Like its famed enchiladas drowned in blankets of red and green chile sauce, Albuquerque is swimming in traditional New Mexican restaurants. While the city has a strong culinary identity rooted in classic Southwestern flavors, its food scene is truly as diverse as its people. The restaurants that define it include low-key staples as well as buzzy trendsetters, all of which make Albuquerque one of the best places to eat in the region. These are the essential eats of ABQ.

January 2021 Update:

Public health orders in New Mexico have changed multiple times since the beginning of the pandemic, forcing Albuquerque restaurants to roll with the punches. By autumn, guests found a little bit of normalcy, regularly filling patios, socially distancing in dining rooms, and picking up bags of takeout. That feeling was short-lived. COVID numbers spiked dramatically in November, and the dining situation has been in flux ever since.

Many restaurants have placed their faith entirely in takeout, while others open patios and in-person dining as restrictions allow. All are doing their best. This list highlights restaurants around Albuquerque that have endured adversity, showing the city what it takes to stay afloat.

Note: The level of service is indicated for each restaurant as of press time, but check social media or call restaurants for updates. Although some restaurants may offer in-person service, their inclusion here should not be taken as an endorsement for dining in-person. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk to COVID-19 when outdoors, but the level of risk is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and safety guidelines. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the New Mexico Department of Health website.

Prices per person, excluding alcohol:
$ = Less than $10
$$ = $10 – $20
$$$ = $30 – $40
$$$$ = More than $40

Justin De La Rosa is a 30-something Albuquerque-based renaissance guy-of-sorts in the restaurant industry. He’s spent the better part of a decade writing about food and beverage trends in Albuquerque and Denver while bartending, serving tables, washing dishes, managing social media pages for restaurants and breweries, and straight up mingling with like-minded foodists around the country.

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