At the crossroads of the Southwest, Albuquerque buzzes with history and culture, nurturing ethnic restaurants, offbeat galleries, quirky cafes, and raging nightclubs. Rte. 66 may no longer appear on maps, but it’s alive and kicking here. The mythic highway radiates a palpable energy that gives shops, restaurants, and bars a distinctive spirit found nowhere else in the state. Downtown Albuquerque may lack East Coast elegance, but it has a cosmopolitan feel of its own, fed by a unique combination of students, cowboys, bankers, and government employees.
Route 66 is known in Albuquerque as Central Avenue. It is the main thoroughfare of the city and runs through all of its major neighborhoods. Central Ave. runs east-west, while I-25 runs north-south; the two divide Albuquerque into quadrants. All downtown addresses come with a quadrant designation: northeast, northwest, southeast, or southwest. The campus of the University of New Mexico (UNM) spreads along Central Ave. from University Ave. to Carlisle Street. Nob Hill, the area of Central Ave. around Carlisle St., features coffee shops, bookstores, and galleries. Downtown lies on Central Ave., between 10th Street and Broadway. Old Town Plaza sits between San Felipe, North Plaza, South Plaza, and Romero.
When the railroad cut through Albuquerque in the 19th century, it missed Old Town by almost 2mi. As downtown grew around the railroad, Old Town remained untouched until the 1950s. Though a tourist trap, Old Town is an architectural marvel, and a stroll through it is worthwhile. To the northeast, the Albuquerque Museum showcases four centuries of New Mexican art and history. The Univerisity of New Mexico campus also has a couple of delightfully free museums worth a quick visit. Not to mention, Albuquerque is home to one of the top zoos in the nation.
Though you can surely stumble upon some gem in Albuquerque, we have come up with the list of must-sees to make sure you make the most of your time. Click the links to explore and book tours or local guides.
A diverse ethnic community, hordes of hungry interstate travelers, and a load of green chilis render the cuisine of Albuquerque surprisingly tasty. The area around UNM is the best bet for inexpensive eateries. A bit farther east, Nob Hill is a haven for yuppie fare, including avocado sandwiches and iced cappuccinos.
Strongly influenced by Mexican cuisine, Southwestern grub relies on the Mexican foodstuffs of corn, flour, and chilies. Salsa made from tomatoes, chiles (especially New Mexico’s famous hatch chilies), and tomatillos adds a spicey note to nearly all dishes, like quesadillas, chiles rellenos, and tacos.
Albuquerque is an oasis of interesting bars, jamming nightclubs, art-house cinemas, and university culture. Check flyers posted around the university area. Most nightlife is near Central Ave., downtown, and near the university; Nob Hill establishments tend to be the most gay-friendly.
If you’re looking for a change from honky-tonk, Albuquerque is an oasis of interesting bars, jamming nightclubs, art film houses, and college life. During the first week of October, hundreds of aeronauts take flight in colorful hot-air balloons during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Even the most grounded of souls will enjoy the week’s barbecues, musical events, and the sublime spectacle of a sky full of hot air balloons.
In the US, good table manners means quiet eating. Loud chewing, talking with food in your mouth, or slurping are seen as rude, and burping or flatulence is not seen as complementary to the chef. Servers at sitdown restaurants usually expect to be tipped 15-20%.
Dress in the US tends to be more modest than in Europe. Toplessness, particularly in women, should be avoided. Many establishments will require a customer to wear a shirt and shoes. The most acceptable forms of public affection are hugging and holding hands; kissing in public will usually draw some glances. Although most cities are tolerant of homosexuality, gay or lesbian couples should be aware that they may receive unwanted attention for public displays of affection, especially in rural areas. Also, note that many American will say “see you later” without really intending to make future plans.
One of the most offensive gestures in the US is extending your middle finger at someone. Known as “giving someone the finger,” this gesture is considered not only rude, but obscene. On the other hand, a “thumbs up” gesture is a sign of approval and a widely recognized signal for hitchhiking, which Let’s Go does not recommend.