When you visit Albuquerque, you’re visiting the food hall capital of the state. And with 310+ days of sunshine, sampling delicious local cuisine while marveling at outdoor sceneries of mountains, gardens, and the sky is something to be delighted about.
With Albuquerque’s diverse, authentic New Mexican cuisine, Native American fusion, fine French fare, and Asian delights, there’s no doubt your palette will be satisfied no matter where you dine in the city. It’s a bonus if you like chile peppers because it’s the basis of traditional New Mexican cuisine.
Albuquerque (also known as ABQ) is the largest city in New Mexico and comprises several districts. I spent my time in Old Town, where I stayed at the quaint Desert Compass. And also enjoyed restaurants in Downtown and North Valley.
If you like viewing beautiful flowers from your table, listening to the birds sing, and overlooking the city with mountains as the backdrop, may I suggest reserving a table outdoors? You can’t beat eating on an outdoor patio on a beautiful day.
Note: If you’re planning on visiting the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October, dinner reservations are a must.
These restaurants are in no particular order.
I was hosted by Visit Alburquerque. All opinions are my own.
1. Sawmill Market
The first food hall in the state, and from the looks of it when I was there, it’s going to get larger and more prominent. Sawmill Market houses 27 (as of date) individual local eateries, a brewpub, a cocktail and wine bar, a coffee bar, and a fresh flower merchant. You can grab your meal and enjoy it outside in “The Yard,” the outdoor dining and play space with outdoor games and tables in the shade or plenty of inside seating for your enjoyment.
I had difficulty choosing what I wanted to eat until I saw Meso Grill — a Mediterranean eatery. I’m a water drinker by choice, but I splurged on a Turkish orange soda. There are various food merchants — from hamburgers to pasta to sushi — and a taco eatery which was my second choice. Most merchants open at 11 a.m., and that’s the best time to go.
- Traveler’s Choice: Green chile cheeseburger at Dr. Field Goods
- Gluten-Free Option: Arepas at Cacho’s Latin Flavor
- Must-Try: Ube (purple) soft serve in a Taiyaki cone
Pro Tip: Before going, peruse the online menu of every eatery to see what is available.
2. Farm And Table
Farm & Table is a picturesque 12-acre property serving fresh, delicious food from area farmers, ranchers, and their own garden on the premises. Guests can enjoy great views of the flower garden on their award-winning patio. The sunflowers were showing off when I was there, and I enjoyed the view as I dined on a seasonal entree of delicious rockfish, shrimp, and clams in a tomato-based vegetable soup.
Its seasonal menu depends on what’s growing in the garden and is available from local gardeners. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner only.
- Summer Small Plate: Farmer’s Salad with Sunflower Green Goddess
- Travelers Choice: Anything from the seasonal menu
- Wine Indulgence: ’17 C.V.N.E. Cune Rioja Reserva — Rioja, Spain
Pro Tip: Reservations are not required but are highly suggested as they can get quite busy at times.
3. Campo At Los Poblanos
Visit Campo at Los Poblanos for brunch serving organic food from the garden. Brunch is from 8:30 a.m. to noon, then they open back up for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. It’s a casual atmosphere, and the flower garden views are so pretty. Save some time to check out the Farm Shop and walk around the property grounds to see the lavender (if in season).
- Local Favorite: Farm Breakfast or eggs Benedict
- Indulgent Drink: Anything with lavender
- Side Dish Option: Stone fruit salad with farm greens
4. Level 5 At Hotel Chaco
You’ll experience a seasonal menu and incredible mountain views of the Sandias at Level 5 Rooftop at Hotel Chaco. Everything was impressive, from the hotel lobby to the walk up to the rooftop and the delectable crispy seared salmon I ordered. And eating on the rooftop while marveling at the Sandia Mountains made it all the better. You may want to dress nicely if going here.
- For Starters: Avocado hummus
- Traveler’s Choice: Any dish with butterfly pea rice (the blue stuff)
- Wine: Reds
Pro Tip: Reservations are for in-house guests only except for holidays, when special menus are served. They will accommodate other dining guests based on availability.
