Visitors to Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta will find plenty of souvenirs that reflect the unique history, landscape and culture of the area. Here’s a guide:
Arts and crafts
Located on the Sandia Pueblo north of the city, Bien Mur Indian Market (100 Bien Mur Drive NE) is the largest Native-owned and operated arts and crafts store in the Southwest.
Highlights inside the distinctive circular building include fetishes — small carvings made from turquoise and other gemstones — from Zuni Pueblo; Navajo and Zapotec rugs; handmade pottery from Acoma and Santo Domingo pueblos; Hopi inlay jewelry; and Cochiti storytellers. The store guarantees the authenticity of its items, according to Lenore Cheykaychi, sales floor coordinator.
Bien Mur (“Big mountain” in the Sandia language) abuts Sandia’s 107-acre Buffalo Preserve.
Other notable places to buy authentic Indian goods include Palms Trading Co. (1504 Lomas NW), Skip Maisel’s Indian Jewelry and Crafts (510 Central SW) and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (2401 12th NW).
New Mexico artisans have been carving devotional religious sculptures since the 18th-century Spanish Colonial period. That tradition lives on at San Pasqual’s Furnishing and Home Decor (2113 Church St. NW), where you can buy retablos, or panel paintings, and hand-carved statues known as santos.
Santos from artists Hector Rason and Peter Ortega cost from $15 to $600, depending on the size and detail, according to Ashley Coleman, who runs the store with her mother, Sandra.
Food and drink
New Mexico produces more chile peppers than any other state. Several local restaurants bottle and sell their own chile sauces and salsas, including Sadie’s (5230 Fourth NW and two other locations), Los Cuates (4901 Lomas NE and four other locations) and El Pinto (10500 Fourth NW). The Chile Addict (325 Eubank NE) is a one-stop shopping destination for all manner of chile products.
Every fall, the New Mexico piñon tree produces nuts about the size of a kernel of corn, and many of them wind up in the famous piñon rolls from Buffett’s Candies (7001 Lomas NE). The rolls ($28 per pound) have a brown sugar center wrapped in caramel and rolled in piñon nuts.
NM Piñon Coffee Co. pairs high-altitude Arabica beans with piñon nuts for their signature blend. Six-ounce burlap gift bags are available at gift shops and retail outlets like Costco and Trader Joe’s.
Winemaking is a booming business in New Mexico, with 42 wineries across the state, according to the New Mexico Wine Growers Association. St. Clair Winery and Bistro (901 Rio Grande NW) grows several varietals at its vineyard in Deming in the southern part of the state. For a distinctly New Mexico taste, try the red and green chile two-pack: a bottle each of Chimayó red chile wine and Hatch green chile wine. Available at area supermarkets.
Dan’s Boots and Saddles (6903 Fourth NW) started out as a trading post on the Navajo reservation before moving to Albuquerque. It has a large selection of western wear, boots and hats. Boots range from $50 for leather to $1,000 for gator belly or ostrich. Downtown, Man’s Hat Shop (511 Central NW) has been fitting locals with western hats for 65 years.
The unique atomic logo of the Albuquerque Isotopes was inspired by the long-running TV show “The Simpsons.” Pick up an Isotopes cap at New Mexico Look (6611 Menaul NE). The store also carries shirts and hats from the Isotopes’ previous incarnation, the Dukes.
Bring home a memento of the fiesta with a hot-air balloon ornament from the Balloon Museum Shoppe (9201 Balloon Museum Drive NE) or a pin from the Balloon Fiesta Gift Shop (4401 Alameda NE). Both stores stock a number of keepsakes from the annual event.
From Los Alamos to Trinity Site, New Mexico played a significant role in America’s Atomic Age, a role commemorated at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History (601 Eubank SE). Browse the gift shop for unusual keepsakes, such as a genuine 1960s civil defense pocket dosimeter, a B-52 wine cork and historic blueprints for the atomic bomb.
Made in Albuquerque
The New Mexico Candle Co.’s (Mossman Center, 7400 Montgomery NE) red and green chile-scented candles evoke the fragrance of chiles roasting in drums. They also make Casa Adobe sand-cast candles that resemble miniature adobe homes. “No two are exactly alike,” says owner Heather Cardenas.
The candles also are sold at Jackalope (6400 San Mateo NE) and ScoJo’s Gifts and Cards (8000 Paseo del Norte NE).
Sichler’s Farm (820 San Mateo NE) has red chile ristras and wreaths.
The fragrant lavender plant has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Los Poblanos Inn and Organic Farm (4803 Rio Grande NW) in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque sits among 25 acres of lavender fields that provide the raw materials for the spa’s hand salves, lotions, soaps and other products. Gift sets start at $12.