by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, April 7, 2011
Part of the Weekly Alibi's Best of Burque 2011
Life in Burque
Best Use of City Money
The job market, the economy, the future of the human race—it’s easy to argue that the health and wealth of them all comes back to one thing: how and what we learn. You want your money going to our collective brainpower.
2) Bike paths, lanes and trails
3) Road improvement
Worst Use of City Money
Everyone hates this orange-barreled, artery-clogged nightmare—especially those stupid traffic dividers that make it impossible to cross the street or turn left.
2) Red-light cameras
3) Salaries and raises for city administration/politicians
Best High School
Sandia High School
7801 Candelaria NE
Cafeterias, gym classes, peer pressure. High school is a smorgasbord of awkward teenage angst. But our readers say that if you go through it at Sandia, it’ll suck a lot less. You might even have a good time. Go figure.
2) Highland High School
3) Eldorado High School
Roadrunner Food Bank
5840 Office NE
Main line: 247-2052
Food assistance line: 349-8841
Toll free: (866) 327-0267
So Roadrunner Food Bank is pretty amazing. It feeds about 40,000 people every week and distributes more than 22 million pounds of food a year. It’s hard to comprehend how many cans of soup and pasta boxes that amounts to, just like it’s hard to imagine what we’d do without Roadrunner Food Bank.
2) Joy Junction
3) Animal Humane
Best Animal Rescue
Animal Humane Association of New Mexico
615 Virginia SE (one block West of Wyoming)
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed noon to 1 p.m. for lunch)
NE Heights Adoption & Training Center
9132 Montgomery NE (between Wyoming and Eubank)
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Westside Adoption & Training Center
10700 Corrales Road (Just north of Alameda)
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Animal shelters are a tough business, which is why it’s important to have smart, savvy and caring people at the helm. Animal Humane, with its many outreach events, incentives and volunteers, shows other shelters what’s possible.
2) Watermelon Mountain Ranch
3) City-run shelters
Best Charity Event of 2010
Souper Bowl (Roadrunner Food Bank)
How could an event based around eating lots and lots of soup from some of the best restaurants in town not climb to the top of this category? Plus, the proceeds go to feeding the hungry. It’s a delicious win-win.
2) Doggie Dash & Dawdle (Animal Humane Association of New Mexico)
3) Chocolate Fantasy (New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation)
Best Radio DJ
Donnie Chase (100.3 The Peak)
Has this baby-faced charmer ever not won this category? You’ve loved Donnie ever since he used to deliver your daily traffic reports across the dial. Now you can find him every morning on the “Jackie, Tony and Donnie” show.
2) Erica Viking (Coyote 102.5)
3) TJ Trout (94 Rock)
Best Recreational Program for Kids
1701 Mountain NW
Can we put ¡explora! on the Best Recreational Program for Adults list, too? It’s an awesomely fun hands-on science center that gets kids (and grown-ups, especially on adult nights) excited about things like electricity, refracted light and systems in motion. And that’s worth a million awards.
3) Blackout Theatre’s Education Program
Best Dog Park
Los Altos (Eubank between Lomas and I-40)
This shaded swath comes with a nice neighborhood, happy dogs, courteous owners and plenty of benches.
2) North Domingo Baca (north of Paseo del Norte between Louisiana and
3) Coronado (south of I-40 between Second and Fourth Streets)
Best People Park
Roosevelt (UNM area)
Maybe it’s the towering cottonwoods and rolling hills that pull people into this park for picnics, playtime and Frisbee golf. Long and lush, it’s the people’s park of choice.
2) Tiguex (Old Town area)
3) Hyder (Ridgecrest area)
Best Public Library
501 Copper NW
The Main Library branch is centrally located so you can pick up a new read or a DVD on your way from the office to the gym. Now it also has that snazzy new coffee shop on Fifth Street and Copper. What’s better than free books with fancy coffee?
2) Erna Fergusson
3) Ernie Pyle
Best Place to People-Watch
It’s easy to get an eyeful in the most popular pedestrian thoroughfare in the city. Hipsters and hippies alike share this section of Route 66. And so do you.
3) UNM campus
Best Meditation Center
Kadampa Meditation Center New Mexico
8701 Comanche NE
It can be hard to get through the week without a little clarity of mind, and that precious commodity is stocked at Kadampa Meditation Center New Mexico. In addition to its courses, retreats and regular events around town, Kadampa also offers free Prayers for World Peace sessions every Sunday morning.
2) Albuquerque Zen Center
3) Albuquerque Shambhala Meditation Center
Best Bike-Friendly Street
They don’t call it a Bicycle Boulevard for nothing. A cycling revolution has swelled through this stretch of the University and Nob Hill area. There are so many pedals and hand brakes along the avenue, it’s all but squeezed out the cars. Hop on and join the uprising.
