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Local Favorites: Where to Find Great New Mexican Food in Albuquerque

The best New Mexican cuisine in Albuquerque, including fine dining, food trucks and mom-and-pop holes in the wall.

Local Favorites: Where to Find Great New Mexican Food in Albuquerque

Albuquerque's thriving food scene is a mix of high-end farm-to-table restaurants, more approachable and delicious food trucks, and of course, locals' favorite mom-and-pop diners and pop-ups churning out breakfast burritos smothered in red and green chile, just like you'd eat in a local's home.

Across each type of restaurant, one thing's for certain. When it comes to New Mexican-inspired cuisine, no city is doing it better than Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Visit Albuquerque spoke with local chefs like Jonathan Perno of James Beard fame, brewers like Missy Begay of Bow & Arrow, and locals like Hakim Bellamy, all to put together The Definitive List of the Best New Mexican Food in Albuquerque.

Jeff Erway of La Cumbre Brewing summed up the city's food ethos best: "I can eat dinner just about anywhere, but when it comes to breakfast, if you take me outside of New Mexico and you try to serve me eggs, I won't be very happy because I'll be like, 'Where the hell is the chile? I can't eat eggs without the chile; it's sacrilegious!'"

Sandia Pueblo Gas Station

Recommended by: Missy Begay

Missy Begay of Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. knows where to point visitors who are looking for food and crafts. “I would send you over to the Sandia Pueblo Gas Station for a mid afternoon snack. You could have a pueblo red chile tamale and then do a little shopping there for some native jewelry. You know, catch a snazzy turquoise necklace.”

El Pinto

Recommended by: Missy Begay, Scott Appelman

Scott Appelman is President of Rainbow Riders. When he's not floating above Albuquerque in a hot-air balloon, you can find him at a local eatery. "El Pinto restaurant probably has one of the best patios in the world, where you can just sit back in the valley in the middle of summer, with a cool breeze and trees blowing all around. It has great New Mexican food, and you can just sit and drink a margarita with views that are just sensational."

Pueblo Feast Day

Recommended by: Missy Begay

The Pueblos in New Mexico each have traditional feast days throughout the year, when some invite the public to celebrate with music, dance, art and of course lots of food. Missy Begay of Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. tells us, “I would say any Pueblo Feast Day has the best chile. There are 19 pueblos in New Mexico and they each have different Feast Days on certain holidays and they invite people to the pueblo to celebrate. They have the best green chile and the hottest.”

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Recommended by: Missy Begay

Food is part of culture, and Bow & Arrow Brewing’s Missy Begay has a unique suggestion for anyone looking for great chile. “I'd also say the local Indian Pueblo Cultural Center has really good chile.”

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Range Cafe

Recommended by: Paul Hunton

Many Albuquerque restaurants have a unique setting to go along with delicious food. Said Paul Hunton of Dust City Opera, "The Range is one of my favorite breakfast spots and it has a bunch of local art, a sort of a quirky decor. Honestly, it's got all the New Mexican favorites and great coffee."

Barelas Coffee House

Recommended by: Jeff Erway, Jonathan Perno, Hakim Bellamy, Tess Coats

We know locals are passionate about their food! For Hakim Bellamy, who works for the City of Albuquerque, the energy and setting in a restaurant are as important as the food. “I mean, the environment of the food to me matters as much as the taste of the food itself. I don't really want to eat New Mexican food in like some real clean industrial Art-deco kind of environment. I want the half-circle archways and the pueblo wall. I kind of want to look in the kitchen and see somebody's grandma, ya know. And Barelas Coffee Shop gives you that. That's when you know it's good because these people cook exactly like this at home.”

Barelas Coffee House

Casa de Benavidez

Recommended by: Jeff Erway, Robert Pimentel

Though his profession revolves around beer, Jeff Erway of La Cumbre Brewing knows his way around his city's restaurants. "Casa de Benavidez has really good food and it's really old-school. I think they've been around since the mid-1960s, with the same family that still runs it."

Casa de Benavidez

El Paisa

Recommended by: Jeff Erway, Hakim Bellamy

"The best tacos ever" is a bold statement, and Jeff Erway of La Cumbre Brewing does not throw this title around lightly. "El Paisa has the best tacos I've ever had in the U.S. El Paisa is like one of those places you're going to spend like $5 or $6 on lunch and you're going to leave really full and happy. They have fantastic tripa lengua, barbacoa, and a whole platter of different types of salsas and stuff."

Duran’s Station

Recommended by: Jeff Erway, Thomas Isole

Thomas Isole of Trifecta Coffee Company makes his suggestion for authentic breakfast food. "I love Duran's Station. It's great if you just want a really good, New Mexican style breakfast."

El Camino

Recommended by: Jeff Erway

La Cumbre's Jeff Erway recognizes the importance of history when it comes to great restaurants. "A great, authentic, New Mexican diner is El Camino. They're really proud of the fact that they've been around since the 1950's. I think that place is awesome."

