The sun goes down. The city lights up. We pour out into the night, our day's pay burning holes the size of pint glasses in our pockets. We look for a quiet corner, a little action or a night on the town. A slice of heaven right here on earth or something just a bit naughty. We love the night life. In this year's poll, you spoke up about your favorite Albuquerque haunts--whether you're out for a rollicking night of live local music, after-work cocktails with the girls, a game of pool at the Anodyne or a double feature at the Guild. It's all here. On the off-chance you don't see a category or business you feel deserves some attention, don't feel shy about sending us your suggestions. We work hard so you can play hard, all night long.
Best Bar in the South Valley
For the last time: Yes, there are bars in the South Valley, and just because you don't go there doesn't mean other fun-lovin' cats don't. So get your head out of you-know-where and remember the golden rule: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. For those who could say something nice, Mike's Place got the most nods of approval with Monte Carlo Steak House and Phil's Liquors coming in second and third, respectively.
Best Downtown Bar
Burt's Tiki Lounge
Ah, Burt's. Let us sing your praises. How we love your foosball table and mai tai specials. We swoon over your intimate stage with rockabilly one night and local hip-hop the next. And what? No cover ... ever? You support our local scene (as well as our local scenesters) and do it with a tacky funk that only Burt's can pull off. And the wall hangings ... priceless. Falling from first last year, but only barely, is the Anodyne. It was a close battle for the top, but someone had to come out the winner. Possibly one of the chillest, most eclectic bars in the Downtown area, Anodyne is host to a number of thrill-seekers and happy-hour lushes. Maloney's Tavern took the third spot, and its large patio with space heaters certainly helped during this mild-to-chilly winter. Honorable mentions go to the Atomic Cantina, the District Bar and Grill and the Library for giving the top three a run for their money. You guys really like your Downtown bars.
Best Westside Bar
As the Westside grows, so does its bar scene. Elliot's takes the crown for the second year running in a total landslide. Talking to a few of my friends who work at various restaurants west of the Rio, Elliot's is the place to be on a Friday night ... or Tuesday night ... or any night of the week as soon as work is out. Our Place II edged out Slate Street Billiards for second.
Best Northeast Heights Bar
The Horse and Angel Tavern
The area of town denoted the "Northeast Heights" can be left open slightly for personal interpretation, as one voter pointed out with the response, "Where?" That's not a vote, buddy, that's commentary ... but we know what you mean. Enough people know where the Northeast Heights is to vote the Horse and Angel Tavern and the Barley Room the undisputed top picks in the area. The Stoneface Tavern came in third, and honorable mentions go to Billy's Long Bar and Retro's.
Best UNM/Nob Hill Bar
Nob Hill and the University area are just so close, we combined the category this year. Is it because we're lazy? Yeah, maybe, but it sure seems to make sense since the only thing that divides this area into "two" is a large white arch with neon lighting. It's an imaginary border, like the tape your sister once used to split your bedroom in half. The tape never stopped you. Why should the arch? Kelly's takes top prize this year in the revamped category by only three votes--it was a close one, folks. Besides the late-night menus and house-brewed beer, Kelly's has a great atmosphere that provides for every type of crowd which affords it the title. Gecko's and The Cellar Bar at Zinc tied for second place, and the Martini Grille snagged third. Honorable mentions go to the Monte Vista Fire Station for their always-packed college night on Tuesdays and the Copper Lounge because it still made it into the top five, even with the categorical zone change. This must be said to you, oh poor soul, who voted for Walgreens. Walgreens is not a bar. Don't even argue. You lose.
Best Gay Bar
Hands-down, no contest, the Pulse is where Albuquerqueans, gay or straight, like to shake it—especially on goth night. For pure, uninhibited fun, the Pulse, and its counterpart Blu, provide the right amount of atmosphere, sophistication and glamorous drag queens to appease those of us in touch with our sexuality. The Albuquerque Mining Company and Sidewinders (formerly The Ranch) tied for second and Exhale Bar & Grill rounded out the top. We got a few votes for an address that appears to be the home of a local animator and director who must have spectacular parties, and only one Brokeback joke. Very funny, wiseass.
