new business, a stand-alone eatery with 50 employees. He expects the restaurant will be a great convenience for those living, working, shopping and going to school in the area.

With lots of food choices nearby, especially Mexican-style food, Rodriguez said, the restaurant has a strong following because all the dishes are made from scratch and are preservative-free, and has a fresh and flavorful salsa bar second to none.

“A family of five can have a great breakfast for under $30,” said Rodriguez.

Open seven days a week, Taco Cabana Cottonwood has seating for 78 inside, plus another 32 on the covered patio. The restaurant has a 24-hour drive-through and Taco Cabana’s breakfast menu is an all-day option.

General Manager Yuniel Lozano is at the helm.

Rodriguez owns the local restaurants with Mel and Mary Sloan. The guys met when they worked together managing Whataburger restaurants in El Paso. They opened their first Taco Cabana in the Duke City in 1998.

The partners are eying a seventh location – possibly in the Bernalillo area – in the next few years.

Founded in 1978, Taco Cabana is a subsidiary of San Antonio-based Fiesta Restaurant Group.

Cross-cultural cuisine

The latest iteration of The Safari Grill is now open in Nob Hill.

The owners have taken over a prominent space – the former location of Brasserie La Provence – the French eatery that called it quits a few years back.

The 3,300-square-foot location at 3001 Central NE dishes up unique cuisine, said co-owner/chef Bill Young.

The menu is based on food from Young’s native Tanzania, although many of the East African-inspired dishes have a little New Mexico kick. The distinctive meat-based dishes will see new life as tacos, burritos or wraps, said Young, who used to sell his grub from a food truck and then later at a smaller eatery on the West Side.

The grill’s samosa – a triangular, stuffed pastry – will include beef, potatoes and green chile. Marinated and grilled chicken or beef skewers can be dipped in sauces that include red and green chile versions as well as tamarind chutney.

Joining Young in the new business venture is Dr. Bopanna Ballachanda, who operates several audiology clinics in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. He’s also a part-owner of the professional indoor football team The Duke City Gladiators.

Steve Sinovic covers the retail, restaurant and hospitality beats for the Journal. He can be reached at ssinovic@abqjournal.com or by calling 505-823-3919.

 

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