The Top Restaurants in Bernalillo, New Mexico

Pizza, burritos and tacos – the finest flavors of New Mexico
Pizza, burritos and tacos – the finest flavors of New Mexico | © EmmeEffe / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Monica Nastase
8 October 2020

Despite its small size, Bernalillo (just north of Albuquerque) isn’t short on great places to eat. Most of its restaurants specialise in New Mexican cuisine and are best known for their burgers, burritos, tacos and hot dogs, all of which are made with fresh local produce. Read on for recommendations in and around Bernalillo to savor the vibrant, spicy flavors of New Mexico.

Lupe’s Antojitos

Diner, Restaurant, American, Mexican, Vegetarian, Vegan
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Mexican enchiladas
© Borowy Piotr/Shutterstock
Lupe’s Antojitos is a family-owned restaurant on the northern side of Bernalillo. It’s a cozy place with an American diner style and colorful decorations. The menu revolves around classic Mexican dishes including tacos, burritos, and enchiladas served in a variety of ways, Mexican-style soups, and some seafood options. Be sure to try their barbacoa de borrego, a rich lamb stew, and wash it down with horchata, a traditional plant milk drink.

Corn Maiden

Restaurant, American, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, $$$
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Beef Carpaccio
© NEstudio / Shutterstock
About a ten-minute drive from the centre of Bernalillo, in the Hyatt Tamaya resort, Corn Maiden is a warm and intimate restaurant dotted with glowing fireplaces, overlooking the Twin Warriors golf course. Its chefs blend regional culinary influences with global flavors to create unique dishes such as New Mexico beef carpaccio, black bean tofu cakes, buffalo tenderloin, and green chile apple pie. Another must-try is their award-winning corn bisque. The open kitchen provides guests with an intriguing view into the chefs’ working area.

Range Café

Restaurant, Cafe, American, Mexican, Dessert, Vegetarian, $$$
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Opened in 1992, Range Café was originally housed in an old gas station, which burnt down in 1995, prompting the team to move to their current premises. It offers a mixture of Mexican specialties and American classics such as burgers topped with corn, chile rellenos, spinach enchiladas, pulled pork with cotija cheese, and pumpkin pie served year-round. Next to the restaurant you’ll find a gift shop with locally produced items. Don’t miss their occasional wine tastings and live music events, hosted in the restaurant’s Lizard Rodeo Lounge.

Kaktus Brewing Company

Pub, American
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© Lindsay Fendt / Alamy
Kaktus Brewing Co. is the only brewery in Bernalillo that produces craft nano-beer. Dining options attached to the brewery include a restaurant and bar decorated in a funky retro style, and a cozy backyard terrace. The chefs here use the best local ingredients to produce an innovative mix of American, Italian, Mexican, and German cuisine, featuring homemade pizzas with unusual toppings like elk, duck, and wild boar. Their menu of artisan craft beers includes lager, imperial stout, amber ale, and German pilsner. We recommend you try them all.

Placitas Cafe

Cafe, Mexican
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Cheese and bacon bagel from Absolute bagels, New York City
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Halfway between Bernalillo and Placitas this friendly little cafe has a pretty extensive menu. Centring on typical New Mexican fare, it offers a huge amount of choice (especially for breakfast) with options ranging from homemade scones and pancakes to bagels and omelettes. If you’re visiting for lunch choose from one of the many kinds of burrito and burger, or go for something a bit different such as the grilled salmon salad. Several evenings a month, for a treat, a live band serenades you during dinner.

Abuelita’s New Mexican Restaurant

Restaurant, Mexican
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On Bernaillo’s main drag, Abuelita’s has been serving up the best Mexican food in the area for years. The recently modernized interior features a bright eating area with traditional artwork and tapestry hanging on the walls. The menu is mostly traditional Mexican dishes paired with hot green and red chillies. Top-rated dishes include the burgers, the Enchiladas Abuelitas and the Chile Rellenos. Abuelita’s legendary Huevos Rancheros have also made this a popular breakfast spot amongst Bernalillo residents.

Twisters Burgers and Burritos

Restaurant, Mexican
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Twisters serves its New Mexican chain restaurant fare at locations throughout New Mexico and Colorado. One of the most popular items on the menu here is the generously-sized breakfast burrito which comes in many varieties, loaded with bell peppers, potatoes or sausages. Other popular items include huevos rancheros, enchiladas, and tacos, and all-American classics such as burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and chicken wings. For a quick fix, you’ll find Bernalillo’s branch of Twisters on Highway 550, north of the town’s centre.