Best Neighborhood for Christmas Decorations
This is also arguably the best neighborhood for leisurely bike riding. The Country Club neighborhood—snuggled between Central and Tingley and abutting, of course, the Albuquerque Country Club—is resplendent with rolling lawns, palatial mansions and wealthy residents who can afford to put up thousands of gorgeous Christmas lights and luminarias. Bury your envy and just enjoy the show.
3) The North Valley along Rio Grande
Best Secret Place to Watch Balloons and Fireworks
A number of you caught on to the fact that if you told us about the best secret place to do this, it would no longer be a secret. All right, smarty-pantses, keep it to yourselves. Then there were those who proclaimed their love for watching midair marvels from Balloon Fiesta Park—not exactly surreptitious. Those who like slightly more guerilla-style viewing are fans of the Foothills, Sandia Crest, and roofs and decks everywhere. We think the best spot is probably smack-dab in the middle of “Essie’s backyard,” but mainly because we just like the sound of it.
Best "Breaking Bad" Location
Albuquerque is gushing with pride for this Emmy-winning drama. Not only do we revel in the possibility that Bryan Cranston could be around any corner, we also get a little thrill when we spot our local digs on the screen. The Dog House Drive In, with its tail-wagging neon dachshund, is as wonderfully strange as Albuquerque itself.
2) Octopus Car Wash (Menaul and Eubank)
3) Java Joe's
Arts & Lit
Best Theater Performance
It’s got soaring musical numbers (literally), flamboyant costumes, one of the best damn sets we’ve ever seen and captivating national talent. Plus, it’s about witches and magic ... and flying monkeys.
2) Tie: Bless Me, Ultima (joint production of The Vortex and the National Hispanic Cultural Center), Under the Big Top (Blackout Theatre Company)
3) Guys and Dolls Jr. (The Box Performance Space's Cardboard Playhouse)
Best Art Exhibition
STREET ARTS: A Celebration of Hip Hop Culture & Free Expression (516 ARTS)
516 Central SW
It’s about time Albuquerque started recognizing graffiti as art. Thanks to this effort by 516 ARTS, which collaborated with more than 25 local organizations, our city is more informed about the practice and politics of street art. We’ve also got a host of new murals to show for it.
2) Turner to Cézanne: Masterpieces From the Davies Collection, National Museum Wales (Albuquerque Museum of Art and History)
3) BODIES ... The Exhibition (Albuquerque Convention Center)
Best Art Gallery
516 Central SW
516 lives on the frontier, bringing daring and delightful installations to its walls and to the city at large. Albuquerque is better for it, and we know it.
2) Mariposa Gallery
3) The Wooden Cow Gallery
Best Theater Space
423 Central NW
The KiMo Theatre, with its ornate Pueblo Deco beams and embellishments, has remained one of Albuquerque’s architectural jewels for more than 80 years. Its backdrop helps bring just about any performance to life.
2) The Box Performance Space
3) Popejoy Hall
500 Second Street SW, Suite 9
Nothing tells a story like a really great photo or a really great photographer. Rip Williams, other than having a super-cool name, also packs some mad picture-taking and organizational skills (see: Guerilla Photo Group, which Williams founded in 2006).
2) Wes Naman
3) Frank Frost
Best Arts Nonprofit
115 Fourth Street NW
People from outside the 505 aren’t always aware that New Mexico is a roiling cauldron of red-hot artistic prowess, but locals know we’ve got more than our fair share of talent. Creative Albuquerque is devoted to fostering that talent, and the 501(c)(3) does it through education, advocacy and funding, along with a host of other initiatives. Long live the right side of the brain.
2) Blackout Theatre Company
3) Tie: 516 ARTS, Tricklock Company
Best Growers' Market
Downtown Growers Market
Eighth Street and Central NW
Saturdays mornings, June through October
When you buy your produce directly from the hands that raised it, you’re supporting the local economy and a sustainable food system. Basically, you’re helping the world be a better place from your own kitchen. Alibi readers agree that the Downtown market is the best place to get started.
2) Los Ranchos Growers' Market
3) Corrales Growers' Market
Best Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Service
Los Poblanos Organics
4803 Rio Grande NW
Multiple pickup locations
Los Poblanos has integrated itself into the culture of our city. It’s organic, it’s year-round, it’s distributed to a host of area restaurants and into many of your kitchens. It’s simply the best.
2) ARCA Organics
3) Erda Gardens and Learning Center
Best Butcher / Meat Counter
Keller's Farm Stores
2912 Eubank NE (at Candelaria)
6100 Coors NW, Suite H (at Montaño Plaza)
So here’s the thing about meat: You want it to be chock-full of flavor, not hormones and preservatives. That’s why you shop at a place like Keller’s, which sells natural, humanely raised and chemical-free meats. Then when you bring home the bacon, you bring it home right.
