like many folks, phillip and i had built up airline rewards over the past couple of years, and one of them (the companion certificate by delta) was set to expire soon. however, “soon” was sooner than we though, as instead of having to only have booked our trip by the end of january, we had to have taken our trip by the end of january. so, it was adventure-planning time!
we considered many possible destinations but very randomly decided to check out new mexico. aside from visiting a state we hadn’t yet, there were no specific reasons we chose the land of enchantment. quite different from the typical big city vacations we take, i’ll spoil it all for you now and tell you that new mexico did not disappoint.
we landed in albuquerque just before noon, checked into the hotel early, and then bundled up to begin exploring. we learned very quickly just how cold the high desert gets in winter; we had our boots and big ski jackets with us always! with it being lunchtime, we checked out the first of many restaurant recommendations: frontier right across from the university of new mexico campus (go lobos!). we’d previously been educated about proper chile-ordering etiquette so started with the breakfast burrito (per the cashier’s suggestion) and chicken enchiladas (with Christmas chile on the side). we were quite excited for our first serving of authentic new mexican cuisine, and although we did eat everything we were served and even ordered a sweet roll for dessert, everything tasted only fine (especially compared to the other new mexican food we would eat later in the trip). i don’t know if disappointed is the right word but do think phillip and i secretly wondered, “is this the best of the best?” good news, folks, it was not.
on our way to frontier (which, by the way, was via THE route 66), phillip had spied a cookie shop. you know what that meant, we had to stop in for some dessert (er, second dessert in this case). we popped into rude boy cookies and were extremely pleased. phillip had a deconstructed ice cream sandwich. it included a mammoth scoop of chocolate blue bell ice cream (although i would have liked some homemade ice cream, you generally cannot go wrong with blue bell) and warmed up and crumbled chocolate chip cookies and double chocolate cookies. i think his face says it all.
i went for something a little less complex but equally satisfying: a homemade oatmeal cream pie. you read that right, folks, and although i would not call myself an oatmeal cream pie expert, i could find nothing wrong with this one. it had a perfect balance of slightly spicy but deliciously sweet flavors. and that filling? i could have eaten it by the batch.
we were a little tired from our travels so took a couple hours of rest back at the hotel. what i’ll say is that it is very easy to get around town. the duke city is essentially a grid, and so long as you can locate i25 and i40, you should be able to find your way. if you ever are in abq and have a car, though, heed this warning (which a local was kind enough to share): leave nothing visible in your car. apparently, there is a lot of property crime in the city. so, essentially anything not tied down can be a target. rest assured we stayed smart and never felt unsafe during our visit.
refreshed and not quite ready to call it a night, it was time for more eating! this next spot was highlighted on the local map, and little did we know we were trying a spot that had been featured on albuquerque’s “best of” list in 2022. i present to you clowndog hot dog parlor!
i know hot dogs gross lots of folks out, which just means more hot dogs for the rest of us! clowndog is as fun and circus-themed on the inside as you would hope it would be, and with an extensive menu, tvs, a bar, and outdoor seating, they have something for everyone. phillip and i started out with a couple of local brews and then dug into our generously-topped hot dogs.
phillip went for the tailgater clowndog creation. i promise there was a dog underneath all those pinto beans, coleslaw, bbq sauce, and bacon! these hot dogs definitely require a fork and knife, so don’t be shy to ensure each bite includes some of each mouthwatering ingredient.
i was inclined to try the frito dog but last-minute decided to build my own. mine included an all-beef hot dog on a traditional bun with heaping helpings of mac’n’cheese, bacon, and (per the waitress’ recommendation) green chile sauce. folks, don’t you dare make a grimacing face. this combination slapped (as the young folks say these days). to translate for those who don’t know the modern saying “slapped,” that means it was EXCELLENT. the rich mac’n’cheese with the zippy green chile sauce made for a heavenly bite so good to finish. if you ever visit albuquerque, i implore you to give clowndog a chance. you might surprise yourself how fun (and delicious) it is to go outside the box sometimes.
so, that was a wrap on our first day in new mexico. everyone we encountered was quite polite, the food redeemed itself by the end of the day, and we went to bed excited to explore more of this new-to-us state. stand by for what happened next!