El Pinto

4.3
2175 reviews
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$30 and under
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Mexican / Southwestern
Nestled in the cottonwoods, El Pinto was founded with eight tables in 1962. Twin brothers John and Jim Thomas, known as the Salsa Twins, carry on the family tradition and have expanded El Pinto into the quintessential "Spot" for healthy and fresh New Mexican cuisine. Experience an authentic Taste of New Mexico.

The Salsa Twins are pairing tradition with innovative healthy nutrition at El Pinto. El Pinto is proud to have the first and only Animal Welfare Approved laying hen program on property. 200 hens lay pasture raised eggs for daily use. An onsite green house produces over 5,000 lbs of organically grown greens.

Freshness is throughout El Pinto. El Pinto uses chile from Hatch, NM, dryland beans from CO, healthy sunflower oil for frying, Celtic sea salt for seasoning, and local ingredients when in season.

It has been featured on Food Network, Travel Channel and the BBC among other places.

Dog friendly. Ask for the "Puppy Patio."
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What 2175 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.3based on recent ratings
4.3
food
4.4
service
4.5
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
85% of people would recommend it to a friend
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RE
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

We had a waiter named Nic and he made the whole experience a great one. When service is great the food almost doesn't matter, but the food was good as well.

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d
New Mexico
91 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

Every time I visit El Pinto, the prices have steadily rose. It seems like everything on the menu rises about $1 each year. I mean the food is ok, but it is definitely not worth the $17 for a cheese enchilada plate that they offer! We usually go for the chile ribs and they are fantastic each time, but even those have risen to a price point that will eventually stop us from going there. Even the margaritas are ridiculously expensive...$12 for a glass! I mean come on! They aren 't that fantastic. I can go to Tomasita's and get a fabulous Margarita for around $7.50 and it packs a huge punch!

Anyway, be careful El Pinto, your prices will eventually price you out of the market and from the looks of things, you were not too busy when we went there, and it was a Friday night!

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OT
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Meet friends that I have not seen in 10+ years.

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CA
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great service and good food! We had a large group of family and friends who had not seen each other in quiet a while. The setting was very nice for the occasion.

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v
New York Area
29 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

What a place - its huge (seats 1500 people in 9 different rooms)! And truly just feels like a festive experience kind of place. The food was good, if not excellent, but the service and ambiance and good value for money made up for any lacking in refinement. Classic NM treats.

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DM
1 review
Dined on April 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Top notch Mexican dishes offered with great service (thanks Nico) in a lovely setting. It's one of our top 5 in Albuquerque

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FD
1 review
Dined on April 10, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

The waiter's indulgence was superb. We sat and talked for almost three hours. He came around constantly to ask if we needed more water, drinks, etc.

Hope that the tip was good enough.

Give him a raise-we'll return based on his kindness.

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JL
New Mexico
11 reviews
Dined on April 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Classic New Mexican menu in a classic New Mexican setting in the North Valley. Convenient location (accessible, easy to find), large parking lot, large facility with a wide variety of indoor and outdoor environments. Ask to see the model of the USS NEW MEXICO, SSN779. Cordial service. We dine here for special occassions, when we have guests in town, and for meetings of various sizes. Do yourself and your friends a favor - go there.

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M
Naples
1 review
Dined on April 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Best chips and salsa I ‘ve ever had!! Food was pleasantly spiced, fresh, and presented nicely. Outstanding waitress, who knew the menu and made excellent recommendations. Tequila menu was superb. A must visit for anyone visiting Albuquerque.

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A
New Mexico
1 review
Dined on April 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food was fantastic! Our server, Emilio, was polite, patient, and very accommodating. Atmosphere was just what we wanted to celebrate our anniversary.

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PT
1 review
Dined on April 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Yes...we gathered together for a second time. The food is tops...

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j
New York Area
1 review
Dined on April 6, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

When I say I would mot recommend this restaurant, it would depend on what was being looked for. The service (Nicholas), margaritas, guacamole, and ambience were excellent: go there for a drink and snack. But the main meals were all quite ordinary: we have had much better Mexican, with more taste and freshness in Albuquerque.

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EP
1 review
Dined on April 6, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

The price is too high. Service and ambiance great.

