Albuquerque Is a Food Lover’s Dream. These Are the Best Places to Eat and Drink There.

This New Mexican city is a lot more than just chilelandia.

Three people toasting with drinks on the rooftop at Level 5 at Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque

The Level 5 rooftop bar at Hotel Chaco is one of the best places in Albuquerque to say cheers at sunset.

Courtesy of Hotel Chaco

I was recently in Albuquerque to record an episode of our Unpacked by AFAR podcast. The episode was about the city’s outdoor spaces and how they’ve been protected over the years. I met local historians, explored the Paseo del Bosque trail, and even interviewed a hot air balloon pilot—while flying in a balloon. But the narrative that surprised me the most was around food. Yes, there are fantastic chiles, but the city offers far more. It has a thriving Vietnamese culinary scene. It has a generation of new winemakers building on New Mexico’s wine-making tradition. (It’s the oldest wine-producing region in the United States.) It has a young Native farming community. And so much more. Here’s how to take advantage of this Southwestern city’s culinary bounty.

Where to eat

El Patio

Red or green? It’s the official state question, shorthand for, “Do you want red or green chiles?” In this case, “chile” traditionally refers to the sauce served with whatever dish you’re ordering. Find out which one you like best at El Patio, a classic joint opened in 1977, which offers dishes like frito pie, chile relleno, and its famous green chile enchiladas. One last chile hint: To try both, just ask for “Christmas.”

A server at Indian Pueblo Kitchen delivers three plates of enchiladas and more, with seated diners in background

Taste the 19 pueblos of New Mexico at Indian Pueblo Kitchen.

Courtesy of Indian Pueblo Kitchen

Indian Pueblo Kitchen
Located inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the casual Indian Pueblo Kitchen restaurant offers an easy way to tour New Mexico’s 19 pueblos through food. (The pueblo people are New Mexico’s original inhabitants, and each pueblo is a sovereign nation.) On my visit, I swear I ate half the menu. We started with the blue corn–crusted fried Kool-Aid pickles, tasted our way through several stews, including the killer red chile beef bone posole, worked our way up to blue corn enchiladas, and rounded things off with a slice of peach pie. The perfect way to end, or kick off, a visit to the cultural center.

Sawmill Market

It’s choose-your-own-adventure dining at this polished food hall—one of three in the city—located in what was once (surprise) a sawmill. There are almost 30 restaurants and food merchants in Sawmill Market, including Hot Pizza (wood-fired pies), Dr. Field Good’s Burgers (comfort food with a New Mexican spin), and Little Madrid (paella, Basque cheesecake), plus a couple of cocktail bars, an excellent coffee shop, and other options.

The exterior of Campo restaurant at Los Poblanos in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at night, surrounded by tall trees

The Campo restaurant at Los Poblanos is open air, with views of mountains.

Photo by Doug Merriam


I can’t recommend a stay at Los Poblanos enough, but if you can’t manage a night, at least have dinner at Campo. Under chef Christopher Bethoney, the restaurant uses ingredients grown on site, plus seasonal products from mostly New Mexican producers. The menu changes frequently, but the grilled New Mexican beef is a highlight, as is anything with corn. Plus, it has a strong list of New Mexican wines. Don’t miss the Farm Shop, which sells coffee, bonkers-good pastries, and a whole host of delicious things to bring home, including the inn’s new botanical-infused gins.

Coda Bakery

When a local food writer tells you that Coda serves the best bánh mì sandwich he’s ever had, you listen. At this Vietnamese spot, they use local ingredients to craft gorgeous spring rolls, noodle bowls, and sandwiches (try the shrimp sausage). Rounding out the menu are smoothies and traditional Vietnamese coffees.

Mesa Provisions

Steve Riley is another local chef focusing heavily on New Mexican–grown food, and at his Central Avenue Mesa, he transforms it into things like chicken-fried quail, trout with a citrus beurre blanc and pickled mushrooms, and a magical, miso-accented charred cabbage dish. I sat at the bar, where I got to chat with the bartenders, and Steve himself—a 2024 James Beard semifinalist—as I sipped on a local sparkling wine and snacked on green chile–studded cheddar biscuits. A must-visit!

A bowl of red chile–flecked menudo stew at Barelas Coffee House.

The menudo is one of the many dishes Barelas Coffee House is famous for.

Courtesy of Barelas Coffee House

Barelas Coffee House

The Barelas neighborhood is one of the oldest communities in Albuquerque, and in many ways, it is the city’s Latin heart. It’s home to the National Hispanic Cultural Center, as well as the revered Barelas Coffee House, a restaurant opened in 1978 by longtime resident Michael Gonzales. Try classic dishes like huevos rancheros, enchiladas, and the very popular menudo, a traditional Mexican soup made here with tripe and red chile paste (and with the reputed power to cure hangovers). One of the restaurant’s many claims to fame: Barack Obama once dined here.

