Best of Burque 2011
Life in Burque
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
When you see his jean booty shorts barely clinging to his tanned physique, you know it's summer. A longtime Alibi letter contributor, his values and health advice always spur mixed responses from the citizenry. But a guy bearing six-pack abs for decades might not be so far off the mark.
2) You, the people of Albuquerque (aka "Me!")
3) Steve Stucker
Best City Politician
Mayor Richard Berrycabq.gov/mayor
A lot of you really dig the man at the top of City Hall. Safe to say, compared with Martin Chavez (who's still drawing votes in a few categories), Berry is low-key. This year, he announced a plan to survey the homeless population and shelter the most desperate people in the city. He invited neighboring towns to seek refuge in Albuquerque's high schools during the freeze. All in all, he seems open to the ideas of the people who make the 505 go ’round.
2) Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver
3) Tie: City Councilor Debbie O'Malley, Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque)
Worst City Politician
Mayor Richard Berrycabq.gov/mayor
It's no surprise that the mayor took home both the Best and the Worst prize. Happens all the time in Best of Burque. Well, it's certainly not his well-documented mustache—right on trend with hipsters everywhere—that's bringing him down. Maybe it was the "allow la migra to interview everyone in the Prisoner Transport Center" thing.
2) Public Safety Director Darren White
3) Former Mayor Martin Chavez
Best Use of City Money
The job market, the economy, the future of the human race—it’s easy to argue that the health and wealth of them all comes back to one thing: how and what we learn. You want your money going to our collective brainpower.
2) Bike paths, lanes and trails
3) Road improvement
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Worst Use of City Money
Everyone hates this orange-barreled, artery-clogged nightmare—especially those stupid traffic dividers that make it impossible to cross the street or turn left.
2) Red-light cameras
3) Salaries and raises for city administration/politicians
Best High School
Sandia High School7801 Candelaria NE
Cafeterias, gym classes, peer pressure. High school is a smorgasbord of awkward teenage angst. But our readers say that if you go through it at Sandia, it’ll suck a lot less. You might even have a good time. Go figure.
2) Highland High School
3) Eldorado High School
He's head coach Steve Alford's first recruit at the University of New Mexico, and he started 130 games for the team. A workhorse, his toughness propelled a young Lobo squad to the NIT. But he couldn't follow his teammates there: In the Mountain West Conference tourney semifinals, he tore the ACL in his right knee. Burqueños won't soon forget Gary’s grit, and they cast their ballots in appreciation.
2) Holly Holm
3) Brian Urlacher
Roadrunner Food Bank5840 Office NE
Main line: 247-2052
Food assistance line: 349-8841
Toll free: (866) 327-0267
So Roadrunner Food Bank is pretty amazing. It feeds about 40,000 people every week and distributes more than 22 million pounds of food a year. It’s hard to comprehend how many cans of soup and pasta boxes that amounts to, just like it’s hard to imagine what we’d do without Roadrunner Food Bank.
2) Joy Junction
3) Animal Humane
Best Animal Rescue
Animal Humane Association of New MexicoMain Campus
615 Virginia SE (one block West of Wyoming)
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed noon to 1 p.m. for lunch)
NE Heights Adoption & Training Center
9132 Montgomery NE (between Wyoming and Eubank)
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Westside Adoption & Training Center
10700 Corrales Road (Just north of Alameda)
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Animal shelters are a tough business, which is why it’s important to have smart, savvy and caring people at the helm. Animal Humane, with its many outreach events, incentives and volunteers, shows other shelters what’s possible.
2) Watermelon Mountain Ranch
3) City-run shelters
Best Charity Event of 2010
Souper Bowl (Roadrunner Food Bank)
How could an event based around eating lots and lots of soup from some of the best restaurants in town not climb to the top of this category? Plus, the proceeds go to feeding the hungry. It’s a delicious win-win.
2) Doggie Dash & Dawdle (Animal Humane Association of New Mexico)
3) Chocolate Fantasy (New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation)
Best News Anchorman
Tom Joles (KOB Eyewitness News 4)
He's a familiar figure, telling New Mexico's stories at 5, 6, 6:30 and 10 p.m. every weeknight. Behind the scenes, he's racking up accolades. Joles has three Emmy awards under his belt. Now he’s got a Best of Burque award, the most time-honored popular vote in the city.
2) Dick Knipfing (KRQE News 13)
3) Steve Stucker (KOB Eyewitness News 4)
Best News Anchorwoman
Did you know that the friendly face sitting next to Joles since 2007 has an ancestor who was killed by Billy the Kid? Her great-great-great grandpa William Brady, sheriff of Lincoln County, was ambushed by Silver City's claim to fame. Dude! Young Guns!
2) Shelly Ribando (KOAT Action 7 News)
3) Antoinette Antonio (KOB Eyewitness News 4)
Best TV Meteorologist
He's a friend to animals, a follower of Christ, an impersonator of Elvis and Albuquerque's favorite weatherman. Even the most negative of Nancies can't resist Steve Stucker's vibrance and cheer. God bless him.
2) Mark Ronchetti (KRQE News 13)
3) Joe Diaz (KOAT Action 7 News)
Best Radio Station
Public radio has been dealt some bad cards lately, but unfortunate political sleight of hand hasn't prevented Albuquerque and northern New Mexico's community-powered radio from being favored over the largely corporate-controlled airwaves year after year.
2) 100.3 The Peak
3) 104.1 The Edge
Best Radio DJ
Donnie Chase (100.3 The Peak)
Has this baby-faced charmer ever not won this category? You’ve loved Donnie ever since he used to deliver your daily traffic reports across the dial. Now you can find him every morning on the “Jackie, Tony and Donnie” show.
2) Erica Viking (Coyote 102.5)
3) TJ Trout (94 Rock)
Best Festival or Parade
Every June, Burqueños come out of the closet and into the streets to celebrate the gayest of holidays. The public display of freedom, tolerance and vivid colors (happening on Saturday, June 11, this year) Is a magical time in the city.
2) Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
3) Día de los Muertos Marigold Parade
Best Recreational Program for Kids
¡explora!1701 Mountain NW
Can we put ¡explora! on the Best Recreational Program for Adults list, too? It’s an awesomely fun hands-on science center that gets kids (and grown-ups, especially on adult nights) excited about things like electricity, refracted light and systems in motion. And that’s worth a million awards.
3) Blackout Theatre’s Education Program
Best Dog Park
Los Altos (Eubank between Lomas and I-40)cabq.gov/parks/dogparks.html
This shaded swath comes with a nice neighborhood, happy dogs, courteous owners and plenty of benches.
2) North Domingo Baca (north of Paseo del Norte between Louisiana and
3) Coronado (south of I-40 between Second and Fourth Streets)
Best People Park
Roosevelt (UNM area)cabq.gov/gis/park.php
Maybe it’s the towering cottonwoods and rolling hills that pull people into this park for picnics, playtime and Frisbee golf. Long and lush, it’s the people’s park of choice.
2) Tiguex (Old Town area)
3) Hyder (Ridgecrest area)
Best Golf Course
Arroyo del Oso7001 Osuna NE
Pro shop and tee times: 884-7505
Information line: 889-3699
Nestled in the Northeast Heights, this course offers great views of the mountains and the namesake arroyo that runs through it. There is no better place to whack your way around 18 holes. They’ve also got a nine-hole course for those daunted by a full golf game.
2) Sandia Resort & Casino
3) Tie: Los Altos, Paa-Ko Ridge
Best Public Library
Main Library501 Copper NW
The Main Library branch is centrally located so you can pick up a new read or a DVD on your way from the office to the gym. Now it also has that snazzy new coffee shop on Fifth Street and Copper. What’s better than free books with fancy coffee?
2) Erna Fergusson
3) Ernie Pyle
Best Place to People-Watch
It’s easy to get an eyeful in the most popular pedestrian thoroughfare in the city. Hipsters and hippies alike share this section of Route 66. And so do you.
3) UNM campus
Best Place of Worship
Calvary4001 Osuna NE
It's a big church. They've been talking to God for almost 30 years. Pastor Skip is well-known even among the nonbelievers. What more do you need in your place of worship?
2) Kadampa Meditation Center New Mexico
3) Tie: Church of Beethoven, Sagebrush Community Church
Best Meditation Center
Kadampa Meditation Center New Mexico8701 Comanche NE
It can be hard to get through the week without a little clarity of mind, and that precious commodity is stocked at Kadampa Meditation Center New Mexico. In addition to its courses, retreats and regular events around town, Kadampa also offers free Prayers for World Peace sessions every Sunday morning.
2) Albuquerque Zen Center
3) Albuquerque Shambhala Meditation Center
Many folks like the School of Architecture and Planning at UNM, which is intended to inspire the students within its walls. Infrastructure is revealed; the building's guts are visible. Lots of people also gave a thumb's up to The Pit, the abandoned train station and the pencil-shaped Bank of Albuquerque building Downtown.
