Depends on what you want to eat?
If I'm in ABQ I'm focused on New Mex Mex...why would I want to eat anything else that I can get anywhere else?
My favorite spots are:
Perea's - Breakfast/lunch only. HOT salsa, KILLER refrieds, HOT green chile, excellent adovada.
Sadie's - Big, noisy and some longstanding fans think they've gone corporate, but I love the place. Salsa hotter than Perea's, but still with excellent flavor. HUGE servings. Papitas (little fried potato cubes) smothered in green chile son muy sabroso!
The Frontier - ABQ's quirky 24-hour joint. Good burgers, tortilla soup with shredded chicken is wonderful, especially spiked with their HOT green chile salsa
Frontier is definitely an ABQ institution. Great for a quick, casual bite. Great breakfast, late night dining, etc.--
Again, depends on what you're looking for. Fine dining? Ethnic? Sushi? I also agree New Mexican, Mexican should always be at the top of any visitor's list.
Besides Frontier, for fast casual I'd also recommend the great small local chain Flying Star--
And, the hidden gem that is Sophia's. Nothing fancy, but some very high-quality, mostly organic eats--)
(west side of 4th St, quarter mile south of Osuna
For fine dining, I'd definitely suggest Graze in the Nobhill neighborhood (Central Ave just east of the university)--
Gil's Thrilling Website is also a good point of reference for Albuquerque dining--
It's a little eatery in an older converted house near campus.
Fantastic salsa, red and green chiles. If you order an enchilada plate, you can try the salsa with chips and ask them to smother the enches half & half - getting a bit of all three.
I teared up from the heat and the hapiness. It's creaky, you might sit in a hallway, the servers can be tempermental based on their finals, but the food is what I love about NM-style Mexican. I can't advise you on sushi, thai, etc. as I don't live there. I can get those at home. What I wanted was red/green sauce with a bang. El Patio delivered.
Frontier was also great. Again, nothing fancy. In fact it's kind or retro cheesy. But great eats. Go to both... why not? They are very fairly priced.
El Patio is at 142 Harvard SE.
I've gotta say, Flying Star continues to disappiont. Pies and cakes are not what they used to be,, brulee is lacking. I had a boring chicken pot pie with a very watery sauce and not much chicken for ten bucks, Yesterday, I had a seafood gumbo and it was very hard to see any seafood (there were four tiny bay shrimp, period). Very nice decor, but, I just don't get the mystique. It's totally overrated and overpriced and lots of my friends and clients want to meet and eat there.
You have to pick and choose at Flying Star. Coffee there (or at the associated Satellite coffee joints) is much better than Starbucks. The pies (especially Key Lime) are to die for; cookies too. The chicken pot pie used to be good, but now I agree with you--not so hot.
The Frontier is still excellent. Java Joe's, on Park Ave. just east of 10th Street (west of Downtown Abq) has great coffee and very good burritos, sandwiches and the like.
Sadie's is excellent; it's at 4th and Solar in the North Valley. Be prepared for big food, and leftovers.
Two diners I never hear mentioned here: Loyola's on east Central east of Washington (New Mex diner food, open for breakfast and lunch), and Murphy's Mule Barn on 2nd St a block north of Alameda (NewMex breakfast and diner food--big portions, come hungry).
Bar with great food: O'Neill's, near Central and Washington. Disclosure: my daughter is a waitress there. Try the burgers and the soups.
Flying Star's "brulee" has always been in a pastry shell (wrong!) and pre-fired (double-wrong!) so that the next effect is of a caramel-topped custard pie.
Would they label it Caramel-Topped Custard Pie, that would be fine with me. But no....
In general, I have had more inconsistent performances out of Flying Star as time goes on. Soggy Monte Cristos, undercooked or woefully under-blueberried pancakes, bland salads.... hmph.
HOWEVER, the coffee is some of the best in town - I can even drink it black. People-watching is always great, but unfortunately they cannot survive if everyone was like me, sipping their $2.25 coffee for 3 hours and reading magazines. Triple ginger cookies are also wonderful.
Maybe too late but, a good place to eat for non-New Mexican Food is Chow's Asian Bistro in the Cottonwood Mall. It's sort of a asian fusion type of cuisine and very refreshing and different for asian. Try the Wasabi Shrimp, if you're not afraid, it's excellent! When in Albuquerque we go there all the time.
I went with "Groovin Gourmets" January 6 posting and all three were winners ... don't miss Perea's (anything with green chile) and save room for the sopapillas with honey for dessert.
I'd also recommend Barela's Coffee House :
Barelas Coffee House (red chile enchiladas were divine)
1502 4th Street Southwest
Albuquerque, NM (New Mexico) 87102-4319
Phone: (505) 843-7577
Call all establishments first ... for whatever reason alot of restaurants are only open for breakfast and lunch ... i think that's the case with Pereas.