Variation 2: Are you tired of the same old dining routine? It’s time to spice up your palate with an unforgettable culinary experience in Albuquerque.
We’ve scoured the city for the most exceptional eateries, uncovering the top 23 essential restaurants that will redefine your idea of dining out in 2023.
Whether you’re craving bold flavors or searching for unique twists on classic dishes, these establishments promise to deliver mouthwatering creations that will leave you begging for seconds. Buckle up and get ready to embark on an epicurean adventure like no other.
Campo at Los Poblanos
It’s no secret that Campo at Los Poblanos is considered one of the best restaurants in Albuquerque. The place has racked up considerable attention from the James Beard Foundation over the past few years, thanks to a seasonal menu of wood-fired dishes made with local ingredients. Items like carrot cavatelli with lemon-chicken sausage, green chile cream, charred carrots, and chicken skin crumbles are mainstays on the menu, while others rotate in throughout the year, like a roasted mushroom and goat cheese agnolotti with pecan romesco and blistered shishitos.
Barelas Coffee House
Campo at Los Poblanos, situated in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a culinary gem renowned for its farm-to-table dining experience.
Located at the historic Los Poblanos Inn and Organic Farm, Campo offers a seasonal menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, with a focus on sustainability and regional flavors. Guests can enjoy exquisite cuisine in a beautiful and tranquil setting.
505 Central Food Hall
Barelas Coffee House is a beloved and historic diner located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This local institution has been serving up classic New Mexican comfort food for decades.
Known for its hearty breakfast burritos, flavorful chile sauces, and friendly atmosphere, Barelas Coffee House is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the authentic flavors of New Mexico cuisine in a warm and welcoming setting.
El Modelo Mexican Foods
El Modelo has a full (and very good) menu, but this place could run on tamales alone if it needed to. They’re handmade daily, filled with your choice of pork with red chile or chicken with green chile. Step up to the counter and order your lunch, and then grab a seat alongside locals at the community tables to dig into your plate of tamales or enchiladas smothered with red chile and cheese. Pro tip: Show up to a potluck or a family gathering with a dozen tamales from El Modelo, and you’ll instantly be everyone’s favorite.
A truly outstanding bagel was hard to come by in Albuquerque until recently. This weekly bagel pop-up started in 2021 by offering online orders for pickup outside a commissary kitchen, and it has since shifted to two standing weekend dates in downtown Albuquerque: Saturdays at Zendo Coffee and Sundays at Gravity Bound Brewing.
You’ll find staples like sesame, onion, and everything bagels, but also unique rotating variations like blue corn bagels made with wild rice, herbes de Provence, Earl Grey tea, and local blue corn. Preorders go live on Wednesday mornings; stay up to date on Instagram so you don’t miss out.
Mary & Tito’s Cafe
Mary & Tito’s Cafe is a legendary family-owned restaurant located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Founded in 1963 by Mary and Tito Gonzales, it has become a local institution known for its outstanding New Mexican cuisine.
The restaurant is especially celebrated for its red and green chile sauces, tamales, enchiladas, and other traditional dishes.
Mary & Tito’s Cafe has received numerous awards and accolades for its delicious and authentic Southwestern flavors, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to savor the tastes of New Mexico.
Grove Cafe & Market
For more than 16 years, the Grove Cafe has been committed to serving its guests first-rate breakfast favorites in Albuquerque’s East Downtown neighborhood.
When it opened, there wasn’t anything quite like the Grove, which highlights sustainable and locally sourced dishes like a savory croque madame or a breakfast burrito with Tully’s Italian sausage, goat cheese, and green chile.
Today, those classics are joined by seasonal items on always interesting menus. Don’t forget to grab some cookies or pillowy English muffins from the market to tide yourself over until your next visit.
Just south of Route 66 in Albuquerque’s South Atrisco neighborhood, the chefs behind La Guelaguetza were named James Beard Award semifinalists for Best Chef: Southwest in 2022.
