America's Classics: Mary & Tito's Café

America's Classics Award–winning restaurants have timeless appeal and are beloved in their regions for quality food that reflects the character of their community. Over the next few weeks, we'll be spotlighting the eateries that earned this prestigious distinction in 2010. Carne adovada—long-braised pork in red chile sauce—might be the most characteristic of New Mexico’s robust and deceptively simple dishes. New Mexicans argue the merits of various carne adovada preparations statewide, but aficionados nearly always rank Mary & Tito’s tops. The Gonzales family serves the fork-tender meat as the centerpiece of a plate, in overstuffed burritos, and also as a filling for enchiladas and empanadas. Native New Mexicans and husband and wife team Mary and Tito Gonzales started their adobe cafe just north of downtown Albuquerque in 1963. Tito was the original cook and creator of the recipes. When he passed away, Mary hired more cooks and continued to run the front of the house, oversee the business, and raise their family. From the worn but clean booths, tables, and a handful of counter stools, diners gaze over family and patron photos, the kids’ and grandkids’ sports trophies, and other mementos of family accomplishments. Now past 80, Mary still comes in daily to greet old friends and new, while her daughter Antoinette manages the cafe. Other daughters help out, too, and various grandchildren wait tables when they’re not in school. –Cheryl Jamison, Cookbook Author and Food Writer Mary & Tito's Café 2711 Fourth Street N.W. Albuquerque, NM 505.344.6266

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