How to Eat Like a Broke, Vegetarian Local in Albuquerque, New Mexico
I can't even begin to quantify the number of times I have searched for "cheap vegetarian food in Albuquerque." Half of the time, you get to the website menu and cheap means something very different to the writer than to you. Since 2006, I've been sampling a little bit of this and a lot of that throughout the city of Albuquerque.
These places are vegetarian AND broke-student approved. Real people eat at these joints and do so often. Whether you're just passing through or sick of chain restaurants, you'll be pleased with the selections below.
As a vegetarian, I get pretty sick of people telling me to always eat at Asian restaurants. They tell me about the healthy meals of tofu and broccoli and quick cooking to sear in flavor. I understand and do believe these claims, but I come from a family of dairy farmers. I like hearty, heavy food, too and I have a few of those to pass on below.
There are a few Asian restaurants that I do frequent and the first of these is a must-visit for vegetarians or vegans in the Duke City.
Thai Vegan is located in an unassuming strip mall next to a dry cleaner's and books-on-tape shop. My first instinct upon my initial arrival was that I shouldn't get my hopes up too high.
That was my one and only doubt about this restaurant. Thai Vegan is a true vegan restaurant. There are no animal products whatsoever in the kitchen and they make all of their own artificial meats on site. You can order Pad Thai, curries, burgers, soups, ice creams, and fried bananas. I almost never order anything but the lunch or dinner special. Why? For between $8-10 depending on the time of day, you can order from a long list of entrees that are served with a healthy grain mixture, fried spring rolls, and a light salad tossed with an Italian dressing. This dressing is no small feat and should not be shrugged off. It is creamy, multi-layered and unendingly delicious. I always order a tub to go home and I eat it on everything I can find (sometimes it even gets weird). Their coconut ice cream, replete with adzuki beans and coconut jelly cubes, offers a perspective on coconut I've never experienced in any other context.
You'll eat very well and Thai Vegan is a number one stop for anyone trying to shake off the road trip fast food stomachache (vegan, vegetarian, and carnivores alike).
My boyfriend introduced me to 2000 Vietnam and after a few years now, it is on our regular roster of places to eat. The prices are always low and the food is always much better than it really has any right to be. The things they do with vermicelli noodles will haunt me forever.
Our favorite dishes to order are the vegetarian spring rolls with tofu (although I have an issue with the weird rice paper on the outside so I tend to avoid them), fried vegetarian egg rolls (now these I DO eat), #60 Steamed Vermicelli with Fried Vegetarian Egg Roll (yes, more egg rolls), any of the pho dishes (the chicken is stellar for any of the carnivores in the group), and the Tofu Fried Rice. When I was a meateater, I found and loved plenty of the dishes. They do great things with spices and sauces and this is true for many of the Vietnamese restaurants in the area.
We're lucky to have such high-quality and low-priced Vietnamese options in a relatively small area and I gladly recommend 2000 Vietnam to all of the internet.
Salsita's Express, a tiny restaurant shoved between a Boston Market and Starbuck's, has much more to offer than it's neighbors. We love burritos in New Mexico and in my home, the burrito is king. We are always on the hunt for the best breakfast and bean burritos and Salsita's Express is my new go-to Latin eatery. They do sell tacos, rellenos made on the spot, and all kinds of tasty other options like carne adovada. I go for the bean burrito.
For $4.50, I get a bean and rice burrito made of entirely vegetarian ingredients and including all toppings (yes, guacamole and crema fresca and cheese, too)! The tortilla itself is the size of a large pizza, but when toasted, it becomes irresistible. Serve with lime slices and one of the aguas frescas (my favorites are horchata and melon), and you'll have an exquisite meal fit for two or one hungry blogger.
Plus, Salsita's is run by a very friendly and welcoming family who work hard to provide us with such a great little shop!
Which of these types of vegetarian foods do you crave the most?
If you're looking for a pizza near UNM or Nob Hill, you'd be remiss to order from anyone besides Amadeo's. They're located just west of San Mateo on Lomas and have the best pizza in town. We've tried the other places and have had decent meals at other pizza shops, but Amadeo's is the only one we can't get over.
There is no room to eat inside so you would need to pick up your order or get it delivered. Their large is enough for 5 hungry adults in my house and they've got green chile! My favorite is pineapple, mushrooms, and green chile. There are may or may not be a few slices in my fridge at this precise moment. It's a regular meal over here and the prices are unbeatable. The big chains don't compare and we're sick of wasting our money on mediocre pizza! Go to Amadeo's!
Runner up: Giovanni's on San Pedro.
Cocina Azul is the new kid on my culinary block. After my first visit, I already knew this place has the potential to become a homey dining room for people interested in well-done favorites.
We had their breakfast burrito and split the Wa'Toffle's, two french toast slices fried in a waffle iron. It's not cutting edge cuisine. Cocina Azul is somewhere between abuela's kitchen and the old Route 66 diners. Although many menu dishes are not vegetarian, their chiles are and the staff happily made substitutions and exclusions for us.
My one hope is that Cocina Azul ditches the Seattle's Best coffee and brings in Aroma Coffee from Santa Fe. The pairing would make much more sense since Cocina Azul already offers the exquisite teas from their neighbor, the New Mexico Tea Company. Aroma is one of the best roasters in the state and is my own personal favorite. If you see Aroma on the menu, you know you're in good hands.
Cocina Azul would benefit tenfold from the inclusion of a little more local art. I think that'd be the extra touch they need to really take root in the community. I'm already waiting to go back for me and to watch this great restaurant grow over the coming years.
I recommend Cocina Azul for traveler's especially because the location is so lovely. It fits between and mixes the lively freshness of the Downtown with the older, more authentic feel of Old Town. There are quite a few other shops in the area, including New Mexico Tea Company and Golden Crown Panaderia. All of the biscochitos at Golden Crown are vegetarian and they sell wonderful pizzas and pastries. Their baked goods are one of a kind in this city. Cocina Azul is located within a small cluster of newer businesses in a much older neighborhood. There's not much else like it in the rest of the city and I enjoy withdrawing to the warm peacefulness of the neighborhood on cool days.
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