University Heights – Albuquerque, NM

The aptly named University Heights sits between Albuquerque's most important educational centers: the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College. All homes in the area lie an easy walk from both institution and downtown Albuquerque sits just two miles west. Most of the neighborhood consists of residential blocks lined with Albuquerque's signature Southwestern-style houses. Residents come for the convenient location and the sense of community fostered by regular neighborhood events.

Restaurants & Nightlife

University Heights houses a number of international and American restaurants, the majority of which line Central Avenue SE on the northern edge of the neighborhood. Locals have no trouble finding a cheap bite to eat thanks to the neighborhood's close proximity to the university. Most restaurants fall into the low-price or mid-price category. Don't be fooled by the no-frills dining area at Frontier Restaurant — this student-favorite spot serves an appealing mix of traditional diner food and hearty Mexican dishes. Recover from a night of revelry with an enormous sweet roll and a house special breakfast burrito, which comes with hash browns and green chiles. Locals love the ultra-fast service and casual vibe. The falafel and chicken shawarma at Sahara Middle Eastern Eatery get high marks from locals in the know. What this small but popular eatery lacks in ambiance, it makes up for in flavor. If you prefer a more upscale scene, check out Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro on Central Avenue. Locals love the herb-marinated goat cheese and the pan-roasted stuffed quail. Ask your server for wine samples and pairing suggestions from the restaurant's extensive wine list. As a largely residential neighborhood, University Heights doesn't offer much in the way of nightlife. Try the shisha at Terrene Hookah, the only bar in University Heights, where the friendly regulars love the low prices and casual atmosphere. Dance until dawn at nearby Imbibe, a cigar bar that regularly hosts DJs. If you're looking for live music, head to Cantina at the Crowne Plaza.

History & Culture

During Albuquerque's early days, University Heights sat on the outskirts of the city. The area began to grow when the University of New Mexico was established to the north in the late-1800s. When Route 66 was rerouted to the northern edge of the neighborhood in the 1930s, the neighborhood came alive with restaurants and hotels. By the 1970s, University Heights developed a crime problem, which was eliminated by the University Community Action Group. Today, culture in University Heights revolves around the surrounding educational institutions. Residents live within a short walk of the University Art Museum, the Museum of Southwestern Biology and the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. The Outpost Performance Space and the Rodey Theatre host a variety of shows throughout the year, while Theatre-in-the-Making brings performing arts to young community members. Each year, the University Heights Association hosts events, including a neighborhood block party and regular cleanup days.

Transportation

With its central location and compact size, University Heights accommodates all types of transportation. The neighborhood's walkable streets mean that students and professors often opt to walk the short distance to school. Cyclists enjoy safe riding in University Heights thanks to the numerous bike lanes and dedicated bike paths. If public transportation is your thing, make use of the bus lines that run through the northern part of the neighborhood; the most important routes include 766, 66, 777, 97, 50 and 16. Cabs can be virtually impossible to hail from the street, so call ahead or use Uber to find a ride. Some of the streets in University Heights require permits, while others offer free parking, so be sure to look out for posted restrictions. Businesses along Central Avenue provide plenty of free parking spots for customers. Getting out of the neighborhood takes just minutes on Interstate 25, which lies less than two miles away.

Cost

The cost of living in University Heights sits considerably lower than the Albuquerque average. Rent prices can vary dramatically in the neighborhood, but you can expect to pay between $600 and $1,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. A one-way bus ticket from University Heights to downtown Albuquerque costs just $1. On a night out, expect to pay $5 or less for a beer. The neighborhood gas price sits about 10 percent lower than the national average.

Shopping

Shopping options in University Heights cater to the young, budget-conscious student crowd. The neighborhood doesn't offer much in the way of high-end stores, but residents enjoy the eclectic gathering of thrift stores and specialty shops that gather in the block south of Central Avenue. Find the perfect style expression at Frock Star Vintage Clothing, an affordably priced store with a funky selection of clothing from the 1950s and later. The store also features an expansive selection of classic Southwestern jewelry. For a truly unique shopping experience, pay a visit to Free Radicals on Yale Boulevard. There, racks of rockabilly dresses hang next to 1950s-style clothing in an unusual mashup of bold and demure styles. Locals love the stock of bizarre accessories from indie designers. Most residents of University Heights get their groceries at the Smith's on Yale Boulevard. The friendly staff and neighborhood feeling at Farm Fresh Produce bring in locals, while the inexpensive prices and regular sales keep them coming back. If you're looking for organic foods, gluten-free items and bulk goods, visit the nearby La Montanita Co-op. While University Heights doesn't host a farmer's market, residents often spend Saturdays at the Downtown Growers' market to purchase seasonal produce and artisan foods.

Parks

As an urban neighborhood, University Heights doesn't house any parks within its boundaries. The closest nearby park, Hyder Park, features a wide grassy area but no amenities. Families and individuals flock to the park for Tasty Tuesdays, which feature food trucks, free yoga classes and live music. Roosevelt Park also lies within a short drive of the neighborhood near the campus of Central New Mexico Community College. The shady, grassy park features a disc golf course for local fitness buffs, a playground and water fountains for both people and dogs. Dog owners can also take advantage of the waste disposal stations. Both parks offer free entry.
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