Downtown Albuquerque used to be a derelict stretch with dodgy streets, closed cement warehouses and graffiti-scuffed railroad cars from the nearby train station. But revitalization efforts are luring field-to-fork chefs, hops-obsessed brewers, eco-chic designers, craft brewers, single-estate coffee roasters and a crop of contemporary artists who are pushing the city’s artistic sensibility into the limelight. As the 12-block corridor surrounding Central Avenue takes on a more polished sheen, the atmosphere has remained original and proudly New Mexican, attracting legions of tourists and residents alike.
Rail Yards Market
This multifunctional market, open May through October, has re-energized the defunct former blacksmith shop of the Santa Fe Railroad. The proudly dowdy space with colorful windowpanes draws upward of 4,000 visitors every week and shows off upcycled architectural designs, block-printed T-shirts and seasonal bites (with red and green chiles).
777 First Street SW, 505-600-1109, railyardsmarket.com.
This art space is at the core of the city’s diverse artisanal sensibility. Home to contemporary Southwestern ephemera, the space has served as an incubator for other artists and curators since opening 11 years ago. It also houses an essential map that guides visitors to galleries and hidden murals downtown.
516 Central Avenue SW, 505-242-1445, 516arts.org.
Inspired by the dimly lit taverns of Andalusia, Spain, this tapas restaurant has been fusing traditional small plates with innovative twists since its opening in late 2015. Popular dishes include fried potatoes with Poblano aioli and lobster tostada with roasted tomato salsa.
1025 Lomas Boulevard NW, 505-242-3117, thecellartapas.com.