Best Country Bar
With a name like Cowboy's, how could there be any doubt? In another landslide victory, this boot-scootin' watering hole is your favorite place to pick up on cowpoke. OK, put the shotgun away. Seriously, with live country music nearly every night of the week and dance lessons on Wednesdays, Cowboy's is the real McCoy. Sidewinders (formerly The Ranch) brought in the second most votes and Graham Central Station's Denim & Diamonds came in third. A few of you in the real country spirit voted for the entire United States. That's using your imagination—think big.
Best Sports Bar
Watching the big game with a few friends and a good brew is heaven for a sports fan. Heck, even people who don't particularly love sports like to kick back and watch football players get pummeled every once in awhile. When you can't get to the big game, going to a sports bar is the next best thing, and Coaches is where Burque-bound sportoholics like to be. This category drew in a lot of nominees since the only real requirement is a place to hang your hat, grab a brewski and yell at the TV. Fox and Hound Pub & Grille is the second-favorite for game day pub-goers and Uptown Sports Bar & Grill takes third. Uptown gets bonus points for being the only nominee with “sports” in its name. Saggio's takes an honorable mention for it's googolplex of televisions in the back room.
Burt's Tiki Lounge
The battle for No. 1 in this category has often placed the Martini Grille in the top spot (the Liquid Lounge took first in 2002) and Burt's was often lingering just off the podium. This year, by a huge majority, the Martini Grille gets its second-ever second place. Burt's is the new bearer of the best-lounge throne. Just ask any scenester out for a drink on Thursday night, Burt's can be as chill as it can be rowdy and Burque knows it. After the Martini Grille, the Copper Lounge took third for its plush booth seating and Bostonian feel. Check out the lounge jazz at the Q-Bar at Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, this year's honorable mention.
Whiskey Business at The District
The newest karaoke night in the Duke City also happens to be your favorite. Whiskey Business Karaoke is every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. at The District. Atomic Cantina's Rockstar Karaoke (also Tuesday nights at 9 p.m.) hit a high note as first-placers in last year's poll, but eased back into second place in 2006. Ed's Pub, located inside Leisure Bowl, has karaoke every blessed night starting at 8 p.m. For even more karaoke suggestions plus phone numbers and times, log on to www.alibi.com and click the "Karaoke Guide" permalink. You'll be howling along to your favorite Ted Nugent anthem before you know it.
Best Bar to Dance In
One reader wrote: "Dancing is bad. I mean fun." That's right, Albuquerque. Get down with your bad self! Pulse and Blu (think of them as two chambers of the same heart, pumping music and patrons from one side to the other) raked in enough combined votes to pull out ahead of last year's first-place tie with OPM. That means OPM scooped up second place--perhaps because more people are stepping off the dance floor in favor of one of their freshly remodeled VIP lounges? You also like Graham Central Station's multi-theme approach, with a different room to match your every musical mood.
Best Happy Hour
Add 18 flavors to 17.5 ounces, multiply by $3.99 and divide between 3 and 6 p.m. What do we have here? Three magical little words: "Garduño's Margarita Madness," your first choice for velvet-hour bliss in Albuquerque. You also love the midday action at Seasons Rotisserie and Grill, as well as the happy hours at the Monte Vista Fire Station (upstairs from the Gruet Steakhouse) and the Blues Cellar (downstairs at Zinc).
One song will cost you $0.25. One complete album works out to about $2.50, give or take a buck. Picking a song that makes people stop what they're doing, look up and wonder, "whoaah ... what is this?" ... that? Well, that's just priceless. Chuck your iPod into the Rio Grande and make your way towards Downtown, home of the three best jukeboxes in the city--Anodyne, Burt's Tiki Lounge and Atomic Cantina. Music is for sharing, after all.
Best Venue in Which to Hear Live Music
What is this, the ninth year in a row for these guys? Doesn't that strike you as just a little, I don't know, greedy? Like someone never learned to share as a child? Hey, Joe Anderson, here's an idea: How about letting someone else have a shot at this one? Why not take off a few extra nights, let things slide a bit? Stop booking cutting-edge national acts. Stop giving up-and-coming acts from home and abroad a fair shake? Save a few bucks on sound equipment. Cut corners, for chrissake! No? Well ... uh ... OK. Sorry, Journal Pavilion and Burt's Tiki Lounge. Guess you'll have to get accustomed to second and third place (respectively). ... Or will you?