Best Neon Sign
Scot's Dog Grooming3421 Central NE
Flashing lights are symbolic of metropolitan heydays ... and they're fun. The neon Scotty dog sign in the window of Scot's Dog Grooming in Nob Hill is a handsome contribution to the city's visual aesthetic. Besides, who can resist dog art?
2) Master Cleaners (Nob Hill)
3) Dog House Drive In
Best Street Name
There were a lot of votes for high-minded social roads like Avenida Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr. There were also high-minded votes for ... High Street. Stoners.
Best Bike-Friendly Street
They don’t call it a Bicycle Boulevard for nothing. A cycling revolution has swelled through this stretch of the University and Nob Hill area. There are so many pedals and hand brakes along the avenue, it’s all but squeezed out the cars. Hop on and join the uprising.
Best Haunted Place
Hotel Parq Central (the old Memorial Hospital)806 Central SE
Whether or not you believe in a spirit-inhabited netherworld, most of us are in agreement: The Parq Central Hotel's rehabilitation (the beautiful Italianate building was originally a hospital for railroad workers) is one of the best things that's happened to Downtown Albuquerque in years.
2) Old Town
3) Albuquerque Press Club
Best Neighborhood for Trick-or-Treating
We suspect Tanoan leaped ahead of the swankier Country Club neighborhood for one simple reason: volume. There are seven subdivisions within Tanoan East and 10 in Tanoan West. That's a lotta doors to knock. So this October, load up the minivan with costumed beggars and head to the Far Northeast Heights.
2) Country Club
Best Neighborhood for Christmas Decorations
This is also arguably the best neighborhood for leisurely bike riding. The Country Club neighborhood—snuggled between Central and Tingley and abutting, of course, the Albuquerque Country Club—is resplendent with rolling lawns, palatial mansions and wealthy residents who can afford to put up thousands of gorgeous Christmas lights and luminarias. Bury your envy and just enjoy the show.
3) The North Valley along Rio Grande
Best Secret Place to Watch Balloons and Fireworks
A number of you caught on to the fact that if you told us about the best secret place to do this, it would no longer be a secret. All right, smarty-pantses, keep it to yourselves. Then there were those who proclaimed their love for watching midair marvels from Balloon Fiesta Park—not exactly surreptitious. Those who like slightly more guerilla-style viewing are fans of the Foothills, Sandia Crest, and roofs and decks everywhere. We think the best spot is probably smack-dab in the middle of “Essie’s backyard,” but mainly because we just like the sound of it.
Best "Breaking Bad" Location
Albuquerque is gushing with pride for this Emmy-winning drama. Not only do we revel in the possibility that Bryan Cranston could be around any corner, we also get a little thrill when we spot our local digs on the screen. The Dog House Drive In, with its tail-wagging neon dachshund, is as wonderfully strange as Albuquerque itself.
2) Octopus Car Wash (Menaul and Eubank)
3) Java Joe's
Best Reason to Take the Rail Runner to Santa Fenmrailrunner.com
Burqueños hop that double-decker train to the capital to avoid: drunk driving, radar, snow-covered roads, stupid drivers, the traffic on I-25 and wasting gas. But you also like the RR because you can knit while you travel, because it's comfortable and easy, because you can take your bike, and because it's date night. Don't forget the food in Santa Fe. You listed: Tomasita's, Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery, Café Pasqual's, The Cowgirl BBQ and Tia Sophia's. But most of all, you like the train because it's fun.
Best Thing About Albuquerquecabq.gov
That big, blue sky, plus the gorgeous weather, diversity, chile and laid-back attitude keep people in our little/big city. Others are hooked by the inexpensive living, creative people, lack of snobbery and general weirdness. The mountains and landscape—and don't forget about the open space shooting right through Burque's center—certainly don't hurt. Plus, the sun ... and the sunsets.
Worst Thing About Albuquerquecabq.gov
Allergies! Drive-by shootings, hippies and liberals, gang violence, poor job prospects, drug addicts, insufficient parking in Nob Hill, drunk driving, low wages, dust, ghetto people, boredom ... (jeez, guys, let's get back to talking about the sunshine. Oh wait, you don't like that either.) Nothing stays open late enough, and there's not enough to do—especially for kids. And the sprawl! And the people, they're the worst: Americans are supposed to speak English. It's way too dry. Also, it's trashy and dirty. Hmph.
Best of Burque 2011:
• Life in Burque
• Arts & Lit
• Local Flavor
• The High Life
• Goods & Services
• Best Anything We Forgot
• Community Picks