Annual Frontier Review Contest
The most exciting time of the year! We let the
hounds of hell hungriest late-night hooligans loose to tell you why our most venerable cultural institution is still delicious, relevant, hilarious and undeniable.
Below are the archives. If you’re thinking of competing this year, we encourage you to get good & familiar with them all.
Brian Herrera won our 2011 competition with this doozy:
The Frontier is an Albuquerque institution. Imagine your favorite greasy spoon and your college cafeteria hooking up for a creepy threesome with Mel’s Diner in one of those roadside motels that boast ”free cable” and has starving artist paintings bolted to the walls. Well, the Frontier seems like the deeply illegitimate but strangely brilliant love child of just such a communion. Located on Albuquerque’s Central Avenue, immediately opposite the University of New Mexico, The Frontier is that rare Albuquerque restaurant that pretty much everybody in Albuquerque passes through. Standing in line, you’re likely to see college students standing with church folk in front of firefighters chatting with a local news anchor, each waiting for the flashing green light to call them to the counter so they can order their Frontier favorite. Because, believe me, everybody has a Frontier favorite. Some are addicted to the Frontier’s legendary sticky sweet cinnamon rolls, while others swear by the Huevos. That guy from that tv show raved about the Bonanza burger. Myself, I stay true to the Western Style hashbrowns. It may take you a while but give it a shot. Try a couple things. Pretty soon you’ll hit upon your Frontier favorite. Once you do, mark my words, it’s that Frontier favorite that will yank you back to stand in line for more. True, the Frontier ain’t the cheapest eats in town. Nor is it the best. And if you need to use the restroom, you just might want to wait until you get home. But there’s no denying that the Frontier is the Frontier is the Frontier and Albuquerque wouldn’t be Albuquerque without it.
A close runner-up was this gorgeous wad of awesome, from Don McIver:
Okay, it was a long time ago. Younger, and quite a bit wilder and I (after one too many joints, too many beers, a line of coke, and two strong cups of coffee) decided that I had to have it. At four in the morning, I could sneak in the back door, wire cutters in hand and simply clip the wires holding the picture to the wall, heft the frame and out the back door. If I timed it right, I could have the thing out in a matter of minutes. And the thing, the huge John Wayne painting in the 3rd room of the Frontier would be mine.
Instead, I came in the wrong door, smelled green chile, then stood in line. I bought a cinnamon roll and burrito, which I promptly smothered in green chile, and moseyed back to the 3rd room only to see a table full of firemen and cops, all eating cinnamon rolls in some sort of diabetic coma-inducing orgy and talking, and talking, and talking. Soon four in the morning became five in the morning and a side of hashbrowns (smothered in green chile) and five in the morning became six and its crappy coffee and another cinnamon roll and wait… that damn thing is bolted to the wall. The Frontier used to be 24 hours y’all and now they’re not. That sucks, but damn that green chile and cinnamon roll is good.
In the first year of our contest, we got two submissions. Unfortunately, one was the casualty of a 2012 site crash. You’ll just have to trust that it was awesome, and that this (winning) review from Damien Flores can make up for it:
George Lopez did a comedy act on Johnson Field at UNM during the Obama Campaign stop in Burque. “I’m one of you,” he said, “I’ve bought piñon out the back of a broke down car on Isleta Boulevard. I’ve gambled away all my money at 66 Casino. And yes, I’ve been drunk, having breakfast at the Frontier.” And the crowd of 40,000 people lost their fucking minds when Lopez saluted the American Flag painted on the storefront across the street.
So many of us know the Frontier is badass – and now, so do you. Get a carne adovada burrito and a side of hash browns with a Frontier Roll for desert. Order anything. Comida mexicana o gringa; you just can’t go wrong. They used to be open 24 hours, but the late-night roughens of Burque got a little too out of hand, so the owners shortened the hours. Leave it to my gente to fuck up a good thing for everybody.
God bless the memory of old Frontier! Open all day and all night, the perfect place to cram for a midterm, to recover from a gut full of tequila and beer with enchiladas, and to watch a fist fight after the Ludacris concert. God bless the Frontier, and may God bless Los Estados Undios de America! And by America, I mean Burque!
In 2009, as we gained pages, we lost focus, and tragically, the most arguably important review in the whole damn book was slimmed to fit. Fortunately, it’s all still true:
An institution. Period. Yes, times have changed. BUT: The Frontier is still The Frontier. Any time guests come into town, this is the one place they must eat, and experience a moment in this quirky yet oh-so-real microcosm. A semi-fast food restaurant by any other name… could never smell as sweet.
Matthew John Conley, beloved former local poet, and all-but-carnal friend of the Guide (he moved before we would’ve made our move) contributed this lovely little number for Guides #1–3:
You may hate fascist business owners, you may find large John Wayne memorabilia disagreeable, but all roads in the 505 lead to the Frontier, so some things you should know:
Your food is going to be hot. Deal with it. Welcome to the Land of Chiles. It’s good for you. When you are next in line, look for the flashing green lights, or someone behind you will take your place.
The Guide suggests the Breakfast Burrito & a carne adovada (shredded pork soaked & simmered in red chile) burrito, but whatever you choose, be sure to stop by the crockpots full of authentic New Mexican green chile.
No matter what time of day you show up, you will encounter security guards, gang members, and people asking for acid or spare change. It’s best to ignore them, but that’s your call. If you want any sort of privacy in this beautiful madness, the back rooms offer more security guards and other people hiding out.
Finally, there is the Frontier Roll, a cinnamon pastry drowned in a sea of artificial butter. 99% of the population loves these things. I detest them.