Ward is the owner of the Tinkertown Museum, which represents 40 years’ worth of work by a single man: artist Ross Ward. Ross passed away in 2002, but his family continues to run the 22-room ode to Americana--filled with animated Western towns, circuses and an antique sailboat that survived a 10-year adventure around the world.
Best Adventure Dining
During the summer months, drive to Sandia Crest at sunset and hike to the top of the tram for dinner at High Finance Restaurant. It’s 45 minutes each way and the hike back in the moonlight is breathtaking.
We send folks from all over the world to the Talking Talons Thrift Store for that jacket or sweater they didn’t bring to New Mexico (thinking they were coming to Arizona-like weather) or that extra suitcase to accommodate some fabulous art or curiosity found along the Turquoise Trail.
Best Local Artist
No song and dance here. The late Ross Ward’s art. His creation, Tinkertown,is one of the most authentic experiences around (and I'm not just saying that because I was married to him. I hear it daily from visitors from Jacksonville to Jakarta).
Best Video Store
Mountain Videos has been an institution in Cedar Crest since 1984. Blockbuster couldn’t compete.
Best Place to View Wildlife
Drive the Turquoise Trail to the top of Sandia Crest and you are sure to see deer, bear, wild turkeys and birds galore, from hummingbirds that spend the summer here to rosy-finches that visit all winter.
Tree Spring Trail.Milepost 5 on Sandia Crest Road. It's moderate to arduous and feeds into trails all over the mountain.
Susan Clarkpractices her music in my neighborhood and I can hear her melodious voice and piano wafting through the trees on warm summer evenings.
The owner of Laffs Comedy Club and a professional comic, Russ Rivas headlines in Las Vegas and has performed for the "Latino Laugh Festival" on Showtime and the "Loco Comedy Slam" on HBO. Rivas’ background is as varied as his humor. He is an Army veteran and worked as a mechanic and fly-fishing guide in Colorado Springs before moving to Albuquerque.
Best Place to Grab a Late-Night Meal
I would have to say the Frontier. It’s just the food and watching the creatures that eat there. The food is so good, and it’s fun to watch the after-party crowd.
Best Local Sports Team
The Isotopes. Eating a hotdog with my family on a sunny afternoon or warm evening—it’s what baseball is all about. What I really like is that they’re at a level where they’re not making a gazillion dollars. It’s how baseball is supposed to be.
Best Radio Station
I like many channels for many different reasons. I like 770 KKOB in the afternoons if I’m in the mood for talk, 94 Rock in the mornings because they’re out of control, and The Edge for personal reasons.
Best Dive Bar
Doc & Eddy’s. I can stumble back to work and catch a safe ride home. It’s not so much a dive, just small and everyone knows your name. They’re just really nice there.
Best Local Band
Harvey and the Prowlers. They let me perform with them now and then. They’re very eclectic, playing old and new, but they put their own twist to it.
Best Festival or Annual Event
Day of the Dead in the South Valley, or Día de los Muertos. It’s really cool. It’s a lot of fun—almost too much fun.
Best Way to Spend a Sunday Afternoon in Town
At the zoo or museums. Or Putt-Putt golf if I’m in a particularly athletic mood.
Gordy (guitar), Brian (basss, with an extra "s"), Brent (drums), Terry (guitar) and Marc (vocals) aren't much to look at individually, but put these long-haired heshers in the same room and they become Black Maria—voted Best Local Band Overall in our 2006 and 2007 polls, as well as Best Rock Band in 2007. For even more Black Maria answers, click over to this week’s Music To Your Ears column in the “Music” section.
Jud Frondorf's www.ackackack.com. It's a good place to scope out cool links, even if he is a little too much into steam-punk. And like most bloggers, he's a bit Mac-centric. Still a good site, and occasional Black Maria put-downs are worth the visit.
Best Restaurant Service, Casual
Mediterranean Café on San Mateo NE. Owner/waiter Bijan Mowzun is a great host and an avid supporter of local musicians, dancers and even magicians. The food is fresh and the atmosphere is like being at someone's home. The mainly Moroccan and Greek food is killer. One of Bijan's philosophies is "The body is the temple of God, and we shouldn't poison it." Quite evident by the wonderful food he serves. Go for lunch or take the family for supper. It's always a relaxing treat.
Best Corner Store
The Country Club Market at 10th Street and Coal. It's got what you need when you need it in a hurry. It's also within easy stumbling distance from the Black Maria House.
Best Instrument Repair
Hands-down, it's Bill (Not-the-Governor) Richardson's Studio Guitar on Morningside NE (next to Stove). The man is a world-class guitar tech (just don't call him a luthier) and has the pedigree to back it up. Honest and unpretentious, Bill gets to know the musician or band and will repair or tweak your stringed instrument to a level of performance you probably didn't know existed. He's unbelievably affordable, does it for the love of the craft and has better stories than any Rock Dude you know.
Schuster moved to the area a few years ago and struggled to find a great employer. As the chef for Marcello’s Chophouse, Schuster says he knows his job is the best in Burque.
Best Place to Eat Ethnic Food
Bombay Grill, by far. They do a really good job. You can always count on awesome food and a good experience. There is not a lot of fine dining in Albuquerque like Bombay Grill.
