Albuquerque is more than just where High School Musical was supposed to take place (plot twist: it was filmed in Salt Lake City) or where Breaking Bad was filmed. Within the Duke City, you can easily find yourself on a Southwestern culinary adventure, tasting the fresh flavors of local produce grown by the Rio Grande or the spicy kick of New Mexico’s famous red and green chiles. Here’s what you need to try:
1. Breakfast Burrito from Twisters
Get a good start to your day with a hefty Rio Grande burrito stuffed with carne adovada, egg, potato, red chile and cheese. You can pretend you’re eating at Los Pollos Hermanos, too, as you might recognize your Twisters as the location of the infamous Breaking Bad fast food joint.
2. Sopapilla from Padilla’s Mexican Kitchen
Sopapillas are hot puffs of fried dough and a classic New Mexican dessert. You get to drizzle (or drench) them with honey. Padilla’s are the right combination of chew and fluffiness with a light crispy exterior. Delicious.
3. Brunch from The Grove Cafe & Market
The Grove Cafe & Market is where you can satisfy all your brunch cravings with mainstays like their croque madame or one of their brunch specials like a Pulled Pork Fried Egg Sandwich with local coffee cured pork, housemade BBQ sauce, ranch slaw & a sunny side egg on toasted brioche. You can indulge in a cupcake or macaron, too, and feel good about eating locally sourced foods.
4. Green Chile Cheeseburger from Blake’s Lotaburger
Greasy, cheesy and spicy with that distinct hotness of roasted hatch green chile, Blake’s green chile Lota burger has been named New Mexico’s best green chile cheeseburger and is even a stop on the green chile cheeseburger trail!
5. Tortillas from Golden Pride
There’s no doubt Golden Pride serves up some tasty fried chicken, barbecue and burritos, but go for their warm, buttery tortillas. Buy a dozen to take home and you can enjoy them later with your own burrito creation.
6. Bánh Mì from Banh Mi Coda
Hands down the most delicious, authentic, and cheap bánh mì sandwich there is. Get the classic or try the #10 with Vietnamese lemongrass meatloaf if you’re feeling something different.
7. Blue Sky Donut from Rebel Donut
8. Imperatore “The Emperor’s Amore” pizza from Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria
This decadent thin-crust pizza from Amore substitutes traditional red sauce for a blend of three Italian cheeses and cream featuring black and white truffles. Prosciutto di Parma, basil, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, portobella and crimini mushrooms, and house-made mozzarella top this gem off. Just a taste will make you feel like royalty, indeed.
9. Ramen from Magokoro Japanese Restaurant
The ramen from Magokoro is nothing like the instant noodle stuff you’re used to in college. Served only for dinner, the noodles and toppings are tasty and the broths are flavorful– truly cooked “from the heart.” But you can still try and make your ramen taste a little more gourmet, even if you aren’t in Albuquerque.
10. Tewa Taco from Pueblo Harvest Cafe
The Tewa Taco or “Indian Taco” features all your traditional taco filling and toppings, but instead of a boring hard corn taco shell, you get to up your taco game with a gigantic piece of Native American fry bread.
11. Afternoon Tea at St. James Tearoom
If you need an afternoon pick-me-up but you’re in a fancy kind of mood, head over to the St. James Tearoom where you can enjoy the company of friends, try on fancy hats, sip tea with pinkies up and sample an array of savory bites and sweet treats. Each month features a new menu, often themed around literature and famous authors. A vegetarian menu option is also available.
12. Green Chile Cheese Bagel from Einstein Bros Bagels
Okay, so maybe you can get these nationwide, but they’re more special if you eat them in Albuquerque since the green chile is probably from somewhere nearby.
13. Spaghetti with Meatballs from Paisano’s
“What’s so special about spaghetti and meatballs?” you may ask. Well Paisano’s starts with toothsome homemade noodles (also available gluten-free) that are rolled, cut and cooked to order. They pour on their fresh tomato sauce then plop on their incredibly tender and flavorful meatballs. Paisano’s is truly the finest.
14. Frontier Sweet Roll from Frontier Restaurant
Everyone in Albuquerque knows about Frontier and their legendary sweet rolls. These babies ooze butter and are soft, cinnamony pillows of heaven. Frontier is open every day from 5:00 am until 1:00 am, so you can eat one any time you want. Even if you desire these heavenly gifts in the early morning, you can tuck away the six pack you bought earlier.
