Where to Eat, Shop, and Stay in Albuquerque's Old Town and Sawmill Districts

Breakfast burritos, Navajo silverwork, and more.

Travelers on the way to the dramatic landscapes of Taos, Santa Fe, or White Sands might not pay much mind to Albuquerque — short of hopping in a rental car at the airport and heading out of town. But the city of Breaking Bad also has its share of only-in-New Mexico businesses and an abundance of local art and design.

Here, T+L's picks for an afternoon in Old Town — the city's historic adobe heart — and the new Sawmill District development next door.

The 18th-century San Felipe de Neri Church, in Old Town Albuquerque
The 18th-century San Felipe de Neri Church, in Old Town Albuquerque. iStockphoto/Getty Images

Albuquerque Museum

The permanent collection explores the state's intersecting cultural and artistic influences — threading a narrative between ancient artifacts, colonial religious iconography, 20th-century masters like Georgia O'Keeffe and Raymond Jonson, and contemporary Native artists like beadworker Teri Greeves and ceramist Janice Ortiz. cabq.gov.

Back Alley Brujas

A new shop filled with surprising finds like hand-painted Ghanaian movie posters and screen-printed Thelma & Louise tees, plus Southwestern-inspired accessories and plenty of crystal-and-candle vibes. @backalleybrujas.

Hotel Chaco

The design mission of this 118-key property is to pay tribute to New Mexico at every possible turn. The lobby calls to mind the kivas — circular rooms used for ceremonial purposes — at Chaco Canyon, a massive Puebloan archaeological complex northwest of the city. Common spaces are filled with art from each of the state's 19 pueblos; flights of regional wine are served in the lounge; and in case you need a reminder of where you are, the rooftop restaurant has some of the best views in town. hotelchaco.com; doubles from $199.

View of Albuquerque from the rooftop restaurant at the Hotel Chaco
Level 5, the rooftop restaurant at Hotel Chaco. Hall + Merrick/Courtesy of Hotel Chaco

Luna and Luz

This new shop offers "modern West goods" inside the recently redeveloped Plaza Don Luis, a historic arcade in Old Town. Shoppers will find sculptural ceramics, printed textiles, herbal teas, and more in a pleasingly mellow space. lunaand​luz.com.

New Mexico Artisan Market

A pop-up event showcasing the best of local arts and crafts, including Diné painter Geraldine Tso, jewelry maker Randy Montoya, ceramicist Mary Alice Gonzales, and many more. In the works: a program to provide commercial space to youth artisans free of charge. nmartisanmarket.com.

Nizhóní Soap Company

The brainchild of 13-year-old Kamia Begay, this vegan bath-products company opened up in Albuquerque earlier this year. Nizhóní's flagship product is a fragrant soap infused with Navajo tea — dried greenthread, a desert plant — and other ingredients harvested within the Navajo Nation. nizhonisoaps.com.

Tacos and turquoise jewelry shown in photos from marketplaces in Albuquerque, New Mexico
From left: Tacos at Sawmill Market; turquoise jewelry at the Silver Artichoke. From left: Jen Judge; Douglas Merriam

Sawmill Market

This food hall occupies the soaring former warehouse of the Frank Paxton Lumber Co. Stop by for snacks (from arepas and banh mi to a classic New Mexico breakfast burrito), plus local beers and wines, live music in the courtyard, and even mixology and culinary classes. sawmillmarket.com.

The Silver Artichoke

Silver and turquoise abound in New Mexico, but it's sometimes hard to judge quality or know who made (and who's getting paid for) the jewelry for sale. Owned by fourth-generation Navajo silversmith Nicholas Jackson, the Silver Artichoke displays his and other Native artists' work, from classic bolo ties and pendants to inventive pieces like cuff links made from old Buffalo nickels. thesilverartichoke.com.

Tiny Grocer ABQ

Opened during the pandemic, this store offers locally roasted Moons Coffee and small-batch food products from the surrounding region. Stock up on lavender seltzer from BlueFly Farms, in Peralta; flavored vinegars from Artemisia Herbs, in Dixon; and kimchi from Mi Young's Farm, in Jaconita. tinygrocerabq.com.

A version of this story first appeared in the December 2021/January 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline All About ABQ.

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