Farm fresh: La Finca Bowls offers organic, locally sourced delights, with vegan options - Albuquerque Journal

Farm fresh: La Finca Bowls offers organic, locally sourced delights, with vegan options

La Finca’s signature bowl features herb chicken sliced over a bed of tricolor quinoa with veggies and a dairy- and nut-free pesto sauce. (Richard S. Dargan/For The Journal)

The restaurant business is not for the faint of heart. Consider the journey of Nathan Sauceda-Halliday and Mekela Kennedy, co-owners of the new restaurant La Finca Bowls in East Downtown.

Sauceda-Halliday and Kennedy were running a food truck in Puerto Rico in 2017 when Hurricane Maria rolled over the island, leaving its infrastructure devastated. The couple pulled up stakes and returned to New Mexico, where Sauceda-Halliday was born.

Undaunted, they opened a brick-and-mortar place at Broadway and Martin Luther King earlier this year. A couple months later, just as they were building a customer base, COVID-19 arrived, closing restaurants except for takeout and delivery.

All is not lost, though. Every week brings the restaurant business closer to reopening for dining in, albeit on a limited basis. Until then, you can try La Finca Bowls on a takeout basis, Monday through Friday until 6:00 p.m.

La Finca, Spanish for “the farm,” is in an orderly row of storefronts on the east side of Broadway. There was ample street parking available there on a recent Friday afternoon.

The menu emphasizes healthy eating with organic ingredients, locally sourced when possible. It’s a true rarity in Albuquerque: It has vegan and vegetarian options and is 100% gluten-free.

The four bowls featured on the menu are thoughtfully curated, each offering different colors, tastes and textures. For the signature La Finca Bowl ($10.50), sliced herb chicken breast is served amid a brightly colored patchwork of veggies over a bed of tricolor quinoa. The sweetness from the diced, roasted beets and roasted squash complements the acid from the cherry tomatoes, and the crunch from radish slices and crispy onions pairs well with the creamy, bright green avocado. Ribbons of dairy/nut-free pesto snake in and around the surface, bringing a garlicky snap to the dish. It’s a challenge to get everything into one bite, but it’s worth the effort.

The Farmer Bowl at La Finca consists of marinated skirt steak over a mix of wild rice and lentils with corn, beans and tomatoes. (Richard S. Dargan/For The Journal)

The Farmer Bowl ($12) is like a deluxe backyard cookout in a box. Marinated skirt steak, sourced from a program that supports Native American ranchers, tastes like it just came off the grill. Accompanying the meat are kernels of sweet corn, beans, roasted squash and cherry tomatoes, all on a bed of wild rice and lentils. Creamy goat cheese and cilantro aioli help binds everything together in a tangy embrace.

As the name suggests, the Gardener Bowl ($9.50) is a vegetarian/vegan option. A colorful mosaic of vegetables over a bed of greens, it carries a lot more heft than your average salad, thanks to the roasted, quartered sweet potatoes and sautéed mushrooms. The sliced avocado is balanced by the concentrated brininess of the pickled green beans. It’s finished with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and a citrus vinaigrette dressing that brings a muted sour note to the dish.

A fourth bowl, the Fisherman ($13), features wild salmon over coconut rice, with mango, green papaya salad, edamame and ponzu.

There’s also a build-your-own-bowl option starting at $8 in which you pick a protein and sides. Premium extras such as avocado, green papaya salad and a sunny-side-up egg cost $1 extra. There are apparently enough combinations to add up to more than 1,700 different bowls.

Desserts include a rotating selection of cupcakes. The special on the day I visited – lemon cupcakes with passion fruit curd ($3.50) – was terrific, with a bright tropical flavor and none of the grittiness found in so many gluten-free baked goods. I wish I had taken home a box of them.

La Finca Bowls offers healthy eating that doesn’t feel like an act of penance. If it can weather this shutdown, it has a bright future.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop


Street smarts: Thai Street eatery offers tasty, spicy Southeast ...
Dining Reviews
As restaurateurs go, Michelle Waterson ... As restaurateurs go, Michelle Waterson and Joshua Gomez have unorthodox backgrounds.< ...
New flavors in Old Town
Dining Reviews
Amid all the closures plaguing the ... Amid all the closures plaguing the local restaurant industry, it's encouraging to see the number of ...
Bistro brings a taste of France to the high ...
Dining Reviews
Le Pommier is no longer a ... Le Pommier is no longer a secret, so do yourself a favor and ... enjoy
Heavenly hummus: Alquds Mediterranean Grill sets itself apart
Dining Reviews
Hummus is going through an identity ... Hummus is going through an identity crisis. Supermarket shelves are crowded with bastardized forms o ...
A culinary adventure: Liu Liu Liu serves Taiwanese food ...
Dining Reviews
Liu Liu Liu is an upscale ... Liu Liu Liu is an upscale restaurant like you've never seen before.You squint at the m ...
Built to last: El Papaturro upholds El Salvador's remarkable ...
Dining Reviews
Albuquerque is in the midst of ... Albuquerque is in the midst of a boom in Central and South American restaurants. In the past few yea ...
Piece of the pie: Slice Parlor offers tasty thin-crust ...
Dining Reviews
The idea of serving pizza by ... The idea of serving pizza by the slice grew out of the shift from coal- to gas-powered ovens in 1930 ...
Sip and savor the best of Santa Fe's summer ...
Dining Reviews
From pizza and cocktails, and lobster ... From pizza and cocktails, and lobster and pesto to the essence of summer in vegetables
Casting a spell: Voodoo Girl Pizza & Pints offers ...
Brews News
Kimberly Lujan and her brother, Timothy ... Kimberly Lujan and her brother, Timothy McMahon, cycled through a few hundred names for their new pi ...