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Where to stay - Downtown - The new Embassy Suites is very nice and is offering some great deals since they are still considered new. The Hyatt Regency Downtown is also nice and you can walk to the downtown nightlife, restaurants and theatres. Old Town is a great location to stay near the museums, restaurants, aquarium and botanical gardens. Try the Casas de Suenos Old Town Country Inn 3 blocks from the plaza. This is a wonderful Southwestern style in with beautiful gardens and a great breakfast.
Where to eat - everywhere! For the best recommended restaurants, use the TripAdvisor's guide to Albuquerque. There are more great restaurants per capita in Albuquerque than most cities! Local spots - For authentic New Mexican food do not be fooled into going to Gardunos. The smaller and more mom & pop places are where it is at. Look for a New Mexican restaurant in a strip mall, and it is most likely family owned, hospitable, and very good. Garcia’s is always great and inexpensive but no margaritas. In the University area El Patio is good and you can sit outside, but again no margaritas. Los Cuates has great food, large portions and finally yummy margaritas!
Asian - where to begin? Vietnamese - May Cafe or May Hong, Thai - Bangkok or Siam, Sushi - Samurai, Sushi Hama, Shogun, Sushi King. Korean - Fu Yang by far. Chinese - Chows or China King
Indian - Taj Mahal or India Palace for the lunch buffet.
Breakfast - gotta hit the Frontier on Central Ave. across from UNM, or area Weck's. Flying Star is a hip chain that serves great food with freshly prepared ingedients.
Italian - Scalo hands down, Vivace, Nanas (its back again)
Pizza - The Pie Shack - best on the West Coast.
Albuquerque is not a gourmand's kind of city, but there are diverse, and excellent restaurants, such as The Rancher's Club for steaks in the University Hilton.
If you don't like Mexican, you're not necessaily out of luck. But, Mexican food is served in almost every kind of restaurant, because the locals enjoy their "New Mexican" cuisine so much. (New Mexican differs from Tex-Mex or California "Mexican", with its sour cream, avacado, etc.). Chinese buffets? They have enchiladas and tacos. German? They have green chile cheeseburgers. If you go to McDonalds, you can get red or green chile on your Egg McMuffin.
Chile, by the way, is what most people in the rest of the world call "sauce." It's not the stuff you're used to with beans and meat. (That's chili-con-carne). Rather, it's a thin sauce poured all over everything--and it comes in red or green from flame-roasted chiles. (Chile salsas...with an "e", not an "i." ) You have to ask at the restaurant which is hotter--it differs from place to place, but green is usually milder. Be like a local, order it "Christmas style" and have half red and half green. If in doubt, ask for your chile salsa "on the side" in a small bowl. You don't ever buy a bowl of chili as a meal in Albuquerque, except at Wendy's. Albuquerque does offer the same variety of "ethnic" fare as any moderately sized American city...you just have to look for them, and after using TripAdvisor's recommendations... ask the locals who frequent the area's offerings.
Green chile cheeseburgers are so popular, the state has sponsored a web page. Flame-roasted strips of local green chile, often from the community of Hatch in southern New Mexico, is added. When you are asked, however, the official state question in a restaurant--red or green?--then you are being asked what chile "sauce" you want covering your meal. Both are delicious, and you can have both or either or both on the side, as mentioned above. The green comes from fresh chile (which is often roasted at harvest and then can be frozen). The red is from dried chiles. (The red ristras are chile pods strung together to dry.) Red chile is sometimes served with pork in it and is great in a bowl of posole or pinto beans. Green chile is often used in a stew, which is served with a flour tortilla and makes an excellent supper.
Most of America's restaurant chains can be found in the Albuquerque area -- P.F. Chang's, Papadeaux, Outback Steakhouse, Buca di Beppo, Landry's Seafood--that kind of thing. Trombinos is decent local Italian. Mykonos is passable Greek. Either the County Line or Quarters are favored by the locals for some of the best Barbeque. For Chinese, Chow's is probably as good as it gets--but it's nothing like Chinatown in a big city. If a big part of your traveling is enjoying local good food, then prepare to tantalize your palates with New Mexico's "Mexican" offerings...you can get the "usual" somewhere else, some other time.