Earlier this month, chef Marie Yniguez appeared on the “Today Show” to share her recipe for bizcochitos, the lardy, anise-flavored treats that are a staple of the Christmas season here in New Mexico.
The recipe included a little bit of red wine – “the cheaper, the better,” Yniguez said – and, somewhat surprisingly, ground walnuts.
“This is something my family likes to add to make it a little bit different,” she said.
Family recipes like that, handed down over generations, inform the menu at Yniguez’s year-old restaurant, My Moms. Consider the names of many of the entrees. There’s Grandma Celia’s Posole, Ramona’s Breakfast Burrito, and Olga’s Red Chile Enchie. Like the walnuts in the bizcochitos, little touches make everything unique. The red chile enchiladas are flat, not rolled, and noodles turn up in a bowl of chile con carne.
My Moms opened earlier this year and operated for a time as a sister restaurant to Bocadillos, Yniguez’s sandwich shop located just a few blocks to the east. The years running Bocadillos had been fruitful for Yniguez. She earned a James Beard nomination and numerous local awards. But even with the accolades, Bocadillos was unable to survive the pandemic-related loss of business: it closed in November.
While Bocadillos was strictly a takeout operation, My Moms has an inviting dining room that wraps around the corner of a blockish office building. There are plenty of metered parking spaces along the streets around the restaurant and a parking garage nearby.
Inside is bright and cheery, the walls and tables decorated with paintings of flowers, the plates and mugs with floral patterns. Its hours – open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday – are synchronized with those of the offices, courthouses and police headquarters in the neighborhood.
A recent weekday found Yniguez at the grill just days after being on national TV, shouting out updates on orders over the sizzle of eggs, sausages and bacon. Servers buzzed around, assembling dishes and clearing tables.
Prices for breakfast, served until 11, run from about $6 up to $12.50. Almost all of it is savory, spicy New Mexican comfort food like burritos, biscuits in green chile gravy, and Huevonas, a version of huevos rancheros made with thin-fried potatoes.
The festive red and green colors of the Avocado Tostada ($6.50) seemed appropriate for the season. A pile of chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce dressed with salsa hid an egg cooked over easy. When broken, the egg yolk made a sauce for the refried beans and fresh avocado below. The thin, crispy corn tortilla at the bottom held up just long enough to serve as a scoop for the tasty, slightly spicy toppings.
The restaurant’s imposing, impeccable biscuits turn up in a few different items. Least expensive among these is Marie’s Green Chile “Bizquits” and Gravy ($8.50). The white gravy flecked with red and green chile was smooth, fiery and unctuous and struck an appropriate balance with the hulking biscuit. An ideal dish for a cold morning.
Sweet breakfast items on the menu are limited to Berries and Yogurt ($6) and French Toast ($9). The latter consists of two thick slices of bread cut in half and served with an egg and a choice of bacon or sausage flattened and seared on the grill. The toast wrapped around the sausage and dipped in the maple syrup makes a terrific breakfast sandwich.
The lunch menu starts off with Green Chile Stew ($9) and Grandma Celia’s Posole ($9). The latter earned high praise from my friend, a trusted authority on this classic Mexican stew. The sample I tried had plump tender pieces of pork in an electric red chile-based broth. It’s topped with sliced radishes and served with lemon and lime – both are essential to a proper posole, my friend told me.
A mix of cold and hot sandwiches is available for $7.50 each. Of note is the Fried Bologna Sandwich ($7.50), three thick slices of baloney seared at the edges and wrapped in melted cheese and bread lightly buttered and finished on the grill. Here, just as she did at Bocadillos, Yniguez takes a classic sandwich and elevates it to another level.
There’s also a side menu of favorites that bear the names of Yniguez’s family members. Perhaps most unique among these is My Moms Little Bowl of Love, a delicious mash-up of chile con carne and noodle soup. The bowl is roughly divided into three sectors: thick chunks of slow-cooked beef, calabacitas and thin noodles called fideos. It’s served in a zippy red chile broth underpinned with a layer of refried beans. As I ate it, the broth mixed with the beans to make a very thick, spicy soup.
For dessert, the aforementioned bizcochitos are available at four for $2. The delicate framework of flour, sugar and lard holds them together just long enough to take a bite, whereupon everything immediately melts into a cinnamon and anise-flavored slurry. They are the best I’ve had. Maybe it’s the walnuts?
The place was well-staffed and everyone was friendly and helpful. Ordering is done at the counter, and when the food is ready a server puts the plates up and calls out your name. Most of the non-sandwich choices are gluten-friendly.
At My Moms, chef Marie Yniguez shows that even as she ascends to greater heights, she has not forgotten where she came from.