How to Find the Best Cheap Albuquerque Restaurants!
There is a sweet spot for dining in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Indeed, $15 or so per person, or less, (not including alcoholic beverages) will find you consistently excellent New Mexican food in Albuquerque if you know where to go. One of the strengths of Albuquerque, New Mexico is its abundance of high-quality inexpensive eateries. Good New Mexican food has never been about expensive cuts of meat or imported ingredients. Good seasonings, slow cooking, and local ingredients make New Mexican cuisine one of the great bargains of the American dining experience. The best restaurants in Albuquerque may not have the most modern decor or slick marketing, but they can make a great meal that’s easy on your budget.
With that in mind, I want to highlight what I consider the best value-priced eateries for your budget in my Best Albuquerque Restaurants Guide. These are the places where the locals eat, and that offer cheap, high quality, unpretentious food. I added a banner like the one shown on this page to the left to let you know when a restaurant listing meets my criteria for “Good and Cheap.” Basically, these are eateries where you can dine for $15 or less per person (not including alcoholic beverages) and expect a great meal. So look for this banner next to my Albuquerque restaurant listings for the best values for your dining dollar! I’ve listed a few of my personal favorites below:
Amore Neopolitan Pizza
Let me start out by saying that this is some of the best pizza in Albuquerque. However, it tastes even better when you stop by during the Amore Happy Hour for the $5 Plates! This is the good stuff. Wood-fired ovens from Naples, Italy, and fresh mozzarella made in-house every day… Am I making you hungry? This is the perfect way to nosh your afternoon away with an authentic Margherita pizza and a cold brew! Check out my full review and the Amore locations here (Amore has a beautiful new pizzeria in Old Town on Central Ave.)
The Frontier Restaurant
One of the most popular breakfast/lunch stops in Albuquerque for balloon chasers is the Frontier Restaurant. It gets crowded during Balloon Fiesta week but the line moves quickly and there is plenty of seating. This is New Mexico diner food at its best. It has to meet the budgets of cash-strapped university students (the University of New Mexico is right across the street) so you will find lots of filling, low-priced selections for your travel dollar.
If you want to time travel back to the glory days of Route 66 in 1950, the 66 Diner is your first choice. Blue plate specials, swinging tunes on the jukebox, and the best milk-shakes on the “Mother Road’ await you. The premium diner style meals hover close to my $15 per person cheap meals limit. However, the visual entertainment of this beautifully designed retro style diner makes it worth every penny. Great for the whole family or a date night.
Weck’s Breakfast & Lunch
If you want an alternative that offers a hearty breakfast (and I do mean hearty), check out Wecks. They are well known for their big portions that are sure to satisfy any appetite. This is the king of big portions on a budget. No one will leave here hungry!
Rudy’s BBQ for Breakfast
Rudy’s BBQ is famous for its barbeque and smoked meats. However, they offer a fantastic bargain for breakfast from 7 to 10 am. Smoked meat and eggs tacos for only $1.99. A couple of these and a cup of coffee will make a cheap, tasty and filling breakfast! Check out my review of Rudy’s BBQ here for more info.
If you want to eat on the run or just want a quick but filling breakfast, do not pass by Blakes Lotaburger. They are a New Mexico fast food chain with locations all over Albuquerque. They make a tasty and filling breakfast burrito and tasty green chile cheeseburger (rated tops by National Geographic). In fact, the locals consider this the fast-food burger joint of choice. Skip McDonalds when you’re in Albuquerque, this is the New Mexican alternative.
The Dog House
Here’s another personal favorite for dining on a budget: If you want a tasty New Mexican version of chile cheeseburgers or flavor packed foot long hot dogs, then The Dog House Drive In is your place. Located downtown on a quiet stretch of the old Route 66 (Central Ave), this is where the locals go when they want premium quality cheese dogs and burgers at McDonald’s prices. These are premium burgers for the price of McDonalds, with a touch of down-home Route 66 New Mexico goodness.
If you want a diversion from New Mexican cuisine on a fast food budget, I highly recommend Taco Cabana. This is Mexican (not New Mexican) fast food that is a cut above fast food but at fast food prices. Plus, they offer a cheerful, family-friendly dining experience. Learn more about Taco Cabana here.
Anatolia Turkish Mediterranean Grill
Also known as the Anatolia Doner Kebab House. This is a downtown Albuquerque restaurant serving excellent kebabs, falafel, and other Turkish specialties. The have a series of $6.95 lunch specials that are tasty and healthful. The dishes are all freshly made and portions are generous. Highly recommended!
Teriyaki Chicken Bowl
The Teriyaki Chicken Bowl offers some of the cheapest and healthiest fast food in Albuquerque. Their menu is simple. Grilled chicken cutlets, steamed vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and carrots) and rice with a light teriyaki sauce. Or you can have french fries or fried rice if you prefer. Healthy, basic and filling. The basic Teriyaki Chicken Bowl is just over $6.00 and is generously portioned. The grilled chicken is flavorful and tender. Order some red chili on the side to ‘kick it up a notch.’ This is cheap, tasty, healthy fast food that will do your body much better than McDonald’s. There is one in Old Town at 2129 Central Ave. (in the Walgreens mini mall), and another at 4700 Menaul. You can’t go wrong here!
Flying Star Cafe
The Flying Star Cafe is a bit over my $15 per person “Good & Cheap” cap if you include one of their decadent desserts with your meal. However, if you want a great slice of cake or pie with a frosty shake or coffee there is no better place to go in Albuquerque. The cakes and pies are superb here and are worthy of being a meal all by themselves! Read my full review of Flying Star here.
Rude Boy Cookies
Here is another great place to satisfy your sweet tooth in Albuquerque. Rude Boy Cookies elevates the simple concept of cookies, milk and ice cream to a whole new level. This is the perfect place to stop for a midday sweet tooth craving or dessert after dinner or before a movie. Delectable home-made cookies creatively matched to premium ice cream and milk shots. Treat your sweet tooth like a king! Check out our review of Rude Boy Cookies here.
Paletería Michoacana de Paquime
While we are on the sweet tooth theme, I can’t overlook one of the best ice-cream treats in all of Albuquerque. Paletería Michoacana de Paquime sells Mexican style popsicles and other ice-cream snacks worth the trip from anywhere in the city. These popsicles are not your typical sugar water and food coloring supermarket standards. Think chunks of tropical fruit in a rich, creamy mouth-watering melange of refreshing and creative flavor combinations. If you never had a paleta, now is your chance… More on the Paletería Michoacana de Paquime here...