FX Excursions

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Albuquerque Embraces a Colorful Past and a Bright Future

by Karin Leperi

May 17, 2022

PHOTOS © KARIN LEPERI PEZO

April/May 2022

Often known as the city of sunshine, Albuquerque, New Mexico, takes pride in its colorful history, diverse cultures, dynamic traditions and natural beauty. But even as it celebrates its heritage, Albuquerque masters the fine art of embracing the future in the present. The result: an affordable yet vibrant Southwest city that retains its soul, keeping Albuquerque fresh yet enduring.

PHOTO: © KARIN LEPERI PEZO

Mayor Tim Keller said, “Albuquerque is not only a top destination for visitors but for relocating and expanding businesses of all sizes.” He added, “Between our unique and diverse culture, vast recreational landscapes and strategic investments in fast-growing industries like tech and space, folks are discovering what we here already know — Albuquerque has the unmatched quality of life that people are after, something we’ve begun to value more and more since the pandemic. For professionals and businesses alike, Albuquerque is a great bet for your future.”

Albuquerque gave its Old Town a facelift, with new developments in Plaza Don Luis including two tasting rooms from Ruidoso-based Noisy Water Winery and Albuquerque-based Sheehan Winery. While there, check out Outpost 1706 Brewhouse, Lapis Room, Luna + Luz Modern West Goods and Flying Roadrunner Bakery.

The city boasts a burgeoning food scene as well. Think Albuquerque is only about New Mexican food? Think again. According to Mayor Keller, “Albuquerque’s food scene is diverse, unique and expanding, just like our city.”

From the new Sawmill Market and food halls, food trucks, restaurants and diners to sophisticated dining at Level 5 and Native- American cuisine at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, you’re sure to find something to please everyone. Sample indigenous cuisine at The Indian Pueblo Kitchen and time your visit to coincide with Native American dancing, listed on the Cultural Center’s event website. Nearby, Level 5 at Hotel Chaco proves popular for fine dining with a panoramic view of Albuquerque.

Mayor Keller added, “We’re excited that developers and creators alike are seeing the value of investing in the food culture here through destinations that boost local entrepreneurs, like Sawmill Market, 505 Central, Green Jeans Farmery, Tin Can Alley and more.”

Flora Restaurant, a favorite at Sawmill Market, offers excellent Mexican dining, including ceviche, in a festive and fun environment. Craving Vietnamese, Venezuelan, fish and chips or the great American hamburger (Dr. Field Goods)? It’s all here at one of Albuquerque’s newest artisanal food halls with a hip vibe and contemporary adult beverage scene that includes many New Mexico beers and wines. For an excellent Sunday brunch try Campo at Los Poblanos Inn, where chilaquiles prove a customer favorite. Then drive the scenic Corrales Byway.

Providing the backdrop for Western movies of the past, Albuquerque also became known for Emmy Award-winning TV series such as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul as well as Academy Award-winning movies such as No Country for Old Men and blockbusters like Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As a premier industry hot spot for entertainment, television and film production, Albuquerque garnered MovieMaker Magazine’s No. 1 spot in the country to live and work as a filmmaker, 2019–2022.

In 2020 Netflix Studios announced expansion plans for a bigger presence here in local television and film production services. And NBCUniversal opened a TV and film studio location downtown, while other production-related companies strategically opened divisional offices in Albuquerque.

From food, film, space and science to nature, nostalgia and culture, Albuquerque proves itself distinctive, with a welcoming Southwest spirit that artfully blends the past, present and future.

SCENIC DRIVES

For a scenic drive that offers the essence of old Albuquerque and its agricultural beginnings, explore the 6.7-mile Corrales Scenic Byway, in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley. You’ll encounter a bit of agriculture, quirkiness, sophistication and ranch life all rolled into one charming drive: apple orchards, horse ranches, palatial estates, wineries and charming restaurants and cafés.

From I-25 take the Alameda Exit 233 heading west, then head north on NM 448. Or from US 550, head south on NM 528, then east on NM 448. Along this stretch you will find historic buildings, boutique shops and restaurants offering local food and laid-back country ambience. This, the epicenter of the charming village of Corrales, has supported more than 1,300 years of irrigated agriculture and exudes New Mexican charm at its best.

Take a stroll through the nearby Corrales Bosque Preserve, where you can hear sounds of 180 species of migrating and nesting birds along with the soothing babble of the acequia. It contains 400 acres of the Middle Rio Grande Cottonwood Forest.

You can also connect to El Camino Real/Historic Route 66, drivable in the same day. From the north, start with El Camino Real, merge with Historic Route 66 in Algodones and connect via Alameda Boulevard in Albuquerque to the Corrales Road Scenic Byway. Relive bygone-era history along King’s Road and old Route 66.

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