15. Lunch Buffet from India Grill
To eat all-you-can-eat of India Grill’s diverse lunch buffet, you only need to shell out $13. It’s a steal considering high quality soups, naan, at least five different entrees (vegetarian included), sauces and desserts are all included. Don’t miss their signature tandoori chicken or refreshing mango lassi (or you can make these yourself for a cool treat).
16. Chips and Salsa from Sadie’s of New Mexico
The chips are served fresh, warm, and salty and the salsa is spicy hot– but has been described as “addictive” and “the best salsa ever.” Bonus: they’re complimentary with your meal and refills are endless.
17. Bombay Coconut Waffle from Tia B’s La Waffleria
Get a taste of the tropics with Tia B’s Bombay Coconut waffle, which is a vegan rice and coconut flour waffle covered in mango puree sauce and topped with a cloud of cardamom coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut.
18. Antipasto Platter from Torinos’ @ Home
Just saying all of the goodies featured on Torinos’ antipasto platter is a mouthful: Italian prosciutto, salame, red bell pepper tonnato, warm goat cheese crostini, grilled eggplant, panis, cipollini onion and Nicosia olives. The platter itself is several yummy mouthfuls complimented with the tang of drizzled balsamic vinegar.
19. Biscochito from Celina’s Biscochitos
New Mexicans have grown up eating their state cookies, biscochitos. Celina’s bakes some of the best cookies that are flaky, buttery and cinnamon-sugary rounds of delight. Celina’s also offers enhanced biscochitos with flavors like red chile, green chile pecan and cocoa chocolate chip.
20. Pancakes from Central Grill and Coffee House
Central Grill and Coffee House’s fluffy buttermilk pancakes are some of the best in town, but what’s even better is that you can get them with either blueberries or apples and brie. Apples and brie! And of course, they’re served only with real maple syrup.
21. South Pacific Hot Chocolate from Joliesse Chocolates
It’s always a good time to drink hot chocolate, even if you’re in the desert and it’s 100 degrees outside because chocolate, especially if it’s from Joliesse. The South Pacific is a rich dark chocolate and mango concoction that will transport you to your happy place.
22. Hummus and Pita from San Pedro Mart and Alquds Middle Eastern Restaurant
Hummus of any sort is always a good idea; San Pedro Mart’s is life-changing. You will never taste a hummus so delicately flavored and velvety. Eat it with their soft, airy pita and you’ll never look at hummus the same way again.
23. Grilled Pork and Eggrolls Rice Noodle Bowl from Viet Taste
This noodle bowl (or bún) is a gorgeous mix of rice noodles, sprouts, vinegar and fresh veggies, combinining clean Vietnamese flavors of sweet and tangy. The stars of the show, though, are the tasty slices of barbeque pork and eggrolls.
24. Cubano from Guava Tree Cafe
The cubano from Guava Tree Cafe features house-roasted pork, sweet ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard on between two pieces of warm-pressed Cuban bread… *drools* yes, please.
25. Steak from Monte Carlo Steak House
Don’t judge a book by its cover! Attached to a liquor store, Monte Carlo Steak House might be a bit of a dive in terms of appearances. However, that has no effect on their consistently perfectly cooked and seasoned steaks and burgers.
26. Shaved Ice from Pop-Pop’s Original Italian Water Ice
Pop-Pop’s serves delicious flavored shaved ice and is a favorite after-school snack for many students in the area. A strawberry lemonade shaved ice is perfect for beating the Albuquerque desert heat.
27. Poke Bowl from Poki Poki Cevicheria
A photo posted by @pokipokiabq on May 18, 2016 at 7:10am PDT
Relatively new to town, Poki Poki Cevicheria has already made a name for itself with its fresh fish, fusion of Asian and Latin flavors, and “build-your-own-bowl” style menu. You can choose to top your ahi tuna with everything from plantain chips, seaweed salad (so healthy!) and pineapple mango salsa to edamame, pickled ginger, and crab salad. Whatever you choose, it will taste great regardless.
28. Guanabana Juice from Ajiaco
Definitely go to Ajiaco to sample traditional Colombian cuisine, but you must try their guanabana, or soursop, juice. Tropically fruity and sweet, it’s unlike any juice you’ve had before.
29. Frites and Ketchup from Bistronomy B2B
You could go to McDonald’s and order fries and ketchup, but can you get those fries barbecue flavored with pesto mayo? No, you can’t. Bistronomy B2B‘s menu includes berry, curry, smoked, beer and southwest ketchups, as well as wasabi, spicy and pesto mayos. They also have a special menu section dedicated to different preparation of fries, such as green chile fries with house queso.
