By Katherine Johnson
June 02, 2019
The Last Call – 420 Central Avenue SW – Albuquerque, NM 87102
The bulls eye’s bulls eye of Albuquerque’s nightlife that runs late into the night every night occurs on both sides of Central Avenue between 4th Street SW and 5th Street SW. It is quite reasonable though, that the eastern edge should be moved to 3rd Street SW near where the Library Bar and Grill is found with its facade made to look like giant books with profound titles like Tequila Mockingbird or Partying 101, while the western edge, out past the now closed Burt’s Tiki Lounge, could be fixed at 6th Street SW.
Here in the bulls eye, as I see it, is found the epic bars such as Sister’s with its always busy outside seating next to the sidewalk and just inside the entrance an array of pinball machines with the Anodyne directly one floor up. While across the street at the Downtown Distillery shots of Fireball and pool are as common as bacon and eggs in a diner.
Down towards 5th is the Effex Nightclub with its open to the sky dance floor while across the street sits the soul of Downtown Albuquerque, the iconic Kimo theater, adorned on the inside with steer skulls and swastikas, before they were disgraced. On the colorful outside the entrance captures the essence of a pueblo while vaguely Kachina type faces keep an eye on the sidewalk below.
Food can be found at all the bars except for the Effex which reflects that nobody goes there to eat but to hook up and get lucky. On weekends the cops shut down Central because in this area, a nod to practical policing and an acceptance that drunk cross street foot traffic is best contained at the edges, is better served by food trailers and carts than cars.
One guy I met that runs a food trailer had occupied the same spot for 35 years. When I think of his hair, now silver, and the crows feet in the corner of his eyes I still picture how I, upon meeting him, tried to picture him 35 years younger in my mind. And finally at the corner of 5th and Central sits the Last Call restaurant that is properly named as it seems to sit idle until the bars close and the drunks seek out food.
It is a stark space with few tables, more like a food cart built inside the corner location than a typical restaurant. Its dominant feature, overwhelming the food I think, is a mural featuring the glorious Mexican masked wrestlers,the Lucha Libre that specialize in flying leaps off the top ropes of the ring so as to cause maximum mayhem to an opponent when they collide, crushing him into the mat.
This mural seems to have the power to inspire the patrons to imitate the Lucha Libere aerial chaos. It seems, based on a fair interpretation of a sign posted to one side of the mural that reads “Table Will Fall If Sat On”, that patrons plunk their butts on them causing them to collapse exactly as if they were one of the Lucha Libres depicted in the mural.
Copyright 2019 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved