The Sawmill Market: Dull or Delectable?

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In Albuquerque, it can sometimes be hard to find a spot where unique cuisine, welcoming atmosphere, and accessible location come together to form an exceptional dining experience. Luckily, The Sawmill Market, which is located right by Old Town, is one of a few good options. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the ground that the Sawmill Market was built on was one of the largest epicenters for industry along the Santa Fe Athcison and Topeka railroads. It was used for agricultural purposes and was later owned by the largest lumber company in the Southwest. In 2020, The Sawmill Market is a spacious hall made up of many small restaurants. Shortly after the initial spread of COVID-19, it was forced to close. Recently, its re-opening has been bringing in many people from all over the city who are looking for a safe place to enjoy good food with their families.
When I walked into the hall, the first thing I noticed was the different variety and quantity of restaurants. The glow in the eyes of the passersby reflect the fluorescent signs of the unique shops lining the hall. Every corner of the market offers new, contrasting scents of different cuisines. The food offered at their market comes from many different countries and cultures. Even if you arrive not knowing exactly what you are in the mood for, you have the option to choose between Japanese, American, Italian, or even Spanish cuisine. Whatever you are in the mood for, the Sawmill Market has it.
Surprisingly, considering I arrived at six on a Friday evening, the lines were considerably short. Hand sanitizers were placed at all entrances and customers who were not seated were required to wear masks. Although the hall was quite crowded, everyone was socially distant and all tables were comfortably far enough apart from each other. In addition, all employees were wearing gloves and masks, and were making sure to minimize contact during interactions with customers. All table tops were wiped down after individual use as well. The Sawmill is handling the COVID situation with all of the necessary safety precautions.
The environment of the hall is very welcoming and interesting. The different smells and vibrant colors come together in a whirlwind of excitement. It is always nice to see people of all ages coming together, especially during times like these. The market also provides beautiful outdoor seating, especially nice on a warm summer evening. The bright and lively atmosphere of the inside hall leaks under the doors and seeps into the garden, which is brightly lit and nicely decorated. There are also some shops located outdoors for quick and convenient food and drink options. While exploring outside, snippets of conversation surrounded me along with children playing on the lawn and families talking under the darkening sky. As the night progressed, more lights came on and the Sawmill beamed with bright smiles.
The Sawmill offers many culinary options. I tried the pasta at Tulipani, which is also known as the tiny pasta shop. It was different from any pasta I’d ever tried before. The shop was quite small and didn’t offer many different varieties of dish and I wasn’t expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised when the pasta filled me with warmth and reminded me of home. You can never go wrong with some good, Italian comfort food. Some pistachios were added on top of the pesto, which added some individuality to the dish as well. I also tried some lemon-lavender Italian ice from Viva Fresca. Besides being visually appealing, the Italian ice was amazing! The shop offers some very unique flavors: prickly pear, peach, and even (non-alcoholic) cucumber mojito. If you’re in the mood for doing some shopping, the Sawmill Market will be hosting the New Mexico Artisan Market starting on October 2nd. You can’t go wrong with shopping for the home while also supporting local artists and artisans.
Overall, my experience at the Sawmill was very pleasant. The variety of places to choose from was seemingly endless, and the quality of the food made dining there that much more enjoyable. Especially during these times of uncertainty, being able to get out of the house and enjoy a nice meal can be quite rare. I would recommend The Sawmill Market to all families who seek a unique dining experience that can offer delicious food while adhering to the COVID guidelines of our state. If you are in the mood to try new food, or simply enjoy a nice evening with friends or family, head to the Sawmill Market and take part in a remarkable dining experience.