With bright, sunny days that ease into cool, clear evenings, Albuquerque’s weather earns its much-lauded reputation this time of year. ’Tis the season for the outdoors, from shopping in plein-air farmers markets to imbibing on patios. With their lofty vantages, rooftop terraces level up the favored bar pastimes of people-watching, city-viewing and stargazing. Here are a few spots that offer a breath of fresh air.
A millennium ago, Ancestral Puebloans gazed out fifth-floor windows of what we call Pueblo Bonito, a sprawling great house that is Chaco Culture National Historical Park’s centerpiece. In that vein, visitors to the just-opened Hotel Chaco can enjoy views—and meals—from the swanky hotel’s new fifth-story roost.
Chaco’s architecture and culture inspired every element of the lodging, the newest property from Heritage Hotels & Resorts, a local boutique hotel group, and the first newly built hotel in Old Town Albuquerque in 40 years. Level 5 Restaurant & Bar, perched on the hotel’s top story, looks out on the soft curves of adobes huddled around Old Town plaza and beyond, to the Sandia Mountains’ granite peaks. A Chaco-inspired wooden cantilever shelters patio guests, yet the outdoors are close at hand, as connection to Mother Earth was a touchpoint of the Chacoan culture. The same earthen textures and materials used throughout the hotel—stone, wood and natural fibers—create a Southwest-modern vibe at Level 5.
Gilbert Aragon, executive chef at Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town (Hotel Chaco’s neighbor, also part of the Heritage Hotels & Resorts group), and Mark Miller, of the iconic Coyote Café in Santa Fe, collaborated on the restaurant’s menu. The cuisine may be modern American, but Aragon and Miller drew inspiration from Indigenous American cultures in their pairings. Their ingredients are in large part produced by local growers, foragers and artisanal food producers. One menu standout is the Chuska cured venison, with herb salad, wild blueberries, piñon, and juniper mustard—and even the beverages hint at the hotel’s prevailing inspiration. My fave, the Rio Chaco, (which draws its name from the arroyo that once sustained Chaco Canyon) inspired a mix of Maestro Dobel Diamante Select Barrel tequila, gin, vermouth and house-made chocolate bitters.
2000 Bellamah Ave. NW, 505.247.0708, hotelchaco.com
Ibiza at Hotel Andaluz
Although not as boisterous as its Spanish-island namesake, Ibiza has a thriving nightlife. Post-workday, the well-heeled Downtown professional–set mingles on the second-story, with the Sandias as the backdrop. One of Ibiza’s signature cocktails, the Sandia Haze, captures the ember hue of the mountains with hibiscus flavor, bitters, vermouth and Averna Amaro, an Italian liqueur. Chef Marc Quiñones, formerly executive chef of El Pinto and Sandia Resort and Casino’s Bien Shur, recently took over Hotel Andaluz’s kitchens. He’ll be reshaping the menu at MAS Tapas y Vino, the small-bites restaurant downstairs, and at Ibiza, but expect Spanish-contemporary flavors.
125 Second St. NW, 505.388.0088, hotelandaluz.com/ibiza
Seasons Rotisserie & Grill
Insider tip: This fine-dining restaurant will shuttle the same elevated American dishes from its downstairs restaurant to its second-story patio; just ask for the full menu. It’s the same great food—think wood-fired New Zealand rack of lamb, spinach and spring-pea ravioli, served in the patio’s laid-back cantina environment. Many summer nights, jazz tunes from a live band carry over the patio’s balustrades to Old Town below. As the restaurant’s name suggests, menus shift seasonally, but for the next couple of months, on the dedicated rooftop menu, look for specialties like house-made duck sausage flatbread with caramelized onions, marinara, fontina cheese and baby arugula, and the “Best Damn Buffalo Wings.” The (well-deserved) boasting continues with cocktails like “Effen Good!,” with refreshing Effen cucumber vodka, agave nectar, fresh mint and a splash of lemonade; it’s a sip of springtime.
2031 Mountain Road NW, 505.766.5100, seasonsabq.com
The Apothecary Lounge at Hotel Parq Central
With its minimal-but-luxurious décor and 1920s-inspired cocktail menu, The Apothecary Lounge feels Gatsby-esque. The Apothecary name recalls the historic building’s 1926 beginnings as the Santa Fe Hospital, when it treated employees of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. This vintage vibe trickles into the cocktail menu with Prohibition-era classics like the Older Fashioned with bourbon, fresh lemon and orange peel, bitters and simply syrup; and a Sazerac with rye whiskey, bitters, a sugar cube and local Brimstone Absinthe rinse. Small bites, like waffle-battered chicken tenders and spinach-quinoa tacos, have a more hip, modern flavor. The views have changed greatly since the Italianate-style building’s early days in what is now East Downtown: The Downtown skyline rises in the west, while the orange cones of ART construction below nod to the city’s next era.
806 Central Ave. SE, 505.242.0040, hotelparqcentral.com
Green Jeans Farmery
With its Lego-like stack of colorful shipping containers, this foodie-destination has a family friendly feel. It’s a next-level food court: The food is fast, but it’s also good. Not to be missed are the slow-roasted sandwiches of Bocadillos—whose head chef, Marie Yniquez, won a spring episode of Food Network’s Chopped—and the decadent, made-on-the-spot ice cream with local ingredients from Chill’N. Second-story, open-air decks offer wooden picnic tables for dining with the brood. Couples cluster on the deck near Broken Trail’s tasting room for Pepe the Mule (the distillery’s take on the Moscow mule), and on the deck of Santa Fe Brewing Co.’s only Duke City taproom for a Happy Camper IPA.
3600 Cutler Ave. NE, 505.401.1000, greenjeansfarmery.com
Kaktus Brewing Co.
Beer meets coffee. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. Kaktus brings these indulgences together in its Nob Hill taproom, where half the space is devoted to World Traveler Café, an organic-centric coffee shop. Whether diners are sipping a Naarangee mocha (with an orange twist) or the nano-brewery’s latest creations, Kaktus’s upstairs deck is a relaxing spot to watch pick-up games and dog walks at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Field, or the sun set as it drops beneath the West Mesa’s volcano trio.
2929 Monte Vista Blvd. NE, 505.265.9030, kaktusbrewery.com
With three taprooms across the city, Marble’s downtown location is the original installation in its growing empire. With an outdoor patio rocking live music Wednesdays through Sunday from the likes of bluegrass favorites Squash Blossom Boys and Latin band Felix y Los Gatos, Marble’s second-story patio has the same scene, though slightly out of the fray. Sprightly succulents spring between tables beneath the metal trellis, with expansive views from downtown to the Sandia Mountains unfolding to the east. With Marble racking up medals from the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival, it’s hard to go wrong with its classic brews, but warm weather calls for its take on a German Pilsner and its Belgian-inspired Double White. The Downtown taproom is on the local food truck circuit, with tastes from field-to-fork hub My Sweet Basil, pizza from Irrational Pie, and tacos from Street Food Institute, among others, depending on the evening.
111 Marble Ave. NW, 505.243.2739, marblebrewery.com
Story by Ashley M. Biggers