Destination Albuquerque | Best New Mexican Food Restaurants

During the last couple weeks in May and the beginning of June, Joni and I had the pleasure of sampling many of Albuquerque’s best restaurants. Our “culinary journey” took us all over, and, after three weeks of delicious food(plus a few well-paired drinks!), we’ve decided one post just isn’t enough. Below you’ll find pictures and stories from restaurants specializing in New Mexican cuisine. In turn, you can check out all things non-New Mexican in our next entry. Enjoy!


El Patio de Albuquerque

Frankly, I may be spoiling the rest of our list by putting El Patio first. This place checks off plenty elements of a great restaurant. Just the food alone sets it apart, but the outdoor seating plus the New Mexican sun take it over the top.

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Walking through the blue gate into El Patio feels like you’re heading to Grandma’s house during the holidays. It’ll probably be one of the best meals of your year served to you by people who are practically family!

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Warning: the salsa is hot! It’s well worth it, though, if you enjoy a little heat. Either way, you can get the chips and put some honey on them instead (which is a great method to reduce the heat left over from the salsa as well).

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Above is Joni’s main dish – the stuffed sopapilla. It’s her favorite to get here, and it may even be her “all-time” favorite meal of any restaurant, Albuquerque and beyond. Filled with refried beans and Wisconsin cheddar cheese and topped with the best red chile in town, you cannot go wrong with this choice. I’d recommend at least one person at your table getting it. Dining alone? Well, I just ordered for you!

For my main dish, I ordered the “El Patio Combination.” It’s a great way to sample a few different platters without ordering too much food (though it will still leave you full!). The best part was definitely the Chile Relleno mixed with the potatoes, which are seasoned to perfection and served in a similar style to home fries. The combination also comes with a couple enchiladas and a taco all covered in either red or green chile sauce.

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My favorite food-related part of the El Patio experience are the dessert sopapillas, which are complementary with every plate. Seen on the left above, the warm, hollow rolls are meant to be topped with the locally harvested honey sitting at every table. One is usually enough considering the main plate portions are on the large side!


Frontier Restaurant

In business right across the street from the University of New Mexico on Central Ave (aka Route 66), Frontier is a staple of Albuquerque cuisine. It’s not exactly fine dining — food is ordered a la carte-style and is prepped and served like fast food. However, each dish holds its own with other restaurants around the city but for a much cheaper price. Joni will tell you the breakfast burrito is actually the best in the city, and many people agree!

Follow us on Instagram! Above is the famed yellow rooftop seen from a building on the university of New Mexico’s campus across the street.

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Pictured above is the breakfast burrito I mentioned before. It’s always served with green chile on the inside but has nothing on top. Take note: most people don’t realize Frontier has a giant crock pot of warm homemade salsa around the condiments area. Take the time to find it and grab at least a cup to dip or pour onto whatever you get.

Below you’ll see the green chile stew, which is a personal favorite of mine. It’s great at any time of the year, but if you’re in the area during a cold spell, it becomes a “must!”

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Range Cafe

Looking for your red and green chile fix but with a dash of classic Americana? Range Cafe is the place for you! With a few locations dotted around the Albuquerque area, driving distance isn’t an excuse! Each spot is consistently great, but why not try them all just to be sure?

The menu at Range can be a little overwhelming with all the choices. It’s the kind of place that serves breakfast well into lunchtime and beyond, so you’ll have plenty of directions for your taste buds to go. While we are sure everything on the menu is fantastic, Joni and I recommend getting their award-winning Huevos Rancheros.

It’s essentially a mashup of eggs cooked as you like (Joni prefers scrambled), white cheddar, Range fries (again, similar to home fries), pinto beans, all served on top of a blue corn tortilla. You also get your choice of chile (red or green) served on top or the side. If you’d like both red AND green sauces like I do, just say the word “Christmas,” and your server will know (this works anywhere in New Mexico, by the way. everyone there knows “Christmas” = mix of red and green chile).

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That’s it for our take on Albuquerque’s New Mexican food scene! Be sure to check out this page should you end up in Albuquerque with a hunger for something local, and stay tuned for our next blog, which continues with the Duke City (but minus the chile!).

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