Duran’s Central Pharmacy

Recommended by: Jason Greene, Julia Mandeville

Jason Greene, who's the Head Chef of The Grove, doesn’t mince his words when discussing his local favorite. "Duran's Central Pharmacy is a local New Mexican restaurant that's been around forever and ever. It's just killer New Mexican."

Duran's Central Pharmacy

El Modelo

Recommended by: Tertia Gillett, Tess Coats, Jeff Erway

There are certain restaurants that just symbolize the city in which they are located. As Jeff Erway of La Cumbre Brewing said, "El Modelo is one of those places you'd never find anywhere else besides for New Mexico. The chile is hot. It's the type of place that people here would say that the chile is made for the locals."

Garcia’s

Recommended by: Tertia Gillett

Tertia Gillett is the founder of Prismatic Coffee and knows that old-school diners are not yet a thing of the past in Albuquerque. "I love the old Route 66 diners, like Garcia's, where you can sit down and have everything smothered. You can get them handheld, to-go, with green chile inside. You can get your breakfast burritos smothered, where they just cover the whole thing in chile!"  

Monroe’s

Recommended by: Tertia Gillett

Tertia of Prismatic Coffee also understands the importance of a breakfast burrito in her home city. "At Monroe's, you can get the whole green chile breakfast burrito thing that people live off of here!"

Cafe 66

Recommended by: Cassie Adams

Cassie Adams is the owner of My Sweet Basil, a popular farm-to-table food truck in Albuquerque. "For off-the-beaten-path New Mexican food, get huevos rancheros at Cafe 66."

Padilla's Mexican Kitchen

Recommended by: Robert Pimentel

Robert Pimentel leads Pimentel & Sons Guitars. He knows where to find quality fare when he isn’t designing and building classical guitars. "Padilla's is one of the best New Mexican restaurants you'll find, with great red chile."

Mary and Tito’s Cafe

Recommended by: Jonathan Perno, Thomas Isole

As the executive chef of Campo at Los Poblanos Inn, Jonathan Perno knows his way around his hometown dining scene. “Mary & Tito's Cafe is a major institution here. They're a James Beard winner, just for being in the industry and doing what they do for such a long time. They've won awards for that, and it's all completely authentic New Mexican."

Perea’s New Mexican Restaurant

Recommended by: Jonathan Perno, Thomas Isole

Jonathan Perno of Campo at Los Poblanos Inn knows where to find the real, down-to-earth, home cooked meals. "For a late breakfast, there's this place called Perea's New Mexican Restaurant, which is very popular. It's been around for a really long time. They do more New Mexican style, mom is in the kitchen type cooking."

Barbacoa El Primo

Recommended by: Jason Greene

Jason Greene and his wife Lauren lead The Grove Cafe & Market, and even though they're industry insiders, they still find local, authentic spots that they never knew existed. "We recently found Barbacoa El Primo for breakfast and we love it. It's an old, renovated fast-food restaurant that does takeout service only. It's traditional tacos - barbacoa - and that's really what they have, is breakfast burritos and barbacoa tacos. It's really amazing because they've got mariachi music playing and you just sit out on the patio and eat a lot of tacos!"

El Patio

Recommended by: Hakim Bellamy, Julia Mandeville

Hakim Bellamy with the City of Albuquerque prefers both food and ambiance when he goes out to eat. “I like to go to El Patio. It's in an old building. I mean, the environment of the food to me matters as much as the taste of the food itself."

Tomasita’s

Recommended by: Tess Coats

Tess Coats is the owner of Spur Line Supply Co. In describing her Ideal 24-hours in Albuquerque, she shared, "I'd finish my perfect day off with dinner at Tomasita's Albuquerque, for the well-rounded New Mexican and Albuquerque local experience."

El Dorado

Recommended by: Tess Coats

For fresh baked goods, Tess Coats of Spur Line Supply Co. suggests El Dorado. "A great place for New Mexican food is El Dorado, which is a small bakery in Barelas."

K&I Diner

Recommended by: Tess Coats

While traditional, short-order-cook-style eateries are becoming a thing of the past, Tess Coats of Spur Line Supply Co. knows where these old-fashioned places survive. "Barelas Coffee House and K&I Diner are the spots. The greasier and grittier spots like those are where you get the traditional experience."

Loyola's Family Restaurant

Recommended by: Pilar Westell

Pilar Westell is the owner of Zendo Coffee and mirrors Tess Coats' sentiments when discussing the beauty of her city's diner culture. "I would send any traveler to Loyola's Family Restaurant for breakfast. It's this really cool, very authentic, New Mexican, mom and pop diner, where all the ladies there call you 'honey,' and they just have really good food. I'd definitely go there for breakfast!"

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