Category Archives: 3-Albuquerque

Campo and Los Poblanos

So, Los Poblanos, probably my favorite place to stay in NM (maybe anywhere), has expanded again.

It’s pretty dramatic, but like previous changes, they’ve done it with impeccable taste. There’s a whole new block of rooms, a bigger farm shop (with a little coffee-and-snacks bar) and a whole new space for the restaurant, which is now called Campo.

Oh, and non-guests can go there for breakfast! Reservations required, though.

Onate, plus ABQ, Santa Fe & Taos news

Re: the boxed text “Acoma vs. Onate: Grudge Match,” there was an interesting follow-up story in the New York Times, in which the man who sawed off the foot in 1997 met with a reporter and showed him the piece. The man remains anonymous. It’s a good story, set against the context of recent controversies around Confederate memorial statues.

Otherwise, in Albuquerque:
–Sad news: Stevie’s Happy Bikes is closed in Corrales! But still open for mobile services.
–Bad news: Sophia’s Place is closed!
–Good news: Dennis Apodaca, the chef-owner of Sophia’s, reopened in the Imperial Building downtown as Maya Cuisine. (In the book, it says to look out for a branch of Sophia’s Place here…so this is at least partially correct. Just hard to recognize if you don’t know Apodaca by name.) I wasn’t able to go, but it looks great and has high scores from Gil Garduno.
–Bonus news: branch of Monk’s Corner, which sells goodies from the Christ in the Desert Monastery in Abiquiu, also opened in the Imperial Building.

In/around Santa Fe:
–The Children’s Museum has reopened.
–In summer (May-Oct), Valles Caldera lets in only 35 cars a day to drive up into the reserve (past the visitors’ center), and no more vehicles are allowed in in the last two hours. Elk hunting is now allowed, so that’s going on September-October.

In Taos:
–There’s now a super-hip vintage-trailer hotel (“and starlight campground”) across from Taos Mesa Brewing: Hotel Luna Mystica.

Sevilleta Wildlife Refuge

I have to admit, Sevilleta has always fallen by the wayside as I drive down to Bosque del Apache. This trip I finally detoured off the highway to see the Sevilleta visitors center. It has a great exhibit on Chihuahua Desert wildlife (including lots of taxidermy)–worth stopping for, as the Bosque del Apache info focuses almost entirely on birds.

More cheap/free tips

Reader Paul has some more very solid advice! I’ll be working these details into the next edition of the guide.

1. NM Rail Runner Train (p. 120). Current fares $9 OW, $10 day pass. Buy ticket either online or on the train. In Albuquerque, buses 250 and 50 connect the Alvarado train station to the ABQ airport Mon – Sat. Sundays there is no connection. Bus service is free by showing your valid train ticket. [This is covered in the back of the book, but not sure I noted that the bus is free with your Rail Runner ticket–very helpful!]

2. Sandia Shuttle Express — fare is now $30 OW. If one is taking the last run of the night, call the toll free number and let them know. Also, Sandia works in the opposite direction, picking up at your location in SF and delivering you to ABQ airport.

3. Santa Fe Public Library, 145 Washington Avenue, a block and a half north of the plaza, (505) 955-6781, . A great place to spend a rainy afternoon. Many out of town newspapers. A small but well stocked bookstore, paperbacks $1, hardcovers $2. I don’t remember your mentioning it, however the library is marked on the map on p. 77.

4. Ghost Ranch, p. 113. Perhaps worth more emphasis is that GR has many week-long programs mostly emphasizing the arts (painting, photography, jewelry making), the outdoors, and ministry (given GR’s connection to the Presbyterian church). Most but not all programs happen in the summer. [There’s a bit about this in the back of the book under Classes.]

5. Music on the Hill, free concerts in Santa Fe on Wednesday evenings at St. John’s College, Museum Hill area, Santa Fe. I spent two weeks at St. John’s College last month and noticed that people turned out from all over to attend these concerts. Incidentally (shameless plug), St. John’s College is one of last remaining college curricula based on the Western and now Eastern classics. It has campuses in Santa Fe and Annapolis.

6. Santa Fe International Hostel, p. 94. You describe it well, particularly the “dimly-lit” part, however, I love the place and would stay there even if I had the money to stay somewhere fancier. Why? Intriguing people of all ages from all over the world stay there. Also: free food (but check the expiri date) and no taxes added to the price. Plus, doing the morning chore helps establish a bond to the place. So might you consider dropping the “not the worst” phrase? The hostel deserves better. [Always good to get firsthand reports from hotels, as I never have the time to stay in each and every one myself. Thank you so much!]

