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7 New Mexico food halls you’ll want to visit

The 2-story food hall Tin Can Alley has an array of food options from 10 vendors.

In recent years, the nationwide food hall trend has gotten a foothold in New Mexico. A half dozen hotbeds of specialty cuisines have moved into historic buildings as well as new structures fashioned from metal shipping containers.

The food hall concept is much like a shopping mall food court: fast-casual dining outlets arranged around communal seating. But unlike food courts, you won’t find chains like Panda Express or Cinnabon. Today’s food halls are the domain of local restaurateurs offering a taste of a city’s varied cuisines all under one roof.

From Albuquerque to Taos, we’ve rounded up 6 New Mexico food halls and a preview of a seventh that’s coming soon.  

1. Sawmill Market, Albuquerque

Opened in 2020, the state’s biggest and busiest food hall inhabits a converted 1958 Paxton Lumber Company warehouse and showroom once dubbed the “Home of Beautiful Woods.” Today, the 34,000-square-foot hub of grub is home to 29 artisanal food and drink stalls.

Foods include fall-off-the-bone rotisserie chicken (Roti N.M.), Venezuelan pork-stuffed cachapas (Cacho’s Latin Flavor), and green chile jam–filled doughnuts (Blue Door Patisserie). At the center of the market, Paxton’s Taproom pours upwards of 30 New Mexico–made beers, wines, and hard ciders.

Feast in hand, find a table inside the market building, where floor-to-ceiling windows fill the industrial-chic space with natural light. Or head outdoors to the expansive dining patio named The Yard. Inside or out, you’ll rub elbows with a diverse crowd ranging from foodie hipsters Instagramming their falafel (Meso Grill) to families grabbing burgers and dogs (Dr. Field Goods) after visiting nearby Old Town or the ABQ BioPark.  

Must try at Sawmill Market:

A roll from Hiro Sushi topped with lemon slices and drizzles of various sauces

Hiro Sushi is among 29 food and drink options at Sawmill Market.

New to Sawmill in 2022 is Hiro Sushi, run by the family who founded gone-but-not-forgotten Santa Fe favorite Shohko Café (shuttered in 2019). The Hiro stall’s tiny size limits the menu to sushi rolls, but no one’s complaining when even a simple California or spicy tuna roll tastes this good. Tops is the Chef Special Roll with spicy salmon and shrimp tempura.

You may also like: Albuquerque’s Sawmill Market is reshaping the local food scene

2. 505 Central Food Hall, Albuquerque

Diners waiting for drinks at Moonwalk bar

Visitors to 505 Central Food Hall can grab a drink at Moonwalk bar.

On the heels of Sawmill’s debut, the late 2020 arrival of this downtown Albuquerque “urban food hall” injected new life into an underappreciated 1937 Streamline Moderne–style former Sears department store at Central Avenue and Fifth Street.

Unlike Sawmill’s purveyors, the 8 merchants at 505 draw a more downtown, workaday clientele who grab gourmet java from friendly Humble Coffee or cool their jets with happy hour cocktails at the retro-groovy Moonwalk bar.

A hot chicken sandwich from Kukri

Kūkri at 505 Central Food Hall gives Nashville hot chicken a Pakistani twist.

On the food side of the cavernous hall, micro kitchens turn out burgers (Meateor Burgers), deep-dish pies (Thicc Pizza Company), and steamy noodles (Naruto Ramen). The first Friday of each month, 505 hosts arts and crafts vendors as part of the downtown Albuquerque Artwalk.

Must try at 505 Central Food Hall:

Nashville hot chicken with a fiery Pakistani twist ignites your mouth at Kūkri, where the motto is “Hot means hot.” And they’re not foolin’. Of the 5 chicken spice levels ranging from “mild” to “insane hot,” the “hot” may cause even seasoned New Mexico chile freaks to break into a painful-but-worth-it sweat. Try the “medium” spiced fried chicken tenders meal, with 2 generously breaded chicken pieces, Texas toast, a cool slide of tangy slaw, and Tikka dipping sauce.

3. Green Jeans Food Hall, Albuquerque

A wolf mural on the outside of Green Jeans Food Hall

Green Jeans Food Hall, originally Green Jeans Farmery, was the first food hall in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque’s first food hall debuted in 2016 as Green Jeans Farmery near the intersection of Interstate 40 and Carlisle Boulevard. While the name has changed slightly, the layout remains the same: a funky 2-story jumble of metal shipping containers decorated with a big, bold mural of a hungry wolf. Most seating is outdoors, in a lower courtyard around a communal fireplace, and at upstairs patio tables overlooking the traffic zipping along I-40.

You can’t go wrong with food from any of the 11 vendors. Grab a juicy, fully loaded green chile cheeseburger from Rustic on the Green, or anything on the menu at Fusion Tacos (don’t miss the al pastor tacos). A Santa Fe Brewing Company taproom is in the house to quench your thirst, as well as Baby Bar, a new place for sampling spirits. Your belly stuffed and thirst slated, browse the Brotique 505 shop for New Mexico–themed knickknacks and apparel.

