Justin De La Rosa
At the intersection of I-25 and I-40 (the interstate that largely replaced Route 66), Albuquerque represents a Southwestern crossroads of culture, food, art, music, and film. Commonly called the “smallest big city,” the bustling mini-metropolis of nearly 600,000 residents is more than just a pit stop in the middle of the desert. The vibe is funky, fun, and laid-back (another joking nickname is the “land of mañana”), and it can hold its own when it comes to attractions and charm.
The Duke City’s culinary appeal reaches beyond red, green, or Christmas chile-smothered enchiladas. While the whole city offers delicious bites, a stretch of Route 66 in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill neighborhood is especially exciting, quietly becoming a culinary powerhouse in its own right. Several standout corners along the area’s Central Avenue that sat vacant even before the pandemic are now buzzing with some of the best bars and restaurants that the city — and the country — has to offer. But Albuquerque’s food landscape also spans beyond Route 66, with byways branching out into the north and south valleys of the city. Wherever you find yourself in the Duke City, these are the restaurants that are blazing the trail.
Justin De La Rosa cut his teeth as a writer at Local iQ Magazine in Albuquerque where he earned a Local Hero Award for Edible’s Best Food Writer in 2014. He spent time in Denver writing for 5280 Magazine, The Denver Post, 303 Magazine, and Denver Life Magazine. Today he is a beverage manager, writer, and marketer in his hometown of Albuquerque.