Why You Need to Visit Old Town, Albuquerque
Why you need to visit Old Town
Albuquerque, New Mexico
I don't know about you, but there are still SO many places on my bucket list that I have yet to go to. Which is a crime if you ask me!
Since I grew up on the east coast, I have not ventured through many western states yet. I was blessed to have a layover in Albuquerque, New Mexico to give me a taste of everything that I've been missing.
I quickly fell in love with Albuquerque's cute Old Town, and here's why:
Culture. Culture shocks. Education. New understandings. However you want to word it, New Mexico has stunning culture. You will be blown away by all of the pueblos and Navajo-inspired buildings. All you have to do is walk around and observe everything and you will become giddy.
Everywhere you look there are ristras. If you are not familiar, ristras are strings of drying vegetables. In New Mexico’s case, drying rods of chile peppers. They add adorable decorations to porches, front doors, kitchens, etc.
I would have bought them all if I didn’t have to work the next day. They were so colorful to a plain storefront. Plus, you get to clean them out and cook with them later so they’re multi-purposeful.
Albuquerque has 19 Navajo tribes encircling the town. That is why they call it the “Land of Enchantment”. The presence of Indian tribes, pottery, white sage, turquoise, rituals, and community is beautiful; simply put.
I was in awe by how many Aztec rugs and blankets I saw. Let alone the amount of handmade arts, crafts, jewelry, woven baskets, and hot sauce. Seriously, one of the places I’ve felt most connected to thus far.
If you’re brave enough (which I wasn’t) there is even a rattlesnake museum! Eeeeeek. Snakes are my worst fear, no thank you. But, if you’re into that sort of thing then it’s dope.
FOOOOOOD. Who doesn’t love food? I mean, c’mon now, we need it to survive for goodness sake. Not a foodie? You’re lying.
Now, I’m not picky when it comes to food. I love everything except for dairy (good thing I’m not from Wisconsin). HOWEVER, New Mexican food is some of the best food that I’ve EVER had. Which is saying a lot because tacos are one of my main food groups.
Anyway, I always love asking strangers what their favorite restaurant is so I can get a local’s perspective and feel all cool and whatnot.
Every. Single. Person. that I asked named a different restaurant.
With that being said, I felt pretty confident knowing that every place was the best place and I was not going to be disappointed.
My Uber driver told me if I don’t want to spend a ton of money (because Old Town tends to be a bit pricier) then I should head to Little Anita’s.
There are about 3 or 4 Little Anita’s dispersed throughout New Mexico and since I’m balling on a budget at the moment I said “what the heck”, Lil’ Anita’s it is!
Now, I’m going to be honest, when I first walked in it felt like a chain, maybe a Mexican Applebee’s or something. But, the food was DELICIOUS. And that’s all that matters, right?!?
The Combo Platter #5 was my order of choice and that came with enchiladas and meat and a taco and a sopapilla. I also got a jalapeno margarita because I wanted the full experience, and I am so thankful to myself for that. The enchiladas were the best I everhad. I ate everything and I would go back again.
However, my second Uber driver told be about Los Cuates that I should go to the next time I visit. Both restaurants are slightly outside of Old Town, but only by a few blocks.
If you would rather spend more money and get the aesthetic of Old Town, I was told La Placita, Church St Café, and Backstreet Grill (not Backstreet Boys) were all amazing.
Just promise me that wherever you go, you try sopapillas.
Who doesn’t love spending money on things they don’t need???? AMIRIIIIGHT?!
Anywho, Old Town has freakin’ adorable items for gifts…. or yourself. Authentic Aztec pottery pieces, rugs and blankets for home décor, scarves, sweaters, margarita and shot glasses, coffee mugs, skull and pepper inspired decorations, and all the chile and hot sauce you could ever imagine.
If you’re digging the Aztec/dessert vibes,New Mexico should be your go-to place for home décor. I was told that Sante Fe is wonderful to “window shop”, but buy the items you like in Albuquerque because it’ll be cheaper.
Let me tell you, I would have bought everything if I could have. I was picturing so many interior design miracles while I was walking around. Not to mention the amount of turquoise jewelry they had. Majority of the jewelry, if not all, of it was handmade from local artists.
I am definitely going to come back to Old Town when I have a house to decorate for myself!
There’s also tons of stereotypical tourist souvenir purchases to make. These include but are not limited to T-Shirts, falsa blankets, and factory made “Aztec” items.
Ahhhhhhhh Mid-westerners. I LOVE THEM ALL. They are all so laid back and just genuinely friendly. It’s literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air with them.
From passengers on the airplane to owners of an adorable shop, they all just want to make you smile, which works.
I met SO many wonderful human beings during my Old Town escapades. I tried to start up conversations with as many people as I could. The first impactful lady was just a sweetheart in a candy shop.
I walked in hoping to purchase a chile-lime caramel apple, and was soon disappointed. THEY WERE ALL GONE. Which hurt even worse because that means they are the most popular ones, aka, the best tasting!!!
Well, as you can imagine I pushed through the heartache of no chile-lime caramel apple but continued to carry on a conversation with the woman behind the counter. After connecting with a newfound friend, she gave me a FREE chile-lime lollipop.
I LITERALLY felt like a kid in a candy shop, floating on cloud nine. I was super thankful for her because that lolli was delishhhh. I cannot wait and go back to try the chile-lime apple.
I walked in to every store that was open because I was just trying to spend as much time there as I could. Every person was as friendly as all get out, but the next person that stood out to me worked at a random souvenir shop. He told me I was carrying too many things (aka one hot sauce and a sticker) and that he would hold them behind the counter for me while I continued to walk around.
Yes, it is possible that he was just getting me to buy more, but his customer service is worth talking about. He made sure that everyone in that store felt special.
The last person (of the 6,483 extraordinarily nice people I met) that I will talk about was another little shop owner. Well, his wife was the owner, but he was helping her out like a gentleman. He made sure I felt welcomed and wasn’t even talking to me about the store at first. He was just genuinelyinterested in who I was.
I loved nearly everything in that store and couldn’t decide for the life of me what I wanted as my souvenir. He continued talking about spirituality and life with me as I was deciding. When I finally came to the conclusion that I wanted a small pottery piece, he added in a turquoise ring and white sage stick for free. What a gem.
People of New Mexico are just generous and caring. I absolutely loved all of my interactions and I will carry them with me forever.
I urge you all to talk to people.Treat everyone as if they were your best friends. If not as your best friends, then treat them with ultimate kindness. You will be amazed at the incredible people you will come in contact with.
I have always wanted to visit Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta; which I am still planning on attending one of these days. However, I am extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to explore Albuquerque on a layover.
If you haven’t been to Old Town, Albuquerque yet, it should be on your bucket list.