Yes, intentionally provocative.
I've read through A LOT of threads, plus lots of reviews on other sites, blogs, Yelp, etc. There seems to be little consensus with most people having their pet fav restaurants and dishes for (New) Mexican food. This often suggests there isn't anywhere especially good. And my meals, so far, are confirming this.
So far I've hit Patio, Frontier, and Garcia's (on 4th). I tried to hit Mary's & Tito's twice, but both times it was closed. (The hours I found were wrong.) There've been elements from these places I've liked, but really the best part were the fresh tortillas and sopaipillas.
To me, most the red chile sauces taste a bit harsh (harsh as in bitter or tinny, not spicy) and flat, reminding me of Old El Paso enchilada sauce from a can. The one at Patio was better to my palate, but only because it was lighter and brighter, perhaps cut. This seemed to be the case for their green chile, too, which made it worse than the others, imo.
The tacos seemed to be uniformly bad, barely a step up from Taco Bell. In fact, I'd say the chain Taco Time makes better crisp-shell tacos. They're all a far cry from the quality I grew up with since we fried our own shells at home and the Cal-Mex places we went to fried their own, too. And the meat is just mushy, flavorless ground beef.
I've had a similar problem at Tex-Mex places in Texas. I'm starting to wonder if the nature of Mexican food in restaurants -- ie, the emphasis on fast and cheap and big -- just keeps it from being even as good as what I would expect from a merely decent home cook.
So, please prove me wrong. Can I get good quality New Mexican food made skillfully to order with good quality ingredients, well-seasoned and well-balanced in a restaurant?
2400 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
El Patio De Albuquerque
142 Harvard Dr SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
Mary's & Tito's Cafe
2711 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107
Garcia's Kitchen-the Original
1113 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
2520 Idaho St, Elko, NV 89801