Posts tagged ‘Albuquerque’

Better call Albuquerque: Breaking Bad Fans have new spots for selfies

Rabid Breaking Bad fans still make pilgrimages to Albuquerque to have an Indian taco at Los Pollos Hermanos (Twisters, in its civilian life), grab a coney at The Dog House and buy blue meth candy from Debbie Ball at her three-decades-old candy store in Old Town. There’s even an RV tour with stops at 17 locations from the still-popular AMC show.

To get a jump on what’s sure to only add to Albuquerque’s mojo, here’s a tour of six must-see’s from the new prequel, Better Call Saul.

Loyola’s Family Restaurant. When Jimmy McGill (in a fake British accent) asks Craig Kettleman, the county treasurer accused of embezzling $1.6 million, and his wife Betsy to meet him at Loyola’s Cafe, he couldn’t have given the long-time family eatery a better endorsement.

Not that it needed it. Located on historic Route 66, this diner with maroon vinyl booths and wrap-around counter has been packed with University of New Mexico students, cops and chile-loving locals since it was opened by Loyola Baca in 1984. Her daughter Sarah Cordova now runs the joint that also sells by the quart posole, menudo and red and green chile that will make your nose run, your pits sweat and your heart dance flamenco.

Fried chicken, chicken fried steak and liver and onions go for $9.19. For a New York strip, be prepared to pony up $11.99. And even though Loyola’s appeared to be open into the wee hours in Breaking Bad (“Cornered”—Season 4, Episode 6), it closes by 2 each afternoon. Don’t miss the roadrunner lamps. 4500 Central Avenue, SE, 505.268.6478.

Café Lush. With Jimmy’s credit card already being declined at the flower kiosk, he didn’t try lassoing in new clients at this tiny, 12-table café in a quiet edge-of-downtown neighborhood. But it played a cameo role in the pilot as twins Cal and Lars waited at 7th and Tiejeras Avenue with skateboard in hand.

Café Lush (baristas even write the letters L-U-S-H on top of lattes) is top of the list for Albuquerque’s vegan, organic and gluten free set. Their breakfast pizza which looks and taste nothing like a pizza (but is every bit as delicious) satisfies both persuasions. They also make gluten free brownies, muffins and tortillas and such daily specials as shrimp tacos with Napa cabbage and mango salsa. They even have a Better Call Saul burger, but it’s a turkey burger with cheese and peach mustard. 700 Tijeras Ave. NW, 505.508.0164.

Java Joe’s. Psychopathic Mexican kingpin Tuco Salamanca is back, along with his henchmen No-Doze and Nacho Varga. Luckily, he’s not snorting meth straight out of the bag just yet. His abuelita’s house (where Jimmy first meets him) is at 12204 Manitoba Drive Northeast, but if you want to see his hideout, the one a certain chemistry teacher blew up by throwing fulminated mercury on the floor, it’s not in ruins after all. Instead, it’s a quaint neighborhood café serving breakfast platters and its own house-roasted coffee in a funky vibe complete with nightly live music. 906 Park Avenue SW, 505.765.1514.

Vintage 423. Jimmy had trouble making conversation with his blonde bombshell date at this upscale Northeast Heights supper club. And no wonder. He’d just survived a different kind of encounter in the desert with maniacal, grandma-loving Tuco. Although this elegant, low-lit restaurant doesn’t really serve breadsticks (the crunching of which reminded Jimmy of the twins’ legs being broken) it does serve a fabulous homemade French baguette with chile olive oil spread. If its accompanying bar with the waterfall were anywhere else, patrons would be required to wear a tie. Here, like Jimmy, you can get drunk and throw up in the bathroom wearing about anything you like. On weekends, expect hours-long waits. 8000 Paseo Del Norte Boulevard, 505.821.1918.

Los Altos Skatepark. When Jimmy came up with the hare-brained scheme of tricking the Kettlemans into becoming a client, he knew just where to find the no-brain skateboarders Cal and Lars. Los Altos Skate Park, the largest in the southwest, has 35,000 square feet of skateable area, a banked street course, two bowls and accommodates BMX bikes, skateboards and in-line skates. There are even bleachers, phones and colorful murals at this popular park near Lomas and the I-40 overpass that, just last year, got a facelift. 10140 Lomas NW.

