Albuquerque was once a convenient but drab gateway to the far more chic environs of Santa Fe and Taos, rating only a few harmonizes with a Southwestern charm that's not overpriced or precious, Albuquerque just might win your heart.
where to stay
La Posada de Albuquerque 125 Second St. N.W.; 800/777-5732 or 505/242-9090, fax 505/242-8664; doubles from $99. Conrad Hilton was so proud of his first hotel in his native New Mexico that he honeymooned here with Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1941. The two-story lobby has been restored to its original glamour, and it's a stunner, with Western murals, tinwork light fixtures, carved ceiling beams, Navajo art, and a bubbling tiled fountain. The rooms could stand another infusion of cash, but they have a nice, old-fashioned spareness. A historical note: Thomas O. Jones, a security chief for the Manhattan Project—responsible for evacuating the area if the Trinity Experiment were to go awry—watched the atomic flash rise off the Tularosa Basin from his fourth-floor room.
Yours Truly 160 Paseo de Corrales, Corrales; 800/942-7890 or 505/898-7027, fax 505/898-9022; doubles from $98. Strictly speaking, you aren't away from it all. Modern adobe-style houses dot the hills surrounding this polished B&B in rustic, artsy Corrales, about 15 minutes from Old Town. But the views of the Sandia Mountains are expansive, and you may even spot a coyote or roadrunner from the patio. The innkeepers have their own hot-air balloon, and offer guests a modest price break on this diversion.
Hacienda Antigua 6708 Tierra Dr. N.W.; 800/201-2986 or 505/345-5399, fax 505/345-3855; doubles from $105. When the king of Spain's emissary Don Pablo Yrisarri settled along El Camino Real 200 years ago, he built his hacienda with 20- to 30-inch-thick adobe walls, and imposing zaguan (entryway) gates and massive vigas (roof beams) cut from the forests of the Sandias. Today, it's Albuquerque's most lyrical bed-and-breakfast, warmed by the sun (thanks to discreetly placed skylights) and filled with folk art and antiques, including a two-person claw-foot tub said to have once graced a brothel in El Paso. Trains rumble past occasionally on the tracks nearby, but quiet is soon restored, and you can savor the rustle of the cottonwoods and the fragrances of the high-desert garden.
Sarabande 5637 Rio Grande Blvd. N.W.; 888/506-4923 or 505/345-4923, fax 505/345-9130; doubles from $99. The sweet Sarabande rose does in fact grow outside this romantic inn set in the rural but well-groomed North Valley. The serenity of the place is probably best appreciated from the Rose Room, with its Japanese soaking tub and patio shaded by a wisteria-covered arbor.
Casa del Granjero 414 C de Baca Lane N.W.; 800/701-4144 or 505/897-4144, fax 505/897-9788; doubles from $79. Its name means "the farmer's house," and you'll find it at the end of a dirt road in the North Valley. But there's nothing hayseedish about this historic adobe hacienda, so lavishly decorated that you expect to see a señorita rustling down the hall in a lace gown and mantilla.
Cinnamon Morning 2700 Rio Grande Blvd. N.W.; 800/214-9481 or 505/345-3541, fax 505/342-2283; doubles from $75. This stretch of Rio Grande Boulevard is a busy thoroughfare, but Sue Percilick's taste is so sharp (note the wonderful furniture made by her husband, Dick), that the traffic sounds soon fade from your radar. There's a lovely courtyard for enjoying breakfast or an afternoon sangria.
Brittania & W. E. Mauger Estate 701 Roma Ave. N.W.; 800/719-9189 or 505/242-8755, fax 505/842-8835; doubles from $79. Immaculately renovated and crisply run, this B&B located between Old Town and downtown has become a favorite of business travelers seeking refuge from impersonal hotel chains. The rooms are sunny and comfortable, and the Victorian theme is blessedly understated.
Ask any Albuquerquean for directions, and you'll probably be told to drive either toward or away from the mountains. The granite and limestone Sandias, along this valley city's eastern border, form one of Albuquerque's three dramatic natural landmarks. The others are to the west: the Rio Grande; and beyond the city's sprawl, the West Mesa, with its crown of five extinct volcanoes. Duke City (the nickname comes from the city's 18th-century namesake, the Duke of Alburquerque—the first r was later dropped) was once a major hub for travelers by road, rail, and air, and a lot of people still pass through. Much to commuters' chagrin, the city is smack at the junction of I-25 and I-40.
