Summer Dish Review – Christmas at DURAN CENTRAL PHARMACY

 Man does not live by EATING LAS VEGAS alone.

And ELV — the ramblin’ man, the migratory myth, the inveterate excursionist — does not live by only eating in Las Vegas. This you know if you follow us on social media. There you’ll see (or have seen) that we’ve been making up for lost time this past year in the jet-setting department.

The recession of 2009-20014 (and its attendant economic woes), pretty much put a damper on our traveling, and for the better part of 5 years we didn’t leave the country. This wet blanket was hard to swallow (almost as hard as that mixed metaphor), especially after having traveled to Europe, Asia and Canada at least a dozen times in the previous decade.

So, you might say, we’ve had a lot of catching up to do. San Francisco, Napa Valley, France, Germany, Japan, Dallas, Washington D. C., Atlanta, and Los Angeles (three times!), have all been visited in the past eighteen months. More trips are on the way (Texas barbecue! Burgundy!), but do you know the food we find ourselves craving above all others?

That’s right. A bowl of red, and a bowl of green. New Mexican chile. The vegetarian (or not) stews made from roasting those glorious Hatch peppers at their peak degree of ripeness. There’s something about the sweet, acidic, herbaceous bite of a New Mexican green, or the almost dried-cherry-like aroma of a mellow, sweet, ripe, dried red, that is as addictive as any foodstuff we’ve ever encountered. The fact that their degree of heat can vary from a relatively mild  500 Scoville Units to a slap-my-ass-and-call-me-Sally 70,000 Scovilles is also something we find quite compelling.

We also love that fiercely proud New Mexicans refuse to spell chile or chiles any other way, and look down their Navajo noses at the word chili (“ground beef slop from Texas”) and chilies (“the way they spell all inferior chilies that aren’t from here”).

And who isn’t charmed by their Official State Question?

To which we always answer: “Red and Green or Christmas.” Which is the Official State Answer to the Official State Question.

How cool is that?

Make no mistake, these are NOT Anaheim peppers. Although they look identical. Anaheim (or California) chilies are milder and not nearly as complex. Mostly, they taste like castrated New Mexicans (the peppers not the people) — elongated bell peppers without the aggressive pungency and heat of true Hatch-lings.

Late summer and early fall is THE season for chile roasting and eating in the Land of Enchantment, and when the this time of year rolls around, our fantasies turn to thoughts of adovada-this and sopaipilla-that, and of scents of roasted greens and piquant reds wafting through the air. Scents that make you hungry for New Mexico, for autumn, and for the realness of it all.

The meal shown above was taken in Albuquerque in mid-July. It shows some adovada red chile stew  alongside a vegetarian (and deceptively tame looking) bowl of green. That green chile lit us up (as the waitress told us it would), but every bite of both seemed to inspire another plunge into the pain-pleasure vortex of complexity that only the greatest chiles (cooked with the deftest hands) can provide. It was our first meal after getting off the plane in ABQ, like it always is, and always will be, as long as Duran Central Pharmacy exists to soothe our soul.


1815 Central Ave. NW

Albuquerque, NM 87104




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Geez Louise! We wish we liked this place more.

So we’ll give it another chance even though:

* The green chile had no tang and no heat;

* The posole was strangely hominy-challenged (and barely infused with pork), and a shade of dark red we’ve never seen in a New Mexican diner (FYI: Our screen saver on our home computer is a bowl 0f posole from Duran’s Central Pharmacy in ABQ, NM, so we at ELV knows us our posole.);

* That same pork and corn stew hardly registered on the Scoville scale;

* We thought you couldn’t mess up a sopaipilla, but this version was bready, pasty and thick (more like Navajo fry bread), which is okay,  but it wasn’t in the same league as El Sombrero’s.


Because no one gets a jones for New Mexican food like ELV.

So we asked the folks who recommended Carlito’s to us and were told they’ve been multiple times, and sometimes the food has that kick of authenticity and sometimes it doesn’t.

As with Lola’s, we suspect corner-cutting and a shaky staff are to blame.

But we could feel the love with one bite of our carne adovada — packed with flavor (and some serious heat), and an indication that someone here is familiar with the real enchilada.

So we shall return, the next time we get off a plane after three days of top drawer French and Italian food in the Big Apple.

Driving across town for a bite probably won’t be on the program.


3345 East Patrick Lane #105

Las Vegas, NV 89120