“Omaha” Cinnabon. Want to take a selfie at the Cinnabon where Gene (yet another alias for Saul) now spends his days wearing an apron, mixing dough and stirring up CinnaSweeties? No need to head to Omaha. The opening B&W sequence was filmed at the Cinnabon inside Albuquerque’s Cottonwood Mall. They even gave out some 350 free mini-buns the day after the pilot premiered. 10000 Coors Blvd Bypass NW. 505.792.8136.

Where would Walter White Cook?

Walter White, the protagonist of AMC’s cult hit “Breaking Bad,” did a lot of “cooking” during the five seasons of the popular show that ends its stellar run this fall.

But that’s not the kind of cooking this article is about. Yet, it is for Breaking Bad fans, those rabid maniacs who make pilgrimages to Albuquerque from all over the globe to have an Indian taco at Los Pollos Hermanos (Twister’s, in its civilian life) or grab a chili dog at The Dog House. This Breaking Bad “cooking tour” has five foodie locations that have either played a starring role in one or more episodes or become a favorite of the cast. Let’s just hope they don’t get blown up before you can get there.

The Dog House. You can’t miss the vintage neon sign of the giant dachshund who has been eagerly wagging its tail at travelers on Route 66 for more than 60 years. Jesse Pinkman, Walter’s sidekick, made a few “transactions” at this tiny hot dog joint that serves a killer foot-long chili cheese dog, Frito pie and green chile cheeseburgers. It’s tiny (five tables and an old-fashioned counter), but why not try Jesse’s favorite table—outside in the waitress-attended parking lot. 1216 Central Avenue NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, 505.243.1019.

Twister’s Grill. This Albuquerque burrito and burger joint wasn’t up for an Emmy for its role as Los Pollos Hermanos, the fast food chicken chain Gustavo Fring uses to launder his meth earnings. Don’t expect fried chicken (think Indian tacos and green breakfast chile) and know, whether you text “Pollos” to your friends or not, you’ll snapping photos (the Los Pollos Hermanos logo is painted the wall) and signing the guestbook (yes, there’s a guest book) with fans the world over. 4257 Isleta Blvd SW
Albuquerque, NM 87105, 505.877.2727.

Java Joe’s. Remember Tuco’s hideout? The one the former chemistry teacher blew up by throwing a piece of fulminated mercury on the floor, the daring ploy that convinced the psychopathic Mexican kingpin he wasn’t dealing with the wuss he thought? Well, that hide-out is Java Joe’s and it’s not in ruins, after all. Instead, it’s a quaint neighborhood café serving up breakfast platters, its own house-roasted coffee and a funky vibe complete with nightly live music. 906 Park Ave SW Albuquerque, NM 87102, 505.765.1514.

The Grove Café & Market. Walter and Skyler, the long-suffering wife for whom he’s amassing a fortune, have tiptoed a thin conversational line a time or two at this bustling cafe in the Huning Highland district that also (spoiler alert) plays a starring role in the next to last episode. Using locally-sourced breads, eggs, produce and meats, the Grove is creatively run by another husband and wife team, Jason and Lauren Greene, who pour their passion into such dishes as raspberry-coconut French toast, grilled cheese with pickled fennel, ricotta, gruyere, braised kale and roasted tomatoes and a goat cheese burrito with housemade green chile. 600 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102, 505.248.9800.

El Pinto. Famous, even before Walt and Jesse came to town, 1200-seat El Pinto is run by identical twin brothers who wouldn’t put anything artificial in their mouth if Krazy-8 Molina tried to slit their throats. They grow all their chiles to specification, fussing over them like a vintner fusses over his grapes. Jim and John Thomas, whose father started the restaurant and coined the term “New Mexican cuisine” have cooked on Air Force One and in the White House when George W. Bush decided to celebrate Cinco De Mayo with recipes the Thomas twins learned from their grandmother, Josephina Chavez-Griggs. Just about every actor with an agent has made it to this 12-acre property that serves 140 types of tequila and nothing that’s not organic and locally-grown. In case you’re wondering, Bryan Cranston likes a quiet spot by one of the fireplaces, Jeremiah Bitsui (Victor) keeps his own bottle of tequila in the private tequila cabinet and the Wrap Party for Season Three that was held there was one of the only times this Albuquerque institution was closed to the public. 10500 4th Street, Albuquerque, NM 87114, 505.898.1771.

