ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Let’s say you’re a local cafe with a solid fan base and an 18-year history of serving customers everything from coffee to light lunches.
Now, take all that momentum and extend both the hours and the menu a little bit then transplant the whole kit and caboodle into an entirely new and spacious location.
This is the story of The Daily Grind, Albuquerque’s former EDo coffee spot that has grown up enough to need a bigger space and added some adult beverages, to boot.
Nancy and Mike Rogers started The Daily Grind in 1996, growing steadily for a decade on Candelaria and San Pedro NE before hopping over to Central Avenue for another several years.
In that time, pastries defined the kitchen — scones were to die for and coffee was the vehicle to wash it all down. Sure, they served food, but many customers seemed to only have eyes for quick-fix snacks. In the new location, however, main courses are getting their due.
Stroll through the gated patio into the side-door entrance and have a seat once a server spots you — from the layout it’s not clear if ordering is done at the counter, but this is indeed a table-service kind of joint.
Start off with any of the New Mexico-sourced wines or beers or your favorite beverage while pondering your options. The Chips and Guacamole ($5) are better than average, but Crab Cakes ($10) are a long-time crowd favorite (rumor has it that East Coasters compare them favorably with the stuff back home), served with buttermilk slaw. Our starters took quite some time to appear and we worried they’d arrive with the entrees, but with one quick reminder, our server remedied the issue.
Daily specials always sound tempting, such as Carne Adovada on Polenta or Beef Roulade, but my favorite thing on the whole menu has got to be the White Corn Enchiladas ($8, $12 with chicken). The plate comes out with a generous pile of homefries, a cup of black beans and the towering enchilada stack.
The chile is loaded with roasted flavor and medium heat, while the corn tortillas soak up any excess juices from both the chicken and the chile sauce. Even hungry diners will have trouble with this entree, especially if dessert is in the plan.
A lighter entree option is the Mahi Mahi Tacos ($12), served with the same black beans in a dish and a mound of delicious cilantro-flecked rice. The tacos themselves, however, were on the bland side and could have used a zestier coleslaw or perhaps just better seasoning on the fish to make them shine.
Dessert lovers in general will be pleased with everything on offer at The Daily Grind, including the famous scones.
Finishing up our dinner we chose the tart and the taut: Key Lime Pie ($5) and Chocolate Mousse ($5). The mousse itself had impeccable richness but its topping of whipped cream was overly sugary, and paired far better with bites of the pie’s zesty custard filling.