Soo Bak Seoul Bowl

This popular spot started as a food truck, and locals loved it so much, chef-owner John Katrinak went brick and mortar. At Soo Bak, he used both his mother and grandmother’s recipes to craft the Korean–New Mexican menu, which ranges from classic bibimbap with kimchi and rice to the New Mexican bowl with spicy pork, green chile, and Korean pepper sauce.

Where to drink

A glass of Bow & Arrow beer on white countertop

Bow & Arrow makes super creative beers, such as a s’mores-flavored, barrel-aged imperial stout.

Courtesy of Bow & Arrow Brewing

Bow & Arrow Brewing

Bow & Arrow is the first Native women–owned brewery in the United States. Owners Missy Begay and her wife, Shyla Sheppard, use Southwestern ingredients—often Indigenous ones, purchased locally—to craft creative, tasty beers. Beers like the Denim Tux, a nod to the official wardrobe of the Southwest, is made with blue corn from the Santa Ana Pueblo. Plus, through their annual Native Land Initiative, they brew a beer to acknowledge the land of the Tiwa people that the brewery sits on, share the recipes with breweries around the country, and donate all proceeds to local Native American nonprofits.

La Cumbre

Play foosball, grab some food, and enjoy fan favorites like the Elevated IPA at this longtime local brewery, which takes its name from the Spanish word for “summit.” La Cumbre founder and brewer Jeff Erway rotates in seasonal brews like the Tonal Bliss IPA, but his goal is to really dial in the classics. He also has a second location that only serves beer.

The Copper Lounge

At this queer friendly bar, the vibes are speakeasyish and the cocktails are creative. Sit beneath the copper ceiling—hey, it’s the Copper Lounge!—and sip on an El Mezcalero (pineapple juice, mezcal, ginger) or a Kentucky Ninja (Japanese whisky, bourbon, lemon). Or sit in the lounge, where they screen old-timey movies. Small bites, such as Sonoran dogs and elote, are also available.

Overhead view of cocktail with an ice cube inscribed "get happy" in black script at Happy Accidents

Happy Accidents makes some of the best cocktails in the nation.

Courtesy of Happy Accidents

Happy Accidents

You know you’ll get a good drink when the people who run it were named the best bar team at the 2023 Spirited Awards, the most prestigious bar award. (You may also recognize Happy Accidents co-owner Kate Gerwin from her appearance on Netflix’s Drink Master). Choose from more than 40 cocktails, from the spirit-free Chris Barley (roasted buckwheat, garam masala, hops) to the very spirited Dirty Talk (kind of like a dirty martini, but with olive, garlic, leek, and rosemary gins).

Teddy Roe’s

Another excellent watering hole, this one a true speakeasy. I won’t reveal how to find Teddy Roe’s, because that’s half the fun, but your adventuring (which may or may not begin in a bakery . . . ) will be rewarded with a hefty list of elevated, creatively named cocktails, like the blueberry-infused Blues on Michigan Avenue or green tea–accented take on a milk punch called the Genuine Risk. Or ask one of the bartenders—one may just be co-owner Jessica O’Brien—to whip you up something special.

Zendo Coffee

Sometimes you need a brew of a different sort, and Zendo Coffee (there are two locations) hits the spot. The café doubles as an art gallery, so you’ll always have something to look at while you savor your Aztec latte (dark chocolate, cayenne) or Regis (double shot, sparkling water, house-made whipped cream). Plus, the pastries from the Witching Flour Bakery are fantastic, even the gluten-free doughnuts.

Where to eat, drink, and be outside

Overhead view of drink with lime and plate of two tacos at a stop along the Routes bike and taco tour in Albuquerque

Eat tacos at three different stops on the Routes bike and taco tour.

Photo by Aislyn Greene

Bike and Taco tour with Routes

Albuquerque has some excellent trails, so don’t miss an opportunity to see the city on two wheels. Routes, located in Old Town, rents bikes, but it also offers guided tours, from those that focus on murals to those that focus on Breaking Bad filming locations. The newest offering is the ABQ Bike & Taco tour, which takes you to three different taco spots, with cycling breaks in between.

Level 5 at Hotel Chaco

There’s no better panoramic view in the city than the one at the top of Hotel Chaco, located across the street from the Sawmill Market. On a sunny day (and there are many of them in Albuquerque), its Level 5 rooftop restaurant is the place to be for sunset. And the food and drinks match the view—on my visit, I watched the sun dip below the horizon as I sipped an Old-Fashioned and ate the Asparagus Calabacitas, a mix of summer squash and asparagus accented with a swirl of red chile gel and served with tortillas.

Aislyn Greene is the associate director of podacsts at AFAR, where she produces the Unpacked by AFAR podcast and hosts AFAR’s Travel Tales podcast. She lives on a houseboat in Sausalito.
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