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Relax – New pizza joint is keeping it simple


That’s all Daniela and Maxime Bouneou want these days. The well-known Albuquerque restaurateurs behind Torino’s at Home have sold the Italian restaurant and turned their attention to something completely different: Eclectic Urban Pizzeria & Tap House.bizo_jd_01aug_jessicadyer

They’ve traded a white tablecloth setting for a decidedly relaxed venue in midtown Albuquerque where the food – which includes the likes of chicken wings and beer-braised short ribs – is served on aluminum dishes and where customers sit at butcherblock tables built by Maxime himself.

“We want to be sure people don’t think we’re doing fancy pizza or (that it’s a) fancy restaurant or upscale,” Daniela Bouneou says of Eclectic, where the owners have painted a hopscotch course on the floor near the restrooms. “(It’s) very casual and very laid back.”

Eclectic’s pizza, created atop Maxime’s house-made dough, comes in several variations, from the simple $10 Reina Margherita (tomato sauce, basil and cheese) to the $15 North Shore (cilantro pesto, roasted chicken, smoked bacon, pineapple and cheese). Customers can also build their own from an ingredient list that includes mushrooms, olives and even smoked salmon and imported gorgonzola.

But it’s elsewhere on the menu where Eclectic lives up to its name. The kitchen is churning out pho ($6 a bowl), smoked trout salad ($8) and sriracha-and-lime wings ($6 or $10).

Nearly everything on the menu at Vibrance is vegan, including the Italian Mushroom Pocket. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Nearly everything on the menu at Vibrance is vegan, including the Italian Mushroom Pocket. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

“The fun part is we’re going to do whatever we want,” Daniela says. “That’s why we have pho on the menu. And if one of our employees says ‘We have a special (dish),’ we want them to be able to do it and express themselves, (too).”

Daniela says food is only half of the Eclectic equation. The restaurant, located near the city’s Brewery District, hopes to woo customers simply searching for an ale or stout. Eclectic has 16 beers on tap representing a mix of New Mexico (Bosque, Red Door) and Colorado (Boulder Beer Co., Oskar Blues, Tommyknocker) breweries. They also serve wine.

“We want to make it the place to be,” she says of Eclectic, which also boasts a patio with picnic-style tables and games like cornhole.

Eclectic is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It is closed Sundays and Mondays.

It’s located at 2119 Menaul NE, east of University. The phone number is 322-2863.

The heat is … off?

When Karen Hammer embraced a raw food lifestyle several years ago, her dining out options shriveled faster than sauteed spinach.

In 2010, she enrolled at California’s Live Light Culinary Arts School and learned how to prepare food for herself. She then spent the past several years teaching others what she knew by hosting classes at her home.

Alas, the restaurant scene still offered her few choices, so she just went ahead and started her own.

Hammer recently opened Vibrance in southeast Albuquerque.

Nearly everything on the menu is vegan and several items also get the “L” designation. That stands for “live” or “raw,” and means the food, if heated at all, has been kept below 118 degrees.

The raw options include the expected like the Asian salad ($10) and kale salad ($9), but also the vegetable wraps ($10), which feature a dehydrated vegetable exterior stuffed with carrots, scallions, sprouts and avocados. Several desserts also fit the bill, including the chocolate turtle cheesecake ($7.50) and the lemon bars ($4.50).

Hammer strayed from the vegan theme for just one item, the green chile and goat cheese quiche ($11.25).

While Vibrance caters to those with certain dietary restrictions – most everything is also gluten-free – Hammer says the food has won raves from people with more varied eating habits.

“They’ll come and they’re meat eaters, and they’ll say the food is really wonderful,” she says.

Hammer established Vibrance in the former Los Equipales and says she will use the venue – which she spent about eight months renovating – as a showcase for art and music. She already has a few artists featured inside the 87-seat restaurant. (There is also a large patio with a fountain and firepit.)

With plans to use the kitchen for manufacturing raw food products like crackers, Hammer opens the restaurant on a limited basis.

The current hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. She also opens for a $20 buffet from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sundays.

Vibrance is located at 4500 Silver SE, east of Washington. The phone number is 639-3401.

Canteen Brewhouse has opened its first satellite taproom. The brewery has been making beer in Albuquerque since 1994, although it originally operated under the Il Vicino name. (Courtesy of Canteen Brewhouse)

Canteen Brewhouse has opened its first satellite taproom. The brewery has been making beer in Albuquerque since 1994, although it originally operated under the Il Vicino name. (Courtesy of Canteen Brewhouse)

New taps on Tramway

Want to sip a High Plains Pils near the foothills?

You’re in luck: Canteen Brewhouse just opened a new taproom on Tramway Boulevard.

The Albuquerque craft brewery’s first satellite location boasts 20 taps. The majority will pour Canteen’s own beer, though there also will be a Santa Fe Cider Works cider and a root beer, according to co-owner Rick Post.

The new Canteen Taproom also has a small kitchen. The menu includes a series of sandwiches (starting with the $7.50 portabellini and cheddar), brats from Albuquerque’s Joe S. Sausage, flatbreads, salads and even a beer fondue-and-pretzel appetizer. Post says it will continue evolving.

Canteen has a 22-year history in Albuquerque, having started as the beer-making arm of the Il Vicino restaurant chain. It rebranded as Canteen two years ago and is now in expansion mode.

Post, who owns Il Vicino and Canteen with partners Greg Atkin and Tom White, says he expects Tramway to be the first of a few additional Canteen sites. State law allows craft breweries up to three off-site taprooms.

“We’ll let the dust settle on this guy and look around (for more locations),” Post says.

The owners took their time selecting the Tramway spot, but believe it’s full of potential given the dearth of similar options in the vicinity.

“We’re really excited about this place. That area is underserved,” he says.

Canteen Taproom is located at 417 Tramway NE, north of Interstate 40. It’s currently open 3-10 p.m. daily, but may eventually extend its hours.


Winrock Town Center’s retail renaissance has yielded a new ULTA Beauty store. The cosmetics chain recently opened a new store at the Uptown development, marking its third store in the market.

ULTA – which stocks about 20,000 beauty products – also has a full-service salon and an esthetician for in-house facials, peels and other treatments.

“What’s so unique about our location is the other stores have a pod and we actually have a room (for treatments),” says general manager Melissa Velez. “We actually have a full dedicated room and skin bar.”

ULTA’s new location is at 2100 Louisiana NE. The hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. The number is 872-8601.

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