You can reach most of the downtown area via Central Avenue, which is both the city's main street and a portion of historic Route 66. Old Town is Albuquerque's foremost tourist attraction, a tree-shaded, shop-filled plaza where Spanish settlers first set up housekeeping in 1706. Nob Hill takes up about 15 blocks of Central Avenue east of the University of New Mexico campus, and is home to the city's most stylish shops.
a room with a vibe
Quaint, it ain't. But that's the whole idea when you run a bed-and-breakfast tribute to jazz—you wouldn't want the Duke Ellington Suite to be frilly.
The theme for the offbeat Jazz Inn Bed & Breakfast came naturally to Sophia Peron: she's a passionate fan who once owned a jazz club in town. And while the Duke City may not spring to mind as one of the jazz capitals of the world, Peron is quick to offer up a few examples of what she says is a rich jazz heritage. "John Lewis from the Modern Jazz Quartet grew up here," she says. "Ben Webster was here in the thirties."
The 100-year-old house Peron picked for her B&B had the right vibes, too. "It was a cool place," she says of the earth-brown stuccoed building, in a historic neighborhood between Downtown and Nob Hill. "There had always been neat people coming and going here, and there had been some good parties." Okay, so it needed a gut rehab, but Peron, a longtime city resident and community activist, had a Rolodex of people willing to help out. The nice-looking guy across the street pitched in, too, and she wound up marrying him. Nicholas Peron, an Albuquerque native and artist—he made the sculptures in the cactus garden—brought to the partnership a collection of 5,000 jazz recordings (now touted as one of the inn's amenities), an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject, and an aesthetic yin to Sophia's yang. "He's more modern jazz, and I'm more traditional," she explains. "But we both like to hang out with musicians and nurture them and promote them."
Jazz parties at the inn have become legendary around town. The Perons also hold a jazz hour at the nearby Avalon Restaurant every Friday, and are putting the final touches on the inn's first compilation CD. If you want to know what's happening musically around the state, just check out the inn's Web site.
It's no surprise that the Jazz Inn has attracted not only devotees but musicians themselves. Herb Ellis slept here (one of the inn's five "suites and variations" is named in his honor); so have Mose Allison, James Newton, David Murray, Richie Cole, Roy Hargrove, and a host of others. "Breakfast at two a.m.—that's our specialty," Sophia says with a laugh. But she does have her limits when it comes to making her musical clientele feel at home. "They have to go outside to smoke," she says.
Jazz Inn Bed & Breakfast 111 Walter St. N.E.; 888/529-9466 or 505/242-1530 phone and fax; www.jazzinn.com; doubles from $79.
where to eat
Range Café 925 Camino del Pueblo St., Bernalillo; 505/867-1700; dinner for two $30. Outranking Santa Fe's temples of cuisine in the latest regional Zagat Survey, the Range Café is proof that a stylish, inventive, and smoothly run place can also embody the spirit of democracy—everybody feels welcome here, a 20-minute drive from Albuquerque. The burgers and portobello mushroom pizza are justly famous, but there are also many spiffier dishes (salmon in mango salsa, for example).
Seasons Rotisserie & Grill 2031 Mountain Rd. N.W.; 505/766-5100; dinner for two $50. This sophisticated, sunset-colored room near Old Town is a welcome alternative to the area's more touristy restaurants. The pan-roasted chicken or the double-cut pork chop cooked over an oak fire should hit the spot after a hard day of shopping.
Prairie Star 255 Prairie Star Rd., Bernalillo; 505/867-3327; dinner for two $80. One of the area's favorite splurge restaurants, set in a 1920's adobe house with blazing kivas and knock-your-socks-off views of the Sandia Mountains at sunset. The Southwestern-inspired cooking strikes a balance between innovation and showmanship, with dishes such as yucca-crusted Pacific swordfish finished with a tres leches sweet-corn sauce, and blue-corn crab cakes with avocado and smoked-tomato aioli.
Chef du Jour 119 San Pasquale S.W.; 505/247-8998; dinner for two $35. A tiny oasis in an unassuming strip mall, Chef du Jour is laid-back to the max. But the weekly roster of dishes whipped up in the open kitchen may include wild-mushroom strudel with arugula pesto, and green-chili meat loaf. The incredible chocolate burrito is always available, thank God.