2) Nelson's Meats
3) Tie: Alpine Sausage Kitchen, Tully's Italian Deli & Meats
Best Locally Made Condiment
Whether you guzzle this heat-packing potion at the flagship Los Ranchos restaurant or sample it gingerly from a jar you picked up at the grocery store, you know why it won this category: New Mexicans like things hot.
2) El Pinto salsa
3) 505 Southwestern salsa
Flying Star Café
Nob Hill: 3416 Central NE • 255-4501
Downtown: 723 Silver SW • 244-8099
North Valley: 4026 Rio Grande NW • 344-6714
Uptown: 8001 Menaul NE • 293-6911
Northeast Heights: 4501 Juan Tabo NE • 275-8311
Corrales: 10700 Corrales Road • 938-4717
Bernalillo: 200 South Camino del Pueblo • 404-2100
Flying Star makes a tantalizingly thick chocolate mousse cake and a tender jelly-filled doughnut with equal perfection. In fact, there’s entire cases stocked with immaculate confectionary concoctions. And it’s open late. Let’s celebrate by eating some cake right now.
2) ABC Cake Shop and Bakery
3) Golden Crown Panadería
Best Specialty Grocery Store
La Montañita Co-op
UNM Grab & Go
2301 Central NE
3500 Central SE
2400 Rio Grande NW
It feels good to shop at co-ops, which support the local economy and the regional foodshed. You know you’re not handing your dollars to money-grubbing big business. Plus, La Montañita has some damn fine vegan chocolate cupcakes, and that feels good, too.
2) Talin Market World Food Fare
3) Keller's Farm Stores
Best Wine Shop
Jubilation Wine & Spirits
3512 Lomas NE
Jubilation carries just about any wine, beer or liquor you can think of, and plenty you can’t. It’s never open later than 10 p.m., which keeps the place classy.
2) The Quarters Package Liquor
3) Kelly Liquors
The High Life
Best Sports Bar
Coaches Sports Grill
1414 Central SE
Coaches has beer pong every week. And karaoke. And Geeks Who Drink. And, according to its website, goldfish racing. How can you not like a place that has goldfish racing?
2) Spectators Sports Bar & Grill
3) Uptown Sports Bar & Grill
Goods & Services
Best Place to Spend $500
Basically, we’d all just like to have $500 to flitter away. Your methods of doing so range from the practical (Costco) to the tech savvy (the Apple Store) to the cultural (art) to the frivolous (casinos). And some of you think it would be fun to buy guns. Let’s all just keep our distance from those guys.
4022 Rio Grande NW
Bookworks brings in famous authors and good books to a pretty part of the North Valley. That’s a winning combination if we ever heard one.
2) Page One Bookstore
3) Alamosa Books
Best Shop for Parents
4800 Cutler NE, Suite 4A
9231 Coors NW
Parenthood may be life’s richest pleasure, but there’s an emphasis on the “rich.” It’s pricey growing a little person into a big person. So a secondhand store for baby clothes? Now that’s a fantastic idea.
2) Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center
3) Baby Bear
Best Sexy Shop
Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center
3904B Central SE
You’ve got nothing but love for this epicenter of sex education and sensory delights. Co-owners Matie Fricker and Molly Adler’s sex-positive revolution is mid-swing (emphasis on the “swing”), and we’re all enjoying the ride. It’s service that leaves you with a smile.
2) Castle Megastore
Best Veterinary Clinic
Aztec Animal Clinic
4340 Coal SE
Your pets can’t tell you what’s wrong with them, so it’s important to have a vet you trust that can help you figure your furry family members out. Aztec, with its cheery layout and mega-friendly staff, has been earning this highest honor for years.
2) Northview Animal Hospital
3) Blue Cross Animal Clinic
All Defined Fitness locations have pools, great classes, and massive weight and cardio rooms. They also offer month-to-month memberships sans contracts. And those months are cheap. Hurray for affordable gyms, say our readers.
2) New Mexico Sports and Wellness
3) Planet Fitness
Best Yoga or Pilates Studio
Bhava Yoga Studio
520 Central SW
This bright, window-walled studio is in the heart of Albuquerque’s historic business district, so it’s easy for professionals to get some yoga in before the day is done. Bhava also offers special classes for a tiny $5 fee—that’s worthy of a gold medal all on its own.
2) Hot Yoga Downtown
3) High Desert Yoga
Best Auto Repair
Tie: Independent Volvo Service, Jim's Automotive
Independent Volvo Service
1401 Third Street NW
4401 Lead SE
Trusting your mechanic is essential. For those of us who can’t tell a clutch from a carburetor, we need all the trust we can get. Our readers put their faith in these two fine mechanic shops, which promise to treat you and your alternator right.
2) Jeff’s Gasoline Alley
3) All in the Wrist Auto Repair