Restaurant Review: Tortilla Flats
Top of the papas
By: Patricia Greathouse
Published online: Friday, July 20, 2012
Appeared in: Pasateimpo
2 Chiles chiles
3139 Cerrillos Road 505-471-8685
7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays
Patio dining in season, Take-out, Children’s & seniors’ menus, Breakfast served until 5 p.m., Noise level: medium, Handicapped accessible
In short order:
Far from the Plaza and the downtown food scene,
is unpretentious, serving generous
portions of New Mexican food, sandwiches, and
hamburgers at fair prices. A margarita menu,
children’s and seniors’ menus, and breakfast until
5 p.m. are perks. The food can be inconsistent,
and while Tortilla Flats doesn’t have the best red
and green chile around, it does offer a well-
rounded menu with something for everyone.
Recommended: El Papa Nachos, quesadillas,
Southwest chicken sandwich with sweet-potato
fries, red-chile enchilada, and chocolate cake
*Ratings range from 0 to 4 chiles, including half chiles.
This reflects the reviewer's experience with regard
to food and drink, atmosphere, service, and value
, a Cerrillos Road institution for 25 years,
has seen many changes in the neighborhood: the nearby
bowling alley is closed; where open spaces were once
plentiful, big box stores proliferate. In the early days,
the restaurant had a different feel, and during prime
dinner hour there was always a wait for a table. A
major remodel seven years ago created more space.
Now you’re less likely to wait for dinner, and you can
sit at the long bar, with a television, if you do.
Unfortunately, our meals at Tortilla Flats showed
a marked inconsistency. The dishes during one visit
were good; during another visit, they were mostly
mediocre. The servers were friendly, but one of the
hostesses didn’t speak to us, and the other was MIA
for a long time. The table service was attentive and
fast, and the busing was efficient — to a fault. At both
meals, an employee pulled up alongside us with a
rolling cart piled high with dirty dishes and bused
plates from the next table.
At dinner, complimentary crisp chips come with
a tasty salsa. The dinner menu includes several
appetizers, including a large guacamole salad. It was
picante but lacked the crunch of chopped tomato,
onion, and jalapeños. The El Papa Nachos, a potato
lover’s dream of thinly sliced spuds in place of tortilla
chips, comes with a choice of chicken, bacon bits, or
beef. A melted carpet of the house jack and cheddar
cheese blend topped it, and jalapeños came on the side.
We didn’t finish a mediocre Frito pie with pinto
beans and the trimmings. The red chile was hot but
musty and bitter tasting. The red chile on a cheese
enchilada was brighter tasting and flavorful, however.
We enjoyed it with an over-easy egg, posole, and
refried pinto beans.
Quesadillas are a specialty at Tortilla Flats, and they
generally tend to be excellent. On the night when
nothing was really right with our dinners, the flour
tortilla of our chicken quesadilla was steamy and wet
on the bottom, and it fell apart. The filling was more
pleasing, however — the chicken was moist, and the
guacamole and melted cheese worked well together
in the dish. On the day all the dishes satisfied, our
roast-beef quesadilla was crisp and golden all over,
and the beef made a huge difference in the flavor.
The menu includes sandwiches and hamburgers,
both of which come with regular fries or sweet-potato
fries (crisp and delicious) for a little extra. The very
tasty Southwest chicken sandwich is served with
guacamole, cheese, and a whole roasted green chile.
Some dishes could use better ingredients. For
instance, the lean pork chops smothered in green
chile, a common meal here in the north, were dry and
chewy. The green chile was watery and tasteless.
A Thursday special of carnitas also suffered from
tough, chewy meat. We didn’t finish them because
we just didn’t have the energy to gnaw through the
unappetizing beef. The beef sirloin was underseasoned
and mangled rather than sliced, leaving me to question
the quality of the cut. Clumps of gray meat, sautéed
onions, and what the menu called green chile strips
(they were chopped) came with a choice of pinto
or black beans and sopaipillas or tortillas. The
accompanying sopaipillas weren’t greasy, but they
tasted like they had been fried in bad oil. On the day
of our good meals, the oil must have been fresh.
A margarita menu lists many choices, so just for fun
we tried one that was made with bourbon and called
a Cowboy. It was watery, and although we could taste
the orange liqueur, the bourbon flavor was lost. The
lesson of the Cowboy is that if you want to have fun,
take your bourbon straight or stick with tequila in
We braved the sopaipilla helada, a dessert big
enough for a crowd. It’s a large sopaipilla with ice
cream, strawberry and chocolate sauces, chocolate
chips, and whipped cream — and a few bites is
enough. The creamy flan is a tamer choice. The dark,
moist chocolate cake will satisfy chocolate lovers.
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