MY SHOULDERS START TO RELAX A mere 30 seconds after I turn north onto Corrales Road from the busy Albuquerque intersection at Alameda Boulevard. The area’s strip malls and fast-food joints quickly give way to towering trees, deep alfalfa fields, roadside vineyards, and abundant horse and donkey corrals from which the approaching village of Corrales takes its name. As I continue to leisurely make my way down this designated scenic byway in mid-April, the heart of the tiny town emerges, looking like a snow globe with millions of white fluffy cottonwood seeds floating through the air.

Originally inhabited and cultivated by Tiguex Pueblo people, this lush oasis along the middle Río Grande became an agricultural settlement for Spanish colonists beginning in the 1540s and continued as a farming community after U.S. occupation.

Corrales, New Mexico, was first settled by the Tiguex Pueblo people. It became an agricultural settlement under Spanish colonists in the 1540s and remained a farming community after U.S. occupation.

Corrales’s history is evident in the old adobe buildings, charming farmhouses, and rusty tractors I pass, but recent changes are visible too. Eclectic retail shops and funky art galleries line both sides of the road, as do more than a dozen restaurants, cafes, and bars—about half of which opened within the past four years. In the center of town, the beloved 75-year-old Sandia Bar is undergoing a major renovation, while Ex Novo Brewing Company has become the new go-to for cold ones since debuting in 2019.

The combination of old standbys, re-imagined favorites, and new entries in the village’s food and drink scene (as well as its laid-back vibe) is currently making Corrales my favorite day-trip destination.

While in Corrales, try draft beers from Ex Novo Brewing.

“I’VE GOT A CORRALES T-SHIRT THAT SAYS ‘Take the slow road,’ ” Aaron Silverblatt-Buser says, chuckling, when I mention the propensity for getting stuck behind a tractor on the byway. Aaron and his brother, Elan, often drive the farming vehicle as the co-owners of Silver Leaf Farms—a 15-acre organic vegetable operation in Corrales that includes year-round greenhouse and hydroponic production.

When the Corrales natives started out in 2007, they mostly sold at local farmers’ markets. Today, their produce, including their famous buttercrunch lettuce, can be found in Albuquerque and Santa Fe schools, hospitals, local restaurants, and markets. The Silverblatt-Busers are quick to credit the success story to their community. “Most folks here either farm or grew up around one,” Elan says. “So they’re empathetic and supportive of the work we do.”

The busy brothers meet me on a warm Sunday morning for a latte at their newest endeavor, the Farm Stand, a collaborative retail space, coffee shop, and wine-tasting venue located on the south end of town. Housed in a century-old adobe, the Farm Stand’s coffee shop exudes rustic charm with a white-painted interior, farmhouse-style fixtures, and warm wood floors. In the back, a small grocery section sells Silver Leaf produce and products, including hot sauce and green chile peach jam; local cheese, pickles, and pecans; and a handful of other gourmet food items.

Elan (left) and Aaron Silverblatt-Buser, owners of Silver Leaf Farms, at the Farm Stand.

Outside, there are copious tables and a wooden stand shading an array of plant starts for sale, and in a converted garage, Candlestick Coffee Roasters sells the shop’s beans to go. “Everything here was done with intention, and we did it ourselves—often with recycled materials,” Elan says. “The planters are made from old hydroponic channels. We salvaged the coyote fence from a fire. Everything has a story.”

The joint venture among Silver Leaf, Candlestick, and Milagro Vineyards & Winery took shape during the pandemic, after the farmers used one of Milagro’s 16 vineyards as a public pickup spot for their produce. The partnership between the local businesses evolved, and the Farm Stand opened in late 2022. “We wanted to create something that’s based in a sense of place and rooted in food, drink, and farming,” Elan says. “Corrales’s local terroir can translate in so many different ways.”

Starting in 2007 at local farmers' markets, the Silverblatt-Busers have expanded their reach, now supplying their renowned buttercrunch lettuce to various institutions in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

The farmers say they are heartened that the space has also become a community hub. “It’s been a nice, tangible way for me to interact with the public, besides just waving from the field,” Aaron says. It’s also a good place for tourists to start their day, Elan adds, since locals are happy to give recommendations, such as where to access the river walk. “Someone will point you in the right direction,” he says. “It’s a real community here and people take pride in it.”

As I finish my coffee and a rich chocolate doughnut that eats more like cake, I decide it’s late enough for an early libation. Instead of sampling one of the 20 Milagro wines available at the Farm Stand, I opt to go to the source.

