chilesThe state question in New Mexico is: red or green? They’re asking whether you prefer your meal with red chile or green chile. If you don’t know, opt for the local custom and ask for “Christmas.” That will get the waiter to bring you both.

You’ll even find chiles in the fudge and candy made and sold by The Candy Lady (there’s an over-18 room that sells anatomically correct cookies).

Don’t leave town without a visit to El Pinto. This Albuquerque institution offers some of the best New Mexican food we had on a press trip sponsored by the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau. Try the red chile enchiladas topped with a fried egg. Yum.

As long as you’re not driving, have a Silver Coin Margarita. If you don’t know much about tequila, ask for Jim Garcia, the director of operations, first-rate storyteller and tequila encyclopedia. Once you get him talking, keep him going by ask him to tell you his F-16 fighter jet story.


frybreadNo matter what Mexican restaurant you try, get the sopapillas and eat them with honey an powdered sugar. There’s also fry bread, a Native American specialty you can find at stands alongside the road.

Albuquerque is on the Mother Road, so get your breakfast kicks at Route 66 Diner or a burger and handcrafted beer at Kelly’s Brew Pub. If you need more meat than a burger can offer, opt for the Tucanos Brazilian Grill, a churrasco that also grills shrimp, chicken, spicy sausage and the yummiest pineapple that has ever melted in my mouth. For dessert, go for the four-layer chocolate cake.

For something more eclectic, try Sweet Blessings Bakery and Cafe. This charming spot is located in a nondescript strip mall, but the green chile chicken and corn soup of the day when I visited was worth a pilgrimage.

Also outside the city center is the Frontier Restaurant, located across the street from the University of New Mexico. It’s famous for giant cinnamon rolls known as a Frontier Sweet Roll.