The Best Cheap Eats in Albuquerque

New Mexico is officially the "Land of Enchantment" and unofficially the "Land of the Best Chiles You'll Ever Have." But Albuquerque also offers plenty of other inexpensive, eclectic food options, including international fare and sweet temptations.

Photo By: Sergio Salvador

Photo By: Sergio Salvador

Photo By: Sergio Salvador

Photo By: Sergio Salvador

Photo By: Sergio Salvador

Photo By: Adrian Jauriqui

Photo By: Gabbi Campos and Vanessa Sanchez, Exposure Photography

Photo By: Thao Trinh Photography

Photo By: Gabbi Campos and Vanessa Sanchez, Exposure Photography

Photo By: Stephanie Cameron

Photo By: Audre Holtz

Photo By: Sergio Salvador

Huevos Rancheros at the Range Café

A bed of blue-corn tortillas topped with eggs, in turn topped with white cheddar: There are worse ways to start the morning. Served until 3 p.m., the huevos rancheros at the Range Café also come with beans, potatoes, chili, and a sprinkling of lettuce and tomatoes — you won't be hungry for a long time afterward. They clock in at $9.99 at this popular diner with four locations around town.

Carne Adovada Plate at Mary & Tito's Cafe

Carne adovada is pork that is marinated in a red-chile blend, resulting in meat that is tender, spicy and incomparably flavorful. You'll find arguably the most-renowned version in Albuquerque at James Beard Award-winning Mary & Tito's Cafe. The classic restaurant serves carne adovada in various forms, including enchiladas, pizza, flautas or with beans and rice (all $7.95), or stuffed into a sopaipilla, a deep-fried dough pocket ($7.25).

Tacos at Taqueria Mexico

This authentic taqueria beckons with its red-white-and-green-striped exterior and the line that tends to form at its takeout window. Pictured are the barbacoa tacos ($2.30 each a la carte); other menu highlights include fajitas, tortas and, for the adventurous diner, menudo (beef tripe stew) and lengua (cow tongue) tacos.

Doughnut Medley at Rebel Donut

Rebel, Rebel, we love you so. This doughnut shop with an upbeat, offbeat edge offers treats you won't find elsewhere. In addition to the classics, the selection here includes creative concoctions like the Red Chile Chocolate Bacon doughnut and the Blue Sky (which looks kind of like Walter White's trade good of choice on Breaking Bad), made with blue cotton-candy icing and rock candy.

Bibimbap at A-Ri-Rang Oriental Market

Tucked away toward the back of the Korean grocery store A-Ri-Rang is a no-fuss, totally food-focused restaurant, where you can order traditional Korean dishes like bulgogi (marinated barbecue beef) and bibimbap, a mixture of vegetables, beef and rice topped with an egg. Whiteboard menu items are written in Korean, but there's a printed menu that includes English descriptions. You will be hard-pressed to find a more authentic Korean dining experience in the region, let alone a tastier one.

Tacos at El Paisa

We couldn't mention just one taqueria when this city is dotted with so many great ones. Another top spot is El Paisa, just west of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque's South Valley. The Spanish-language menu focuses on tacos ($1.25 per; options include pastor, asada and barbacoa), gorditas, tortas and burritos, which you can enjoy at one of the picnic tables on the restaurant's patio.

Poke Bowl at Poki Poki Cevicheria

At this build-a-bowl poke shop, visitors select a bowl size (starting at $8.95) and then take it from there, choosing a base of rice, salad or chips and then selecting a fish (possibilities include ahi tuna and salmon), a sauce, toppings from a range of options and finally another sauce. Poki Poki also hosts $2 taco Tuesdays and, at one of its two locations, weekday happy hour with the same taco offer. It's the icing on the cake ... or the seaweed on the albacore.

Azteca Waffle at Tia B's La Waffleria

Tia B's La Waffleria is another build-your-own place — here, you can Frankenstein the waffle of your dreams, selecting items like fruits and breakfast meats to add to the batter and then choosing toppings and sides. Or you can order off the menu, which features inventive waffles like the Azteca ($9), pictured: a blue-corn waffle cooked with cinnamon inside, with toppings including chocolate sauce, chocolate whipped cream and red-chile powder. Tia B's and Tia Betty Blue's (also featured in this gallery) have the same owner, to whom we are grateful for making Albuquerque breakfasts so sweet and spicy.

Fried Chicken Sandwich at Nexus Brewery & Restaurant

Comfort food takes many forms, but among the coziest is soul food — especially when it's paired with cold beer brewed on-site. You can get Southern fried chicken in various forms at Nexus Brewery, including chicken and waffles and a fried chicken sandwich with bacon, caramelized onions and pepper Jack ($12 for a two-piece chicken and waffle, $10 for the sandwich).

Green Chile Stew at the Frontier Restaurant

The Frontier's bright, barnlike building, across the street from the University of New Mexico, is an Albuquerque landmark, and its green chile stew is just as famed. You can order a large bowl of the spicy stew, plus two tortillas, for $5, or you can have it with an enchilada or burrito entree. Another must-have is the Frontier sweet roll, a megadose of pillowy, sugary joy.

Pad Thai at Pad Thai Cafe

Pad Thai Cafe specializes in curries and its titular dish, a blend of hot rice-stick noodles, cold toppings (bean sprouts and peanuts) and other perfectly balanced ingredients. Order it with beef, chicken or pork for $9.95, or with shrimp for $12.95. Top off your meal with a sweetly satisfying Thai iced tea, made with condensed milk.