Best Market for Fresh Produce
The Rio Grande Community Farm Growers' Market has such a high quality of tomatoes, kale and whole fields of artichokes.
Best Place to Hear Live Music
Atomic Cantina on Thursday nights. I use to be a big Rockabilly fan.
KiMo Theatre. They always have lots of random stuff going on there, and it is always fun.
Best Thrift/Antique Store
Antique Connection Mall. (Schuster’s past purchases include a four-gallon pressure cooker from the '50s, an antique sleigh bed and pieces of his vast belt-buckle collection.)
State Treasurer James Lewis has a master’s degree in public administration from UNM. For more than 30 years, he served at the city, county, state and federal level and was a member of various boards, associations and councils. Lewis also worked as a banker and criminal investigator.
Best Job in Albuquerque
Chief administrative officer for the city. You have to work with 6,500 employees and an entire community, including neighborhood associations, the City Council and the state Legislature. It is a very important position.
Best Nonprofit Organization
The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. They pull everything together with the business community. They not only work with their members but coordinate with the government. If we don’t have development, we can’t recruit potential employers into the city, region and state.
Best Use of Tax Money This Year
Improvements to roads, medians and parks in the city. The biggest problems in the U.S. deal with infrastructure. We are a main crossroads, and first impressions make a difference.
Best Place for a Formal Dinner
The Ranchers Club has a wonderful ambience and a professional staff. No matter when you go, the food is going to be reliable. Also, Scalo, which is in the heart of the city. It is a success story as far as bringing people into Nob Hill for fine dining.
Best Festival or Annual Event
The Balloon Fiesta. We have a label as the balloon capital. Tourism is in the top three revenue sources to the state. We are very proud, and we want to showcase it.
Best Way to Spend a Sunday Afternoon Around Town
We have a world-class zoo, biopark and aquarium. It is family-oriented and very relaxing. Every time I go, I can’t get enough.
Born in Albuquerque, author Demetria Martinez travels the country and abroad to participate in workshops, attend festivals, give lectures and perform readings. With a degree in public policy from Princeton, her writing has always had strong political messages focusing on war and immigration. Her published works include poems, novels and essays.
Best Local Coffee Shop
The Blue Dragon is a great place to sip green tea, write notes in your journal and kid yourself into thinking you are going to write the great American novel.
Bird Song Used Books. The aroma of the books just lifts me up. Invariably, a book will fall off the shelves that I need to read.
Best Art Gallery or Museum
The National Hispanic Cultural Center is one of my favorite places to go, not just for exhibits but for the reading series. Housed inside is one of the best-kept secrets of Albuquerque: Instituto Cervantes.
Best Festival or Annual Event
There are several things that are really enjoyable, especially the two weeks of Women and Creativity Celebration in March for International Women’s Day, which includes films, writing workshops and music. It is just exhilarating.
Best Nonprofit Organization
I'm on the board of Enlace Comunitario. We serve immigrant women who are survivors of domestic violence. For me, as an activist, Enlace is such a home. The organization really has a vision for a world without violence. The staff, the board and the women we serve are really animated by the dream of a world that is safer for women.
Whenever I doubt if life has a purpose, I go to the Center for Peace and Justice. It’s a hub of activity and training ground for a new generation of activists.
Best Way to Spend a Sunday Afternoon
My favorite way to relax is to walk around the UNM golf course. Thank God people in Albuquerque are rising up to keep UNM from developing it. It is the largest green space in Albuquerque, full of all kinds of wildlife. To walk around there is totally renewing.
City Council President Brad Winter says the Council has done a lot of work with local nonprofits and action groups over the last year. He bestows the title of Best Organization to Mothers Against Drunk Driving due to the group's campaign to combat underage drinking.
Best Accomplishment of the City Council
One action that was really important was the work on last year’s budget. The City Council submitted our own then worked together to pass it.
Best Albuquerque Citizen
I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. There are many residents who are very special people. But Joe Yardumian has worked very hard in the District 4 neighborhood.
Going to Tingley Beach to fly-fish at the catch-and-release pond.
Between promoting local underground acts, personally distributing small mountains of flyers, creating hours of radio set-lists, connecting wandering bands with friendly places to play, running one of the most informative e-mail lists around and working a day job, Derek Caterwaul somehow manages to stay sane. His influence in Burque's DIY music scene is incalculable. He'll never admit it, though.
Best Place for Displaced Fans Now that the Golden West Burned Down and the Launchpad's Reconstructing
Your house. Things ebb and flow over time, but Albuquerque's usually had an active culture of house shows. Somebody always seems to step up when it's necessary, like now.
Best Example of Community Outreach for Upcoming Shows and Events
The whole Pornotopia flap when the city zoning department decided to act on a bogus "complaint" filed by an as-yet-unidentified TV news employee looking to make a story where none existed. The Guild Cinema and Self Serve were caught in the middle. The show went on, but people's tax dollars went into this and no one up top once considered they were ruining people's livelihoods. It's still not over.
Best Place to Buy Music
I'm an omnivore, picking up CDs off the ground, trading. As far as going and buying stuff, Astro-Zombies often has stuff that's pretty hard to find. But shows are the best place to get rare and unique music. You can't get some of that stuff anywhere else.