BOB: Night Life
By Gwyneth Doland and Laura Marrich
Burque loves to burn out the day, then burn out the night. We love livin' for givin' the devil his due. (And we love Blue Oyster Cult.) This year's poll results reminded us what a good time there is to be had in this dust-blown outpost. Rock star karaoke at Atomic Cantina, meeting dates for pool at Anodyne, strokin' to the left, strokin' to the right at The Ranch, low key cocktails at Martini Grille, catching a blistering punk rock show at Launchpad. Good times all around! From what the results show, we're doing a great job at informing you all about what's going on Downtown, where the concentration of people and events is most dense. We promise to work hard in the coming year to cover more events and scenes in other parts of the city. Maybe then we won't get so many people writing in: “There are bars on the Westside?”
Best Bar in the South Valley
Perhaps one reader put it best when s(he) wrote in, “There are bars in the South Valley?” Of course there are bars in the Valley. They're just not all lined up in a row, so you can tumble out of one and into another. And for those of you who made references to getting shot: Have you no sense of adventure? Places like Phil's, Mike's Place and the old Archie's have more bark than bite. Oh, and even though El Madrid feels like a South Valley bar, being only a handful of blocks south of Central, it doesn't exactly qualify.
Best Downtown bar
Once, we found ourselves sitting at the resin-topped bar at Anodyne, peering into the glowing twin beer coolers and contemplating shots of Wild Turkey, when a tourist (he could only have been a tourist) wandered up and asked the dumbest question ever. “What is that, the word of the day?” he said, pointing to the red sign hanging above the bar, you know, the one that says Anoydne and gives the definition of the word? The guy lived to tell the tale, and that's probably why people like Anodyne so much. It's consistently unpretentious. Plus, there's pool, pinball, a perpetually enlightening jukebox and hot bartenders. Burt's Tiki Lounge is our readers' second favorite Downtown haunt, likely because of the comfy atmosphere, wide variety of entertainment (stoner rock one night, then Brit Pop, and samba lessons the next night). A cool crowd and reasonably priced drinks are consistent. Pearl's Dive, where you can get dinner late, relax on the back patio, meet friends for cocktails out front or check out a mellow band, earns third place. Atomic Cantina has picked up a loyal following as a dependable destination for rock shows and a welcome neighbor to the also cover-less Burt's. We also got lots of votes for Maloney's and The Library, the relatively new bar that opened in the former Brewster's. You know, the one with the girls in the really, really short skirts?
Best Westside bar
All right, all right. It's, how shall we say, up-and-coming? No, there aren't that many bars on the Westside, at least not the kinds of bars that would have Nashville Pussy or Nick Cave in the jukebox. But there are some cool people who live and/or work on the Westside, like, say, the pretty little tattooed boys who hang out at Elliott's. (You know, across the parking lot from Star Tattoo?) Otherwise, Westsiders are downing Bacardi Ice at Slate Street, or watching the game at Sidelines.
Best Northeast Heights Bar
The Horse and Angel Tavern
A lot of people in Albuquerque work hard. And after work, they need to cut loose a little, unwind, have a few beers and avoid having to go home to their irritating spouses. The Horse and Angel, located at the confluence of Juan Tabo and Eubank (and formerly known as Baker Street) is one such place. Billy's Longbar has been around since forever, like 1812 or something. No, not really, but it's been over there on San Mateo long enough to have developed a faithful following. The Barley Room, one of the rare live music venues in the Heights, came in third. Honorable mentions go to Lucky's Lounge, Stoneface Tavern and Retro's.
Best Nob Hill Bar
The Cellar Bar at Zinc
Last year O'Niell's was everyone's favorite Nob Hill bar, and this year's write-in votes reflect a collective grieving process over the loss of that longstanding Irish pub. “O'Niell's is gone, but Zinc is pretty nice,” wrote one voter. An understatement, to say the least. Zinc beat out heavy hitters like Kelly's Brewpub, Martini Grille, Gecko's and Il Bar at Scalo. Why bother wasting time on figuring out which one is best? We make it a point to continue our research on this particular matter, pretty much every night of the week.
Best College Bar
See, the thing is, this is a college town. So, you're bound to find UNM and TVI students lurking in every single bar in the city. The proportion might be slightly higher at Joe's, the bar inside Carraro's Pizza and Italian Restaurant. The Library came in second. Is that because college students hang out there? Or because the whole library theme reminds you of when you were in college? We're not sure. Copper Lounge, Maloney's, Downtown Distillery and Brickyard Pizza all earn honorable mentions for their co-ed crowds.