The Candy Lady. Owner Debbie Ball didn’t consider selling blue ice candy at her three-decades-old candy store in Old Town until she saw Bryan Cranston offer up a bag to David Letterman. Since she’s the one who sold him that bag (the show hired her to make 100 pounds the first two seasons), she decided to capitalize, adding a whole line of Breaking Bad products, including Heisenberg’s famous porkpie hat. She even has exclusive rights to sell the “Breaking Bad” Pez containers made by local folk artist Steve White (no relation to Walter) who also make Elvis Pez-ley and American Pez-idents. 524 Romero St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, 505.243.6239.

breaking b pez

Los Poblanos Historic Inn an organic oases in Albuquerque

It’s not surprising that Maggie Gyllenhaal and Neil Patrick Harris would bring their kids to Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, the Albuquerque inn that Bon Appetit just chose as one of the top ten best hotels for food lovers.

Harris, of course, grew up in Albuquerque and while he once told a reporter he’d never dream of staying anywhere except with his parents at the home he was raised in, he and partner David Burtka now have two-year-old twins. Enough said. Besides, it’s never too early to teach Gideon and Harper, the twins who were born October 2010, where their food comes from, a lesson about which Los Poblanos is avidly passionate.

The 25-acre organic farm, not only grows 60 percent (90 percent during growing season) of the hotel’s meticulously-prepared food, but it has chickens, cows, honeybees and giant purple-blue lavender fields.

As for Gyllenhaal, she hopes to instill the same field to fork-style knowledge into her New York brood, offering them a chance to gather eggs and milk goats. And, besides, she and her brother Jake have a thing for exquisite food. The duo, along with their mom, appeared on two episodes of Molto Maria, an Italian cooking show on the Food Network.

San Ysidro, the patron saint of farmers, has been watching over the growing of food at Los Poblanos for some 81 years. In 1932, Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms, a former Congresswoman from Illinois, and her husband, Albert Simms, a congressman from New Mexico, started an experimental farm on 800 acres that stretched to the Sandia Mountains. They started New Mexico’s first dairy, experimented with sugar beets and other crops and built a greenhouse for new varieties of roses and chrysanthemums.

They also commissioned famous Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem to renovate their ranch house and design a 15,000-square-foot cultural center for political and community events.

La Quinta, as they called the cultural center with its carved doors and mantels by Gustave Baumann, tinwork by Robert Woodman, ironwork by Walter Gilbert and fresco by Peter Hurd, still hosts meetings and weddings and still serves as the cultural heart for this inspiring farm that, needless to say, holds a prominent spot on the National Historic Register. Since 1976, when it was purchased by Penny and Armin Rembe, who raised their four children on the property, it has been lovingly overseen by three generations of the Rembe family.

As I drove up the cottonwood-lined lane leading to Los Poblanos’ hacienda-style courtyard and sun-drenched dining room, past the expansive lavender fields, strolling peacocks, kitchen gardens and pond with lotus blossoms—I could feel the extraordinary energy of this landmark New Mexico ranch.

As I feasted on the locally-sourced cuisine, melons from nearby fields and eggs from hens that strut through the property, I felt as if I’d entered a different time, a different place with no clue that I was in the desert or a short four miles from one of the largest cities in the Southwest. Executive chef Jonathan Perno, a New Mexico native who trained in France, London and San Francisco, makes good use of the farm’s heritage, heirloom and native crops, incorporating things like tepary beans, chiles, cardoons, figs, parsley root, jujube dates and epazote into what he calls “Rio Grande Valley cuisine.”

And while scheduling didn’t permit taking one of the many workshops offered at Los Poblanos (things like aromatherapy, botanical art, field sketching, wine tasting, barn animals 101), I learned a lot just walking around the gardens, being inspired by the ecological consciousness subtly perpetuated by the living museum’s water conservation programs and use of natural biodegradable cleaning products.

As Kenyan manager Nancy Kinyanjui said, “We don’t want to hit people over the head with it, but we hope they recognize our commitment to sustainability and possibly take a little green consciousness home with them.”

The inn’s 20 suites and rooms have adobe kiva fireplaces, hand-hewn ceiling beams, hardwood floors, folk paintings, painted viga ceilings and, of course, the farm’s signature lavender spa amenities. Breakfast, also made with ingredients from the property’s organic farm, is included.

Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Cultural Center, 4803 Rio Grande NW, 505-344-9297.