I never thought I’d ever be interested in watching a TV show about crystal meth dealers. But, as I wondered what could be so great about AMC’s Breaking Bad, my curiosity finally overtook me. Halfway through the first season, I found myself addicted like everyone else. If you’re a Bad-head like me, it won’t surprise you to know that when I recently visited Albuquerque, I wanted to find the show’s noteworthy filming locations.
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 White’s house, in what appears to be a fairly normal neighborhood. More than a few fans have come by, however, and the homeowners are less than enthusiastic about their visitors, putting threatening signs up 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 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 from the public street in front.
Just a few minutes away, in a strip center, sits local bar Sinners N Saints. Squint your eyes a little, and you’ll recognize it as Saul Goodman’s office. The front door even 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 the popularity of Better Call Saul after its first season, the owners would be smart to hang on to that piece of real estate. No doubt, the office is going to show up again, since the show is a prequel to Breaking Bad. As a side note, workers at the nail salon in the strip mall a few doors down from the bar were used as extras in the BB’s pedicure scenes. You can find the watering hole at 9800 Montgomery Blvd.
Less than ten minutes away is the Mister Car Wash—called the A1A in the show—where Walt worked before insulting the boss’s bushy eyebrows and quitting. In later seasons, he buys it, and his wife runs it as a money-laundering car wash. You won’t find any BB merchandise here, and the staff has rearranged the inside area so that it looks nothing like it did in the show. But the outside is identical, and the friendly staff is receptive to the tour groups and Bad-ophiles who frequent the place, pretending to get a carwashes. There’s even free popcorn for visitors. You can find it at 9516 Snow Heights Circle NE.
Twister’s restaurant was the setting for Los Pollos Hermanos in the show, the headquarters of Gus Fring, the mild-mannered manager-owner of the chicken chain who 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, selling Los Pollos signs behind the counter and even featuring actors from the show there to sign autographs in conjunction with some of the tours.
The most popular of these tours is a motorhome that looks like Walt and Jesse’s meth lab. The tour takes you to most of the places listed here and shows clips from the show that correspond with what you’re seeing. It’s the ultimate 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 historic area, which has the same name in real life. In the show, this little shack appears fairly often as a place to sell meth, buy guns and hide out. Located at 1216 Central Ave NW, it’s Jesse’s go-to spot, and ironically enough, it’s right around the corner from Jesse’s home for the first few seasons.
At the time of writing, the house—located at 322 16th St. SW—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 the TV home of Chuck McGill’s, Saul’s brother. There were camera crews filming episode eight of the second season when I passed by. They were surprisingly tolerant of curious onlookers as long as you didn’t take photos and stayed quiet.
There’s a quirky little place that appeared in an episode or two, the John B. Robert Dam in Northeast Albuquerque. It’s so unusual-looking that even though it wasn’t noteworthy on the show, you’ll instantly recognize it. The incline resembles a military graveyard on the side of a hill, or some kind of modern artwork. 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 hardcore fan? You can 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 a 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’d seen police cars there on many occasions. The woman running the office looked like a character from the show, and there seemed to be a lot of Plexiglas. I won’t lie. The place was a little scary. After careful debate, I decided to stay someplace else.