I never thought I’d ever be interested in watching a TV show about crystal meth dealers. Frankly, I seldom watch any TV shows and I’ve never had any desire to try meth. My curiosity finally overtook me as I wondered what could be so great about AMC’s Breaking Bad to enchant over 10 million viewers. Halfway through the first season I found myself addicted like everyone else. If you are a “Bad-head” it will not surprise you to know that when I visited Albuquerque, I was very curious about finding some of the noteworthy filming locations. If you haven’t seen the show, you probably won’t really understand the rest of this. If you know the difference between Walt White and Heisenberg, read on….
It’s pretty easy to get around ABQ (as the locals spell it) and the distances aren’t that far apart. In the northeastern part of town it’s not difficult to find Walt’s house in what appears to be a fairly normal neighborhood. More than a few fans have come by and the homeowners are less than enthusiastic about their visitors. There’s threatening signs strewn all over the yard. When I showed up I was lucky enough to catch the owners sitting in lawn chairs cursing the passing traffic. I was surprised that they would be sitting outside watching fans come by if they weren’t enjoying their residence’s fame. I think if I lived there I’d be selling T-shirts or renting out rooms, but to each his own. Join the party at: 3828 Piermont Dr. The house is private property, but anyone is welcome to take a photo on the public street in front.
Just a few minutes away is a local bar in a strip center called “Sinners N Saints”. Squint your eyes a little and you’ll recognize it as Saul Goodman’s office. Even the front door has his name and phone number on it. Because of copyright reasons, the logos and menus have no Breaking Bad references, but you can get a “Saul-garita”. It’s bright blue of course with salt crystals garnishing the top of the glass. With “Better Call Saul’s” popularity after just one season, the owners would be smart to hang on to that piece of real estate. No doubt that the office is going to show up again since the show is a prequel to Breaking Bad. Interestingly enough, workers at the nail salon in the strip mall a few offices down from the bar were used as extras in the pedicure scenes. You can find this watering hole at 9800 Montgomery Blvd.
Less than ten minutes away is the Mister Car Wash and it hasn’t changed a lot since Walt worked there (It was the A1A in the show), quit there and insulted the boss’s bushy eyebrows. In later seasons, he buys it and his wife runs it as a money laundering car wash. You won’t find any BB merchandise in there but the staff is friendly and receptive to the tour groups and Bad-ophiles that frequent the place. They’ve rearranged the inside area so that it looks nothing like it did in the show, but the outside is identical. They’re used to fans coming in and pretending to get a car wash. They even have free popcorn for visitors. You can find it at 9516 Snow Heights Circle NE.
Twister’s restaurant was the setting for Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant in the show and the headquarters of Gus Fring. Acting as a mild mannered manager-owner of a chicken chain, Gus used his business to run most of Albuquerque’s drug trade. The real restaurant serves burritos and hamburgers and is located at 4257 Isleta Blvd SW. The chain has gotten into the spirit of the show and sells Los Pollos signs behind the counter and even has actors from the show appearing there to sign autographs in conjunction with some of the tours. The most popular of these tours is a motor home that looks like Walt and Jesse’s mobile meth lab. The tour takes you to most of the places listed here and shows you clips from the show that correspond with what you’re seeing. It’s the ultimate submersive Breaking Bad tour if you don’t want to do it yourself. You can find out more at breakingbadrvtours.com
If you’re not in the mood for burgers or burritos, grab a hot dog at the Dog house on Central between downtown and the the historic area. In the show, this little shack appears fairly often as a place to sell meth, buy guns, and hide out. It keeps the same name in real life and seems to be Jesse’s go-to spot. Ironically enough it’s right around the corner from Jesse’s home for the first few seasons. The address for the exterior location is 322 16th St. SW. At the time of writing, the house was up for sale. If you’re big enough of a fan to buy it, there’s even better news. The park a block behind it has been used several times in the series and is right next to Chuck McGill’s (Saul’s brother) TV home. There were camera crews filming episode eight of the second season when I passed by. They are suprisingly tolerant of curious onlookers as long as you don’t take photos and stay quiet.
There’s a quirky little place that appeared in an episode or two at John B. Robert Dam. It’s so unusual looking that even though it wasn’t noteworthy on the show, you’ll instantly recognize it as a pickup point in the show. The incline resembles a military graveyard on the side of a hill or some kind of modern art. I saved this one for last because it’s a great place to watch the sunset over Albuquerque. If you’re in a hurry, you can knock it out while you’re on that side of town.
Are you a really hard core fan? Spend the night in the Crossroads motel downtown for a one-of-a-kind experience. This was my plan initially and I went so far as looking at the room. It was pretty clean for $58/night but there’s a reason it was picked to be a shady place for meth-heads. The area is a little rough and I was warned by a few locals that they had seen police cars there on many occasions. As I stepped out of the car, there was a crash on the street behind me. The woman running the office looked like a character from the show. There seemed to be a lot of needless plexiglass. I won’t lie. The place was a little scary. After careful debate, I decided to stay someplace that wasn’t in the show. There’s a limit to how far you’ll go to be part of your favorite show.