by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, August 2010
Albuquerque’s Nob Hill proper runs only half a mile—along Route 66 from Girard to Carlisle. Yet those few measly blocks are packed with some of the city’s most creative and exuberant shopkeepers and storefronts. It’s almost all local. It’s pedestrian-friendly and speckled with gardens and patios. And it’s considered by many to be the heart of the city. One of the great things about Nob Hill is that it serves all demographics, with businesses that range from body piercing shops to boutiques selling haute couture. And its restaurant scene runs the gamut as well—visitors can find equal parts pizza and prime rib. All of Nob Hill’s independent shops are worth a peek, but here’s a brief sampling for your perusing pleasure.
3500 Central SE, 505.262.1900
The proprietors of Beeps are experts in miscellany. A longtime Albuquerque staple for wacky, weird and last-minute gifts, Beeps is the everyman’s go-to shop for colorful trinkets (it employs all definitions of that adjective). A saunter around the store will present you with everything from solar radios and Rubik’s Cubes to spitball dartpads and “animal sounds” alarm clocks—not to mention two large walls packed with cards. There’s also a finer side to Beeps. While you can find phallically shaped plastic straws on the shelves, look but a few feet away and you’ll also find handmade jewelry, sleek handbags and hip scarves. And if you peek near the back, you’ll discover a fine assortment of baby toys and toddler shoes. Not sure what you want? Beeps has it all.
108 Amherst SE, 505.254.1434
Stacks of rubber stamps, towers of ribbons, thick packets of origami sheets and endless rolls of Japanese paper—Papers! has just about everything you need to make anything out of, well, paper. But it also has baubles for the non-crafters. A forest of glowing, star-shaped lanterns adorns its entryway. Writers will find solace in rows of notebooks of various sizes and persuasions and glass cases glittering with fountain pens and ink pots. Windup robotic bugs and pop-up books stir the imagination. And an assortment of caramel and chocolate confections leave customers with a spring in their step. Plus, it offers classes in subjects like coptic stitch binding and ribbon flowers. Call the store for a full rundown of upcoming workshops.
3408 Central SE, 505.848.8002
You can spend $400 on a haircut in Santa Fe, or you can go to Heart+Soul and get one just as fantastic for a fraction of the price. Gerhardt Ackerman, hairdresser extraordinaire, is the owner and top stylist. He runs a tight ship, and it shows on the faces (and entire heads, really) of his clients. Some people have been known to call his work “magical.” And the other stylists who work with him at his chandelier-studded salon are held up to similar standards. The best part? Haircuts start at only $30.
113 Carlisle SE, 505.260.0507
Environmentally friendly footwear doesn’t have to be limited to Birkenstocks and bare feet. Terra Firma helps your earth-conscious toes look as hip as the rest of your body parts and stay as comfortable as they’d be in those worn-in old reliables. Find brands as high-end as Frye and as affordable as Wolky and Keen. And while you’re shopping for your sandals and pumps, keep an eye out for Terra Firma’s lust-inducing accessories like Hobo and Ellington bags and brightly colored Betsy Johnson tights.
Shogun Japanese Cuisine
3310 Central SE, 505.265.9166
Albuquerque has a surprising number of sushi restaurants for its size. In Nob Hill alone, diners can find three eateries that serve raw fish, wasabi and sake. The city over, the number’s in the dozens. But many Burqueños agree that Shogun does sushi best. Gastronomes will find their favorite standards like spider, California and rainbow rolls on the menu, and they can get a front-row seat at Sushi Chef Island, an elliptical bar circumscribed with floating wooden boats that deliver treats to hungry patrons. Vegetarians can also find plenty on the menu to suit their palates, including the salivation-worthy green chile roll.