Artichoke 424 Central Ave. S.E.; 505/243-0200; dinner for two $50. The clientele of this popular, ice-blue bistro runs the gamut from dressed-up date-night couples to families gathered for celebrations. The menu is eclectic as well; you can have New American cuisine (pumpkin ravioli stuffed with butternut squash) or rack of lamb.
Scalo 3500 Central Ave. S.E.; 505/255-8782; dinner for two $55. Everybody adores Scalo, which may immediately arouse the suspicions of out-of-town food cynics. But the northern Italian cooking here definitely delivers—this is one case where you can't argue with success. Order the penne with house-made sausage and roasted garlic. Across the street is the owners' modish Il Vicino (3403 Central Ave. N.E.; 505/266-7855), beloved by brick-oven pizza fans.
Model Pharmacy 3636 Monte Vista Blvd. N.E.; 505/255-8686; ice cream sodas for two $8. If you thought the only soda fountains left were tired exercises in retro-chic, this Albuquerque hangout, a fixture since the forties, proves that delicious lime rickeys, root beer floats, and egg creams can still be made without even a sprinkling of irony.
feel the burn
Albuquerque no longer lags behind Santa Fe and Taos when it comes to high-style restaurants with accomplished chefs. But the city's quintessential dining experience is still found in its unpretentious, family-owned New Mexican places, where no order is complete unless you've answered the question "Red or green?" Meaning, of course, the kind of chili sauce you want your entrée to swim in.
If you're convinced that this kind of cooking will leave you feeling dazed and full for the rest of the day, prepare to be amazed. I had perfect huevos rancheros, slathered in green-chili sauce and accompanied by fresh flour tortillas, from the tiny kitchen at the back of Duran Central Pharmacy (1815 Central Ave. N.W.; 505/247-4141; lunch for two $15; no credit cards). At the cavernous and memorably named M & J Restaurant & Sanitary Tortilla Factory (403 Second St. S.W.; 505/242-4890; lunch for two $12; no credit cards), I got a little crazy and asked for red and green with my gently spiced combination plate. The result was immensely satisfying.
Chili fanatics should also check out Garcia's Kitchen (113 Fourth St. N.W.; 505/247-9149), Barelas Coffee House (1502 Fourth St. S.W.; 505/843-7577), El Norteño (6416 Zuni Rd. S.E.; 505/255-2057), and Los Cuates (5016B Lomas Blvd. N.E.; 505/268-0974), with a snazzier twin across the street at 4901 Lomas Blvd. N.E. (505/255-5079). For a nouvelle slant, try Fajitaville (6313 Fourth St. N.W.; 505/341-9683). Some of these restaurants have limited hours, so call ahead.
in the kitchen with jane
For food-lovers around the world, Albuquerque's allure has everything to do with Jane Butel's Southwestern Cooking School. Butel, a third-generation New Mexican who's been teaching for 16 years, has been called both the queen and the high priestess of Southwestern cooking, as well as a "foodfluential" person by the Food Channel. She's also a prodigious cookbook author, with 16 titles to her name, including Hotter Than Hell and, most recently, Jane Butel's Quick and Easy Southwestern Cookbook. If you want to know why salsa now outsells ketchup in the United States, asking Jane Butel is one place to start.
Butel's Friday-to-Sunday school (she also offers a weeklong program) combines the best features of a party and a boot camp. In other words, the margaritas flow, but after a short reception and briefing during which Butel extols the 7,010 varieties of chilies and their countless piquancies, students hit the ground running. Working in teams, they cook an elaborate dinner that includes a medley of salsas, guacamole, tostadas, nachos, fajitas with tricolor pepper sauté, blue-corn and jalapeño bread, and Pecos Valley Bowl of Red, a traditional chili stew.
Butel's staff does some, but far from all, of the prep work, and on the first night students don't sit down for the main course until 9:30 or 10 p.m. "But they've been eating all along," Butel says, "so they're not totally starved." Then it's back to the kitchen at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday to learn another 15 or so dishes from scratch, including three varieties of tortilla, tamales, enchiladas, quesadillas, chiles rellenos, and chimichangas.
Butel's expertise is tempered with loads of Southwestern charm, so motivating her students to cook till they drop isn't an issue. Oh, there was the Goldman Sachs investment banker from Dallas who wanted only to learn how to master pozole (and did), and the group that showed up for a weeklong course with a case of champagne per person and a French chef to do most of their work. But those are the exceptions.
