Guac Out at The Top 7 Mexican Restaurants in Albuquerque

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If you’ve come to Albuquerque for the Mexican food, you’ve come to the right place. Albuquerque is known for their uniquely “New Mexican” cuisine, which combines ingredients used by Native Americans and by European and Mexican settlers. And its defining ingredient? Chile. 

Image courtesy of Eater Vegas

There are two different kinds of chile: red and green. As a general rule, red chile is hotter than green. When in Albuquerque, you will quickly learn that you always need to have an answer ready for one question in particular from your server. That question is, “red or green?” You can say "Christmas" if you want both red and green chile, but you can also ask for the chile on the side if you're not sure if you can handle the spice.

Whatever type of chile you choose to satisfy your taste buds, you need some excellent food to go with it. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 7 Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque. Check out what we’ve found - we promise you won’t be disappointed once you see the beautiful Mexican spread on your table!

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1. Monroe’s

2021 Travelers’ Choice.

1025 4th St NW | Downtown |

The story of this 2021 Travelers’ Choice restaurant goes back to 1962. Monroe’s began as a small drive-in near Old Town. They specialized in high quality, but reasonably priced New Mexican food. Monroe’s has since expanded and is now nationally known, but they have not forgotten their roots as a local neighborhood gathering place. 

Check out #00 The Green Chile Cheeseburger if you're craving American with a New Mexican Twist. Or, if you want to try a more traditional New Mexican plate, the Chimichangas are the way to go. 

Don’t skip out on breakfast, Monroe’s also boasts a full breakfast menu featuring a Breakfast Burrito Plate, a Green Chile and Cheese 3 Egg Omelet, and a delicious side of hash browns. You can even get Pancakes or French Toast if you want sweet AND savory.

“We loved their chips and salsa. The chips were thick and crunchy with just the right amount of salt. This was very affordable and didn't break the budget. Very tasty!” - Yelp Review

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2. Taqueria Mexico

So you never have to miss the flavor of Mexico.

300 Menaul Blvd NW | North Valley/Los Ranchos |

Authentic. Vibrant. Fresh. These are just some of the words used to describe the food at this Mexican restaurant. 

Taqueria Mexico offers a wide variety of classic Mexican dishes. Their food is made with fresh, traditional ingredients and boasts a “distinct Mexican flair.” And most importantly, you get a full plate of food for a good price.

With daily specials, everyday is up for celebration. Stop in on “Taco Tuesday” for three soft tacos with your choice of meat served with a medium sized drink for $8.99, or make the most of your Thursday evening with three cheese enchiladas served with rice, beans, and your choice or red or green chile for $8.79.

“Damn!! I have been wanting to try this place for a while now and I am impressed. The food was flavorful - the meat was tender and well seasoned, the salsa spicy and fresh, and the nachos were decadent.” - Yelp Review

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3. Papa Nacho’s

Where pinto beans are tasty enough to be a main course.

7648 Louisiana Blvd NE | Balloon Fiesta Park/North I-25 |

“…The beans remind us how beautiful pintos can be… they taste creamy, almost buttery, and have a slightly chunky texture that encourages you to keep spooning. They could almost be the main course.” This is how Albuquerque Journal reviewer Charlotte Balcomb Lane writes of Papa Nacho’s pinto beans alone, so one can hardly imagine what the rest of the food is like.

It all started when husband and wife team Brigette "Bebe" Lopez and Ignacio Lopez, Sr. started selling burritos out of their truck in downtown Albuquerque. They later opened their first location on 4th Street, capturing the attention of publications such as the Alibi, Albuquerque Journal and numerous other online outlets. 

Get the namesake Papa Nachos, burritos, mariscos, and more. And don’t forget to get a side of pinto beans!

“Love love love this place! It's a hole in the wall...but boy do they know how to make good food! If you're looking for authentic Mexican this is it. The beans and rice taste just like my aunty made them.” - Yelp Review 

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4. El Pinto

You may have seen this restaurant’s famous salsa in stores.

10500 4th St NW | North Valley |

Twin brother duo Jim and John Thomas purchased the El Pinto restaurant from their parents in 1994 and continue to use the same family recipes created by their grandmother, Josephina Chavez-Griggs, today.

In 2000, they started the El Pinto Foods' salsa division so that people throughout the country could enjoy El Pinto Salsa and Green Chile Sauce at home. 

You can get everything from traditional to health conscious plates, but be sure to get the Salsa Twins Margarita with Barrel Select Patron Anejo, Citronge, fresh lime juice, and organic simple syrup.

“Great indoor and outdoor dining experience. Stuffed sopapillas are my favorite here and the house salsa and chips is also great. If you want a little more upscale lunch or dinner with New Mexican style food, this is the place.” - Yelp Review

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5. El Patron Restaurant and Cantina

A glimpse into the past of an old Mexican plaza.

10551 Montgomery Blvd NE | Eastside |

A spacious room with hanging lights, stained glass windows, and flower-littered balconies, you are transcended into the past of an old Mexican plaza as you dine at this restaurant. 

At El Patron you will find traditional Mexican cuisine and homemade desserts, as well as gluten-free and vegan dishes catering to all Mexican-food lovers. There is also live music and dancing on Fridays and Saturdays as well as Happy Hour drinks all day every day. Don’t be shy, go get the party started at El Patron!

“This is by far the BEST Mexican restaurant I have probably been to in my entire life and that's to say I grew up in New Mexico/Texas. I would highly recommend coming here as I plan on coming here again in the future!” - Yelp Review

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6. Padilla’s Mexican Kitchen

A no-frills family owned restaurant serving authentic New Mexican Food.

1510 Girard Blvd NE | Midtown/University |

The food speaks for itself at this no-frills family owned restaurant serving authentic New Mexican cuisine. 

The simple menu offers huevos rancheros, enchiladas, burritos, sopaipillas, tostadas, tamales, and more. And don’t skip out on a side order of red or green chile to complete your authentic New Mexican food experience.

“If I want the best red chili in town, I'm going to Padilla's. Tip: Try a combination plate to taste a variety of items on the menu.” - Yelp Review

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7. El Modelo Mexican Foods

Where huge tamales have been sold since 1929.

1715 Second St SW | Barelas |

“Our tamales are huge.” This is what is stated clear as day on El Modelo’s website, and it’s safe to say it got our attention. 

You can purchase individual tamales or tamales by the dozen, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll be ordering them by the dozen.

Come for the tamales, and stay for the enchilada plates, special made burritos, and stuffed sopapillas. 

“The Chile is bursting with a smokey, spicy attitude! The sopaipilla is an efficient vessel to hold in all of this deliciousness just hand held, but I recommend using the spork provided to tear into it and fully enjoy!” - Yelp Review

Click here to purchase a GiftYa for El Modelo Mexican Foods!

No matter which of these Albuquerque Mexican restaurants you go to, you will find distinctly “New Mexican” cuisine that is infused with Native American, European, and Mexican influence, a wide variety of traditional dishes, delicious, buttery pinto beans, and, most importantly red and green chile. Now that you’re practically an expert at answering this question, what will it be: red or green?


Written by

Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is the shopping expert here at GiftYa. Trae helps people find the best deals and ideas on popular new items to purchase.

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