What used to be a sketchy area has been renovated into one of Old Town’s coolest gems. After going under a heavy facelift a few years ago, the spot has turned itself into a chic/hip-like motel with a food hall attached to it. Other than having some nice rooms and providing walking distance to a number of Albuquerque hot spots, El Vado offers some good eats and better drinks.

The Food

With a wide variety of food options, the selection may be overwhelming at first—but hey, that’s what we’re here for. Let’s go down the list of some of El Vado’s choices that range from Mexican, Asian fusion and American.

Ikigai

The last time I was at El Vado’s eatery, I was hankering for something fresh and spicy. So, I decided to order some sushi and pad thai from the Asian cuisine spot, Ikigai, to fulfill my craving. To get the spice, I ordered the classic N.M. green chile roll and dumped the red pepper flakes on my noodles. If the heat from the summer wasn’t enough, I was definitely sweating in a delicious fury.

Street Food Sensations

I was pumped when I heard Street Food transitioned from a food truck to brick and mortar. I raved about its street tacos when I first discovered them. It was no different from my last visit. The chipotle chicken and carne asada tacos were just like I remembered. As a huge fan of Cubano sandwiches, I decided to check Street Food’s version. Now, there are two factors that separate its Cubanos from the others: habanero-infused pickles and red chile mayo. These make the sandwich spicier and more flavorful, making me put this item at number one of the best Cubanos in town. Definitely, a must-try if you’re thinking of ordering from here.

Bosque Burger

Bosque Burger is your classic burger spot, but that doesn’t mean its flavors are dull. My first visit here was something I’ll remember. My first order was Buffalo Bacon Blue paired with some Parmesan truffle tots. At first, I was concerned about how the buffalo sauce on the burger was going to taste, but it was pretty dang good. It was a greasy mess, but a flavorful mess at that. And the tots turned out to be a great cheesy sidekick.

Happy Chickenzz

I’ve written about this Laotian-influenced wing shack before, giving it high praise for its exotically spiced and sauced wings. But one item that caught my eye that I missed out on last time was its spicy Diablo Sandwich—a fiery, crispy sandwich topped with sriracha aioli and hot sauce. I was elated I got a second chance to check this item out. If you decide to take on this spice, make sure to double up on the napkins—you’re going to need them.

Buen Provecho

I’ve heard nothing but great things about this Costa Rican spot, so you could imagine my excitement when I got the pleasure of swinging by. Friends have told me Buen’s tamales are next-level; and to my expectations, they were correct. I tried the pork and chicken, and being a native New Mexican, I honestly have to say these were the best tamales I’ve ever had in my life. Completely different from our representation of tamales, this item is filled with achiote rice, garbanzo beans, peas and carrots. And before you call me out on this one, try it. You will understand where I’m coming from.

Dessert

If you feel a sweet tooth coming on, you’ll have two solid options on your hands. First, is Rude Boy Cookies, an Albuquerque favorite with an assortment of selections. And if you’re feeling for something cake-based, check out A Heavenly Taste Cakery. It’s cupcakes are certifiably delicious.

El Vado Taproom 

Finally, we get to my favorite part of the hall, the El Vado Taproom. Thanks to this taproom featuring brews made by the Ponderosa Brewing Company, you’ll find exactly what your palate is catered toward. One of the best amber ales I’ve had was here. But more important is finding the beer that pairs best with the food. With all the spice I can get, I need a beer with some zest and a bite. That’s why I ordered Ponderosa’s Lime Cerveza. It’s got everything I need to make the experience that much better.

There’s still a lot of people overlooking El Vado. Personally, it took me a while to head down there for a bite. With food halls popping up every other year, the competition grows fierce with this model. However, with places like Green Jeans, 505 Food Hall, Tin Can Alley and the Sawmill Market, El Vado is the one that truly feels like home. Its deep historic roots in the Albuquerque community make it my number one choice for Albuquerque food halls.

El Vado Hotel

2500 Central Ave. SW

Neighborhood: Old Town

Category: Food Hall

Phone: (505) 361-1667

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Website (elvadoabq.com)

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Cade Guererro

Cade is young journalist who has worked at publication in Austin, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. He focuses on the cultural topics of Albuquerque.

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