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New-look Los Amigos a friendly spot

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Good Doctor was off last week, so I went alone to another “family” restaurant of the Mexican and northern New Mexican persuasion. Hey, you say. This will be the third Old or New Mexican establishment in a row. Why?

Because I can. In fact, I may do only Mexican places, there are a lot, until every immigrant family separated at the southern border has been reunited.

That said, Los Amigos Restaurant on Rodeo Road reopened in the spring after being closed for about 6 months for a remodel and renovation, with a new kitchen, some nice flagstone out in front, a fresh paint job, and bright, shiny red and yellow “Los Amigos” signage. Which is a very good thing since the “road improvements” and expansions over the years have left the nice old adobe next to the Chevron gas station at the southwest corner of Richards and Rodeo rather street-locked and nearly invisible at road grade.

Los Amigos is bustling on a Sunday evening. Kids, teenagers, older folks at tables in two cheery, cozy rooms and a big, bright, open and airy screened-in porch.

The day’s breakfast, lunch and dinner specials are all available at 6 p.m. Though the dinner Pork Chop Plate ($14.99), two pork chops with mashed potatoes, gravy, grilled vegetables and garlic toast, sounded (and looked) most appetizing, I went for the lunch special: Steak Enchiladas ($15.99), with rice, beans, tortillas or sopapilla.

Los Amigos offers limited, but satisfying, appetizers, like a Quesadilla ($8.99), Nachos ($9.99) and Chile Cheese Fries ($7.99), but I settled for a complimentary basket of red, blue corn and plain corn tortilla chips, and killer spicy house-made red salsa.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the lunch special arrived as something of a surprise, and very pleasant one at that. These were not “steak enchiladas,” as I was imagining, but cheese enchiladas topped, and obscured, by a big, juicy ribeye steak done medium rare. A bit overwhelming at first sight and at first bite, but patiently and with great pleasure, I enjoyed it entirely. Against My normal policy, I ordered “Christmas” chile and while the home-made red is a dusky, earthy hit, the house green chile is muy picante and up there with the best I’ve ever had in 40 years. And just to make sure I wasn’t mistaken, I got a cup of the Green Chile Stew ($6.99) and, sure enough, the stew is up there with the best I’ve ever enjoyed. And with a $3.50 cerveza in a chilled glass? Paradiso!

I left overly satisfied, too vain to take advantage of the 15 percent Sunday night senior discount and ready to enjoy a Tuesday buy-one-get-one-half-off night!

Los Amigos is a bit tricky to spot and get to, and so worth it.