The hidden Gem of the Southwest
I don't know if anyone actually uses this phrase here or not, but in my many years in coffee I have heard it a time or two from people who are just stopping in or moved here from another state. It really got me thinking about why I love it here. The "Land of Entrapment" is what I grew up hearing it called the most. Granted anywhere you grow up in can have a feeling of "trapping" you in or give you a sense of not being able to leave due to different circumstances. But for some reason Albuquerque seemed to have more of this then other places I have visited. A very different contrast of a "hidden gem" that I had heard from others. But nonetheless this place has always felt different.
For me it wasn't until college and had moved out of my parents house that I felt I had the choice to leave or stay. I was young, just newly married, hadn't really found my "forever job" (whatever that means). I had just started working at a local coffee shop called Deep Space Coffee, and this was where I had my first experience of love for a job. Never had I enjoyed coming into work so much before. The quality of drinks we were taught to make to the customers I got to interact with daily and the relationships we created (of which whom we still get to see to this day at Castle!), everything came together to feel like being in the coffee industry was where I wanted to be forever. In later posts I can expound on what happened after this period of time, but around 4 years ago I had gotten to a point where I was done with Albuquerque. I had given my everything to the city and to the coffee industry and felt like my time was ending here. I applied to jobs in the coffee industry all over the country and had heard back from many of them, in particular one from Bethesda, Maryland that had offered me the opportunity of a lifetime and to move my wife and I out there and start a new life. But life has a funny way of changing courses very quickly. Over those next two weeks of hearing about the job offer, we had people in the city that believed that I could make a difference here in ABQ and offered me the opportunity to start my own shop here in my hometown. We said we would think about it. The very next day we had someone who offered us a spot to put the coffee shop. How could we say no to that? Again, life is funny sometimes.
We thought about it for a couple days and decided to forgo the opportunity in Maryland and give ABQ another go. That was almost 4 years ago. Crazy how time flies. Obviously there is so much more to that story, but I say all this for a reason. I have a newfound love for this city. We decided to stay and invest in this community and find the best that it has to offer. Oh man have we found a gem. Just as my story shows how unpredictable life is and how sometimes we have a plan for our lives and that it may not always turn out the way we originally planned, we need to take time to revisit those things in life that bring us joy in the present. It took me almost leaving to realize what a great place we have here in ABQ. By NO means is it perfect. Far from it. But how can you say that home is a "trap" if you don't try to find those gems for yourself? This is not the case for everyone and I get that leaving home is sometimes a must, but I hope that maybe this can help inspire you to possibly find what's beautiful about where you are in the now.
What the heck does that have to do with recommendations?
Sorry about all that backstory. I just felt it was important to state who is the one giving these recommendations. I started a business here because people believed in me, and because of that I have a new found respect and re-kindled love for this city. I went out and found all the things I now absolutely adore about this city. ABQ is a place with so much culture and community. People of so many backgrounds and unique stories to tell. (Which is another reason why I started a coffee shop because I get a unique opportunity to hear and experience all those stories!) We have the most AMAZING food and drinks here. Beautiful outdoor scenery and hiking paths to explore. As a barista, we basically are your human equivalent to the yellow pages (lol) because we get so many visitors and new people who ask us what to do and what to eat here in the city!
Alright lets get to it, Recommendations please!
Alright, so this will hopefully be a good place for people who live here already (or just moved here) and maybe want to try something new or are visiting, searching online in their hotel rooms or Air BnB's trying to find their coffee spot and places to eat the next day. I definitely have not tried every single restaurant or shop in ABQ but I have been to many of them throughout my life here. So know I do not have all the answers but hope to be a good place to start for you! There are so many more to include in here but these are just the places I frequent the most in no particular order:
Hope this helps!
I know there are so many more places that I could add to this list but if you are visiting this would be more food and drink then you could probably handle in one trip anyway! If you live here and have a favorite that I didn't mention or possibly haven't even been to then drop a comment below! I'd love to hear from you! Drop a comment if you ended up going to one of these places and let me know what you thought!