Food or the Ambiance
For culinary diversity, it’s hard to beat the University of New Mexico (UNM) area in which restaurants with a broad socioeconomic appeal are congregated. Aside from academic enrichment, this area is nurturing a refreshing open-mindedness toward the cuisines of the world. That seems to be a commonality in areas within easy walking distance of large urban universities. Perhaps restaurateurs recognize that students are not only willing to open up their minds to new knowledge, but their wallets and their minds to new culinary experiences. The UNM area inaugurated many of us from rural parts of the state to wonderful new taste sensations. The heretofore enigmatic mysteries of the Orient unraveled themselves the first time we tasted the sweet and sour variations of Chinese food and braved cultural taboos to actually consume raw fish. The first time we sampled real pizza, we cursed Chef Boyardee and Pizza Hut for deigning to call their tomato sauce slathered cardboard “pizza.” We lost a bit of our naivete and innocence with each bite of each and every new culinary adventure we experienced. Life for many of us would never be the same. I dare say that for many UNM students, especially those from rural areas, their first tastes of Greek cuisine occurred at the Olympia Cafe on Central Avenue. The Olympia Cafe is a venerable elder statesman among UNM area restaurants, launching in 1972. That’s when Spiros and Marina Counelis began serving Greek cuisine directly across the street from New Mexico’s largest university.