Best Gay Bar
Something about going to the gay bar makes all girls dance like total sluts. This is good for several reasons. First, girls really, really like dancing like total sluts. Second, many gay men enjoy dancing with drunk and uninhibited women, just as those same women like to watch nonthreatening men strip down to their knickers and rub themselves all over with baby oil before dancing on a box in the middle of the crowd. Thirdly, if you happen to be a straight man comfortable enough with the measure of his wang to go to a gay bar even though you're not gay, you will be pleasantly surprised by how randy straight girls get after dancing with gay men. If this sounds like fun, check out Blu, our first place winner. After that, cruise on by The Ranch or Albuquerque Mining Company, our second place winners. Then check out Albuquerque Social Club and Fox's Booze and Cruise.
Best Country Bar
Judging from the number of responses in this category compared to the number of responses in the previous category, we'd have to say Alibi readers are far more likely to slather themselves in baby oil and dance on a podium than they are to wrap themselves in too-tight Wranglers and go boot scootin'. But a fair number of our readers like to dip their peanut butter in a little chocolate, you know, to get the best of both worlds? Like slathering themselves in baby oil, sliding into some assless chaps and cowboy boots, and dancing on a podium? Do our readers know how to have fun or what? Caravan East won second prize for their huge dance floor. Last year's winner, Cowboys, took third.
Best Sports Bar
Watching the game at home can be fun, but sometimes it's just so much better at a bar. First of all, eight guys drinking four cases of beer and eating five bags of Cooler Ranch Doritos leaves a lingering stench in the living room that girlfriends bitch about for weeks. Plus, bars serve tequila. And whether your team wins or loses, tequila always calls the shots. Our readers prefer Coaches, Spectators and Skybox, in that order.
A lounge is the kind of place to which Sammy Davis Jr. might retreat for post-Passover-dinner cigars and martinis. A place dark enough to put your guess at a woman's age in a 20-year bracket. A place that's classy yet encourages misbehavior. A place like Martini Grille. When dressing up brings readers down, they head to the never-pretentious Copper Lounge. At Q-Bar, in the Old Town Sheraton, you can be as pretentious as you want. Hey, it's a hotel! You'll never see most of those people again! Honorable mentions include every bar in town with “lounge” in the name.
If we chose the winners in this poll, we'd say the best karaoke is by that one lady who looks like a short, Hispanic version of Stevie Knicks, and sounds exactly like her. But we work here, and we don't get to vote. You guys picked Atomic Cantina, where scenesters rock out with plenty of high-kicks, faux-hawks, falsetto and falling off the stage. Good times. Graham Central Station's sing-along attracts some shockingly good talent hidden in plumbers, cell phone salesmen and jeans folders from the mall. Sneakers might be a new place for you to show off your version of “Like a Rock,” but if it bombs there, try Leisure Bowl or the Radisson on Carlisle.
Best Bar in Which to Meet Your Blind Date
It's a long walk from the top of Anodyne's staircase to the bar. Long enough, if you walk slow enough, to scan-scan-scan the pool tables and booths for a guy, five-foot-ten, messy blondish hair like Beck, wearing a shirt that says, “I was molested by Michael Jackson and all I got was this lousy T-shirt (and a $20 million settlement).” When you want a scene, but perhaps not to be seen, Martini Grille's the place to meet your match. For the ultimate public/private date, plan to meet in one of the curtained private booths at Q-Bar. If you've already taken dates to all these places, our readers suggest you try the upstairs patio at Seasons, Sauce/Liquid Lounge or the cellar bar at Zinc.
Best Place to Drown One's Sorrows
You know, maybe this is a dumb category. Joe's Place, Anodyne and Copper Lounge? What do these places have to do with drowning your sorrows? We've come to think it doesn't really matter where you go, it's who you go with. Or who you meet there. Thank you to the reader who reported that he likes to drown his sorrows in a “rock hard pair of double Ds.” And he didn't mean batteries.
Best Bar to Dance In
OPM and Pulse
Beautiful people? Check. Heady cocktails? Double check. Funky-ass dance beats? Cha-cha-check! OPM and Pulse rule the dance floor as your number one spots to shake what your mama gave ya. Graham Central Station swept you off your feet with a different club (and dance partner) for your every mood. And from the sounds of it, no one's standing around catching her breath at Exhale—everyone's too busy getting down! Alibi readers also raved about the boot-scootin' good times at Caravan East, Sauce's sexy scene and the spicy salsa at The Cooperage.