30. Chopped Salad from Fork & Fig
31. Chicken and Waffles from Frank’s Famous Chicken and Waffles
The waffles are fluffy and the chicken is flavorful and crispy for the perfect gastronomical marriage at Frank’s Famous Chicken and Waffles. Slather on some cinnamon butter and your tastebuds will be bursting with joy.
32. Chile Rellenos from La Salita Restaurant
La Salita has been around for over sixty years because they treat their customers like family and have outstanding New Mexican dishes. Some of the best in the city, their chile rellenos are stuffed with cheddar, Swiss-American cheese or avocado, then battered and fried into hot, spicy, cheesy, gooey goodness.
33. Dinner at Los Poblanos Historic Inn
Right outside Los Poblanos Historic Inn is their organic farm. As such, their dinner menu features seasonal produce from their farm and other local Rio Grande Valley farmers’ produce. Their food is elegant, creative and, of course, extremely fresh!
34. Tacos from Taqueria Mexico
The tacos from Taqueria Mexico are tasty, fresh and cheap. Their preparation of the different taco meats makes their tacos exceptional.
35. Bowl of Papas from Weck’s
36. Classic Deviled Egg from Jennifer James 101
This picnic classic gets an upgrade by chef Jennifer James at her restaurant with a secret blend of spices and pickles. It’s one of the chef’s specialties and definitely worth the try.
37. Tamales from El Modelo Mexican Foods
The tamales from El Modelo are everything good tamales should be: fluffy masa outside with tender chile-infused meat on the inside, all nicely wrapped in a corn husk.
38. Meatloaf from Standard Diner
The meatloaf from Standard Diner is not a lump of mystery meat someone may have burned in the oven. It’s bacon-wrapped and served with a luxurious red wine gravy. (Click here for more bacon-wrapped goodness.)
39. Duke City Ruben from Bocadillos Slow Roasted
If you’re craving a sandwich, there’s nothing better than Bocadillos’s reuben. It’s piled high with slow-roasted corned beef and finished with melted asadero cheese, homemade sauerkraut and Thousand Island Dressing.
40. Samosas from The Safari Grill
The Safari Grill offers Indian, African and New Mexican fusion cuisine. Bold spices and flavors make their dishes stand out; try their samosas, served with made-from-scratch chutneys.
41. Spaghetti Squash Bowl from Rad[ish]Sub high-carb noodles for spaghetti squash with Rad[ish]’s bowls topped with tasty, healthy sauces and seasoned proteins and vegetables. Check out this guide by Spoon if you’re trying to eat healthier.
42. Green Chile Stew from Garcia’s Kitchen
The green chile stew might get your eyes watering, but the tender pork bites and soft potatoes mixed with that delicious green chile flavor won’t let you stop.
43. Huevos Rancheros from Range Cafe
Get this classic breakfast at the Range Cafe. Those blue corn tortillas, pinto beans, and special range fries make all the difference.
44. Gyro from Zorba’s Fine Greek Cuisine
45. Milkshake from 66 Diner
Route 66 cuts right through Albuquerque, so why not make a pit stop at the 66 Diner and enjoy one of their handmade milkshakes? Creamy, sweet and made with whole milk and ice cream, any one of their 24 flavors will be sure to satisfy.
46. Pie from NM Pie Company
NM Pie Company has the right view on life with their motto, “Life is short. Eat pie.” Their pies have flaky, buttery crusts and fillings that are delectable but not too sweet. They also offer 5″ personal pies so you don’t have to share your caramel apple green chile or raspberry rhubarb vanilla bean custard pie.
47. Crêpe from La Crêpe Michel
48. Bread Pudding from Flying Star Cafe
The bread pudding from Flying Star Cafe is sheer decadence. It’s dense, rich, made with croissants and drizzled with caramel sauce – perfect for sharing, and best eaten warm.
49. Breakfast at Hartford Square
Hartford Square’s menu changes weekly depending on what’s being sold by the farmers, resulting in true farm-to-table dishes. Located in downtown Albuquerque, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a nice cup of tea from New Mexico Tea Co., a warm piece of frittata with roasted potatoes, local chives, & Boursin cheese and maybe even a sweet cherry scone, too.
50. Green Chile Bread from Golden Crown Panaderia
This tasty loaf is baked fresh daily and is a blend of fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, green chile, Parmesan cheese and secret spices for ultimate gluten goodness. It’s so good, you’ll be howling like the coyote decoration on the bread.