11 Best Mexican Food in Albuquerque – Taste & Enjoy!
Are you looking for the best Mexican food in Albuquerque? Then, check out our guide to the best local restaurants! We’ve got you covered.
Albuquerque, located at the junction of I-25 and I-40, is a vibrant city known for its rich cultural, culinary, artistic, musical, and cinematic offerings. Often called the “smallest big city,” this bustling mini-metropolis with nearly 600,000 residents is more than just a pit stop in the desert. It exudes a funky, fun, and laid-back vibe, earning humorous nicknames like the “land of mañana.” In addition, Albuquerque boasts a range of attractions and charms that make it a destination in itself.
Although culinary delights are undoubtedly delicious, Albuquerque extends far beyond the realm of red, green, or Christmas chile-smothered enchiladas. One area that has quietly emerged as a culinary powerhouse in its own right is a stretch of Route 66 in the city’s Nob Hill neighborhood. However, the Mexican food scene in Albuquerque extends beyond Route 66, with notable eateries in the city’s north and south valleys. So regardless of where you find yourself in Duke City, these pioneering restaurants are leading the way in delivering the best Mexican cuisine in Albuquerque.
1. La Guelaguetza
In Albuquerque’s South Atrisco neighborhood, just south of Route 66, you’ll discover La Guelaguetza, whose chefs were recognized as James Beard Award semifinalists for Best Chef: Southwest in 2022. This restaurant is renowned for its exceptional traditional Oaxacan cuisine and delicious seafood dishes. What sets it apart is the inclusion of Mexican specialties less commonly found in this area, such as chapulines (crickets) and hormigos (ants). Also, notice their mouthwatering birria tacos, zesty shrimp ceviche, and delectable chicken mole. La Guelaguetza stands out as one of the top destinations for the best Mexican food in Albuquerque.
2. Monte Carlo Steakhouse
When you enter Monte Carlo, you’ll first encounter a packaged liquor store, a clever disguise for the exceptional steakhouse and speakeasy hidden in the back. As you go through, you’ll enter a dimly lit dining room featuring curved vinyl booths and walls adorned with Budweiser memorabilia. It’s the perfect setting for a menu around grilled rib eyes and mouthwatering green chile cheeseburgers. Alongside these delights, you’ll also discover a variety of Greek specialties, including pork kebabs, dolmas, and baklava. While Monte Carlo may not specialize in Mexican cuisine, it offers a unique and enticing dining experience among the best Mexican food in Albuquerque.
3. Antiquity Restaurant
Restaurant Antiquity, located in Old Town, is a treasured steakhouse that upholds the tradition of old-school fine dining. It has been the go-to establishment for celebrating special occasions like anniversaries and engagements for years. The restaurant exudes an atmosphere of timeless elegance, with tables adorned in black tablecloths that exude a sense of refined charm. Here, attentive waiters serve guests beloved classics such as beef carpaccio, oysters Rockefeller, and bacon-wrapped filet mignon with delectable bearnaise sauce. While Restaurant Antiquity doesn’t specialize in Mexican cuisine, it is a prime example of a classic dining destination amidst the best Mexican food in Albuquerque.
4. Sawmill Market
Sawmill Market, the largest food hall in Albuquerque, has become a popular destination since its opening in March 2020. It was the first of its kind in the city, offering a diverse selection of over 20 outlets catering to locals and travelers alike. This vibrant food hall serves as a gathering place where visitors can enjoy a variety of culinary delights. From handmade pastas at Tulipani to delicious sweet and savory waffles at XO Waffle and fresh poke bowls at Notorious P.O.K.E., there’s something to satisfy every palate. Additionally, Sawmill Market proudly features a range of local beverages for you to enjoy, whether you dine in the market hall or on the expansive patio. While it may not focus solely on Mexican cuisine, Sawmill Market offers a fantastic dining experience alongside the best Mexican food in Albuquerque.
5. Duran Central Pharmacy
One of the delightful aspects of this hidden gem, resembling a speakeasy, is the unique experience of savoring the combination of red chile and a rich, buttery tortilla amidst shelves filled with magazines and nostalgic drugstore toys. You can indulge in their daily specials, such as the flavorful green chile chicken enchiladas, when dining in this restaurant. However, it’s just as admirable to grab some of Duran’s delicious tamales to take away and store in your freezer for those inevitable moments when the craving for authentic Mexican cuisine strikes. While this restaurant offers a distinctive experience, it remains among the best Mexican food in Albuquerque.
