Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My "Breaking Bad" pilgrimage to Los Pollos Hermanos

I had the good fortune to visit New Mexico recently, ostensibly to taste my way through the impressive portfolio of Gruet, the state's leading winery. I wrote this column about it for Wine Review Online. (Sorry, the tasting notes and scores are behind WRO's pay wall.)

I had some time to kill on a Sunday afternoon after absolutely stuffing my face at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: blue corn atole, blue corn pancakes with piƱon butter, spicy carne adovada, wow. Go out of your way to visit if you're near Albuquerque; they do a great job of using local ingredients, traditional techniques and modern culinary touches.

Anyway, I was too full to eat more, but nonetheless I had to find a certain restaurant: the fictional Los Pollos Hermanos chicken place that, in "Breaking Bad" -- my favorite TV show -- is the center of meth druglord Gus Fring's empire.

The scene of a lot of good "Breaking Bad" scenes
"Breaking Bad" is a conundrum for Albuquerque's tourist board. The show has devotees like me who appreciate the way it uses the beauty of the New Mexico desert -- for meth cooking, grisly murders and cartel conferences. Not exactly the way to draw folks to your town.

It's not like Santa Barbara County, which proudly produces "Sideways" maps and answers questions about which scenes were shot where (even admitting that Fess Parker Winery is the vapid Frass Canyon Winery on screen.) There are no "Breaking Bad" tourism maps, and the tourist board wouldn't even tell me which fast-food restaurant doubles as Los Pollos Hermanos. Yet this is the one location on the show that fans most want to see, both because it has been used fairly often since season 2, and the action there is significant.

I was too full to eat -- but would of course have had a chicken burrito
Fortunately, there's the Internet. I learned from this set of photos that an outlet of a local chain called Twisters, in the rougher south end of Albuqerque, is the on-screen Los Pollos Hermanos. So I had to go there.

The parking lot looks familiar, but it isn't until you get inside that you see the Los Pollos Hermanos logo. The staff didn't seem at all surprised to see somebody taking photos there. "You're not the first," the guy behind the counter told me.

Now if I can just find a good place to score some blue meth ...

By the way, a nod to my favorite TV writer, Alan Sepinwall of HitFX, who provides analysis of every episode of "Breaking Bad" as well as many other shows. To Alan and everyone else: the best pairing for "Breaking Bad" is the excellent Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV, which is less than $15. That's the really addictive drug coming out of Albuquerque.


  1. Blake you may be a geek but you're still way cool in my book!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I'm fascinated by New Mexico and have been trying to drink Gruet to support the state! Also really like their backstory.

    Read your WRO article - it looks like the 2010 Chenin Blanc and 2009 Pinot Noir you liked so much aren't listed on their site. Do you know if these have been released yet? Or are they already gone...?

  3. Love Pollos Hermanos, thanks for posting!

  4. I'll have a diet coke... and five minutes of your time.

  5. Twisters has pretty solid fast food carne adovada. If you want a tewa or "navajo" taco. Its a decent quick everyday new mexican fix.

  6. How was the chicken? I'd like to visit!

  7. This is great! Thanks for posting.

  8. actually we do have a way to get blue meth legally

  9. I was looking online and there are over 11 locations in ABQ, I was looking to take a trip out there at some point and I would love to see it

  10. Sorry, should have been more obvious:
    4257 Isleta Blvd. SW

  11. The Candy Lady in Old Town sells the blue meth for $1/bag. She also has Pollos Hermanos tee shirts, Heisenberg hats, and a tour.