Blake’s Lotaburger

Restaurant, Mexican
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Blake’s opened in 1952 and is now arguably the state’s most popular chain eatery. Its signature dish blends the all-American classic burger with a quintessentially New Mexican ingredient: the green chile. The unique result is their fiery cheeseburger. At the start of the day the menu offers New Mexico’s classic breakfast burrito, with fillings like bacon and chorizo. Blake’s also loves the humble jalapeño, and adds the spicy little pepper to many of its plates for a hotter-than-most culinary experience.

Bad Ass Coffee

Cafe, American
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coffee dripping process, vintage filter image
© Greenleaf123 / iStock

This Hawaiian establishment doesn’t just brew one of Bernalillo’s best cups of coffee (although it certainly does do that) – it’s also a great choice for breakfast or lunch. Start the day with a bacon or sausage burrito (or the vegetarian ‘no-meat’ option) and accompany it with coffee or a freshly blended smoothie. If you’re calling in for lunch, choose from a wide selection of wraps or gourmet deli-style sandwiches. Bad Ass can be found on Highway 550, between Bosque Brewing and Blake’s.

Bosque North Brewery

Bar, Restaurant, Mexican
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© Marcos Castillo / Alamy
Bosque Brewing Co. started out in 2010, and is now a popular bar-restaurant in Bernalillo. Like many other places, the menu centres around Mexican-American classics, with standouts including street tacos, and burgers you put together by selecting your own toppings and sauces. Be sure to try their homemade IPA – also used in the batter for their fish and chips – and German pilsner-inspired lager. You’ll love the spacious outside seating area, and the friendly and efficient waiting staff.

Santa Ana Cafe

Cafe, American
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Pizza
© VincentvdW / Getty Images

Santa Ana Cafe is another eatery in the Hyatt Tamaya Resort, a few miles outside of Bernalillo. The breakfast buffet, lunch, and dinner offerings consist of a mixture of American and New Mexican cuisine, with plenty of options for vegetarians or gluten-free diners. Star dishes include tamales and homemade pizzas, especially those with a cauliflower crust. Take your pick from a sumptuous wine list and enjoy the views of the sacred Tuyuna Mesa landmark, with the Sandia mountains beyond.

Chili’s Grill and Bar

Restaurant, Bar, Mexican, $$$
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Don’t be put off by the fact that Chili’s is a countrywide chain – it’s a great spot for inexpensive Mexican-American dishes, whether you’re eating in or on the move. Bernalillo’s branch (three miles north of the centre) offers a vast range of steaks, burgers, fajitas, tacos, soups and sandwiches to choose from. A popular combo is the ‘3 for $10’ deal, which includes a non-alcoholic drink, starter, and main at a hard-to-beat price. There’s also a great selection of beers, wines, and cocktails.

Dion’s

Restaurant, Mexican
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Dion’s is another quality chain restaurant, with diners throughout New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. Its specialties are pizzas and sub sandwiches, served with speed and flair. Must-tries include the meatball and provolone sub and the gourmet pizzas – especially the Duke City’with cheddar, turkey, green chile and parmesan – and the Napoli which comes heaped with Italian sausage, roasted red peppers and pepperoni. Bernalillo’s nearest branch of Dion’s is a ten-minute drive from the centre, on the Pat D’Arco Highway, so there’s really no excuse not to swing by.

Guang Dong Chinese Restaurant

Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
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Close up view traditional Kung Pao (Gong Bao or Kung Po) chicken. Pan-asian food. spicy, stir-fried Chinese dish with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers. Sichuan cuisine. grey background
Visit Chinatown in Montreal, Quebec, and indulge in some quality Asian dishes | © Ihor Smishko / Getty Images

Despite the unloved exterior and dated interior, Guang Dong serves up the best Chinese food for miles around. It’s a great option if you’re craving something other than burgers or burritos, and it offers all the classics like egg fried rice, noodles, spicy Mongolian beef, and curries served with sticky white rice. It’s great value for money, especially when you consider the substantial portions, and there’s a decent choice of beers and wines to wash it down. When you’ve finally had your fill of burritos and tacos, you’ll find it on the northern edge of town, just up the road from Twisters.

Additional reporting by Mark Nayler

These recommendations were updated on October 8, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.