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Ajiaco serves up distinctive tastes from Colombia

The Village in Nob Hill now has a little South American flavor.

bizO-Dyer_Jessica_BizOThe quaint restaurant pocket on Silver Avenue at Wellesley recently welcomed Ajiaco Colombian Bistro to a lineup that already includes French cuisine and Italian street food.

Ajiaco’s owners, Nubia and Pedro Sabogal, have an existing reputation for sating Albuquerque’s appetite for arepas – corn cakes – and empanadas. The duo previously ran El Pollo Real in the International District, where they offered a menu of both Mexican and Colombian dishes.

But Ajiaco – a bright, 40-seat eatery with hardwood floors and an open kitchen – represents a more focused vision.

The couple who came to the U.S. from Bogota 10 years ago have done away with the likes of charbroiled chicken and zeroed in on what they know best.

“Here we exclusively have Colombian food,” Pedro Sabogal says through a translator. “These are typical Colombian dishes.”

he namesake soup at Ajiaco Colombian Bistro is made with chicken, potatoes and guasca.

The namesake soup at Ajiaco Colombian Bistro is made with chicken, potatoes and guasca.

Nubia Sabogal and another chef handle the kitchen, using many traditional Colombian ingredients sourced from a Florida supplier.

Ajiaco’s menu includes the namesake soup – a creamy chicken-and-potato blend made with the guasca herb ($5 or $10) – and a selection of other dishes, including the heaping bandeja paisa, a $16 meal with steak, pork rinds, chorizo, fried egg, avocado, rice, arepa, beans and plantains.

Individual arepas run $1.75-$5, while empanadas (stuffed with chicken, beef or green chile) are $1.75.

Ajiaco also does a few desserts – including a plantain cake – and some juices, including passion fruit.

Pedro Sabogal says the family made many of the same dishes at El Pollo Real. Though the presentation may be different at Ajiaco, customers will recognize their favorites.

“A lot of the American (customers) don’t even need to look at the menu,” he says. “They know exactly what they want.”

Ajiaco is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It’s located at 3216 Silver SE. The phone number is 266-2305.

Polish sausage and menudo?

Mark Toczek is giving an old sandwich shop a new twist.

Mark Toczek, right, recently opened Red Rock Deli at 13025 Lomas NE. He is pictured with his mother Jadwiga Toczek. (Jessica Dyer/Albuquerque Journal)

Mark Toczek, right, recently opened Red Rock Deli at 13025 Lomas NE. He is pictured with his mother Jadwiga Toczek. (Jessica Dyer/Albuquerque Journal)

He opened Red Rock Deli inside a former Subway restaurant at 13025 Lomas NE, transforming the former chain restaurant into a genre-defying restaurant/market. Toczek – who was born in Poland and has lived in Germany and Chicago – serves Polish sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches (everything from turkey breast-and-cheese to a breaded pork chop). His menu also features pierogi, stuffed cabbage and menudo.

Most items fall into the $4-7 price range.

Red Rock Deli also has a small grocery component. Toczek has stocked shelves with an international array of jams, candy, sauerkraut, red borscht and more – items and brands that aren’t common in regular grocery stores.

“I try to be different and have things nobody else can provide,” he says.

The Albuquerque location is an extension of Toczek’s Red Rock General Store in southern Colorado, a place he’s run for 20 years.

Red Rock Deli is open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday through Tuesday. The phone number is 332-9656.

More fro-yo in store

A California-based frozen yogurt chain is coming to Albuquerque.

Yogurtland could open on the city’s West Side by late spring, according to the commercial real estate broker representing the area franchisee. Jeremy Nelson, senior associate at CBRE, says the first Albuquerque store will go into the same Cottonwood-area shopping center as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Gordmans. Yogurtland and Denver Mattress will share a new 3,600-square-foot building now in the early stages of construction.

Yogurtland – which has more than 300 stores already and is growing fast – is a self-service concept with 16 yogurt flavor options and a topping bar.

The company itself has 150 different and customized yogurt flavors.

Nelson says the franchisee is planning a second site – likely in the Uptown area – and may consider opening a third location in the city.

Other notes:

• Nob Hill’s No. 13 Boutique has moved down the street. Owner Nichole Garcia says she recently resettled the 2-year-old clothing/shoe/accessories store into a smaller space at 3023 Central NE.

• Farina Alta, which opened in 2013 at 10721 Montgomery NE, now has a full liquor license and is offering the “artisan cocktails” made popular at its sister restaurant, The Artichoke Cafe. Owners also recently expanded upon the pizza-and-salad menu with some new small plates, pastas and bar-friendly appetizers.

If you have retail news to share, contact me at jdyer@abqjournal.com or 823-3864. For more regular updates on Albuquerque shopping and restaurant news, visit my blog at abqjournal.com or follow @abqdyer on Twitter.

 

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