5. Golden Crown Panaderia
This father-son neighborhood bakery has served the area since 1972. Known for its green chili bread, Golden Crown Panaderia is a must-stop in Old Town, Albuquerque. The bakery was featured on the Food Network when Guy Fieri visited for his show. He loved the blue corn pizza.
- Celebrity’s Choice: Blue Corn Pizza
- Must-Try: Green chile bread
- To-Go: Biscochitos (New Mexico cookie)
6. D.H. Lescombes Winery And Bistro
If I had to pick a favorite place to dine and enjoy the outdoor patio, D.H. Lescombes Winery and Bistro would be it. I felt welcomed the second I walked in the door. From the first greeting to opening up the back patio just for the waitress at my table to explaining the menu to me and what her favorite wines were at the bistro, it was excellent service from the start. I felt I had found a friend — she was that kind.
I do enjoy wine flights with my meals. She suggested the Custom Flight since I’d never been there, but I stuck to my reds because I do not like sweet wines. Wines by the glass are also available from the extensive wine menu.
There is plenty of outdoor seating with two patios, one on each side of the restaurant and both with shade.
- Sharable App: Signature Nosh
- To Eat: Soup & salad with any homemade vinaigrette
- Special Experience: Order a wine flight. If you’re a newbie, get the Custom Flight with four of their best wines.
7. MAS – Tapas Y Vino At Hotel Andaluz
Tapas are appetizers that are meant to be shared. I did not know what tapas were or what to order, so I asked the waitress if the chef could choose for me. I told her what I liked, and the chef did the rest. The menu was quite overwhelming to me with so many choices. You can view the menu online.
To enjoy MAS – Tapas y Vino as I did, make your reservation for the Ibiza Rooftop Lounge, where you’ll have views of downtown Albuquerque. Below is what I was served.
- Tapa 1: Toasted bread with Moroccan butter
- Tapa 2: Gambas al ajillo con chorizo
- Tapa 3: Cast iron mushrooms
- Tapa 4: Moroccan beef noodle
- Dessert: Eggnog tres leches cake
Did I eat all this? No way! My time here was more of an experience than anything else.
Pro Tip: Be sure to peek into the lobby area of Hotel Andaluz for its intimate seating areas and unique design features.
8. Albuquerque Bike And Taco Tour
We biked for 5 miles on Central Avenue, part of Route 66, near the Rio Grande, and down beautiful roads with tall trees. It was so spectacular that I can’t wait to visit again to repeat the same route. We stopped at three taco shops. The first place we stopped was my favorite and is always on the bike tour. The taco joints may change, but Old Town Farm doesn’t, and I can see why. Just look at what we had!
- Local Favorite: Chicken tacos
- Must-Have: Watermelon salad
- Thirst Quencher: Watermelon Spritz
9. The Grove Cafe And Market
For a lovely breakfast on the patio, go to The Grove Cafe & Market. You’ll place your order at the indoor counter then find your favorite spot on the patio. Meals are brought to you by staff. There is as much seating outside as there is inside. The morning sun was out, but not shining on the patio when I was there. It was delightful, as was my breakfast. I highly recommend ordering what I did — an excellent traveler’s choice.
- Traveler’s Choice: Avocado toast
- Drink: Hot peppermint tea
- Market Spend: A greeting card for a friend
Pro Tip: Long lines wrapped around the patio starting around 10 a.m., so get there early.
Bonus: El Pinto Restaurant
There is one restaurant I couldn’t get to that was on my list. It’s El Pinto Restaurant, and they serve local favorite authentic New Mexico cuisine with recipes derived from the owners’ grandmother, including her recipe for green chile sauce. I can’t believe I went to Alburquerque and didn’t sample its Mexican food! El Pinto is located in North Valley and has a lovely outdoor seating area with live music. I was told that the red chile ribs are a must-try… and that’s an appetizer!
Pro Tip: From a local: If your waiter asks you, “green or red?” You can answer either, but if you want to be like a local, you answer, “Christmas.” Let me break it down for you. Green is green chile, red is red chile, and Christmas is both!