We knew going in that Hotel Andaluz was a classy place, but we simply weren’t prepared. Hotel Andaluz is tucked away in the busy downtown convention center district of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and if you aren’t looking for it already, it’s not hard to miss it. Once you walk through the doors, however, you’ll never want to be anywhere else.
The property opened as a Hilton hotel in 1939, and the rich history lends itself well to the vibrant New Mexican character you see inside it today. The lobby is a treat for the senses: the Spanish style arches are accompanied by warm woods and deep colors of high-quality furnishings. Each arch is the entryway to a private dining area where guests can enjoy the fare from MÁS – Tapas y Vino in a peaceful, personal environment.
We ate in the formal dining room and were waited on by a delightful gentleman named Giuseppe. The menu was a bit intimidating—as finding something that your kids will like at a fine dining establishment that simply does not offer chicken nuggets and french fries can be—but Giuseppe knew his stuff and quickly had us moving in the right direction. There is a plethora of tapas, or small appetizers, to try, so the husband and I decided to each get one and then share an entree. We went with the mussels al diablo and the bruschetta de la boca; he tried a white wine and I a red from the vast beverage menu.
While mussels are traditionally served with butter or in a light wine sauce, the tapas served at MÁS were crafted to highlight the spicy local flavor with a light tomato sauce and a bit of chili flake, which packed a serious punch—one we weren’t at all expecting, but enjoyed just the same.
My pick, the bruschetta, was not what I expected at all. I started out my stealing the toasted bread from the mussels to place the funny looking mixture on, but soon realized that the bread was built into the tapa itself. The combination of mushroom-manchego cream, fried egg and truffle oil was soaked completely into the bread and is easily the best thing I’ve ever tasted. It was so yummy, I had to fight the baby for the final bites. Admittedly, when I ordered bruschetta—even with the accurate description in the menu—I was picturing a completely different dish, but I couldn’t have been more delighted with what I received.
The pace of the meal was wonderful. We had time to gobble up our tapas and sip our wine before the entree came. We split a marcona almond crusted sea bass. The rice was dressed with red peppers and an orange saffron butter that was spicier than expected, but paired beautifully with the salty fish. Topped with a grilled asparagus, the presentation was lovely. The littles ones split a grilled flatiron steak with smoky sea salt caramel tapa, that frankly, I was quite jealous of.
No meal would be complete without something sweet, so again, the hubby and I split the flourless walnut cake with brandied apples and sea salt caramel at the suggestion of Giuseppe and allowed the boy to pick one for himself. His Cream Catalana, a baked Spanish custard with vanilla bean and orange essence, was more than he had bargained for. “Mommy, you can share my crustard!” he gleefully exclaimed when the dish was presented to him. It was something he tried for the first time that day, and needless to say, there weren’t any leftovers.
The ambiance of the hotel and restaurant at Andaluz set the tone for a high-class meal that is truly exquisite. It might take some creativity to find something that the little ones will love, but it’s certainly not impossible to do. My only complaint is that there is no changing table in the bathroom lobby; no parent wants to change her baby’s diaper on the bathroom sink! This was a hurdle I was happy to overcome, however, for such a fulfilling meal.