Albuquerque is a laid-back city—there’s no denying that. Beer is the drink of choice, with a craft brewery around every corner, and you’re encouraged to add the local pride—green or red chile—to your order, whether it’s a pizza or your breakfast sandwich.
Food truck and taco options abound, but there are also shockingly brilliant waffles and a James Beard Award–nominated chef making carrot dogs. If you’ve overlooked the central New Mexico city in favor of the more Instagram-able Santa Fe, think twice next time you find yourself out in the Southwest. There’s a lot to love in Albuquerque. Here’s a taste:
For Weekend Brunch: Farm & Table
The very beautiful, tranquil Farm & Table is located in the North Valley area, and some of what they serve here was grown right behind the restaurant itself. From an autumn scramble (eggs or tofu) to a hearty serving of enchiladas and eggs with pinto beans, green or red chile and tortilla, you can go light or heavy and be happy with either. Don’t skip the farm fries, though.
For Weekday Breakfast: The Grove Café & Market
They open at 7 a.m. here and get busy no matter what day of the week it is, so swing in early, pick up a copy of the local Edible Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, and order a satisfying steel cut oat bowl or a breakfast sandwich on a housemade English muffin. Here, like many places in the city, there is clear pride in using local, organic ingredients.
For a Fancyish Dinner: Frenchish
The playful menu by lauded chef Jennifer James is in the cute and cool Nob Hill area, near the University of New Mexico. I’d recommend getting to this spacious, comfortable restaurant during happy hour, when you get incredible prices on dishes like the vegetarian carrot dog, devilish eggs, bar salad and crunchy, cornmeal-crusted fried cornichons. When it’s dinnertime, do an unbeatable three-course $25 prix fixe dinner that ends with a chocolate pot de crème.
For a Vegan, Gluten-Free Waffle: Tia B’s La Waffleria
There are many, many options here for waffle lovers—but I’m partial to the Bombay Coconut, a vegan, gluten-free waffle topped by mango puree, toasted coconut and a cardamom-coconut whipped cream, and accompanied by a half a mango. The waffle isn’t dry, either, as the rice-coconut flour blend makes it fluffy and moist.
For Tacos and House-Made Paletas: El Cotorro
Just around the corner from La Waffleria is El Cotorro, which you can’t miss owing to its excellent Lotería-inspired signage. There’s a major hot sauce bar, daily soups and (of course) some truly excellent tacos. Try the fried nopales.
For a Food Hall Experience: Green Jeans Farmery
What looks like a stack of shipping containers is, yes, a stack of shipping containers, but it’s also home to a ton of little food businesses, a brewery and a local distillery’s tasting room. Everyone loves pizza from Amore, which you should definitely top with green chiles, and Bocadillos’ sandwiches and burritos by chef Marie Yniguez, who recently won Chopped.
For a Salad: Vinaigrette
When you’ve been stuffing yourself with breakfast sandwiches, pizza and tacos, you might want a salad. For that, Vinaigrette is the perfect stop. The menu divides the options up by flavor profile: Bright & Zippy, Savory, A Little Sweet and In Balance, so that you can choose the right match for your mood. The Asian Chopped Salad offers a big dose of noodles, while the Spinach-Mushroom gives you a solid, protein-packed lunch.
For Pupusas to Soak Up the Beer: Gobble This
As noted, Albuquerque is a beer city. Follow Gobble This, an Ecuadorian food truck by chef Nestor Lopez, to find out which brewery they’ll be outside of and do not miss their pupusas, burritos, tacos and sliders—all given a tasty twist in nods to his heritage.