Albuquerque has spent its time in the spotlight recently as Walter White’s stomping grounds, but very few realize what great food and culture lie within.
The biggest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque is a melting pot of cultures, taking influence from it’s Native American, Mexican and Spanish roots, relishing in it’s uniqueness. If you don’t want to stand out like a total turista, here are a few tips about how to blend in with the locals.
To Get Your Kicks
Everyone’s heard of Route 66, but there are very few places in the country that still have the original neon signs it’s famous for. Albuquerque is one of those places.
If you’re into all things retro, you’ll love taking a drive down Route 66, known as Central Ave. Don’t forget, just east of Albuquerque, Route 66 has a set of rumble strips that play “America the Beautiful” when you drive over them, making it a truly musical highway.
Just down Central Ave, across from The University of New Mexico, make sure to stop at the barn-shaped Frontier restaurant for the best cinnamon roll in the entire Land of Enchantment. (2400 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106)
For the Best Undercover Breakfast Burrito
There is a diamond in the rough awaiting you, in the most unassuming drive-thru, fried chicken restaurant in Albuquerque. Golden Pride is well-known to locals as the best breakfast burrito in town. To even mention a #9 around a New Mexican is sure to elicit a stomach growl. (3720 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111)
For the Most Amazing Sky You’ll Ever See
Every October, thousands of balloonists from around the world descend on the city of Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta. Started in 1972, the Fiesta is truly a sight to behold, and is known for being the most photographed and largest annual international event in the world.
Locals know that the best time to see the sky filled with hundreds of balloons is right as the sun comes up.
To get the best experience, you’ll have to head to the Balloon Fiesta Park around 4 am, wrapped up in your warmest coats, and watch from the field, amongst the balloons.
Don’t forget to try the Tom Thumb donuts and some posole to warm you up! Go ahead, check this one off of your bucket list. (5000 Balloon Fiesta Pkwy NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113)
For the Pizza You’ll Miss When You Leave
Ask any New Mexican who has left the state what pizza they miss the most, and they’ll unequivocally answer, “Dion’s.” New Mexico takes great pride in its most famous and delicious export, green chile, and eat it with virtually everything.
Add spice and flavor to your Dion’s pizza with a green chile topping, and don’t forget their signature ranch dressing to save you from the burn! (10401 Montgomery Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111)
For the Nature-Lover
If you’re looking to get out and enjoy the Southwestern sun, take a stroll along the Rio Grande River on the 16-mile Paseo del Bosque Trail. Lined by large Cottonwood trees, public art installations and wildlife, you’ll begin to understand why this place is so magical. (Alameda & The Rio Grande River)
Dress Like This
Soccer Gear — Albuquerque has a large and exciting soccer community. Wear your soccer gear and everyone will assume you’ve just come from a tournament at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex. You may even find someone to play a pick-up game.
Hiking Boots — With the Sandia Mountains nestled on the east end of town, and the volcanoes on the west end, no one will be surprised to see you in your hiking boots. Whether you’re hiking around the Elena Gallegos trail or checking out the Petroglyphs, the outdoor possibilities are endless.
Zias — The Zia is a Native American symbol that graces the New Mexico flag. Grab a shirt with a Zia on it, and you’ll blend in perfectly. For a more permanent reminder of your trip to New Mexico, you’ll be the ultimate local if you come out with a Zia tattoo.
“Christmas” — There’s a dual meaning to this word in New Mexico. Sure, it’s the holiday (where copious amounts of tamales are eaten), but it also refers to your preference of chile.
When at a New Mexican restaurant, you’ll be asked if you’d like “green or red.” If you’d like both green and red chile, ask for “Christmas.” Trust me, it’s delicious.
How to Blow Your Cover
Asking how spicy the chile is. In New Mexico, pain is a flavor.
Why You’ll Want to Stay
Some say the sky is bigger in Albuquerque, and the sunsets are truly unparalleled. New Mexican food will fill you with spice and happiness, and leave you wanting more.
From pueblos to volcanic Petroglyphs, you’ll be wowed by the culture and history that New Mexico has to offer. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of green chile when you return.