Frontier Reviews: 2011
You’d think anyone who’s ever come in contact with the Frontier would melt into a crockpot of overwhelmed praise. You’d think across the myriad faces of civilization, the mention of the 505′s titan of medium-speed dining would bring rumbles to the tummies of babies, and tears to the eyes of parents. But, shocking to us as to you, there are a few holdouts yet. And they’ve got our email. So here they are, edited only for grammar. Scroll down for the – ahem – real submissions in our 2011 ULTIMATE FRONTIER REVIEW CONTEST.
1. Bob Lucero
As a lifelong resident of ABQ, I have seen the Front go through innumerable changes. I remember completing an acid deal in the front room over a breakfast burrito and a cigarette. Then you could only smoke in the back half while eating breakfast #2. Now, you can’t smoke within 30 feet of the damn place. Oh, God, the fucking coffee. I swear it was weak Folgers until they got real locally-roasted beans. Now, hit or miss, but with enough sugar and creamer…
A lot’s changed over the years. They started closing! This was a heavy blow for chile addicts everywhere. Where the hell are the sprouts? What that fuck’s with the shredded carrots? I contend that the carne adovada burritos have become smaller, while the price has gone up, and to this day, I will get a flame burger and hash browns with cheese, smothered with ranchero sauce. Those pots are still scalding hot, at least, and if you’re not from here it’s something you have to work your intestines up to.
I hear Luc Longley has Sweet Rolls Fed-ex’d to Australia. God, I miss that guy. Anyone know if he still owns the Raddison?
As a kid who grew up in the NE Heights, the Frontier always felt like it was on Mars. I never had any love for it. I’m 30 now and haven’t been there since I was 16. I have never understood why people love the sticky sweet heart attack buns or the cheap food. I guess it’s great for college kids who don’t mind standing in line for an hour to get a $3 grilled cheese, mediocre even for the cheap price. I remember it always being full of smoking, coffee-drinking, effete Goths and homeless people, even at 2 in the afternoon. Sure, they’ve outlawed the smoking, but the service is still worse than Village Inn. And no one ever got shot at the VI, so they still stay open past midnight.
It’s an Albuquerque institution that perhaps has more hype than it deserves. It never feels all that clean, there’s often a long wait, and the prices are higher than what you might expect. But a few reliable menu standbyes (notably the breakfast burritos, fresh orange juice, and sweet rolls) keep this spot near to the locals’ hearts.
4. 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.
5. Brian Herrera (this year’s winner)
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.
Oh, beloved Frontier, one-time home to more bar fights than the Atomic Cantina on Gay Punk Hairdresser Night, I’ve missed you.
Remember that time I showed up at 2am, convinced I’d lose my client by dawn if I didn’t throw down on work and a Frontier burrito? You greeted me unimpressed, as always, but forthcoming with crock-pot chile and terrible coffee. Or that time you appeared on Central in a drunken vision (that for once wasn’t a really a block-long gas station), and demanded I wait an endless four minutes in line. Then my fork found that bean & cheese burrito, and my stomach knew a peace not understood west of Gallup, north of Chimayó. And in the inseminating velvet gaze of the King, I remembered why I could never talk shit about you.
Every time the green light blinks for me – or a friend who’s been in New Mexico all of 40 minutes – someone who doesn’t have to be as nice as she is places my cheapskate order with a smile and a nod. Every enchilada-stacked tray comes with high odds I’ll run into three people I know, and the unexpected conversation will fill the crevices the tortillas and chile can’t.