Albuquerque Essentials

When in Albuquerque, do as the locals do. Here, where to eat, drink, and have fun.

Food and Drink Essentials: Best Places to ...

BUY GROCERIES

Sunflower Market
10701 Corrales Road N.W. #2, (505) 890-7900
5112 Lomas Blvd. N.E., (505) 268-5127
6300A San Mateo Blvd. N.E. (505) 821-7000
Sunflower Markets began humbly. The idea was to offer organic and whole foods at low prices. Produce prices are almost unbeatable, and every store offers locally grown foods. Though there are now three stores in town, Sunflower is still the kind of place where it’s best to grab groceries midweek; attempting to navigate a cart through this store on a weekend is not advised.

EAT ETHNIC FOOD

Pars Cuisine
4320 The 25 Way Suite 100 N.E., (505) 345-5156
Pars offers not only terrific Persian and Mediterranean cuisine utilizing local growers and businesses but also a full dining experience. Whether seated at a table or on the floor Middle Eastern-style, diners can experience live entertainment every night of the week. Belly dancers are featured on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and live music is featured other nights of the week.

GRAB A BEER

Kelly’s Brew Pub
3222 Central Ave. SE, (505) 262-2739
Kelly’s is one of the best people-watching spots in Albuquerque, perfect for a Sunday afternoon pint on the patio. The patio’s also dog-friendly, which helps ensure a laid-back atmosphere.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Co.
905 36th Place S.E., Rio Rancho, (505) 994-9497
Turtle Mountain is as famous for its food as its brews. The menu features some of the best wood-fired pizza in the area, including the Adam Bomb (green chile, pinons, pepperoni, sausage and spinach). Turtle Mountain also features a monthly pairing dinner, highlighting its house brews -- particularly enjoyable for the beer-curious crowd.

SATISFY LATE-NIGHT HUNGER

Frontier Restaurant
2400 Central Ave. SE, (505) 266-0550
Eating a Frontier burrito is the local equivalent to getting a stamp on one’s passport. If you’re visiting friends or family, odds are you’ve eaten here at some point. The college crowd loves it for its location across the street from the University of New Mexico and wallet-friendly prices, and everyone else just loves the tortillas and plate-sized cinnamon rolls.

ENJOY A CUP OF COFFEE

The Grove Cafe & Market
600 Central Ave. S.E., Ste. A, (505) 248-9800
Though the Grove has been open just under two years, owners Jason and Lauren Greene have earned a loyal following by providing a delicious alternative to the coffeehouse chains. The coffee is grand and, the baristas ensure, beautiful too.

Entertainment Essentials: Best Places to ...

HAVE FUN FOR FREE

Stroll the Bosque
The woodlands along the Rio Grande are called the Bosque (pronounced BOS-kay). The name comes from the Spanish word for “forest” and it is generally applied to the river valley along the Rio Grande. The Bosque is home to a 16-mile trail that runs along the river and is popular with cyclists, walkers and runners.

Stroll through Old Town
The cultures that live in harmony in New Mexico all come together in the city’s oldest quarter, which features a 300-year-old church, a grassy central plaza and local merchants at every turn in the historic adobe buildings. It’s the best place in town to pick up souvenirs, including authentic Native American jewelry and pottery.

MEET NEW PEOPLE

Salsa dancing at The Cooperage
7220 Lomas Blvd. N.E., (505) 255-1657
There’s nothing like meeting the locals in a six-count. Fridays and Saturdays are for salsa (the dance, not the sauce) in Albuquerque, and The Cooperage Restaurant is where you go to do it whether you’re a beginner or a pro.

Community table at Jennifer James 101
4615 Menaul Blvd. N.E., (505) 884-3860
Jennifer James is a local celebrity chef. A place at her restaurant, Jennifer James 101, reminds the diner food is meant to be enjoyed and higher-end dining doesn’t have to be fussy. The community table offers dinner family-style, even if your family for the evening is made up of strangers together on a food adventure.

TAKE THE KIDS

The Albuquerque Biological Park
903 10th St. S.W. (505) 764-6281
Albuquerque’s zoo consistently ranks as one of America’s best, and it’s not hard to see why. The exhibits are engaging and there are always new animal friends to meet. The BioPark includes the Albuquerque Aquarium and Rio Grande Botanic Garden and a free, three-pond beach for fishing. There are also model boats and pedal boats available for rent.

Outdoor Essentials: Best Places to ...

EXPERIENCE NATURE

Hike La Luz Trail
Off Forest Road 333/Tramway Road intersection
If golfing is too laid-back and cycling along the river is too much cardio for you, it’s time to tie on a pair of boots and head up the mountain. On the east side of the city loom the Sandia Mountains, and the 9-mile hike up La Luz guarantees both a test of one’s endurance and a great view of Albuquerque.

TAKE FIDO

Petroglyph National Monument
6001 Unser Blvd. N.W., (505) 899-0205
Sure, you’ll have to bring plenty of water and sunscreen (good rules to live by for any outdoor event in Albuquerque), but walking the trails of the monument with your pooch is all at once fun, good exercise and educational. There are an estimated 20,000 ancient carved images -- the term “petroglyph” literally means rock carving -- at the monument, as well as dormant volcanoes and a slew of wildlife.

ENJOY CITY VIEWS

Sandia Peak Tramway
10 Tramway Loop NE, (505) 856-7325
Ride up to the top of Sandia Peak via tramcar and you can see about 11,000 square miles of New Mexico. At night, the sweeping view of city lights in the valley below the mountain will make any evening memorable. The tramway is the world’s longest, running from the base of the mountain to its top, at 10,378 feet.

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