Beyond the lauded traditional Oaxacan food and mariscos, you’ll also find Mexican staples less common in this neck of the woods, like chapulines (crickets) and hormigos (ants). Don’t miss the savory birria tacos, tangy shrimp ceviche, and chicken mole.
Monte Carlo Steakhouse
As you enter the front door of Monte Carlo, you’ll find a package liquor store, but that’s only a front for the superb steakhouse and speakeasy that live in the back. The dimly lit dining room, with curved vinyl booths and walls adorned with Budweiser memorabilia, is an ideal place to enjoy a menu centered on grilled rib-eyes and green chile cheeseburgers. You’ll also find a number of Greek specialties, like pork kebabs, dolmas, and baklava.
Old-school fine dining is preserved at this Old Town steakhouse that has long been the celebratory spot of choice for anniversaries, engagements, and other major milestones. The tables are draped with black tablecloths (and aged charm) as waiters serve guests classics like beef carpaccio, oysters Rockefeller, and bacon-wrapped filet mignon crowned with bearnaise sauce. Even as the landscape changes around it, Restaurant Antiquity has maintained a classic style of dining without going out of style.
Sawmill Market is the largest food hall in Albuquerque, and it was the first of its kind when it opened in March 2020. Since then, Sawmill (with the help of its diverse assortment of more than 20 outlets) has established itself as a gathering place for both locals and travelers. You’ll find items like handmade pastas from Tulipani, sweet and savory waffles from XO Waffle, fresh poke bowls from Notorious P.O.K.E., and plenty of local libations throughout. Enjoy it all in the market hall or on the sprawling patio.
Disclaimer: The author of this article works as beverage manager at one of the Sawmill Market bars.
Duran Central Pharmacy
Part of the charm of this speakeasy-type restaurant, tucked in the back of an Old Town pharmacy, is the experience of sopping up red chile with a buttery tortilla among magazine racks and drugstore toys. Dining in at the restaurant, you can enjoy daily specials like the green chile chicken enchiladas, but it’s equally respectable to pick up some of Duran’s tamales to go and stash them in your freezer for when the chile craving inevitably strikes.
Farm & Table
While the label of farm-to-table dining gets applied pretty broadly these days, Farm & Table, located on a farm in the village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, is true to the practice. Owner Cherie Montoya entered the spotlight 10 years ago serving new American dishes with locally sourced touches, like a New Mexico rib-eye with radish, potatoes, eggplant, garlic, and sumac. Since then, many chefs have cut their teeth manning the burners here (including Steve Riley at Mesa Provisions and Sean Sinclair at Kin in Las Vegas, New Mexico), and Montoya has celebrated Farm & Table alumni with guest spots. While far off the beaten path of Route 66, Farm & Table has influenced the paths of many in the Albuquerque dining scene.
As an institution of college grub with a knack for New Mexican breakfast, Frontier is known for its sprawling dining rooms bustling with hungry students trying to ease into the day after a long night and professors fueling up for lectures at the nearby University of New Mexico. Sure, Frontier isn’t chef-driven or especially nuanced, but locals and tourists line up every day to dig into heavy-hitting breakfast burritos and the famous rolls generously dusted with cinnamon sugar and glistening in butter.
The Shop Breakfast and Lunch
At some restaurants, breakfast or brunch offerings are an afterthought, but the team at the Shop remembers which one is the most important meal of the day. Chef Israel “Izz” Rivera has been turning out some of the best daytime meals in the city for almost a decade. The chilaquiles are topped with roasted pork shoulder and swim in a savory red chile sauce, the kind of comfort food that regulars crave in the mornings, while the signature burger brings them back at midday. Keep an eye on the restaurant’s Instagram for when the Shop closes for extra-long weekends, part of Rivera’s efforts to always put his staff first and make sure they get well-deserved time off.
With chef Steve Riley manning the burners, Mesa Provisions has quietly climbed its way into the conversation about Albuquerque’s best restaurant. The Nob Hill spot continues to fine-tune new takes on American classics with Southwestern touches. The watermelon aguachile plays on fresh flavors and the slow burn of jalapeno, while the hearty smoked half chicken is served up in elevated New Mexican style with beans, red chile, pepita crema, and duck fat tortillas.
