Another New Mexican culinary luminary with roots in Santa Fe has come down i25 to have a go in the Duke City. Joining the likes of Mark Kiffin (Compound/Zacatecas) and Erin Wade (Vinaigrette), chef James Campbell Caruso brought his 5-time James Beard nominated pedigree to Albuquerque late last year and opened Más—Tapas y Vino in the historic Hotel Andaluz in the downtown area. “I’ve always been intrigued by Albuquerque and the opportunities there, so when Erin and Mark’s restaurants were received with such enthusiasm there I started thinking more seriously about extending into the market,” says Caruso. “When the Andaluz opportunity presented itself it was an easy decision for me, and now almost 3 months in I am really happy to be a part of the great culinary scene in Albuquerque as well as Santa Fe.”
The pairing of Caruso's Iberian flavors with the Spanish sensibilities that the name ‘Andaluz’ implies are an epiphany, leaving one to wonder why the connection wasn't made sooner. Be that as it may, those of us that hanker for a taste of Caruso's La Boca and Taberna without the two-hour round trip to Santa Fe and back can now rejoice.
A minor remodel linking the bar more intimately to the former Lucia dining room has added a decidedly more vibrant flow to the restaurant, creating a lively, less formal dining experience. Like La Boca and Taberna, the menu at Más puts a modern spin on the traditional tapa, expressing Caruso’s emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. This dedication to sustainability provides another natural fit: the Hotel Andaluz is the only LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified hotel in New Mexico. The rating, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to provide standards for environmentally sustainable construction is extremely prestigious and shows a serious commitment to sustainability by the property owners.
For what it’s worth, I recommend the Paella ($28), which is not a tapa really but IS very Spanish, and the grilled artichoke w/ spanish goat cheese and mint ($12)—so much so that I photographed them for the world to see (above). According to James, the most popular tapa right now is the grilled new mexico flatiron steak w/ smoky sea salt caramel ($14). Finally, those that remember El Farol can harken back to the good old days with the smoked salmon nachos w/ mint aioli & pickled red onions on crispy wontons ($12) that James made famous when he was there many years ago.