The Milagro Winery tasting room sits just off Old Church Road at the end of a long dirt driveway flanked by zinfandel, chardonnay, merlot, and riesling vines. As I enter the bar (open one weekend a month or by appointment) filled with locals, owners Mitzi and Rick Hobson greet me with a silky 2017 Library Zinfandel and a history lesson.

Milagro Vineyards & Winery owners Mitzi and Rick Hobson also run Milagro Boston Terrier Rescue.

Rick explains that New Mexico wine production began in the early 17th century, when Spanish monks introduced so-called Mission grapes to this fertile floodplain. New Mexico vineyards proliferated throughout the 1800s, with as many as 140 in Corrales, until Prohibition. “Many of our streets are named after bootleggers who went to jail during the 1920s,” he claims.

The Hobsons started Milagro as a hobby in 1985, but demand for their Old World–style, French-oak-barrel-aged wines grew to the point that the winery became commercial in the late 1990s. Rick says the difference between Milagro’s small-batch, estate varietals and larger wineries’ offerings is the quality of their grapes. “Most growers just want to sell as many pounds as possible,” he says. “But when you raise your own, you can choose what goes in.”

Part of quality control is also understanding how Corrales’s soil lends itself to certain varieties. “Syrah grapes, for example, need time to develop,” he adds. “So we planted our vines in the sand hill to tame their vigor and use less water.”

Milagro Vineyards & Winery, founded as a hobby in 1985, became commercial by the late 1990s, focusing on quality control and sustainable practices tailored to local soil conditions.

Over glasses of a 2017 syrah (spicy, earthy, with notes of red berries), conversation in the cozy tasting room turns to new developments around the village, including a postpandemic influx of new residents. “Especially with remote work,” one local explains, “people think, I’ll sell my tiny house in California and buy an acre here.

Real estate prices have already gone up, and some are worried that newcomers will turn Corrales into a bougie tourist town. Another resident mentions an incident in which a farmer received a noise complaint for running his tractor on a Sunday morning. “The police officer was laughing, but apparently the engine was distracting someone from doing their New York Times crossword puzzle.”

Other transplants, however, are happy to assimilate. Larry Bernstein and Charlene Huston, for instance, moved to Corrales in 2021 from urban Massachusetts. The Brooklyn-raised couple had long dreamed of retiring in the Southwest, and Covid-19 reinforced their desire to move somewhere rural. “We chose Corrales because of its spectacular views of the Sandía Mountains,” Bernstein says.

Belly up to the Farm Stand’s coffee and wine counter.

What they love most is the community. “We very quickly got involved,” says Huston, who volunteers at an equine therapy center and an organization that provides rides and other services to seniors. “We’ve met more people in the last three years than we had in 15 in Massachusetts.”

For their part, the Hobsons seem to strike a balance promoting both growth and authenticity with their various endeavors. “Our goal with the off-site tasting room at the Farm Stand is to educate the public on what Corrales is about—growing vegetables, grapes, and horses,” says Mitzi. “We’re committed to keeping the village in agriculture.”

Dig into Forty Nine Forty’s green chile cheeseburger on homemade brioche.

BY THE TIME I REACH RESTAURANT FORTY NINE FORTY, one of Corrales’s newest and trendiest eateries, I’m ravenous. I quickly peruse the brunch menu featuring elevated New American cuisine (smoked duck hash with chive crème fraîche; poached ahi tuna avocado toast; brioche French toast with mascarpone) before deciding on what my wine-soaked belly really desires—a green chile cheeseburger.

The chic dining room has dark walls, romantic lighting, and a modern-industrial bar, which feels distinct from many of the other businesses all around town that lean into Corrales’s bucolic vibe.

Head chef Javier Montano drops off my juicy burger on a brioche bun, which comes with crisp fries and a lemon aioli that I’d eat with a spoon. His vision for the menu is modern cuisine highlighting high-quality ingredients. “Wagner Farms microgreens, Lone Mountain Wagyu beef, and Silver Leaf produce,” he says. “We try to keep it as local as possible.”

Forty Nine Forty's chic dining room features dark walls, romantic lighting, and a modern-industrial bar.

In between bites, I also chat up owner Erin Williams, who was raised in the village and still puts in time on her family’s vineyard. She, too, credits the pandemic with prompting her to pause her design career and follow her dream of opening the restaurant. “The village didn’t really have a place like it,” Williams says, “a fun date night spot with good music.”

Recently, another option for elegant day and nighttime dining opened with Mulas. The Corrales Road restaurant has a modern farmhouse aesthetic and menu inspired by Spanish, New Mexican, and Native American cuisines. Co-owner Gabriel Holguin, who also owns Debajo Tapas Y Vino in Albuquerque with wife Elizabeth, had similarly told me that he wanted to create something that serviced Corrales’s growing population but was still part of the community.

