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When I heard that one of Albuquerque’s longest restauranteurs, Russ Zeigler who opened his first establishment here in 1977, decided to open a casual neighborhood friendly restaurant smack in the middle of Albuquerque I couldn’t wait to get down there to find out all about it! The result was a multi hour conversation with some of the most genuine individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting. Oh, and tons of incredibly tasty food. Here’s 10 of the many things I loved about Groundstone.
1. The Heisenburger. This has quickly become an iconic hit and the second I bit into this bad boy I knew it was the real deal. Akaushi Beef topped with Smoked Cheddar, Bueno Green Chile, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Onions, Lettuce, Tomato and Green Chile infused Mayo on a local Fano Bakery bun. The thought process behind this winner was spot on. I’m still licking my fingers.
2. Owner Russ Zeigler and his wife Maddie. Russ has owned and operated a few different restaurants over the last 4 decades including Assets Grill (formerly Liquid Assets), Sandiago’s Mexican Grill, and High Finance which was a long time fine dining staple in New Mexico. I’m pretty sure that all of you at some point have taken the tram up to the peak to eat at High Finance for a special occasion meal. When I sat with Russ and his lovely wife Maddie, we spoke for hours about many different things. See, I’ve met many many owners over the years but something was different about this one. Not to say that anybody I’ve met prior was disingenuous, but sitting with Russ and hearing his story was something that came across as rare. His passion and commitment to doing things the right way is what this business is all about. He really really cares about your dining experience. And that was great to see. During an era where a lot of people only care about the bottom line, it was nice to meet and get to know someone who puts the dining experience first at all times. Hat’s off and tons of respect to Russ for never wavering on that.
3. The Stacked Shake. Normally I would put dessert as one of the final items but this one was so good it deserves a spot on the top! Read this carefully, Hand spun vanilla shake stacked with chunks of brownie, Heath toffee bar, wafer and whipped cream served in a chocolate chip rimmed glass… Thasssss riiiiiight! No more words needed.
4. Fried Green Chile Strips. Fresh Bueno Green Chile cut into strips, hand battered and then deep fried until ultra-crispy. If that’s not enough then they serve it with an avocado ranch dipping sauce. Incredible balance of flavors that will excite your taste buds. Nom nom nom.
5. Warm & Friendly Service. Something that is becoming a lost art is alive and well at Groundstone. The staff here goes above and beyond to ensure that you will want or need for nothing. They do it the old fashioned way, with a genuine smile and attentive detail. It’s one of Russ’s core values and it’s amazing to see how he has made sure everyone on his staff shares that same quality.
6. Chef Patrick Correa. When I sat with Chef Patrick I saw a passionate fire in his eyes that kinda reminded me of myself. Originally from Isleta Pueblo, Chef has traveled and got his culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu. He brings a tremendous skill set to the table and his desire to please your palate is both genuine and appreciated. With Chef Correa at the helm the forecast for Groundstone remains quite pleasant.
7. The Yellowfin. Ok friends, you gotta hear me out here. Russ and Chef went out of their way to source Sashimi grade Tuna. And only charge you $14.50 for a huge chunk of it. That’s love! It’s served with sweet chili kale, cucumber, pickled ginger, avocado, and a sesame soy glaze. Seriously good stuff.
8. The Décor. The term “Groundstone” represents the idea of ground beef and the stone upon which really great pizza is baked. When you walk When you walk into the dining room you can really feel the spirit of both a classic hamburger, and tremendous pizza cooking in the back. The floors, walls and overall vibe of the place just screams Groundstone. It’s cool to see how Russ was able to tie the feel of his place to the name. Brilliant stuff right there.
9. The Stockyard. This pizza is REAL PIZZA! Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Canadian Bacon, Fire Roasted Red Peppers, Red Onions, Olives, Roasted Garlic, Mozzarella, Fontina & Garlic infused Olive Oil is what rounds this tiger out. These ingredients play well together in the sandbox and the crust is not to be outdone. There’s some heavy skills going on to put a pizza like this out.
10. Spinach, Beet & Goat Cheese Salad. If I’m going to put a salad on my top ten list then it needs to really be high level stuff. This fits the bill. With grape tomatoes, red onion, toasted almonds and a pomegranate vinaigrette this is the type of salad you write home about. Or take a picture of, or order another to take home, or don’t share with your friends, or fight over, or… Ok, enough. You get my point.
Written by Chef Marc Quinones | Photography by Kori Kobayashi
Groundstone is located at
5001 San Mateo Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109