Recently, I made my way across the Four Corners (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah) region of the United States on an 18 day road trip featuring some of the greatest drives and National Parks in the country.
As one who likes to meticulously draw out all the places I should visit, I suddenly found myself second guessing my central New Mexico plans. The original idea was to drive from Santa Fe to White Sands National Monument and back to my hotel in Truth or Consequences with a bunch of stop-offs in-between. Talk about a potential for consequences, I'd be driving almost 500 miles in a single day with some questionable roads and barely enough time to see the attractions I had planned to see.
So I did the unthinkable, for me. I made a last minute decision to scrap the entire day and instead I would head into Albuquerque and hunt down locations of one of my favorite TV shows, AMC's Better Call Saul.
Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad
Oh no! I hear all those fans of Breaking Bad now saying, WHAT? Why wouldn't you be going to see Breaking Bad locations? Put down your beakers my friends. Of course I would stop by Breaking Bad locations. Many of them are shared by the two series. But I only mention Better Call Saul because I just like that show a little more and it is still a current show, so I think of it first.
For those of you unfamiliar with the two (watch this amazing fan made trailer for season 1 of Breaking Bad), the show Breaking Bad (available on Netflix) is about a high school chemistry teacher and cancer patient named Walter White who joins up with a student named Jesse Pinkman and starts a meth lab in an RV. Cue the tidy whities. Within that show, they find unscrupulous lawyer Saul Goodman who helps them launder their money.
Better Call Saul is the prequel to Breaking Bad. It shows the conversion of a con man named James McGill into a lawyer who tries his best to be an honest lawyer in the mold of his older brother and then changes his name to Saul Goodman as his morals decline and he slips back into his con man (Slippin' Jimmy) persona. Lead actor Bob Odenkirk is brilliant in the role (just watch the last episode of the 2018 season).
TRACKING JAMES McGILL, WALTER WHITE & JESSE PINKMAN THROUGH ALBUQUERQUE
Within a couple of hours, I had plotted out a variety of spots through several blogs and by street viewing on Google Maps. With plan in hand, I plotted out the pin points and made my way into town.
The good news is, there isn't a lot of driving to get to some of these main locations. And you can even get a bite to eat at a couple of them.
On a side note: one blog raised the question of safety. None of these places seemed to be in bad neighborhoods (of course I grew up near Detroit and lived in South Philly for a while). The show deals with meth dealers, so I wouldn't imagine the most glamorous parts of town were picked, but this was a show about a high school middle class chemistry teacher. Use common sense, but you should be fine. So, let's start pointing out the locations so you can plan your own Breaking/Saul journey.
Saul Goodman's Office (Breaking Bad)
Okay, so it is a sports bar now. I was a little disappointed. They could have at least kept the blow up Statue of Liberty on the roof. Not sure how they'll film the next season, but maybe some Nebraska fans will tell us how.
Walter White's Home (Breaking Bad)
Out of respect for a family that has apparently been through enough pizza being thrown at their roof, I won't post a picture of the house. I did drive by it, but it has a fence around and and warning signs. That's no way to have to live. So I would suggest avoiding going up to the house to take pictures. I actually never really stopped. I felt bad what they've put up with and respect their privacy. Sometimes fandom goes a bit far.
Walter White's Car Wash (Breaking Bad)
Yes, I had to take the rental car through. How could I not? She needed a bath after snow and salt in Colorado and this was a cool place to run through.
There is my clean baby, over there on the far left. It wouldn't take more than half a day for New Mexico's dusty roads to claim her appearance again (black cars, you know). But hey, I can say I've been through Walter White's car wash.
JIMMY McGILL'S FIRST OFFICE (BETTER CALL SAUL)
Yes, the Day Spa with the cucumber water (watch as local news interviews the owner). Jimmy had his little closet in the back. I just wished there was a yellow and red Mitsubishi Esteem in the parking lot!
Mike Ehrmantraut's Toll Booth (BETTER CALL SAUL)
Location: 500 1st St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
This actually isn't a bad place to park for a walk around downtown Albuquerque. I knew when I was driving over the bridge towards the Convention Center, that I was probably driving right over this. Take 3 right turns at the first light and you'll head right toward it. Mike wasn't working, so I just found a good spot to mark outside, took a photo, and headed into town.
Route 66 and New Mexico History
Look, I'm all about hunting down movie and TV show locations, but sometimes there is just some cool stuff in-between. As you walk south to get to your next destination, you'll pass down a slice of the old Route 66. One thing that always catches my eye are old theatres. This one is dolled up in classic Southwestern style.
There are plenty of nostalgic Route 66 reminders down here as well. It's the best stretch of road to stretch your legs in Albuquerque. I might have stopped to eat, but I was on my way to...
The Dog House (Better Call Saul)
Nope, sorry, no one was selling mobile phones out here (reference to Jimmy McGill's side hussle). And you can't really eat in the parking lot at picnic tables. Oh, you can try to eat in front, but you'll be in your car. The other thing that disappointed me a little was that I was there in the day and didn't get to see the weiner dog wagging his neon tail. Oh well, a reason to come back, right?!?
"The Best Hot Dog In New Mexico?" It was interesting. It was really HOT. I mean chili burning hot. I've eaten hotter chili, but not on a hot dog. It was a nice break and a cool piece of nostalgia to visit.
It was also a Saturday and there was a local market going on right across the street, which made for another nice diversion.
Los Pollos Hermanos (Better Call Saul / Breaking Bad)
Let me just say, I was glad I ate at The Dog House. Maybe it was a bad day, but the location used for Gustavo's restaurant front Los Pollos Hermanos (called Twister's in real life) was a bit messy, there was trash in the parking lot, and I went up to buy a shake, stood there for 10 minutes (literally, I gave the woman as much time to pour drinks and ignore me as I could) and then walked out. It's great for photo ops. I saw at least 3 couples doing just that. Not sure about the food though. You have to be served first to know.
This one is a bit further out of town. But still, worth a look-see. It is cool to see that unlike Saul's office, they did leave the logo of the show's restaurant here for photos.
As for other locations, I got misdirected and thought I read that the offices of Hamlin, Hamlin, McGill were in Las Cruces. However, they are actually at 100 Sun Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109. It is an office, apparently Northrup Grumman is in there and a Regus office. If I get a Regus office for my podcasting business, might have to return and do some work there! Hopefully the lights will be on.
This is a tour you can easily take in about 3 hours when you're in Albuquerque, and I always find it more fun to actually see these places in person. Enjoy and happy travels! And stay away from the meth!