Little Bear (Nob Hill)
The vibe: Lively coffee shop and natural wine bar in the heart of Nob Hill. This inviting location has an abundance of indoor and outdoor seating, including countertops, providing a comfortable space for potentially uncomfortable small talk. Little Bear’s single-origin coffee and tea menu is pretty straightforward, with classic options and a few seasonal specials. However, it’s LB’s nighttime transition into a bar serving natural wine, local beer, and a handful of cocktails until 11 pm that sets it apart. Wine tasting events with pop-up food vendors like Mañana Taco often bring out a crowd and turn the patio into a party.
The move: Start with their silky cold brew and oat milk to get the energy up. If things are going well, suggest staying for a glass of one of LB’s rotating assortment of natty wines, such as the light and juicy red blend FKA! by Open Hand Ranch.
Pair it with: Dinner in Nob Hill. If things are going really well, you’ve got plenty of walkable options to keep the evening going. Head across the street to Mesa Provisions or a few blocks east to Frenchish. Both are upscale restaurants with sexy food and there’s a decent chance you can score a seat at either bar without a reservation. Follow it up with a nightcap at the always titillating craft cocktail haven Happy Accidents. Who knows, if it’s going really really well, maybe you’ll end up grabbing coffees and salted buttered donuts back at Little Bear in the morning.
Timing: Daily 7 am–5 pm; wine bar Thur–Mon 5–11 pm
Cutbow Coffee Roastology
The vibe: Cozy and bustling with an emphasis on the art of the brew. Owner Paul Gallegos had been roasting coffee for thirty years when he opened Cutbow in 2017—and many consider him a master of the craft. Billed as a “roastery, tasting room, and coffee bar,” Cutbow offers everything from a classic mocha (using house-made Dutch cocoa syrup) to a Cutbow Estrella (espresso over iced elderflower tonic water, garnished with Mandarin orange salt). In 2022, Food & Wine magazine selected Cutbow as the best coffee shop in New Mexico.
The move: Aficionados looking to sample several of Cutbow’s single-origin or blended beans may want to order a tasting flight—a choice of three 4-ounce freshly ground coffees, brewed to order, served tableside in a French press, with a sidecar (a palate cleanser of sparkling water). But for something a bit more unique, try the Gomossita. Sort of like a grown-up hot chocolate, this sweet-and-bitter drink takes Tres Ritos espresso and pours it over house-made marshmallows.
Pair it with: The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park. In honor of Gallegos’s late father, a devout fisherman, Cutbow is named after the Cutbow trout. A portion of the proceeds from every bag of Cutbow coffee is donated to the Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance, which works to protect the waters at some of his father’s favorite fishing holes in northern New Mexico. Just two miles north of the coffee shop on Rio Grande Boulevard, a similar focus on riparian ecology is present at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park. Grab a coffee to go and explore the pollinator gardens, wildlife viewing areas, and cottonwood-lined trails at this thirty-eight-acre urban wildlife preserve.
Timing: Tues–Sun, 8 am–3 pm
Villa Myriam Coffee
The vibe: A sleek and industrial downtown café and roastery with quality breakfast and lunch options. While many Albuquerque coffee shops make a tasty brew, Villa Myriam is one of the few whose food offerings go beyond a few pastries and premade burritos. Former chef de cuisine of The Grove Yolanda Torres whips up filling dishes like the bacon breakfast sandwich, everything bagel and lox, carnitas burrito, avocado and prosciutto toast, and, on Fridays, an ever-changing, imaginative take on french toast (like pumpkin cheesecake).
The move: The soup of the day. Often using organic ingredients, VM’s soups achieve a rich depth of flavor that rivals many of the best broths in town. Recent specials included an aromatic Thai coconut soup with shiitake mushrooms and a hearty tortilla soup with black beans, corn, and thick chunks of green chile and tomatoes, topped with avocado, cotija cheese, and tortilla strips—chicken optional.
Pair it with: A London Fog latte enjoyed next to their patio’s firepit. While you won’t have the best view in this industrial area, it’s fun to gaze at the collection of vintage neon street signs on display at the neighboring (and perpetually “coming soon”) “Neon Park” property.
Timing: Mon–Fri, 7 am–2 pm
The vibe: Wells Park neighborhood favorite for hip creatives, grad students, and young professionals. The perimeter of this sunny hundred-year-old adobe is lined with small tables, as well as charming window bench seats, making it a conducive space for writing, reading, and finding artistic inspiration.
The move: There’s no doubt Slow Burn makes a mean cup of coffee, roasting its high-grade, small-farm, green coffee beans in house. But I’m also a big fan of their smooth and flavorful matcha latte, served in an oversized Hanselmann pottery ceramic cup.
Pair it with: Old Town Plaza. Yes, I know Old Town might sound like old news, but have you been lately? Over the last few years, chic new boutiques like Luna & Luz (home goods, vintage), Lapis Room (gifts and gallery), and Above Snakes (menswear, lifestyle) have made the plaza a destination for local shoppers, while eateries like tiny grocer ABQ, tg Romero St., and Gobble This (by reservation only) are breathing new life into its food scene.
Timing: Open daily 7 am–5 pm
The Farm Stand / Candlestick Coffee Roasters
A great spot for: Getting out of town
The vibe: Farmhouse chic, multipurpose community hub. Sometimes city dwellers need to get away for a little bucolic charm. Enter the collab between Candlestick Coffee Roasters and The Farm Stand, located on the main drag of the picturesque agricultural village of Corrales. A year ago, Elan and Aaron Silverblatt-Buser of Silver Leaf Farms partnered with Zach Smith of Candlestick Roasters to open this roastery-meets-eponymous outlet for the brothers’ organic produce. The space also sells an assortment of gourmet groceries, has a nursery selling the farm’s plant starts, and, on Fridays and Saturdays, is a tasting room for Milagro Vineyards and Winery. The nearly century-old adobe that houses the shop is outfitted with all the white paint, live-wood countertops, and vintage touches worthy of a Fixer Upper remodel. While the space offers a tranquil escape for Albuquerqeans, for local villagers it has quickly become a beloved community gathering place. As one regular recently told me, “If you spend an afternoon sitting around [one of the property’s many outdoor tables], chances are you’ll see your friends or neighbors at some point.”
The move: Cappuccino and a pastry. Not only is The Farm Stand a collaboration with Candlestick and Milagro, it is also home to the baked goods of Hartford Square. Once a popular downtown Albuquerque restaurant, Hartford Square’s daily assortment of seasonally inspired muffins, loafs, cakes, donuts, scones (you name it) are worth a trip all on their own.
Pair it with: An afternoon on Corrales Road. Similar to Old Town Albuquerque, if you haven’t visited Corrales in a while, you might be surprised by how many new businesses have sprung up in the last few years. Ex Novo Brewing Company, for example, went family friendly in 2022, opening a huge beer garden with lots of grass and space for games. There is also a lovely, gated 21+ area if that’s more your vibe. If you need a bite after all that coffee and beer, head up the road to Fancies Bakery & Modern Market and order the flavor bomb known as the Breakfast Sando—green chile brioche, egg over medium, thick-cut bacon, arugula, heirloom tomato, and truffle aioli. For an elegant dinner, visit Fancies’ sister restaurant Forty Nine Forty, which—in the collaborative spirit of Corrales—features Silver Leaf produce and Candlestick coffee.
Timing: Wed–Mon, 8 am–3 pm; wine service Fri–Sat, 3–7 pm
Candolin Cook is a historian, writer, editor, and former co-editor of edible New Mexico. She recently received her doctorate in history from the University of New Mexico and is working on her first book.