Car-free travel tips

Reader Paul writes:

As an extreme budget traveler, I use public transit all I can. You might consider mentioning that transportation between Santa Fe and Los Alamos is available M-F (only) for a mere $3 cash each way via New Mexico Park and Ride. Don’t be deterred by the name — one need not have any vehicle to park to use this service. In Los Alamos, the Mesa Library stop puts one right in the midst of historic, Manhattan project Los Alamos. And the buses are big and cushy too.

See this website for more
and especially the schedule at

It’s the “blue route” that I am referring to. (Don’t confuse that with the Blue Bus that is completely different.)

One more point: for $10 one can buy a day pass on the NM Rail Runner (pay cash once on board) and so travel between Albuquerque and Santa Fe and back again (in the same day) with free passage on buses in both of those cities. It’s a great way to see the state and cheap too.

Outside Albuquerque

The church at Laguna is now open officially only 9am-3pm Mon-Fri. When I dropped by, Alfred Pino wasn’t around, though the woman in the church office said he still comes by from time to time.

The Cerrillos Hills B&B is closed.

In Mountainair, the Shaffer Hotel has new management, as of this spring, and looks in great shape again. Excellent homemade pie in the dining room, and it’s open 6am-9pm most days.

Albuquerque changes

The Candy Lady has moved, just one block, to 424 San Felipe St. NW. (The sneaky thing is that a different candy shop took over the old location–don’t be fooled.)

Hispaniae, the shop in Old Town, is closing.

Routes, the bike-rental company, has moved to a spot in Old Town: 404 San Felipe St. NW.

The A Store, a shop in Nob Hill, has moved a few blocks, to 3339 Central NE.

Stevie’s Happy Bikes, in Corrales, has moved a little bit north, to 4685 Corrales Rd.


Cafe Vingt Cing (end of the Turquoise Trail, at I-25 near Santa Fe) is closed.

Bonus opening: Mas is now open in the Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque. The chef is James Campbell Caruso, whose Boca in Santa Fe is so nice. Spanish tapas, etc. In my experience at his Santa Fe places, the tapas are the way to go. Whole sandwiches (at lunch) are a little meh.

Restaurant changes

A few updates:

The Daily Grind coffee place has moved, to 4340 Cutler Ave NE (waaayyy away!), and the old space is called A&B Lunch Box, with a few of the same menu items.

Santa Fe:
Tree House cafe is closed moved to DeVargas Mall (thx for the correction to the correction, Kelly). Now it’s In the old location is a promising-looking coffee roaster, Ikonik.
The Legal Tender in Lamy is closed, but might reopen with new owners?

Lula’s is closed.

Hours updates

A helpful reader just alerted me that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe is no longer free on Friday evenings. Now it’s only on the first Friday of the month, to NM residents with ID.

Also, the Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque closes for maintenance periodically–so it’s inaccurate to say it runs “frequently all year round.” If your trip falls outside the winter ski season, be sure to call ahead to check the schedule. The maintenance schedule is also posted on the website now. Next closing is November 4-15.

Albuquerque updates

Jo’s Place is closed. (That’s OK–the family’s two other good restaurants still rock the same block.)

Church of Beethoven is now called Sunday Chatter. (Not sure what happened there, but I guess it’s better not to know about chamber music feuds!)

(Thanks to the New York Times team for updating my 36 Hours in Albuquerque piece and finding these changes!)

Shaffer Hotel

This place in Mountainair has changed hands, and the rooms have gotten pretty sketchy. I wouldn’t recommend pre-booking here–take a room only if you can inspect it beforehand.

The cafe seems to be open regularly, though, for late breakfast and lunch every day but Tuesday.

I also noticed Alpine Alley, just north of Mountainair’s main intersection–this looks like good coffee and light food.

2nd edition is here! (plus transport updates)

The second edition of Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque is available now!

Fortunately, no obvious corrections to be made yet. But I’m sure a few will appear shortly.

The big news in the area is twofold:

1) The RailRunner commuter train now connects Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Schedules are here.

Note that, as a side effect, as far as I can tell, there is no longer a regular city bus linking the ABQ airport to downtown–there is now a free shuttle. Which would be nice, except it runs less frequently and is timed to coordinate with the RailRunner’s departures to Santa Fe. Still, if the times work in your favor, you could easily enjoy a car-free visit to Santa Fe (and Albuquerque).