Best Place to Get Smashed on your Lunch Break
Kelly's and Maloney's
If you're going to take your boss boozing, be sure that the place you're headed has: 1) a real menu with food that's actually prepared in a kitchen; 2) a selection of beer on tap and a few mixed drink specials; 3) a close proximity to your work, lest you get too shit-faced to drive back legally. Winners Kelly's and Maloney's both qualify. Pearl's Dive is great for a quick martini before heading back to one of Downtown's many office complexes. In fact, it's where Alibi staffers go to get wasted at lunch. Casual Friday always comes early when you're sipping a daiquiri at Garduno's. Congratulations to runnerup TD's for introducing huge knockers into lunchtime. At last!
Best Happy Hour
The killer margaritas at Garduño's bring new meaning to the classic New Mexican phrase “pana llena, corizon contento,” or “full stomach, happy heart.” Like, who's to say it shouldn't read “stomach full of liquor, happy heart?” We're always open to reinterpretation. The variety of housemade margaritas available at the rooftop patio at Seasons Rotisserie & Grill makes a tequila sunrise seem that much sunnier, especially during the happy hour before and after dinner. Monte Vista Firestation leaves you feeling very happy indeed. Why stop there? Warm, fuzzy feelings abound at Martini Grille, Ned's and various sushi restaurants around town.
The jukebox is sexy, nostalgic and unabashedly American—just like the establishments you picked out as winners in this category. Anodyne's jukebox boasts an impossibly hip mixture of up-to-the-minute releases and shamefully underplayed vintage gems. Even music snobs find themselves saying, "What is this? This rocks!" and shuffling over to investigate Now Playing's name. Good job, guys. Keep it up. Atomic Cantina also has a cool and carefully picked collection. Route 66 Diner will put you on a nostalgia trip. Burt's Tiki Lounge has a jukebox full of killer music. Other notable juke joints include Joe's Place and the Owl Cafe.
Best Venue in Which to Hear Live Music
Once again, the Launchpad is king of the scene! Home to Burque's favorite local bands, the Launchpad also brings in some of the most exciting independent touring acts around. The quality of sound is unparalleled, so even the smallest bands make you feel the bass in your face. Launchpad's shows are intimate, engaging and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Second place winner Journal Pavilion, is where readers go for summer festivals and aging arena rockers' nostalgia tours. Sunshine Theater took third place for bringing in so many must-see bands and catering so well to the all-ages crowd.
Best Line to Use In Order to Get Yourself Out of A Traffic Ticket
No Single Winner
The next time you hear the shrill cry of a police siren, try fabricating an emergency which drove you to drive at that ridiculously fast pace. Sure, you could apologize with watery eyes and pray for a warning, but a nifty excuse might just get you off Scott free. A potentially horrible (and preferably raunchy) excuse, such as a "pee emergency" or a rather violent case of explosive diarrhea (sound effects a plus!) will have the gunslinging peace keeper fleeing faster than you can say "Rodney King." If this proves ineffectual, consider the gender of your cop. If clearly a male (Freddy Mercury mustache, over-sized shades), simply mouth a single word to topple the unsuspecting officer: menstruation. If your cop happens to lack a penis, you lack an excuse. But sometimes actions speak louder than words, particularly actions that involve your crotch. Awaken your inner Fabio, don your leather and prepare to toss that ticket to the flames. If you happen to be irredeemably ugly, good luck. You're gonna need it.
Jason Salazar at Elliott's and Esther at Anodyne
It's the little things that make a good bartender rise to greatness. For example, when they remember silly details like your birthday or your favorite song. Or that you take your Jameson with three ice cubes (no more, no less). And at the end of the night, they know if you've had just a little too much and when it's time to call you a cab. These are the hallmarks of a really, really good bartender. Know who else has got 'em? Chip at AMC, Doug, Ian and Jeanette at Anodyne, Kenny at Joe's, Michelle at Gulp and Rich from O'Neill's. With love from your faithful barflies, we salute you!
Best Bloody Mary
Yes, the Bloody Mary is traditionally a brunch beverage, but we don't think you guys got your expertise at brunch. The spicy tomato juice and vodka drink is also a dependable hangover helper. And who knows hangovers better than dedicated drinkers? So we trust you readers, especially with this category. The guys at Martini Grille make a juiced-up cocktail with more kick than a V-8 engine. Readers also thanked Zinc, Fox's Booze and Cruise, Copeland's, TGI Friday's and the Albuquerque Sunport for the bloodiest Mary's in town.
