This story was originally published at EatABQ, the city's food, restaurant and drinks guide. EatABQ is a publication of The Paper, ABQ's new alternative, independent weekly.
The summer is on its way and, in New Mexico, that just begs for some great outdoor dining. We like the heat here in New Mexico—both in the sky (in the form of the sun) and on our plates (in the form of green chile). As a result, patio dining has long been a part of our state’s DNA. And if that little global pandemic we’re somewhere (hopefully) near the tail end of did one positive thing for us, it created a whole new batch of outdoor dining options here in Albuquerque. Restaurants that scrambled to build outdoor spaces last year are now reaping the benefits of their new al fresco dining tables. So where can we go this summer to get some food and a little vitamin D?
Grab a Beer
Local breweries have all but taken over Albuquerque. And nearly all of them have great outdoor spaces in which to enjoy their products by the pint. Many have their own kitchens. Others allow food trucks to pull up to their curbs, giving patrons the opportunity to order from an ever-changing variety of food sources.
Marble Brewing has locations in Downtown (111 Marble Ave. NW), the Northeast Heights (9904 Montgomery Blvd. NE) and the Westside (5740 Night Whisper Rd. NW). All have ample outdoor space and a rotating collection of food truck favorites. Head to the website (marblebrewery.com) for a calendar of what’s up next for grub. Both Nexus Brewery (4730 Pan American Fwy. NE) and Nexus Blue Smokehouse (1511 Broadway Blvd. SE) have outdoor dining space and a fine selection of Southern soul food. (Although you should just order the mac & cheese and the burnt ends and never look back.) Tractor Brewing Company was born in Las Lunas (470 Sandsage St.) and still maintains a beautiful facility there, with The Hot Mess serving up some barbecue. The Nob Hill (118 Tulane Dr. SE), Wells Park (1800 Fourth St. NW) and Westside (5720 McMahon Blvd. NW) locations all rely on food trucks, but are frequented by some of the best in the city. Red Door Brewing (509 Central Ave. SW) hides its surprisingly quiet urban patio in the back, nestled among the tall buildings of Downtown. No food, but Downtown has plenty of options for takeout. Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. (608 McKnight Ave. NW) is the gorgeous, Native-owned beerhall north of Downtown. Meals are limited to food trucks, but the cozy outdoor space is the kind you want to stick around at, so order up. Boxing Bear Brewing Co. has locations in West Downtown (1710 Central Avenue SW), off Paseo Del Norte (8420 Firestone Lane NE) and just off Tramway (12501 Candelaria Road NE). But the Corrales Taproom (10200 Corrales Road NW) features Asian fusion takeout from Cafe Nom Nom and and an especially inviting, tree-lined outdoor space. Steel Bender Brew Yard (8305 2nd St. NW) in Los Ranchos is an industrial chic brewpub with plenty of bar grub from burgers to brats. The spacious outdoor bar boast some beautiful Burque vistas as well. Lava Rock Brewing (2220 Unser Blvd. NW) on the Westside has some terrific vegan food options and a lovely covered patio. Brew Lab 101 Beer & Ciders (3301 Southern Blvd SE) in Rio Rancho bills itself as a “family friendly” neighborhood brewery. It goes the food truck route as well, but the outdoor space has a fantastic view of Albuquerque toward the Sandias. Hops Brewery (7222 Fourth St. NW) in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque has a charming outdoor space and specializes in BBQ on nachos, sandwiches, quesadillas and the like. Kaktus Brewing Co. (471 South Hill) in Bernalillo bills itself as New Mexico’s #1 sustainable brewery and features “healthy natural whole foods” like salads and pizzas, which you can consume while gazing out over the slow-rolling Rio Grande.
If you’re going out with a large group of folks and nobody can decide what they’re in the mood to eat, ABQ boast several outdoor dining options with access to a whole range of restaurants. Brand-new M’Tucci’s Bar Roma (3222 Central Ave SE) in the former Kelly’s Brewery former gas station has customers taking advantage of that huge, corner outdoor lot as we speak. Buy a membership to their Speakeasy and impress your friends with a special entrance off the alley leading to a nook that serves cocktails, wines and small plates.
The beautifully renovated Sawmill Market (1909 Bellamah Ave NW) has an expansive outdoor courtyard (complete with fake grass and picnic tables). It also has more than 25 bars and restaurants from which to choose. Pizza, pasta, waffles, roti, burgers, tacos and pastries are just some of the items you can mix and match. Live music, karaoke, bingo and other entertainments can be found throughout the week. Green Jeans Farmery (3600 Cutler Ave NE) is home to Santa Fe Brewing Co. (see our Trippin’ article in this issue), Amore Pizza, Nitro Fog Ice Cream, Pho Kup, Fusion Tacos and more. Sit in the mist-lined courtyard among the shipping containers and make your choice. Westsiders can dine among the multi-tenant shipping containers as well at Tin Can Alley (6110 Alameda Blvd. NE). This food hall and craft beer taproom features drinks from Santa Fe Brewing Co. and many of the same outdoor dining faves from Green Jeans, including Amore Pizza, Pho Kup and Nitro Fog.
If it’s caffeine you crave, try the small but quiet patio behind Michael Thomas (202 Bryn Mawr Dr. SE) in Nob Hill. They open at 6am for breakfast most days so if a solitary meal is your delight, settle in early.
Down on the Farm
Several Albuquerque fave restaurants boast more than just a couple of outdoor tables and some umbrellas. They’re actually built on working farms. These are among our city’s best al fresco dining choices.
Campo at Los Poblanos (4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW), for example, features a “field-to-fork” menu and is nestled inside a gorgeous organic lavender farm in the North Valley. Brunch is a particular summer fave with treats like blue corn Sonoran wheat pancakes, chilaquiles and house-made granola on the menu. (Don’t miss out on the lavender-infused cocktails either.) Located at Old Town Farm, Bike In Coffee (949 Montoya St NW) is another rural treat. Grab your breakfast burritos, avocado toast or fresh gazpacho and dine at tables scattered throughout the rambling, tree-lined property. There’s relaxing live music on the weekends. Out in Los Ranchos, Farm and Table (8917 Fourth St. NW) features “upscale, regionally inspired cuisine made from local and seasonal ingredients”—meaning 80 percent of their food is sourced from the on-site garden or from more than 60 local farmers. Take the opportunity to dine outdoors under the vigas in one of our city’s top restaurants. Ditch the tasting room at Vara Winery and Distillery (315 Alameda Blvd. NE) for the verdant, park-like outdoor seating. Sample Vara’s many wines, from deep red tempranillo to sparkling cava brut. Taste their tempting tapas, from jamon-wrapped dates to lamb merguez sausage. Then have some more wine.