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MR
New Mexico
2 reviews
Dined on April 6, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

It’s our go to place for out of town guests. A menu that caters to a variety of appetites, great service, unique ambiance.
Pro tip: ask for the Fiesta room. It’s the outdoor patio.
Tip #2: mescal margarita.

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M
1 review
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 4

Walking inside felt like I was in an authentic Mexican restaurant. The building has aged well, and small features like a wood-burning stove in each "wing" was a nice surprise. However the value of dining is not based solely on atmosphere. Beginning with the appetizer, they offered a small bowl of guacamole for $10. The guacamole wasn't even blended well, nor was it skinned well. It was extremely bland so not only was the quantity small but the taste was no better than store-bought. So I really don't see how they think they can charge $10 for that. Also the chips tasted just like Tostitos. Other restaurants like El Patron have excellent homemade chips and salsa. El Pinto's chips literally looked like they dumped Tostitos on a grill for 60 seconds to warm them, scraped them off, and served them to us. They could have at least tried to salt them I suppose, but I don't know what could have made these seem any less store bought. Then our server, she was interested in everything but serving us. Running back to the kitchen for everything from drinks, to straws, to napkins, not coming around to ask how things were, or even offer refills. And on the rare occasion we could ask her for something, she would send a busboy out to service the requested item. I understand we were a party of two, but when two people feel like they are a bother to the waitress because she's more interested in the party of 10, then it makes me less inclined to want to go back. It was my first experience there, possibly my last although I won't rule anything out. I hear a lot of good things about different items on their menu, but the prices and service likely ruined that for me. If you are looking for a good atmosphere to have dinner, El Pinto is top-notch. But if you want authentic Mexican food at a reasonable price, I think there are plenty of other places in the city to look.

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EL
1 review
Dined on April 4, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

The ambience is incredible, and the food was very good. The chili rub ribs are as good as advertised. The prices are a little high especially for the margaritas. When you pay 15+ for a margarita you expect more than a small size. But all in all a very good experience

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TL
1 review
Dined on April 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is my favorite restaurant! I cannot go to another Mexican restaurant without comparing it to El Pinto.

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MD
1 review
Dined on April 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious food, including vegetarian options. Bought several of their delicious salsa

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OT
Minneapolis
1 review
Dined on April 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing restaurant. The best chips and salsa we've had in Albuquerque. Love the fact that grow all their own Chile's. The tamales and red chili were outstanding and the close to 200 kinds of tequila and handmade Margaritas didn't hurt. Great place

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D
Phoenix
20 reviews
Dined on April 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A New Mexico icon, always excellent in every way. You don't go there to just eat; you go there to enjoy, relax, and then eat :-)

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RB
1 review
Dined on April 1, 2019
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 4

The food was average at best. We had a party of 14, and half of the meals were served 20 minutes after the other half were served. Ridiculous!

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SQ
1 review
Dined on March 31, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always a pleasant dining experience and so proud to be able to take out of town family and friends to El Pinto! Our waitress Tamara was amazing and very attentive! Outstanding service!

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CO
Denver
2 reviews
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Everything was great, except for their drinks. It was ALL ice, very little margarita. For the price they are charging, you get ripped off!

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LE
1 review
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 5

Our answer to recommending our friends are up in the air.... We liked being at El Pinto for the fact that we could be there and listen to our whole family talking and not interrupt anyone else around us. Our food was a bit cold and the chicken was dry. The amount of chile was less than what we've had before, I think the best part of our meal for the family was how hot the sopapillas were. They were good.

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TL
1 review
Dined on March 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everytime I come to Albuquerque I try to stop off at El Pinto. The setting is so lovely and the menu has so many delicious options including many vegetarian and healthy options. i had the Calabacitas burrito with the green chili salsa and I can see why it is a fan favorite. It is plenty big enough to save half for another meal.

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DB
New Mexico
56 reviews
Dined on March 29, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 3

We've been to El Pinto many times so I count this experience as just an off night. Food was up to standard but the service was not. After being seated at our table for 20 minutes (no water, chips & salsa, nothing) we had to get up and ask if someone was going to come and ask if we wanted to order anything. When someone finally did come we decided to order our meals along with the drinks as we had already been there for 30 minutes. Food took ages to arrive, the salad that was to come with my plate never came at all, another at our table had his loaded baked potato come when he was 2/3 through the rest of his meal. My water glass was not refilled, nor were the salsa bowls.