Must try at Green Jeans Food Hall:

Someone reaching for a slice from Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria

Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria is one of 11 vendors at Green Jeans Food Hall.

With its handmade, simply delicious Margherita pies, Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria transports you to coastal Italy. Of specialty pizzas, try the signature ABQ Duke topped with juicy sausage and Hatch green chile.

You may also like: 6 New Mexico food trucks worth following

4. Tin Can Alley, Albuquerque

Exterior of Tin Can Alley food hall

Tin Can Alley in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a 2-story food hall housed in a metal shipping container and decorated with colorful murals.

The success of Green Jeans inspired its developer and owner, Roy Solomon, to open a sister food hall on the far northeast end of Albuquerque. At Tin Can, whimsical murals in a rainbow of colors decorate the metal shipping containers that give the hall its bones. The soaring, 2-story space hosts 10 vendors, including a few in common with Green Jeans—notably the anchor, Santa Fe Brewing Co.

Order a toasty Cubano sandwich (Guava Tree Cafe) or perhaps a bacon-loaded cheeseburger (On The Flip) and climb upstairs to the best seats in the house at indoor and outdoor tables with impressive views of the Sandia Mountains.

Seating areas inside Tin Can Alley

Diners have plenty of seating options throughout Tin Can Alley.

If you’ve got kiddos in tow, turn ’em loose in Tesoro Arcade. The tiny space features air hockey, pinball, and video games like Minecraft. On the way out, don’t forget a luscious Boston cream cupcake from hall newcomer Cake Fetish.   

Must try at Tin Can Alley:

A BBQ plate with slices of meat, cornbread, and a scoop of coleslaw

Food options at Tin Can Alley include combo plates from S-A BBQ.

S-A BBQ smokes its incredibly tender brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and house-made hot links on-site, low and slow as the barbecue gods command. Best is the brisket, either on a sandwich or in a combo plate with slaw and bread.

5. Chomp Food Hall, Santa Fe

Poke bowl with toppings including avocado, seaweed salad, sliced carrots, and more

Poki Tako, a stall at Chomp Food Hall, gained popularity as a food truck.

Santa Fe welcomed its first food hall in 2021. Inspired by Napa’s Oxbow Public Market, local businessman and owner Ken Joseph invested in the food hall concept. He believed “Santa Fe had an open niche for reasonably priced, high-quality food, and a great place for people to gather.”

In a modest 6,100-square-foot space on the southwest side of downtown, Joseph has curated an intriguing collection of 7 outlets helmed by local entrepreneurs, including Nath’s Inspired Khmer Cuisine (superb Pan-Asian fare), Pedro’s Pizza (wood-fired pies), and Bottega del Vino (an extensive wine and spirits bar). The lunchtime vibe is typical Santa Fe chill with fellow diners overheard discussing their chakras and Subarus.  

Must try at Chomp Food Hall:

Chef Randy Tapia (formerly of Santa Fe’s La Fonda hotel restaurant) brought his popular Poki Tako food truck menu to a stall at Chomp in late 2022. Among Tapia’s poke bowl concoctions, consider the ‘ono Hawaiian bowl with ahi tuna. In the mood for something warm? Opt for the fish-and-chips with flaky rockfish fried in a spicy-crunchy tempura batter.

You may also like: 10 affordable restaurants in Santa Fe, New Mexico

6. Taos Food Hall and Marketplace

The outside of Taos Food Hall

Taos Food Hall and Marketplace owner Jennifer DeBow hopes to add more vendors in 2023.

Taos joined the food hall fray with the spring 2022 debut of this 2-story, 5,500-square-foot adobe-style building on the south side of town. The hall had just 3 tenants at the end of 2022: Mondo Italiano (classic East Coast Italian eats), tasty La Terraza de Taos (Mexican fare with Acapulco roots), and a gelato shop. 

A trio of tacos served with a scoop of guacamole and rice

La Terraza de Taos dishes up Mexican food including crunchy tacos.

Enthusiastic hall owner and Mondo Italiano chef Jennifer DeBow plans to fill vacancies with Blue Deer BBQ and a Middle Eastern grab-n-go stand, poised to open in January 2023.

Must try at Taos Food Hall and Marketplace:

The numero uno dish at casual, cozy Mondo Italiano is the creamy, dreamy fettuccine Alfredo.  

7. Margarita Hill, Albuquerque

Roy Solomon, the brains and bucks behind Albuquerque’s Green Jeans and Tin Can Alley food halls, has broken ground on a new grub hub named Margarita Hill. Nine vendors are planned for the hall, tentatively set to open in the Rio Rancho neighborhood in late 2023. 

Eli Ellison is a Santa Fe-based writer who, after researching this article, needs to go on a diet.

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