6. Barelas Coffee House
Although not located directly on Route 66, the Barelas neighborhood holds historical significance as the birthplace of commerce in the Rio Grande Valley centered around the railroads. One establishment that has been serving New Mexican classics since 1978 is the Barelas Coffee House. Over the years, it has remained a bustling eatery, attracting locals, tourists, and even former President Obama. While Albuquerque offers chile-infused delights throughout the city, this hidden gem is a must-visit for those seeking the best Mexican food in Albuquerque. Please take advantage of their renowned bowl of green chile with beans, which has become a favorite among visitors and residents.
7. El Modelo Mexican Foods
El Modelo offers a diverse and delicious menu, but it’s safe to say that their tamales alone could keep this place thriving. These tamales are crafted by hand daily and come with your choice of pork and red chile or chicken and green chile fillings. As you approach the counter to place your order, you’ll notice the inviting community tables where locals gather. So sit and savor your plate of tamales or enchiladas smothered in flavorful red chile and cheese. Here’s a helpful tip: If you bring a dozen tamales from El Modelo to a potluck or family gathering, you’ll instantly become everyone’s favorite guest. El Modelo undoubtedly serves some of the best Mexican food in Albuquerque, with their mouthwatering tamales stealing the show.
8. Mary & Tito’s Cafe
For nearly six decades, Mary & Tito’s has been the epitome of excellence in Albuquerque when it comes to carne adovada, a delectable pork dish prepared in New Mexican-style red chile stew. The restaurant remains in the hands of the descendants of its founders, Mary and Tito Gonzales, who have diligently preserved the original recipes that have garnered a dedicated following over the years. While the carne adovada is an outstanding choice, you can also indulge in their combination plates, generously smothered in flavorful and spicy green chile. Whether you opt for the classic carne adovada or explore their tempting combination offerings, Mary & Tito’s unquestionably serves some of the best Mexican food in Albuquerque.
9. Farm & Table
Farm & Table, situated on a farm in the village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, truly embodies the concept of farm-to-table dining. Owner Cherie Montoya has been at the forefront of this movement for the past decade, crafting new American dishes infused with locally sourced ingredients. A standout example is their New Mexico rib-eye, expertly accompanied by radish, potatoes, eggplant, garlic, and sumac. Over the years, numerous talented chefs, including Steve Riley at Mesa Provisions and Sean Sinclair at Kin in Las Vegas, New Mexico, have honed their Farm & Table kitchen skills. Montoya also takes pride in inviting Farm & Table alumni for guest appearances. While located away from Route 66, Farm & Table has significantly impacted the Albuquerque dining scene and remains a unique destination for the best Mexican food in Albuquerque.
Frontier, a beloved establishment known for its college-friendly fare and mouthwatering New Mexican breakfast, is a bustling hub with expansive dining rooms. It’s a go-to spot for hungry students seeking sustenance after a late night and professors preparing for lectures at the nearby University of New Mexico. While Frontier may have a different chef-focused or intricate approach, it draws in locals and tourists eagerly waiting in line to savor its hearty breakfast burritos and renowned rolls coated generously with cinnamon sugar and dripping with butter. Frontier may not prioritize culinary refinement, but its enduring popularity and reputation for satisfying Mexican cuisine make it a prominent fixture among the best Mexican food in Albuquerque.
11. Mesa Provisions
Under the skillful guidance of chef Steve Riley, Mesa Provisions has emerged as a noteworthy contender for the title of Albuquerque’s finest restaurant. Tucked away in the vibrant Nob Hill neighborhood, Mesa Provisions continuously refines and reimagines classic American dishes, infusing them with delightful Southwestern influences. For example, the watermelon aguachile showcases a playful combination of fresh flavors and the gradual heat of the jalapeno. At the same time, the smoked half chicken embodies the elevated essence of New Mexican cuisine, accompanied by beans, red chile, pepita crema, and duck fat tortillas. Mesa Provisions’ commitment to innovative culinary creations with a Southwestern twist firmly establishes it as a contender for the best Mexican food in Albuquerque.
Albuquerque boasts a vibrant Mexican food scene with many exceptional restaurants. From La Guelaguetza’s traditional Oaxacan cuisine to El Modelo Mexican Foods’ mouthwatering tamales, there are plenty of options for the best Mexican food in Albuquerque. Whether you’re indulging in Barelas Coffee House’s renowned green chile with beans, savoring Mary & Tito’s flavorful carne adovada, or enjoying the unique experience at Monte Carlo Steakhouse with its Greek specialties, you’ll find delicious and authentic Mexican flavors throughout the city. For a farm-to-table experience, Farm & Table offers innovative dishes using locally sourced ingredients, while Mesa Provisions showcases Chef Steve Riley’s culinary artistry with his Southwestern-infused creations. No matter where you dine, Albuquerque’s Mexican food establishments offer a diverse and satisfying culinary journey that will delight any food lover.