Gather/3128 Social House
This dual concept is housed in the former home of Nob Hill Bar & Grill. Chef Joe Anguiano — an alum of Michelin-starred restaurants, including Zuberoa in Spain — and co-owner Dustin Darnell gave the neighborhood mainstay new life in 2022. The cozier of the two spaces, Gather focuses on cocktails and small plates in an intimate setting, while 3128 Social House expands into larger-format dishes that are upscale but approachable, like beer can-roasted chicken with barley risotto and mushrooms.
M’tucci’s Bar Roma
After long-standing Nob Hill anchor Kelly’s Brew Pub was shuttered in 2020, M’Tucci’s Bar Roma filled the vacancy in the historic filling station-turned-restaurant space. After almost a year of renovations, the fifth location of the M’Tucci’s Italian restaurant group has rapidly become one of the most popular spots in the city, dishing up house-made pasta, salumi, and other Roman classics. Additionally, the team’s exclusive cocktail bar, Teddy Roe’s, tucked in the alley behind the restaurant, has made its own splash.
The praise for this innovative bar hasn’t stopped since Kate Gerwin, Blaze Montana, and Adrienne Miller opened Happy Accidents in 2021, especially after the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail festival named it Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar in 2022. With a sustainable bar program that limits bottle waste and heightens creativity, the Happy Accidents team turns out a cocktail menu of highballs, martinis, and more playful selections all in an eclectic, wildly decorated space. The bar also operates under a craft distiller’s license, so the team is able to customize every element of the cocktails. Additionally, a scratch kitchen helmed by Miller cranks out food inspired by New Mexican, Southern, and Asian cuisines. If it’s an accident that this trio landed a spot on a popping corner in Nob Hill, we’re all happier for it.
Ihatov Bread and Coffee
Nobutoshi “Nobu” Mizushima and Yuko Kawashiwo were named Outstanding Baker semifinalists in the 2022 James Beard Awards after opening their first brick-and-mortar shop in Nob Hill in 2020. Beloved by their customers, Mizushima and Kawashiwo crowdsourced more than $16,000 via a Kickstarter campaign to open the shop, where they are known for their savory breads and pastries. You’ll also see them sharing their baked treats at the Rail Yards Market and other pop-ups throughout the year.
Central Bodega is the newest addition to the growing lineup of what’s hot in Nob Hill. Jessica and Seth Beecher opened the concept in summer 2022, giving locals a little nook for an extensive wine list and craft cocktails to pair with salads, small bites, and light fare including mussels and house-made pastas. Thanks to the cozy digs and locale, people have quickly made Central Bodega their go-to spot for happy hour and weekend dates.
The cheeky name makes it clear: At Frenchish, you’re in for a menu of updated takes on French classics, as interpreted by chefs Jennifer James and Nelle Bauer. The upscale restaurant is a favorite for salade nicoise and steak frites, but it’s also known for the Frenchie Burger with caramelized onions, Gruyere, and Dijonnaise, plus an inventive vegetarian carrot hot dog.
Loyola’s Family Restaurant
A couple of blocks east of Nob Hill, Loyola’s Family Restaurant is a New Mexican-style diner housed in a midcentury modern building. The kitchen dishes up huevos rancheros smothered in chile, a hefty chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, and everything in between. Like any well-oiled machine, Loyola’s keeps the plates of comfort food consistent, hot, and quick.
Tin Can Alley
On Albuquerque’s north side, Tin Can Alley is a shipping container compound that hosts a number of food and beverage concepts from across New Mexico, similar to sister property Green Jeans Farmery. You can grab a beer from Santa Fe Brewing Company to enjoy with a Neapolitan pizza from Amore Pizzeria, a bowl of pho from Pho Kup, or signature Cubano sandwiches from Guava Tree Cafe.