“All of us shop- and restaurant-owners talk to each other,” Williams says. “Covid gave us all a minute to really figure out what Corrales can be—and I think we can be an entertainment and culinary destination.”

Try the Spaniard bocadillo at Mulas.

I RETURN ANOTHER DAY FOR LUNCH AT PEREA’S Tijuana Bar and Restaurant, an old-school New Mexican spot that locals unabashedly assured me was worth the trip—and navigating its unapologetically convoluted service hours. (I suggest you call before visiting.)

Once you enter the side door into the 220-year-old adobe’s Tijuana Bar, you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. A dive in the best sense of the word, the bar features a deer mount over the fireplace and stacked boxes filled with liquor bottles crowding the floor. In the quaint dining area and adobe-walled patio, piping hot bowls of green chile stew and Frito pie make their way to customers jovially talking to each other from across the room. Everyone, in fact, seems to know one another—it’s like Cheers with chile.

I grab a seat at the bar and order a midday margarita from John Perea, whose family has owned the building since 1928. His late father, Teofilo Perea Jr., was raised on the property, and his 85-year-old mother, Stella, is in the back cooking the food from scratch, including her beloved flour tortillas and sopaipillas.

Perea’s terrón-brick building is more than 200 years old.

A sunny waitress breezes past, calling out to a customer, “How you liking those chicken enchiladas?” “Come on, you know they’re delicious!” he replies. “You doing good, girlfriend?” she hollers at me. “Margarita’s great,” I say. “You?” She smiles wide: “No children, easy life!”

I ask John what he thinks about some of the recent growth in the village. “It’s actually just getting back to the way it used to be,” he says, explaining that tour buses used to go through town, and he’s seen plenty of boom-and-bust over the years. He stops to bid a customer goodbye: “God bless, be safe!” before concluding, “What a mellow day, I love it. They’re all good days here.”

On my way out of town, sharing the road with a cowboy on horseback, my thoughts turn to San Ysidro. During my history lesson with the Hobsons, I learned that the Catholic patron saint of farmers and rural communities is also the official protector of Corrales. How fitting, then, for so many growers to be at the forefront of keeping the community vital and special. I recall something Elan Silverblatt-Buser said: “If we lose our connection to farming and the land, then Corrales loses its foundation. Local growers are the heart and soul of this village—otherwise we’d be just another strip-mall town.”

Read more: In historic Corrales, a gourmet food hub combines a creative café, boutique market, upscale restaurant, and gathering place.

Perea’s Tijuana Bar and Restaurant is famous for stacked enchiladas.



EAT. Start your day with New Mexican and American breakfast favorites on the patio at Hannah & Nate’s. For lunch, try the new Belle’s Urban Deli sandwich shop for classic cold cuts on fresh-baked sourdough or an open-faced turkey Mornay on Japanese milk bread. End your evening at Indigo Crow Café, a fine-dining staple with great ambience, specializing in elegant seafood dishes.

DRINK. Casa Vieja serves its own small-batch, handcrafted beers and wines out of a beautiful 18th-century adobe taproom. The spacious patio hosts local musicians most evenings. Grab a pint of Perle Haggard pilsner in Ex Novo Brewing’s new beer garden, featuring family-style outdoor seating and lawn games.

DO. Sign up for a fascinating guided tour of Casa San Ysidro: The Gutiérrez/Minge House. The 1875 adobe farmhouse with Greek Revival influences was renovated, restored, and expanded in the 1950s by the Minge family, who later donated it to the village. See 1,800 artifacts and pieces of art dating from colonial New Mexico through the mid-20th century, blacksmith and weaving demonstrations, and a courtyard populated with native plants. Docent Byrd Horner rightly calls it a “bucket list local gem.” For a more present-day connection to local agriculture, visit the Corrales Growers’ Market, open Sundays, April through November, from 9 a.m. to noon.

SHOP. Bring in your own containers and fill them with eco-friendly cleaning products at the Village Refillery. This zero-waste bulk refillery and organic beauty shop is located in the brand-new 3650 Corrales Road Collective, which is also home to the charming gift, furniture, and fabric store Desert Bird Mercantile. For a stunning array of Latin American folk art and antiques, visit Pachamama inside Corrales’s historic Casa Perea art and event space. Tip: There aren’t many overnight accommodations in Corrales, but Casa Perea has an adorable suite tucked in the back with antique touches, a private entrance, and a patio.