"Besides," Butel says, "there's something naturally convivial about Southwestern food. My family always said that Southwestern dishes are made to be cooked together. Like tamales—they're not fun to make all by yourself." There's a physiological factor, too: chilies trigger an endorphin high, and what good is that if you have no one to share it with?
While talking with Butel, I managed to ask her two pressing questions, one of which had nothing to do with food: Where does she get the fantastic turquoise jewelry she always wears?Answer: From Indian craftsmen she has known for years, from estate sales, and—the payoff I was waiting for—from a shop called the Palms Trading Co. (1504 Lomas Blvd. N.W.; 505/247-8504; www.palmstrading.com).
Last question: When the waitress in a New Mexican restaurant asks the priestess of Southwestern cooking, "Red or green?" what's her answer?"A good rule of thumb," Butel says, "is red chili with beef dishes or pork, and green chili with poultry and seafood. But I usually say I want both—I want Christmas."
Jane's Perfect Margaritas
To prepare glasses, moisten rims with lime juice, dip into salt or sugar, and chill in the freezer until frosty (a couple of hours). Makes four servings.
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (four or five limes)
1/2 cup orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, if you want to go deluxe)
1 1/2 cups silver tequila (she likes Sauza)
1 tsp. egg whites, slightly beaten
Combine all ingredients and blend at high speed. Pour into chilled glasses and serve. (The secret ingredient, Butel says, is the egg white; it gives a nice froth and takes the bite out of the limes.)
Jane Butel's Southwestern Cooking School offers a weekend program for $695, including lodging. The final session of 1999 takes place November 19-21. Next year, the program will be held once a month from January through November in Butel's classroom/kitchen at La Posada de Albuquerque in downtown Albuquerque. For more information, call 800/472-8229 or visit www.janebutel.com.
route 66 revisited
For millions of motorists who traveled cross-country on Route 66 in the fifties and sixties, Albuquerque was the ultimate enchilada, the largest city in the Southwest. You could spike your cholesterol in diners and coffee shops, take a hot shower and rest up in an exotic-looking tourist court, and buy pottery from real Pueblo Indians. Albuquerque was also a last-chance garage, a place where legions of service stations and automotive repair shops stood ready to fix your mysteriously rattling engine before you hit the vast, lonely deserts of Arizona and California.
The evolution of the modern interstate has changed all that. Today, Albuquerque can lay claim to the longest intact stretch (18 miles, including four outside of town) of Route 66. It also has one of the largest concentrations of "Mother Road" architecture, and Central Avenue, where Route 66 has run since a realignment in 1937, still makes for an impressive neon gulch at night. Time hasn't stood still for most of Central's parade of Pueblo Revival, Southwest Vernacular, and Streamlined Moderne buildings—one exception is the 1937 adobe El Vado Motel (2500 Central Ave. S.W.; 505/243-4594)—but at least they're still standing. Civic penury proved to be a kind of blessing. "New Mexico has always been one of the poorer states, and Albuquerque didn't go through a lot of redevelopment," explains Rich Williams, president of the New Mexico Route 66 Association.
At the Aztec Motel (3821 Central Ave. N.E.; 505/254-1742), a new architectural genre is unfolding: the motor court as canvas for found objects. Owner Mohamad Natha turned over the façade of his 1931 motel to one of his long-term part-time residents, Phyllis Evans, who has virtually encrusted the place with urban flotsam and jetsam.
"I came here to stay temporarily and found an empty green whiskey bottle and put it on my porch, and then I started some canister plants and what have you and it just grew and grew and now it's my main project in life," says the 70-year-old Evans, without taking a breath. "Right now we're working on tile murals."
More restoration-oriented face-lifts may be in the offing. Albuquerque is gearing up to serve as host to "Remember the Route," part of the National Diamond Jubilee of Route 66 celebrations in 2001, and entrepreneurs are realizing they could have the Next Big Thing on their hands. Not long ago, vintage-car buffs were just about the only friends Route 66 had, but now the road is hot. "The Germans, the Japanese, and the Dutch love Route 66," says Williams. "For us, it's nostalgia. For them, it's mythology."
out and about
Gruet Winery 8400 Pan American Frwy. N.E.; 505/821-0055. The setting may lack the romance of Napa or Sonoma. In fact, an Albuquerque newspaper dubbed the winery's home "Warehouse O' Wine." But ultimately what matters is the stuff in the bottle, and since 1987 this spin-off of the French champagne house of Gilbert Bruet & Fils has produced what the New York Times calls the nation's best bubbly outside California. Tasting-room hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Sandia Peak Tramway 10 Tramway Rd. N.E.; 505/856-1532; $14 round-trip for adults, $10 for children five to 12. The longest aerial tramway in the world takes you from the foothills to the 10,378-foot top of Sandia Peak—through four climate zones in 15 minutes. With views extending for 11,000 square miles, it's a must-do at sunset. Hiking and biking trails thread through the mountains.
into the blue
A special atmospheric condition called the "Albuquerque Box" makes possible breathtaking ascents and precision navigation for hot-air balloons. Little wonder, then, that the city holds the largest ballooning festival in the world every October. Several ballooning companies also ply the air throughout the rest of the year, charging about $130 for a one-hour ride. Call the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau for more information (800/733-9918).
seeing the sights
Rio Grande Nature Center State Park 2901 Candelaria Rd. N.W.; 505/344-7240; adults $1, children 50¢. The cottonwood forests that shade the Rio Grande were called bosques by the Spanish settlers; to the graceful sandhill crane and more than 250 other species of migratory birds that throng the Rio Grande flyway, these placid riparian ecosystems are a great place to rest weary wings and refuel. The nature center preserves 270 acres of bosque and has two miles of easy trails that wind through forests, meadows, and marshland. You see the greatest number of birds on the wing in November and March.
American International Rattlesnake Museum 202 San Felipe St. N.W.; 505/242-6569; adults $2, children $1. You may think this is a relic from the days of Route 66 curio museums, but in fact it was opened in 1990 by a former biology teacher devoted to animal conservation. On hand are 34 varieties of rattlers; anyone who makes it all the way through without swooning gets an official Certificate of Bravery. On the lighter side, there's also an impressive collection of snake memorabilia (including a poster for the movie Cobra Woman) and a gift store.
Petroglyph National Monument 4735 Unser Blvd. N.W.; 505/899-0205, ext. 335; free. Few petroglyph sites in the Southwest offer such easy accessibility; unfortunately, this also means you have to block out the encroaching suburbs to appreciate the eeriness and poignancy of the place. Between 1000 b.c. and a.d. 1650, more than 20,000 images were carved on the basalt rock veneer of this volcanic escarpment. The artists ranged from hunter-gatherers to Anglo explorers, but most were Pueblo Indians, whose descendants still consider this sacred ground. There are warrior figures, handprints and footprints, astronomical markings, and a macaw that is unmistakable testimony to the Pueblo people's trade with Central America. Most visitors head for the trails around the Boca Negra Canyon, where you can climb a mesa and gaze out at five volcanic cones.
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center 2401 12th St. N.W.; 505/843-7270; admission $4. A cooperative effort of all 19 New Mexican pueblos, this museum explains the history and culture of a people through simple exhibits and fiercely political commentary. A separate gallery offers an excellent survey of each pueblo's distinctive pottery and other crafts.
Pueblo of Acoma 800/747-0181; admission $8. About 70 miles west of Albuquerque is the legendary "Sky City," a 367-foot-tall sandstone mesa that has been home to the Acoma people since the 12th century and is one of the oldest inhabited sites in North America. You can visit the pueblo only if you're on the guided tour.
all that's fit to print
Tamarind Institute 108-110 Cornell Dr. S.E.; 505/277-3901. In the 1960's, Tamarind almost singlehandedly revived the art of lithography in America by working with modern masters such as Josef Albers and Roy Lichtenstein. A division of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico since 1970, the institute continues to train artisans and produce limited-edition prints and folios. The gallery and bookshop are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and by appointment; tours of the printmaking studios are offered on the first Friday of every month at 1:30.
The innkeepers of Albuquerque are always quick to mention how close they are to Santa Fe. But ask where they go for their own day trips, and watch them get positively misty-eyed about the Jemez Mountains.
The Jemez (pronounced "hay-mes") range presents plenty of natural beauty, along with the opportunity for a hot springs soak. To head for the hills, pick up Highway 4, a National Scenic Byway, in the village of San Ysidro, about 45 minutes northwest of Albuquerque. The road takes you past Jemez Pueblo—and, on weekends, roadside stands selling Indian fry bread—and then into a stunning sandstone canyon where the rocks are maroon. The desert landscape begins to soften to an alpine lushness as you near the bucolic town of Jemez Springs, where many Albuquerqueans seek rejuvenation and a little history at the Jemez Springs Bath House (505/829-3303: reservations recommended). Settlers first built a bathhouse here in the 1870's. In its current incarnation, the low-key, homey spa offers not only a hot mineral soak ($9 gets you an hour in one of the concrete tubs) but also wraps, facials, nail treatments, and massages by licensed therapists.
You can tackle the great outdoors of the 57,000-acre Jemez National Recreation Area (for hiking information, call 505/438-7840), but there are a lot of rubbernecking options for car potatoes, too. Just beyond Jemez Springs is Soda Dam, a goofy natural barricade 300 feet long 50 so feet high, formed from the calcium deposits of yet another geothermal spring. A hole in the dam lets the Jemez River flow through, forming a popular swimming spot.
The road then winds past the indisputably prowlike Battleship Rock and on to a major jaw dropper: Valle Grande, one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world. Formed more than a million years ago by an eruption 600 times more powerful than the one that rocked Mount St. Helens, it's now 144 square miles of luxuriant meadow, with all the extravagant expansiveness of an emerald sea. Currently, you can gape at Valle Grande only from the road—it's privately owned, and conservation groups are anxiously waiting to see if Congress will come up with $101 million to purchase the land before the offer expires at the end of next year. You can also follow Highway 4 to the 12th-century Anasazi ruins of Bandelier National Monument (505/672-3861).
shop to it!
The downtown retail renaissance is still a work in progress, but don't pass up a chance to visit Skip Maisel's Wholesale Indian Jewelry & Crafts (510 Central Ave. S.W.; 505/242-6526). The Maisel family has been selling Indian crafts and souvenirs to travelers since 1907; in 1929 the store moved to its current location, and its Art Deco façade and Indian-themed murals (wonderfully well preserved) became an instant Route 66 landmark. This huge store stocks everything from Mexican jumping beans and gross scorpion key chains for the kids to exquisite pottery and turquoise jewelry for the grown-ups. Also worth a look is Dimestore Cowboys (407 Second St. S.W.; 505/244-1493), which carries enough Western-themed hand-forged and hand-crafted furniture to turn your abode into a showplace of Rio Grande style.
In Nob Hill, Pick Up Your Toys (3100 Central Ave. S.E.; 505/254-9929) has playthings both earnest (china tea sets) and cheeky (Fighting Rabbi puppets). The A Store (3500 Central Ave. S.E.; 505/266-2222) stocks chic home accessories by, among others, Rainbow Gate, Vietri, Retroneau, Noguchi, and Mike. Behind the dalmatian-patterned entrance of Bow Wow Records (3103 Central Ave. N.E.; 505/256-0928) is the hipster's source for jazz and alternative music, in new and used condition. There's just the right musty ambiance at Cowboys & Indians Antiques (4000 Central Ave. S.E.; 505/255-4054), stocked by a network of pickers with finds ranging from vintage Indian beadwork to souvenirs from Route 66's heyday. Just off Central is Wear It! (107 Amherst Dr. S.E.; 505/266-7764), where au courant meets cool, with tees by Custo of Barcelona, bags by Un Apres-Midi de Chien, and feminine dresses by Lilith of Paris. Across the street, Papers! (114 Amherst Dr. S.E.; 505/254-1434) sells great rubber stamps and goods for wrapping and writing, and Ooh! Aah! Jewelry (110 Amherst Dr. S.E.; 505/265-7170) showcases semiprecious stones.
Chili Patch U.S.A. (204 San Felipe St. N.W.; 505/242-4454) in Old Town is a nifty store for meeting your chili-related souvenir needs. Other Old Town standouts are Andrews Pueblo Pottery & Art Gallery (303 N. Romero St.; 505/243-0414), one of the best stores of its type, and its affiliate, Andrews Aventura (400 Romero St. N.W., Suite 3; 505/247-9220), which specializes in Mexican pewter, tinware, and silver jewelry from Taxco. Mariposa Gallery (113 Romero St. N.W.; 505/842-9097) has covetable jewelry and objets created mostly by local artists.
A rare "Pueblo Deco" gem dating to 1927, the KiMo Theatre (the name is an amalgam of two Indian words that loosely mean "king of its kind") was saved from destruction in 1978. It has since become a cultural hot spot for Albuquerque, featuring everything from Gilbert & Sullivan to performance art. Right now, all you can admire is the intricate terra-cotta and tile façade; the building is closed for a $2 million interior renovation and restoration. It's set to reopen in March 2000. 423 Central Ave. N.W.; 505/848-1370.