I expect better than this from El Pinto, and as I said it may have just been an off night for whatever reason. I'll go again, but if I do and the service is not up to par it'll be the last time.

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TW
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I can remember going to El Pinto with my parents back in the mid 60's and loving it then. So to go back after near 50 years and find it is probably the best restaurant experience in Albuquerque was great.

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S
1 review
Dined on March 28, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 5

Second time we have been there in a month and service was not good at all. Horribly slow. Ordered a pitcher of margaritas and it was all sweet and sour with no tequila. Food was good! So if you go just know you will be there a long time and maybe order individual drinks and not a pitcher for the table if you want alcohol in your drinks......

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OT
New Mexico
6 reviews
Dined on March 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always a great time! The green chili chicken enchiladas are the best!! Wanted to get some green chili to take home,but was all sold out- guess we'll be ordering online!Thans El Pinto, for a great experience!

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a
1 review
Dined on March 26, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 4

Our food took 45 min or more to make. My ribeye was over cooked. The steak came back when most people were finished eating at the table. The steak was sitting in a liquid like a soup. My enchiladas were just cheese and were supposed to be pork.

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JH
1 review
Dined on March 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic. A but expensive but great food! thank you

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DW
1 review
Dined on March 24, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 2ambience 2

Took my mom here for her birthday. The food has been good in the past but it was terrible this time. Cold and awful. They took it back to the kitchen to reheat and it came back even worse. Did not eat it and was given a small credit on our bill. Also didn't appreciate being seated in the enclosed patio area that has many uneven bricks on the floor. This was difficult and unsafe given the older age of my guests.

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k
New Mexico
11 reviews
Dined on March 24, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 5

I enjoy El Pinto and we go often. The atmosphere is festive. Salsa and chips are great. This was our first time having Sunday brunch. The menu sounds creative and appealing but the dishes we got were just okay. One plate of huevos rancheros served on a flour tortilla with undercooked eggs: The eggs were on top of the chile- looked like no cheese. The cheese was there, just in a glop under everything off to the side. Another dish eggs Benedict served on green chile biscuits with red chile and chile con queso and home fries. The poached eggs were way undercooked which ruined the dish. The order was for medium eggs. The home fries and biscuits were good and sauces tasty. Not sure we’ll go back for brunch. I would have sent the eggs back but no one checked on us in time. Did let management know and they said sometimes they have a problem with the kitchen and cooking eggs. Hope they fix the problem!

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GV
1 review
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our first visit based upon recommendation of friends. We were VERY pleased with every aspect of the evening dinner event

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j
Minneapolis
8 reviews
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Best Mexican food we had in Albuquerque. Very comfortable atmosphere.

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S
Las Vegas
4 reviews
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food, ambiance and service was great! We will be back!

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BH
St. Louis
1 review
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The red Chile ribs were excellent, and Lilly, our server, made excellent drink recommendations. It was an altogether delightful experience.

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P
1 review
Dined on March 22, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

I'm neutral this time. I initially came with a work group and it was fabulous from customer service, food, all around. This was a 30+ group; I thought Id take my family, party of 4, and it was the complete opposite: sat us in a far, lonely, cold table so it took longer than expected to get tended to. Our order was wrong, we thought its fine. We reordered and this was also wrong. Food and beverages (coffee) just was not the best. Hit and miss. Maybe next time will be better. Not giving up

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SA
Denver
1 review
Dined on March 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was authentic and awesome. Live music and excellent service. Guacamole was out of this world....

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DH
New Mexico
1 review
Dined on March 21, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Overall, it was a very nice evening. The one problem was that the music was sometimes too loud, which made it difficult to talk. We appreciated having the music and some of the time it was not "too energetic." But sometimes it was too loud and made talking/hearing difficult. My suggestion is to either have the musicians be more in "background" rather than "performance" mode, or to let people know that the music could be pretty loud and ask them whether they want to be close to, or farther away from, the musicians.

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