Chicken Sisig at Bubblicitea Cafe

The Filipino dishes and baked goods at Bubblicitea Cafe range from sweet pianono (rolled cake with filling) to savory marinated meat adobo. Toward the latter end of the spectrum, the chicken sisig ($7.99) is irresistible, with chopped meat, spices and a fresh-off-the-griddle egg, served on a sizzling-hot plate. True to its name, Bubblicitea's tea menu is expansive; it includes add-on options like tapioca pearls and lychee jelly.

Pork Banh Mi at Coda Bakery

A short walk from the Talin Market, Albuquerque's destination for international groceries, is the Vietnamese bakery-deli Coda Bakery. The beloved pork banh mi — a footlong sandwich for $6.50 — is composed of marinated, grilled pork on a fresh baguette, made complete with crisp vegetables and a Vietnamese mayo spread.

Breakfast Burrito at Tia Betty Blue's

In terms of bang for your buck, it's hard to beat the $4 breakfast burrito at Tia Betty Blue's, a mound of eggs, cheese, potatoes and, of course, red or green chili. But its price is approximately the third-best thing about this dish, after its combination of starch and spice and the way you can sop up all the goods with its massive flour tortilla.

Footlong with Cheese at the Dog House Drive In

Another sight that will be familiar to Breaking Bad fans is the Dog House Drive In's retro facade, complete with a neon dachshund wagging its tail. The drive-in, one of the first in Albuquerque, has been around for more than half a century. Try the footlong chili cheese dog ($3.90), topped with Hatch red chile.

Corn and Crawfish Chowder at Chumly's Southwestern

Chumly's is one of the storefronts, or rather container fronts, at Green Jeans Farmery, a funky hangout spot where the restaurants and shops have been built out of shipping containers. The $5.95 crawfish corn chowder at this comfort-food eatery is thick and toasty, with a kick of Creole spice. Though it's great year-round, it's particularly gratifying on a chilly desert night.

Pancakes at Central Grill and Coffee House

The signage outside the Central Grill and Coffee House promises the three F's — fresh food fast — but leaves out perhaps the most-important F, fluffy. That's one of the key features of the buttermilk pancakes here ($5.85), which are also filling and (breaking with the F theme) exceptional. Order them "crazy good," with fruit and melted Brie on top, for $6.95.

Vegan "Egg" Rolls at An Hy Quan Vegetarian Restaurant

You may be skeptical of an eggless egg roll, but you won't be thinking about what's missing when you're so focused on what you're enjoying. Made with a wheat wrapper and a mix of vegetables, mung beans and more, these $6 appetizers are delectable starters. An Hy Quan offers Vietnamese fare that is mostly vegan and otherwise vegetarian — think mock-fish curry and rice noodles with mock-pork meatballs. Menu items are healthy and consistently delicious.

Frito Pie at Duran Central Pharmacy

Duran's has been around since the 1940s, and for most of its existence, it has served dual purposes as both a pharmacy and a restaurant. The latter started out as a soda fountain, and today it is a go-to for New Mexican dishes — particularly those smothered with chili. Try the Frito pie ($7), a favorite local dish with a hodgepodge of Fritos, ground beef, beans, cheese and red or green chili.

Pizza Slice at Richie B's

All else being equal, bigger is always better when it comes to pizza slices. Diners at Richie B's can enjoy sprawling slices made of fresh ingredients — including housemade sauce and dough — for $3 to $3.75. The owners are native Burqueños, but their restaurant excels at New York-style slices and pies.

LOTA Burger with Green Chile and Cheese at Blake's Lotaburger

The signature menu item at Blake's Lotaburger — a New Mexican institution since the '50s — is the famed LOTA Burger with green chile and cheese. The burger's juicy, piquant tastiness derives from its combination of Angus beef, gooey cheese, and green chile from "chile world capital" Hatch, New Mexico.

Beef Brisket Sandwich at Mr. Powdrell's Barbeque House

Mr. Powdrell's has elicited praise for its ribs and brisket for more than 50 years. Run by a family with Louisiana roots, this is the BBQ real deal, where the tangy sauce — from an old family recipe — is particularly deserving of its accolades. A large brisket sandwich with a side is $9.95, and a (recommended) pint of sauce for the road is $4.95.

Cali with Carne Asada Burrito at The Last Call

Late-night food in a university town must serve several purposes, including helping students fuel up while cramming for exams and wind down after partying. The burritos, tacos and fries at The Last Call earn top marks across all late-night criteria. The popular Cali with carne asada ($8.50) isn't just a meaty, cheesy burrito; even better, it's a meaty, cheesy burrito with fries inside.

Super Rich Tonkotsu Ramen at Naruto

Affordable ramen doesn't have to come in a sodium-loaded, store-bought package. Naruto's ramen bowls are hearty, warming and nearly all under $8 without added toppings. The Super Rich Tonkotsu Ramen bowl is a local favorite — made with pork broth and chashu pork, it's packed with complex flavors.

Guava Pollito at Guava Tree Café

What's your ideal sandwich? Your answer might change after you try the Guava Pollito at the Guava Tree Café, a Latin American sandwich shop. With its shredded chicken, melted cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms, it's a festival of flavors for just $8.50. You can turn it into a combo plate, adding excellent yucca fries to your order, for $10.