Sunday, July 1, 2012

Road Trip Day 3: Albuquerque, NM

Add caption
Today we had one of the longest drives of the trip, heading west from OKC to Albuquerque, NM. I’ve been to Albuquerque before, but it was many years ago, so it was going to be like seeing the city for the first time.  Since the drive was rather long, we decided ahead of time to break-up the trip with a stop in Amarillo, which is not quite half way. It was a perfect place to stop for lunch, as they have many great restaurants and we needed to fuel up.  There isn’t much to see on I-40 in Texas, so we kept moving and sailed smoothly into Amarillo. We decided to stop at Coyote Bluff, a whole-in-the-wall café that is known for their burgers. Their infamous Hell Burger is supposed to be a local favorite and one that will give you a real bite.

We pulled up to Coyote Bluff, which looks like a small shack on the side of the road, and headed over to check out the scene. If you’ve never been there, it is important to ask how they do things and follow the lead of those in line ahead of you. Basically, there is an informal line that forms outside. When people come out of the café, the next party lets the servers know how many are in their party, and they are the next up to get a table. Tables turn over quickly, but we have 4-5 parties ahead of us. So what do you do while you wait outside in the mid-day heat? You poke your head inside and choose a beer from their beer tub, drink it while you wait, and bring the empty back inside to pay for it with your meal. Yes, they run on the honor system. So we followed suit, grabbed a beer and only had to wait about 10 minutes for a table…not bad for noon on a Saturday! I ordered the Hell Burger (I love spice!), and Jen ordered the California burger which came with green chile and guacamole. We halved each one…both were amazing. Probably one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever had. The patties were thick and juicy, but well cooked. None of the peppers were over-powering, they just added a great flavor and kick to the meal. Sufficiently full and needing to get back on the road, we gassed up and headed out.
Coyote Bluff, Amarillo, TX

The Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM
The next stop we made was in Santa Rosa, NM. They have a famous “Blue Hole” that is over 80ft deep and about 20ft wide. Scuba divers use this area for training and people driving by use it for a quick dip during the hot summers. We wanted to see what it was all about, so we stopped quickly took a couple pictures, and kept going. There were many people waiting to swim, but some divers were doing a lesson for an unknown amount of time, and they have priority in this “Blue Hole”. It was a beautiful oasis in the desert though!

Green Chile Burrito, Frontier Resturant
On to Albuquerque. After a full day of driving, we were lucky to have gained an hour, driving into the mountain time zone. We found our hotel easily, checked in, and sat down to relax and stretch out for a few minutes. We knew our next stops were dinner and drinks, so this was a good time to plot our attack. We decided on Frontier Restaurant, which is located across the street from the campus of the University of New Mexico. It was a nice area of town and a popular, yet cheap place to eat. You don’t have to worry about service here because you order your food, pay, and sit down…when your number appears on the screen, grab it from the window and enjoy! We each tried the Frontier Burrito, smothered in green chile. They were solid and reasonably priced around $8. I like a good burrito and this ranked up there, not to mention the addition of green chile probably added some bonus points. All meals at Frontier are served with fresh sopapillas, which were soft and delicious as well.
After dinner, it was time to have a couple beers and check out the city. We first headed towards the Northeast side to Bad Ass Brewery. It’s located in a strip mall, which made us chuckle, but it was a nice looking bar inside. They had 11 beers on tap, which were all good beers. All of the workers seemed well-versed in their profession and had lots of good information to share. Jen and I split a sampler, and decided to move on. We then headed into a more downtown, industrial area to a place called La Cumbre. This place was packed, as they had live bluegrass bands playing. We did the sampler here as well, lots of IPA style beers, more Jen’s thing, but they were good. We hung out here for a couple hours, enjoying the music and chatting it up with locals. We had one more stop in mind, but were re-routed by a friendly couple, who sent us conveniently around the corner to Il Vicino Brewery. Il Vicino had a great outdoor patio area, and although it was 90+ degrees, the dry heat isn’t anything compared to the humidity of Chicago, and there was a steady breeze. Perfect night to just sit outside and relax with a few new samplers. The beer here was great….actually Albuquerque put on a good beer show, had some great live music, and lots of friendly people. My favorite part is that dogs are allowed in all of these places (which makes me miss Rizzo, my 8-year-old pit bull) and I would love to bring my baby girl back here! She’d have a blast with all of these crazy people.
We made it an early-ish night (Another full day accomplished), grabbed some Del Taco on the way back, as we have never been to one and don’t have them in Illinois. We also wanted to make sure that we rolled into bed instead of being smart and NOT eating again. Oh well , we’re on vacation right?! What’s more food and beer??

The next couple of stops are the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. We are planning on camping, so chance that I will have wi-fi to update anything are slim, but as soon as I get to Vegas in a few days, I will post the updates and (fingers crossed) pictures! Should be an adventurous few days that I’m definitely looking forward to!

As always, please post comments or ideas of places to see/eat/drink/whatever…and get your butts out and travel!

No comments:

Post a Comment