Eating ABQ: Nosh Jewish Deli and Bakery

Albuquerque foodies bemoan certain holes in the culinary landscape. The first to come up in such a conversation is almost always Ethiopian. Tied for second, in my experience, are really great casual Italian and a good Jewish deli.
Well, we can finally cross one of those off the list. 

In mid-August I was stopping by La Montanita Co-Op when I spotted this sign by the old Papers storefront on Amherst and Silver. It’s a large, beautiful corner spot, and I’d been hoping something exciting would go in there. (For me, “exciting” = “restaurant.” I greet new boutiques with a sigh.) I peered in the dusty window and spotted a menu featuring latkes, chopped liver, bialys, matzoh-ball soup… and, most thrilling, the words “our pastrami.” Did that mean housemade pastrami? I could hardly wait for the place to open. 
I posted the news on the Unfussy Epicure Facebook page and received a ton of delighted comments, including the news that Nosh’s own Facebook page listed the following day for their opening. Recalling the dusty windows, I had my doubts. And indeed, it was another week and a half before they opened.
On Wednesday of Nosh’s first week open, three friends and I went there for lunch. There was no doubt we were in a new restaurant; counter service was slow, hesitant, and cash-only. But the staff was friendly and cheerful, if a bit harried, and eventually we all placed our orders and sat down.
The food, once ordered, came quickly. I forgot about the slow counter service and overly warm dining room the moment I bit into my sandwich – the promised house-smoked pastrami on pumpernickel bread. This pastrami is not the same foodstuff as anything you might find in the grocery store, even in the deli case. Meaty, salty, and wonderfully smoky, with the perfect amount of fat, its melting yet brawny goodness made me yearn for more. I determined that Arne – who loves a good Reuben above all other sandwiches (well, non-BBQ sandwiches, anyway) – needed to try this place as soon as he possibly could.
Next up was a small bowl of matzoh-ball soup. Though I found the enormous matzoh ball itself a little too dry – my Jewish-food-loving friend Dianne said it needed to cook longer in the broth – the chicken soup was lovely. The flavorful (if slightly undersalted, but a shaker on the table fixed that up) broth was perfect comfort food, thick with noodles and big chunks of chicken and carrots.
My friend Leonie’s latkes were wonderful too, though I suspect Nosh may hear complaints that “these aren’t latkes!” Their non-traditional take on the classic potato cake is wonderfully creamy, almost more like a hash-brown casserole formed into cakes and fried than like a typical latke. I suspect they have moved the mandatory sour-cream accompaniment to the cake’s batter, though sour cream and applesauce still grace the plate. A serving is two enormous latkes, each approaching the size of the dinner plate they’re served on.
My only real complaint about lunch? I wasn’t crazy about the potato salad. But I am really, really hard to please when it comes to potato salad.

Arne beat me to the punch the next day by checking Nosh out with a friend and getting the Reuben without me, so I didn’t get to taste it. He raved about it, though, and I can hardly wait to try one myself. Anyway, when we went back together, it was for breakfast. We shared two dishes: vegetable hash and pastrami and eggs.

The hash was a wintry dish featuring cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, topped with two fried eggs and served with excellent rye toast and jam. Like the soup, it needed a sprinkle of salt to bring out the flavor. Though I prefer my hash to be more integrated than this one – all the elements stay pretty distinct – it’s a really good vegetarian breakfast option. And great as a complement to the decadent pastrami and eggs. Moist, smoky, and with the salt hit that the hash lacks, the lightly scrambled eggs make a fantastic showcase for Nosh’s glorious pastrami.

Be sure to check out Nosh’s baked goods before you leave. All three breads – pumpernickel, Jewish rye, and challah – are exemplary. (The challah makes incredible French toast. I made my own with a purchased loaf, but they make it there as well.) The cheesecake manages to be dense and rich without being too heavy. And the rugelach! Clearly handmade, they are the best I’ve ever tasted, their dough rich with cream cheese flavor.

Nosh is a terrific addition to Albuquerque’s restaurant landscape. I can hardly wait to get my hands on more of that amazing pastrami and another bag of rugelach!

Nosh on Urbanspoon

Nosh on Foodio54