Aliberto’s owner born into restaurant business
Alejandro De La Torre says he was “born into the restaurant business,” so it’s only natural that he’s spreading the chain of Mexican restaurants his father started in California.
De La Torre owns Aliberto’s Restaurant in Los Lunas, which opened in mid-July in the former KFC building at 3476 N.M. 47, north of the Smith’s shopping center.
It is the second Aliberto’s owned by the 21-year old. The other is in Payson, Ariz. There are seven other Aliberto’s in California and Arizona owned by his father, Roberto.
“My dad and some other guys worked together in California in these kinds of places,” said the San Diego native. “After a few years, they all decided to strike out on their own, and my dad went this route.”
“This route” turned out to be a chain of Mexican fast-food restaurants with an emphasis on fresh-made, low-priced, quality foods.
“In his first restaurant, on his first day, my dad sold a medium soda,” said De La Torre. “That’s all, one medium soda. It’s gotten better every day since then.”
So who is Aliberto?
“There isn’t one,” he laughed. “My dad made it up. He thought it sounded good.”
Why Los Lunas, since all the others are in California and Arizona?
“I was visiting here, and saw this building and I thought it looked like a good location,” De La Torre said. “We like small towns. All the others are in small towns.”
He said he was particularly sold because of the empty KFC building.
“That made it a lot easier,” he said. “The layout is just what we like, with a dining room and a drive-up window.”
But does Los Lunas need another Mexican restaurant?
De La Torre laughed. “Ya, I’ve heard that a few times. But we bring a different style of food. It’s not real Mexican, Mexican. We make things a little different, and the taste is a lot different than traditional New Mexican food.
“Everything is made fresh daily. We make our own salsa. We make everything ourselves.”
Aliberto’s menu features 24 different combination plates, plus several dinner plates and more than a dozen a-la-carte items.
“The combination plates are the kind you’d get in a sit-down restaurant,” “De La Torre said.
He’s especially proud of the restaurant’s burritos.
“They are really big,” he said. “Most places use ground beef in their burritos. We use carne asada in ours. Carne asada burritos, with chopped steak, not ground beef, are new to this area, I think.”
De La Torre is also proud of the speed and quality of service, and the price.
“You’ll get your food in about three minutes,” he said, “and everything is under $10. You can get a good meal and a drink for five, six bucks.”
The restaurant also has a salsa bar, which he said has proven to be very popular.
Aliberto’s is open from 6 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and serves breakfast at all hours.
De La Torre is planning a grand opening party on Saturday, Sept. 18, which will feature Mariachis, kids’ jumpers, deals and other activities.
Contact Dana Bowley