The University and Nob Hill
Start your stroll on the west end of the Nob Hill district, near Girard. Stone Mountain Bead Gallery (3100 Central Ave. SE, 505/260-1121, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun.) and Larry’s Hats (3102 Central Ave. SE, 505/266-2095, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun.) both provide intriguing browsing even if you’re not in the market for baubles or haberdashery (the latter also has some beautiful vintage jewelry).
Farther along, the best Mexican import store in Albuquerque is ¡Que Chula! (3410 Central Ave. SE, 505/255-0515, 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat.), where vibrantly colored furniture, tableware, and trinkets are arrayed for maximum visual impact. In particular, don’t miss the ceramics by Ken Edwards, who learned his craft in Asia but practices in Tonalá, producing delicate paintings of birds on sturdy Mexican-style pottery.
Down the block, tasteful (and expensive) Hey Jhonny (3418-B Central Ave. SE, 505/256-9244, 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.) stocks gorgeous sushi sets, hip handbags, and travel guides to only the coolest destinations.
On the next corner, Mariposa Gallery (3500 Central Ave. SE, 505/268-6828, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun.) is one of the city’s longest-established art vendors, dealing since 1974 in jewelry, fiber art, and other crafts.
If you’re looking for unusual postcards, head south one block to Papers! (114 Amherst Dr. SE, 505/254-1434, 10:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun.), where the greeting cards are great, but the array of blank sheets may inspire you to make your own missives home.
A, the Albuquerque Store (3500 Central Ave. SE, 505/266-2222, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun.) specializes in home furnishings for the Southwestern hipster—you’ll find some pricey items but also some more affordable bits with excellent design sensibility, such as colorful flower-print Mexican tablecloth fabric and handmade candles; the jewelry here, much of it by local designers, is very good, too.
Nob Hill’s hip businesses expand a little farther east every year—now “upper Nob Hill” extends east of Carlisle, and you can keep strolling this way for highlights such as the Absolutely Neon gallery of new and vintage signs (3903 Central Ave. NE, 505/265-6366, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), the Seventh Goddess lingerie shop (3901 Central Ave. NE, 505/268-1981, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), and, farther on, a whole slew of antiques marts.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition