“Are you guys new?” I asked when I walked into Filling Philly’s on Menaul recently.
“That’s what I thought when I first started working here,” said my waiter, Ricky. “We’ve been here about three years, and we just opened a new one Downtown.”
The first thing I noticed was the wait staff – it’s a small place with just a few employees, but when I walked in, I was immediately greeted by the waiter, Ricky, a bright-eyed local who patiently walked me, and then every customer after me, to a table.
It’s not immediately clear whether you order at the giant menu in the front, wait to be seated or seat yourself, but it’s pretty laid-back, so it works.
The place has a dozen beers on tap, most of them local-ish, and half a dozen big screens with sports playing, plus a patio with tables spaced nicely apart. The menu is smartly short, with mostly cheesesteak sandwiches, along with a few salads, spaghetti and a couple of other things. The cheesesteak is king here, so one should order accordingly.
There are two other locations, at 3700 Ellison NW, Suite A and 301 E. Central.
I over-ordered, as I always do, and ended up with several pounds of nacho cheese in front of me, probably 6,000 calories staring from the table.
I started with the green chile french fries ($7) as an appetizer, a giant basket of thick-cut fries with a huge pile of green chile and smothered in yellow nacho cheese. Then I tried the original “South Philly” cheesesteak ($9 for a regular-size, $12 for a foot-long.)
I had to order a salad with the cheesesteak, because the other two options were fries and sweet potato fries, or fries and sweet potato fries smothered in cheese. No disrespect to Philly, but I had eaten enough fries.
The salad was great, though, and a more grown-up choice. It was big and fresh, with strips of cherry peppers and a heap of perfect multicolored mixed greens.
It was, maybe, the best part of the meal, because cherry peppers usually take center stage and because it was so fresh.
The cheesesteak was awesome, full of grilled onions and thin-sliced rib-eye beef. The hoagie roll was so fresh and light, it had the texture of focaccia bread. And it was filling, to say the least.
It wasn’t the healthiest meal, or one I can really afford to eat again this week, but it was a great meal and definitely worth a visit and worth the price.
There’s ample parking all around the building, and the staff is excellent and friendly. I learned that Ricky was born and raised in Albuquerque but doesn’t like green chile, a fact that immediately made me like him. Orders arrive within minutes, and the dog-friendly outdoor seating is awesome.
Give Filling Philly’s a try; you might make it a regular spot for a quick lunch. It’s simple, delicious and worth the money. And because good service can sometimes make or break a meal, this little sandwich joint has hired some of the best folks Albuquerque has to offer.
And if Ricky’s there, ask him if he’s tried New Mexico green chile yet.