The last balloon is aloft and the field begins to clear and your stomach grumbles that the burrito or doughnut you ate was before sunrise.
Time to think of food again.
Brunch is good news for many Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta visitors. Several locals say they enjoy the time with their guests to explore Albuquerque’s culinary offerings.
Many have a huge crush on The Grove Café & Market, 600 Central SE, because it uses local and organic products whenever possible, managing to be fresh, flavorful and seasonal. The Grove’s breakfast menu includes local standards, like breakfast burritos oozing with green chile as well as an open-faced Croque Madam egg sandwich on rustic farm bread with fresh fruit. The cafe opens at 7 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m.
“My favorite brunch spot is The Grove. I did a little poll and that’s the feedback,” says Jessica Burnham, senior vice president at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. “A big second for all of us for a hearty breakfast is Weck’s.”
Weck’s, with 10 locations, is open from 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and serves breakfast and lunch. With several pages of breakfast options, something between biscuits and gravy and full-on chicken enchiladas topped with eggs is bound to suit every diner.
Corinne “Corky” Thevenet, an avid golfer and Albuquerque Arts Board member, also treats her guests to brunch at The Grove, but she’s also partial to the Albuquerque Country Club, a good place for members to take their guests, she says.
Antoinette Antonio, morning and noon anchor on KOB-TV, also loves The Grove. “The Croque Madam and a red velvet cupcake or sometimes I get whatever the special is.”
She also appreciates Gold Street Caffè, 218 Gold SW, for their Cowboy Breakfast, Belgian Waffles and “I always get an extra order of bacon.” The restaurant opens at 7 a.m.
For any taste
Rhythm and blues singer Hillary Smith loves Gold Street Caffè for the “red chile bacon, killer coffee and green chile cheese brioche and biscuits.”
But she likes Cocina Azul, 1134 Mountain Road NW, for its huevos rancheros. The restaurant is open at 8 a.m. every day of the week.
Otherwise, if her guests are more in the mood for relaxing back at the house, Smith likes a yummy Albuquerque favorite, Frontier Rolls, from the Frontier Restaurant, 2400 Central NE, or its sister restaurant, Golden Pride with four locations. The Frontier opens at 5 a.m.; Golden Pride at 6 a.m. weekdays and 6:30 a.m. weekends.
The cinnamon rolls come frozen with butter included. “It’s a no muss, no fuss brunch at home,” she says.
John Traub, general manager for the Albuquerque Isotopes Baseball Club, says he also likes The Grove for breakfast, but “when my out- of-town guests come in for Balloon Fiesta, a must-stop location is El Pinto for their chile ribs.”
El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina is near the Balloon Fiesta at 10500 Fourth NW, with patios, a full margarita menu and strolling mariachis.
It’s open for Sunday brunch at 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. the rest of the week.
Casa de Benavidez in Los Ranchos, 8032 Fourth NW, full of traditional New Mexico flavor and charm, tops the list for her outof-town guests, says Tina Otteni of Miller Bonded. The restaurant opens at 8 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. Fridays and 10:30 a.m. the rest of the week.
“For a quaint Corrales side trip, then Hannah & Nate’s has a nice ambience. They both have patios if the weather holds up,” she says.
Hannah & Nate’s Market Cafe, 4512 Corrales Road, has a second location at 6251 Riverside Plaza NW, Suite B-4, near Coors and north of Montaño Road. The Riverside Plaza cafe is closed Sundays. Both are open from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. The breakfast menu features local favorites like huevos rancheros, eggs Benedict and more. The green chile stew is a signature dish, according to hannahandnates.com.
Susan Epstein, a local married mother of three, likes Hannah & Nate’s, but she always finds her friends at Sophia’s Place, 6313 Fourth NW, at least once during Balloon Fiesta.
“We know a lot of people who always take their friends and their family,” she says. Famous for their blue corn pancakes and other treats, Sophia’s Place was featured on the Food Network. It opens at 9 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 8 a.m. weekdays.
“My husband also likes El Camino (6800 Fourth NW), and Flying Star is a hit with my kids,” Epstein says.
Flying Star has a handful of locations in Albuquerque as well as restaurants in Bernalillo and Corrales. It opens at 6 a.m.
Marisa Maez, morning anchor on KOAT-TV, says she loves Indigo Crow, 4515 Corrales Road, on Sundays: “It’s so beautiful to sit outside with all the cottonwoods. Great food, great service and excellent Bloody Marys. I also enjoy The Range in Bernalillo.”
Indigo Crow opens at 10 a.m. Sundays for brunch and 11 a.m. other days.
The Range, with two restaurants in Albuquerque as well as Bernalillo, opens at 7:30 a.m. daily.
Linda López McAlister, an actress and director who heads Camino Real Productions, says she doesn’t have to wonder where to take her guests, because she loves the Sunday brunch at La Fonda del Bosque at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth SW. “The new chef is terrific. They have the full brunch buffet with wonderful stuff or you can order from the breakfast menu.” The restaurant opens at 7:30 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. weekends.
Right at home
Of course, not everyone likes to eat out, especially on busy Balloon Fiesta weekends, says Katherine Anderson, certified professional organizer.
She knows her guests like most people will be hungry, but “for guests, who have been up earlier than usual, who may have come from a different time zone and who may be somewhat sleepdeprived, perhaps a quiet meal back home would work best.”
Most of the restaurants recommended above also offer catering.
New Mexican author Rudolfo Anaya says he likes to keep it simple for himself and his guests. “They come to our home for a hot bowl of atole with cream and sugar.”
Restaurant hours and menus may change, so always check ahead.