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Pasion Latin Fusion Combines the Flavors of Latin America and New Mexico

By S. Mathur

Pasion Latin Fusion brings together the flavors of Latin America with local New Mexico tastes. Owners Elvis and Monica Bencomo say that it reflects their heritage and experiences: "Elvis is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and Monica's father is from Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The couple wanted to blend not only their heritage, but other Latin American themed cultural dishes to bring something new to Albuquerque. Of course, Chef Elvis does not negate the classic green chile staple of New Mexico, he fuses traditional New Mexican in with his dishes."

It began as a final project Chef Elvis had to complete for his culinary class at CNM. "He had to create a full business plan for his dream restaurant. After compiling his dream and seeing it on paper - logistics and all - he knew he had to give it a try." At the young age of 24, drawing on his education and six years of restaurant experience, he opened Pasion Latin Fusion in 2011. Monica says she "believed in his food and his ability to succeed". She quit her waitressing job at another restaurant and took over the task of managing the front of the house while Elvis ran the back.

Pasión Latin Fusion Restaurant uses natural, locally produced meats, fruits, vegetables, as well as fresh seafood whenever possible. Latin America from the Caribbean and Mexico to the Tierra del Fuelgo in Argentina is a vast land and the foods and flavors vary greatly. What would the Bencomos recommend to first-time customers? "Anything! One of our most popular dishes would be our fish tacos--they are breaded in banana chips and topped with a house made chipotle sauce, avocado, and pickled cabbage. Our regular guests love them! Also, our empanadas have won several awards--they are gluten free--"breaded" with plantain dough and stuffed with goat cheese, spinach, and topped with our three roasted chile escabeche-- #yum."

The handmade corn chips, plantain wrapped in bacon, the Chef Irvine Cubano, Caribbean Chicken and duck taquito are all customer favorites, as are the Aguas Frescas, iced drinks with infusions of herbs, grains, fruits and vegetables. The Pasion truck can be found at different locations in downtown Albuquerque and the catering service will bring the unique food to your party or event.

Chef Elvis and Pasion have won numerous awards including Top 5 Chefs of Albuquerque, Best Fusion Restaurant, Best New Restaurant and Best Kid Friendly Restaurant. They have been featured on local media and the Food Netwok's Restaurant Impossible show. The decor, say the Bencomos, is "welcoming, warm, festive, and unique serving families, couples enjoying date nights, business professionals and students as well."

Customer reviews agree and offer some good advice: "The Gobernale (governor) burger came out of the kitchen for another table and my jaw dropped its aroma was terrific and looked drop dead gorgeous. They serve tapas style so go in a group and order a bunch of different things everything is absolutely magnificent.

You will love this place from the parking lot to the attractive dining room to the attentive wait staff the clever creative and lovingly prepared dishes to the fabulous price points this place is fantastic! Great job Passion Latin Fusion!"

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