Melissa at Burt's Tiki Lounge
A good bartender wears many hats, but none wear so many as Melissa--bartender, manager, band member and friend to the many barflies and musicians who call Burt's Tiki Lounge home from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., six days a week. You are truly the queen of our cirrhosis-riddled livers. Besides Melissa, quite a few of your votes went to Daniel T. Cornish from Macaroni Grill (whose dog, Bruce, won the nonexistent "Best of Barky" category by default this year [See "Letters," March 23-29], Cassie at the District and Jared Herholtz at the Anodyne. You also seem to like it when "hot guys" and "chicks" serve you booze. Wow. Please tip generously.
A quick lesson in cocktail etymology: Technically, you could serve distilled cat piss in a martini glass and it'd be considered a martini. I'm just saying it all goes back to the glass you use. Regardless, you can't get drunk that way, nor would you want to. Not at all like the eponymous beverages at Martini Grille, which are loaded with booze and tasty as all get-out. They scored an unprecedented triple-digit landslide victory this year, thanks in part to concoctions like the "Dreamsicle," the "Isla Bonita" and the "Dirty, Dirty Martini." And as for the lone creep who voted for "Walgreens" ... eew. You are gross.
Best Mixed Drinks
I had my first-ever Long Island Iced Tea at the Anodyne, followed by my second and third. I was arrested for disturbing the peace a few hours later. Good times. Actually, I can't remember, but people tell me I had fun. Long story short, the mixed drinks at Anodyne are really, really good. Don't be a moron: Enjoy your adult beverages in moderation. Believe it or not, there was a three-way tie for second place between Burt's Tiki Lounge, Martini Grille and the Opa! Bar at Yanni's. Zinc and Atomic Cantina (and I really hope that "Hawaiian Sucker" is a drink, mister) tied for third.
Best Beer Selection
Brewing your own beer is not for wimps. In fact, it's downright manly. Kelly's has more than 20 big brass vats of beer brewed onsite every day--enough man juice to satisfy roving hordes of steroid-using viking warriors. Rrraaauuuwwwgh! Second-place Anodyne stopped counting once they hit 100 tap and bottled beers, which we think is bad ass in a Cool Hand Luke sort of way. You also like the stuff at Billy's Long Bar, where the droughts are long and the heads are foamy. We hear the beer's pretty good, too.
Best Place to Play Pool
Year after year, you choose Anodyne by a landslide. One of the few places inside city limits where you can still smoke with wild abandon and knock a few balls around with your buddies. Doc & Eddy's is also a favorite, where you can work on your bankshot and a plate of pork ribs simultaneously. Likewise, you like Slate Street Billiards in Rio Rancho for providing an oasis of 30 top-notch pool tables in an otherwise godforsaken stretch of Southern Boulevard.
Best Movie Theater
"Long live freaky movies!" Yup, you said it. Whether you get your cinematic kicks from flesh-eating zombies, documentaries, marvelous animations, fine foreign film or kung fu flicks, the Guild has it in spades. Honorable mention goes to every other theater in town, including several that don't exist, such as the "Rio Grande 24," "Century 25" and "Century Rio Downtown." A few stray votes were cast for the Dynamax Theater at the Natural History Museum (hurray for nerds!), as well as for the greatness of movie theater popcorn in general, fake butter et al.
Best Local Band Overall
Oh my Jewish god, it's Black Maria by a landslide. Seeing Black Maria live will change your conception of local music altogether; like smashing an 18-wheeler through a brick wall, high on speed, while receiving a superlative blow job. They're that good. Every other band in town gave themselves at least one vote, unlike Five Minute Sin ("they rock!!!"), Lousy Robot, Random Access Memory (RAM), Feels Like Sunday, Oktober People, Soular and of god and science, who actually had real fans voting for them.
Best New/Emerging Band
Five Minute Sin
About a year ago, I asked the still-wet-behind-the-ears Five Minute Sin which sin, exactly, they were referring to. I thought I was being so clever. Boy, was I wrong. “Sin is an interesting word," they said. "In Latin, and Spanish for that matter, sin means 'without.' The association between sin and wrongdoing is reflective of being 'without god' ... sin. So you can look at it that way ... sin being one of those fun, evil, sweet parts of life ... or if you wish, sin can be interpreted simply as 'without.' Five minutes without anything else.” Damn! Their answer was precise, provocative and wise for their young years--just like their music. From humble beginnings in a backyard barn to Albuquerque's favorite new emerging band. The future of Albuquerque's music scene is looking rosy indeed ... thanks to you guys, Five Minute Sin.