I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to passing thru Albuquerque on the way to Santa Fe: it’s essentially a spot to pick up your rental car, then off you go. But there’s more to this city than meets the eye. Albuquerque has alot to offer. Here are some of the cool things I came across.
I stayed in the newly renovated Hotel Andaluz in downtown. Originally opened in 1939, it was the first hotel built in New Mexico by Conrad Hilton. The room was spacious and up to date, the hotel underwent a $30 million renovation in 2009. It had a great restaurant and an intimate bar. The Andaluz was overflowing with character and I’d recommend it to anyone. www.hotelandaluz.com
Lunch that day was at a spot I’ve been wanting to try for years. Garcia’s Kitchen was everything I hoped it would be. There are several locations thru-out Albuquerque, the one I visited was on Central Ave, close to Old Town. Straight-forward New Mexican food served quickly and efficiently, I tried several things and each was great. Local color at its finest, Garcia’s Kitchen is a must stop if you’re looking for something with authenticity. www.garciaskitchen.com
I finished with work about 3pm and decided to head out to the Acoma Pueblo. Perched atop a small mesa about 1.5 hours west of Albuquerque, archaeologists agree it was built around 1200A.D. Nicknamed “Sky City”, Acoma is the oldest continuously inhabited
community in the U.S. There’s a museum and cultural center at the base of the mesa where you can learn a bit about the pueblo before taking a guided tour of the pueblo itself. I’ve collected Acoma pottery for years and it was fun to see where it all comes from. www.puebloofacoma.org
I wanted something more mainstream for dinner. I heard from some friends about a better Italian place called Scalo’s. I went, and I’m hooked! Fresh pastas with delicate sauces, interesting apps and outstanding hearty Italian entrees, it’s easily the best Italian fare I’ve come across in years. The bar was crowded, in a pleasant way, and the piano was being played by a middle aged guy who knew what he was doing. The wine list was extensive but approachable, and I’d go back in a heartbeat. http://www.scalonobhill.com/
The following day was more work with a bit of shopping thrown in. I visited one of my favorite stores anywhere, Cowboys and Indians. Located on Central Ave, it’s an easy spot
to get to if you’re on your way thru town. Filled with an outstanding selection of rustic, western and Native American art and artifacts, it’s a collectors dream. Blankets, bead work, jewelry, pottery, rugs and art as well as rustic odds and ends. The prices are fair, if a bit steep. They know what they have, and they only have the good stuff. www.cowboysandindiansnm.com
Across the street is a nicely edited antique shop called Morningside Antiques. They have a bit of everything. It’s all well
displayed and fairly priced. I can usually find an interesting pair of chairs here. Those who know me understand I have a thing for chairs, and more than a few of mine have come from Morningside. www.morningsideantiques.com
And before I knew it, my time exploring Albuquerque was over. My take-away is this: Albuquerque has alot to offer, if you give it a chance. Good food, interesting shopping and several better hotel options make this more than just a place to pass thru on the way to Santa Fe. It’s a great spot to spend a weekend.