British Honeymoon Couple, 8-9 May 2013, Sante Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico
We are travelling from Amarillo to Sante Fe for one night on May 8th, and we are then on to Albuquerque for a further night on May 9th. We would like recommendations of somewhere good to eat (and drink) and any advice you might offer us.
Are there any local events on that we should consider visiting? We are adventurous diners looking for some local recommendations and some good ideas to help us.
We have been recommended the Elephant Bar; can anyone give any further feedback on this bar? Is it worth us visiting over anything is Albuquerque?
Any help would be much appreciated! Many Thanks Tanya and Tom
Please pardon the interruption, but just a quick reminder to keep the focus on chow, and away from general travel planning.
Chowhound is great at helping people find great chow, and it works best when the information is focused on that topic. General travel planning questions, like where to stay and what else to do when visiting a town, are huge subjects. They're well covered by any number of general interest travel sites, but would swamp out the food content on Chowhound, detracting from the very usefulness that brought hounds in the first place.
Sorry, but we hope this makes sense. And thanks!
In both Santa Fe and Albuquerque, you can take a gondola/ski lift to the top of the mountain. You should do that for the view and to get a better feel for our wild, wild west and what the early pioneers in their covered wagons were facing. There are places to eat at the top, but the food is pretty much what you'd imagine it to be somewhere like that - mediocre and expensive (although I must say that I once had knoedel at the top of a ski lift at Innsbruck that I still dream about, so I guess that caveat doesn't always hold true).
You're coming in from the east and I'm sure you've looked at the map and you're probably planning on leaving I-40 at Hwy 285, exit 218 at Clines Corners, and heading north to Santa Fe. I'd very very strongly advise you to keep going until you reach Hwy 14 at exit 175 (as you may or may not know, in the US west, the exit numbers correspond with mileage, so exit 175 is about 43 miles farther west than exit 218).
Highway 14 runs right along the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and is interesting enough that it's earned its own nickname: The Turquoise Trail.
I've driven both 14 and 285 many many times and, believe me, although 285 is a bit faster, there's not much to see (and no food of note).
Also, in Albuquerque, do go to Old Town. Okay, so it is a bit touristy but, like most touristy destinations, there's a reason why folks come from all over to see it. I love wandering through the streets and plazas. There are better restaurants around for sure, and the prices in the stores can be a little high (anytime you want to purchase something for a bargain in the US Southwest, find a pawn shop), but I still love it there and I think it'd be a shame for European visitors not to see it.
Speaking of restaurants, throughout New Mexico, when you order Mexican food, you'll be asked "red or green?" They're referring to the type of chile sauce. I'm a huge fan of green in large measure because that really wonderful green chile is very difficult to get elsewhere (in fact, often completely impossible), but the red chile is terrific, too. So, for me, as for many folks, the best answer is "Christmas." That's both.
In Santa Fe, whether you stay at the grand old La Fonda Hotel or not, at least go see it. Have a cup of coffee or a snack in the lobby.
I adore that place.
Turquoise Trail: http://www.turquoisetrail.org/
Albuquerque Old Town: http://www.albuquerqueoldtown.com/
Albuquerque's Sandia Peak Tramway (in summer): http://sandiapeak.com/index.php?page=summer-sports
La Fonda Hotel Santa Fe http://www.lafondasantafe.com/?gclid=...
Depends on what kind of food you want to try. You can go with the local Northern New Mexican. We love Mary and Tito's in ABQ- but they close early- try lunch.
We also like Zacatecas, a taco and tequilla place in ABQ or Torino's at home for Italian.
In Santa Fe- there are a few new places or soon to open ones that seem promising- check back closer to your travel date.
If you are a tapas fan, try Taberna La Boca- right now they have a half-priced happy hour between 5 and 7. They may still have it in May.
One night is not enough in Santa Fe.
I believe you are referring to the Elephant bar that's in the Uptown shopping area in Albuquerque. I have been and was not at all impressed. It seemed like a chain restaurant with really nothing exciting to offer menu wise. I suggest trying some places down in either the nobb hill area or downtown. The artichoke cafe I've heard good things about but I know for a fact they don't change menu very often. Farm & Table is good and that is out by Corrales, a beautiful section of town. Also have heard good things about Los Poblanos Inn and restaurant.
As far as Santa Fe goes, Coyote Cafe, Cafe Pasqual's, La Boca are all great places.
West of Albuquerque, in Gallup, here's a Do Not Miss: El Rancho Hotel. They also have a dining room. Much of the food there is not as good as in several of the famous Gallup restaurants (mentioned below), but it can be really tasty. The green chile is really good there, but it's equally great all over the state.
But back to the El Rancho Hotel - at least do stop in and see the historic old lobby. Such a slice of the history of Gallup back when it was the place for Hollywood stars that were in the area filming the popular western movies of the day.
Several great restaurants, too, in Gallup. Earl's, Jerry's, El Metate, Genaro's.
If you have time and are interested in Native American culture, Window Rock (the tribal headquarters of the Navajo Nation) is about a half-hour north of Gallup. There's a good (if small) museum there, and several excellent shops selling Native American jewelry, arts and crafts. Zuni, the tribal headquarters of the Zuni Nation, is about a half-hour south. You can stop in at the tribal headquarters office and buy an inexpensive chit for a tour. If at all possible, try to get into that chapel. What an experience. And Acoma - "Sky City," is about fifteen minutes or so south of I-40, about 55 miles west of Albuquerque.
Navajo Nation Tribal Headquarters and Museum: http://www.navajonationmuseum.org/
Zuni Pueblo: http://www.ashiwi.org/
Acoma "Sky City": http://www.acomaskycity.org/
It sounds like Gallup is fun, but it might be a bit far to go if they only have a day, since it's two hours west of Albuquerque and they're driving in from the east.
Re: the original post, I don't know of any events taking place here at that time of year, but there are tours of old town Albuquerque that commence in May. I think one is called Legends and Lore, and there's a nighttime one called the Ghost Tour or something like that... For a place to eat and drink, you might want to check out the menu at Zacatecas in the university area. It's an upscale taco place that has a wide selection of tequilas.
Ah yes, indeed Gallup is "two hours west of Albuquerque and they're driving in from the east."
But a quick look at their profile reveals that this British couple has chosen to honeymoon on America's famous Mother Road.
And you know how that goes...
"If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route 66
It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two-thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.
"Now you go through Saint Louie
And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
GALLUP, NEW MEXICO
Don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.
"Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66."
So, ninrn, as you can see, Gallup won't be out of their way at all.
If you poke around the Southwest board here, you'll find lots of good local recommendations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Please don't go to Elephant Bar. It's a big, gimmicky chain restaurant (not really a bar at all) and the food isn't that good. I'm sure it will invade the UK soon and if you really want to, you can try it then.