Ay yay yay! The race between Garduño's and Sadie's was so close that we had to go have a few of each just to be sure they're really that good. (They are.) These two took first and second place by a landslide, but you can also get a great margarita at Seasons, Ben Michael's, Los Cuates, Quarters and La Placita.
It's a no-brainer: If your bar's namesake happens to be the most iconic beverage ever to grace a shaker, you'd better be damn sure that no one else makes a better one than you do. Thankfully, Martini Grille is more than up to the challenge. Though the Grille won by a landslide, you said that Seasons and Zinc still get you shaken, not stirred.
Best Mixed Drinks
Three cheers to the best drinks around! The art of mixology is alive and well in Albuquerque, whether it's a signature cocktail from Martini Grille, a kitchy flaming volcano at Burt's Tiki Lounge, a hard-to-find Pilsner, at Anodyne or cold concoction from Quarters.
Best Beer Selection
Darrrgh, maties! Raise yer mugs to the sky and toast the finest grog barrels to be found in this desert island of a city, including the scurvy dogs at Anodyne, Billy's Longbar and Quarter's!
Best Place to Admire the Utter Insanity of Ultra Right Wingers:
From a distance
The Republican Party is like one massive ape. Be amused by its alien ways; observe it swinging from one branch of government to another. But get too close, joint your finger at its inhumanity, and you will end up smothered in its vengeful waste. As such, the best place to admire the utter insanity of ultra right wingers is definitely at a distance.
The Best Place to Play Pool
So you wanna impress your friends with your mad pool shooting skills do ya? Drag your Olympian physique over to Anodyne for more chalk-saturated pool playing than you can shake a stick at. For a bit of variety, power walk over to Doc and Eddy's. As it turns out, despite the homemade apple pie mom 'n' pop title, Doc and Eddy's is devoid of Depression-era shopkeepers named "Theodore" or "Gran-daddy." It is, in fact, a damn fun place to be. If these two billiards just can't satisfy your pool-lust, try Joe's Place, Slate Street or a particularly wealthy friend's house.
Best Movie Theater
Oh, Madstone, how we long for your wealth of hidden masterpiece films and pillowy seats! Yet, as we all regrettably knew, a gift as marvelous as Madstone theaters would not be allowed to remain in this world for long. God wanted a little bit of Madstone for himself. So do not grieve, intelligent movie-goers, but celebrate the beauty of The Guild instead. It's there that we escape from a world riddled with nauseating Ice Princess Diaries 4s and far too many former rap stars brooding their way to talentless wealth. Long live the Guild!
Courtney Bell of Zinc
It's about freaking time the art of waitressing was celebrated! Courtney Bell of Zinc took this much coveted prize, and we congratulate her for striking a blow in the name of wait-kind. Gila Bustos (Chili's on San Mateo) and Daniel Cornish (Macaroni Grill) work hard for the money, securing second place in the process. And finally, both Rachel Escobedo (Dickey's Smokehouse) and Sandy (Petroleum Club) share the honor of third. Remember, though, for every waiter awarded above another one must try not to scowl as she collects a miniature Everest of greasy plates and wipes what is hopefully mashed potato from her apron. So please do your part. Tip today.
Best Local Band Overall
Nosotros, The Foxx, Requiem Mass, Wagogo
How like our precocious little burg to have not one, but four best local bands overall! We're bursting with pride knowing that four very different groups with such immense talent all hail from the same place we do! And with ATG (aka Against the Grain) just a vote or two shy of hitting the same mark, we could have very well ended up with five bands sharing the same spotlight. Honorable mention goes to, literally, every other band in town, but especially Booger, Lousy Robot, Concepto Tambor, Felonious Groove Foundation, Mindy Set, Bernadette Seacrest and Her Yes Men and Breaker 1-9, who secured just enough votes to put them all somewhere between second place and an honorable mention.
Best Local Band to Book for Your Wedding Reception
Better call these guys now, because with some of the most danceable music in the city Wagogo is sure to be booked right up until next year's Best of Burque. Though not really from Albuquerque, Vanilla Pop won your hearts with an appealing/appalling partnership of Las Vegas cheese and '80s shmaltz, rekindled by the flaming torch of lounge, while Latin lovers everywhere said “I do!” to the hot and cool stylings of Nosotros. As for bridesmaids Bernadette Seacrest and Her Yes Men, Requiem Mass, Concepto Tambor and Crossroads, well, they're well on their way to catching a bouquet or two of their own.
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Erika Wennerstrom • singer-