The thing with tapas is they’re supposed to be small plates. Instead of one big Spanish dish like paella, tapas are a tour of the country through small bites concentrated with flavor.
Tapas at ¡MÃS! in the Hotel Andaluz are fantastically flavorful, but they’re massive portions. One item from the tapas menu would feed a person, probably with a few leftovers.
¡MÃS! is one of those newer upscale Albuquerque dining experiences, set in a lush corner space in Downtown Albuquerque and serving great tapas at New Mexico prices. And it’s attached to Andaluz, one of the nicest and most historic hotels in town.
Last week, I stopped in to try a variety of small plates (and walked out with a massive takeout box) and found four plates I loved at a price I was at peace with.
The Iberico ribs arrived first, and in a portion that could have worked as an entree. The patatas bravas came out next, along with the assortment of olives, and then the homemade chicken empanadas arrived last.
The plates were so big my table was probably wobbly. The ribs were massive, with a sweet, tangy glaze. The menu said they came with pit beans and griddled corn, but nobody knows what that is. They were delicious, fatty, fall-off-the-bone tender and, at $18, a pretty fair price for a full meal.
The empanadas ($12) were expertly made and delicious. Two little empanadas are stuffed with stewed chicken and herbs, and flavored with Tucumcari cheddar, then deep-fried and halved on the plate. They were spicy, garlicky, savory, and uniquely New Mexican.
The only truly tapas-style plate was the olive assortment, because it was a small portion. For only $4, I got a selection of delicate Spanish olives, fresh grapes and chunks of pickled or marinated garlic cloves. It was a perfect little plate.
The patatas bravas may have been my favorite part, in terms of flavor or portion size. For $8, I got a giant bowl of freshly baked, crispy potatoes covered in a spicy garlic aioli with chile flakes. Potatoes are hard not to like anyway, but these are something special.
Service and speed are both excellent, so ¡MÃS! makes a good spot for a business lunch. Because it’s Downtown, parking is tricky during the day, but valet is available and surface parking is plentiful if you don’t mind walking a block or two.
The wait staff is friendly and low-key, so you’ll eat in peace and quiet too, a nice thing to find Downtown. Prices are fair – not cheap and not expensive, but fair. You won’t leave hungry or feeling cheated, certainly.
¡MÃS! is also a great place to celebrate a special occasion, and the Andaluz Hotel is an attraction in its own right, but being Downtown, they’re both easy to forget about or overlook.
Reservations are encouraged during rush times, but they aren’t required.