66 Diner brings Mother Road nostalgia / Photo by Megan Eaves
Many visitors come to Albuquerque with a yearning for Route 66 kitsch. Visions of a James Dean-like scene in a pink rolltop Cadillac cruising with the wind in your hair spring easily to mind in Albuquerque, where the Mother Road makes its longest commercial stretch - 18 miles! Albuquerque's section of Route 66, called Central Ave. inside the city limit, is filled with remnants of a bygone era - neon signs and cool retro building facades litter the road as it stretches its legs past the University of New Mexico and through downtown.
The 66 Diner's kitschy interior / Photo by Megan Eaves
The 66 Diner is easily one of the best places to relive the drive-by diner atmosphere of the 1950s. They do Route 66 nostalgia like no other, with bright turquoise dinettes, authentic Route 66 road signs battered from use, black and white tiled floors set against a plethora of turquoise and hot pink, and ditzy waitresses that can barely remember your order.
Sadly, the 66 Diner, which was converted from an old gas station during the 80s, burned to the ground in 1995. The owners did all they could to restore the diner to its fullest expression of nostalgia, and pretty much anyone that walks through the silver front door into the warming sounds of Elvis over a heaping, greasy cheeseburger will tell you that they definitely succeeded.
The best chocolate malts in Albuquerque / Photo by Megan Eaves
The best thing about the 66 Diner is undoubtedly the food. The menu is a veritable lineup of all the things we expect from a great 50s diner: cheeseburger, french dip, onion rings, tuna melt and hot dogs are all present. And though they boast about having the best milkshakes in Albuquerque (where else can you get milkshake flavors like The Pink Cadillac, the Elvis Presley and the Dreamsicle?), I have never before had such a perfect chocolate malt as the one that came alongside my greasy bacon cheeseburger, complete with green chile.
The 66 Diner is located at 1405 Central Ave. NE in Albuquerque, just east of I-25 and downtown, and a few blocks west of the University of New Mexico campus. When driving down Central, its impossible to miss the diner's bright neon sign and groovy retro architecture: just look for pink and turquoise!