2) Allegedly, daily direct flights to Santa Fe will be starting June 11. They’ll be operated by American Eagle (American Airlines) out of Dallas-Ft. Worth.

This has been on the table before, and very close to starting, so I’ll believe it when I see it.

ABQ Bike Paths, Madrid Toilets

This doesn’t refer to anything specific in the book–I just thought it was a big step forward: You can now bike all the way to the Balloon Fiesta grounds (thanks, Duke City Fix).

Balloon Fiesta traffic is the single biggest mental deterrent for going, I’d say. The park-and-ride bus system works, but if you can get there under your own power–so much cooler! And a pre-dawn bike ride would be great.

In other news, there’s now an actual flushing public toilet in Madrid! (Previously, porta-potties were all that was available.)

Casa Vieja in Albuquerque

I ate at this restaurant in Corrales (p. 166) on this past research trip, and the menu has changed substantially from what’s described in the book.  It does have a few mid-range New Mexican items, but the bulk of the menu is $20-and-up entrees.  My group and I had salads and the green-chile-chicken stew, and none of it inspired raves.

I can’t really recommend the place for a full dinner anymore, but it is still a nice spot for a drink and a snack while you’re in Corrales–ideally outdoors on the patio.

Other ABQ changes

Greyhound/TNM&O buses now arrive at a new depot across 1st St., next to the Amtrak station.

Re: Tingley Aquatic Park (aka Tingley Beach, p. 158), I spoke too soon–the landscaping is still nowhere near finished, though I did see people fishing in the ponds, and the train to the zoo is running.

Re: Faulty Trail (p. 157), I realized the directions don’t really account for all the ways you could get lost.  First, turn on Canoncito, not Corte de Canoncito, which is the next turn to the north.  Then stay on Canoncito for a full half-mile–there’s a fork early on, and you need to bear right to stay on the main road.  Just as the paving ends, there’s another fork, and that’s where you want to bear left, onto Cole Springs Rd. You’ll pass through one fenced area, with ‘private property’ signs, before you reach the locked gate described in the book.  There’s very little room to park there, so you may want to park in the pullout right at the Cole Springs Rd. turn.

Hotel Blue: warning

A reader just dropped me a note to say his experience at the Hotel Blue in Albuquerque (p. 159) was far less than satisfactory: the pool was closed, the airport shuttle was discontinued “until further notice,” the shower didn’t work, and his non-smoking room had an ashtray in it and smelled smoky. And then there was the small matter of a cockroach.

From this info, it sounds as if the original manager, who was extremely scrupulous, has gone on to another job. This is really disappointing, since this would be a huge waste of a hotel in a prime location.
So, until I check on this myself when I’m back in ABQ next month, proceed with caution. You might consider instead the Best Western Rio Grande, in roughly the same price category.

UPDATE: I checked on the Hotel Blue in September ’06. The pool was closed this summer due to citywide water restrictions during a severe drought–this can affect hotels all over the state.

The staff claims an airport shuttle is available, and the rooms look clean enough, but there was a general air of disorganization and slight untidiness about the place–cigarette butts around the front door, for instance, and rumpled carpeting in the room I saw. The staff was having problems with the in-room Internet access, but weren’t really equipped to fix the situation. If I’d been staying there, I would’ve been deeply frustrated.

I’d say this hotel is still a decent option, though at this point, I’m removing the wholehearted “Moon Pick” support of the place.

I’ll check in again in December.

A few changes around Albuquerque

Martha’s Body Bueno in Albuquerque (p. 154) has moved to 3901 Central NE.

The awesome tastiness of Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill, till now only in Santa Fe (p. 59), is coming to Albuquerque: one branch is opening right across from Flying Star in Nob Hill, at Central and Amherst.

Pearl’s Dive in Albuquerque (p. 163) is closed. Rats. Not sure what’s going in its place.

Worse, though, is that Coyote Moon in Lemitar (p. 170), which served some of the best New Mexican food I’ve ever had, is now renamed Tina’s…which is pretty much a guarantee that the man who used to run the place is gone. Very disappointing. You’ll have to hold out till San Antonio for a meal on your way to the Bosque del Apache.

Or you could stop at Socorro Springs Brewing Company, on the north end of the main drag in Socorro. This place used to be on the plaza, and then it was gone, which was pretty sad, but now it has reopened in a gigantic spot–presumably with the same good beer and basic food, but I haven’t checked yet.