My Breaking Bad Self-Guided Tour
In a previous post, I detailed my love for the television show Breaking Bad. This summer, we stopped in my home city, Albuquerque, on our way back from vacation. I took the opportunity to do a self-guided tour of some of Breaking Bad’s iconic filming locations. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do them all, and my greatest regret is that I didn’t get to go to Tohajiilee. But the places I visited were awesome, and even though Walter White and his cohorts are all gone now, I felt a sense of their presence as I visited each place. Warning: spoilers below!
I started at the John B. Robert Dam, a location that, in the show, seems very isolated. In fact, it’s on a busy street (Juan Tabo) in the middle of well-populated neighborhoods. Still, it’s an intriguing structure, serving to quell the flooding that comes off the mountains in the monsoon season. It looks like a military graveyard with precisely spaced tombstones, which, I’m sure, is why it was chosen. Both Jesse and Walter go here to get rides to anonymity, though Jesse winds up putting two-and-two together and leaves to enact vengeance against Walter.
Then I headed up the mountain to Hank and Marie’s house. It’s located as close as you can get to the foot of the Sandias, and the view is amazing. Hank surely got paid really well as a DEA agent, because houses in this location are probably priced in the millions. Albuquerque real estate is always expensive.
I went to Saul Goodman’s office which I had read was now a Hooligans restaurant. But it’s not even that now. It’s something called Vault. Unfortunately, it wasn’t impressive without the Statue of Liberty balloon and Saul Goodman’s sign. I hoped that I might find them filming here since they’re currently working on Better Call Saul, but I guess they’re filming elsewhere.
Next I went to Walter White’s house. This, of course, was one of the highlights of my journey. I was giddy. When we turned the corner and I saw the house I squealed. I won’t apologize for it. This house was a character in the show, and it looks exactly like it did in the show (unlike some of the other locations). Except for the multiple signs warning that the house has an electronic monitoring system. I’m sure the poor owners have had people knocking on their door (I thought about doing that, but restrained myself), climbing into the backyard to see the pool, and throwing pizzas on the roof. So, you can hardly blame them. Even though the show has been over for almost a year, I wasn’t the only one there taking pictures. Other Breaking Bad crazies were there too, but none of them was wearing a Heisenberg hat like me. Sheesh. Where’s your fan loyalty, people?
After taking way too many shots of Walter’s house, I headed to the car wash. In the show, it’s called A-1 Car Wash (“Have an A-1 Day!”), but in real life it’s the Octopus Car Wash, and it has been since I was little. I was born and raised in Albuquerque, and my dad always took our 1965 Chevy station wagon to Octopus for a wash. I loved going because we would sit inside as the car went through the wash and I would scream as the big rollers came down on top of us. It looks just like I remembered it from my youth. But now it has the added bonus of being a major part of Breaking Bad.
A friend from high school joined me. She said they had a bunch of memorabilia inside. But they’re remodeling, and all of it has been taken down. I did find a poster with Walter White’s driver’s license, though.
From there I went to Gus Fring’s Laundry. It’s a real laundry, but I doubt they actually have a meth lab located beneath. It looks just like it did in the show, except Walt’s car wasn’t parked in the back.
Next was a stop at Denny’s on Central Ave. This location was used a couple of times in the show. I took a picture of the exterior and the interior where Walt sat, alone, “celebrating” his fifty-second birthday. Sad.
I visited Jane and Jesse’s apartments after the Denny’s. The apartments are for rent, so you can actually live in a Breaking Bad location! Oh, to live in Albuquerque. This was one spot that looked just like it did in the show.
Next was the Crossroads Motel. This is one of those 70s-style motels Central is famous for. It is fantastic and looks just like it did in the show, only smaller. I got out to take pictures and my husband told me there was a sign stating that a fee was required. I went inside the front office to pay the fee and encountered a woman who looked just like Wendy and a man wearing a Heisenberg t-shirt. They were hilarious. The fee was $2, so it was no big deal to pay it. I was advised, however, not to take pictures of the staff or clientele. It is a seedy place in real life, after all.
Next: the Grove Restaurant. This is where Lydia drank her chamomile tea with Stevia. I found a couple of women sitting at Lydia’s table and asked if I could take pictures. Neither of them were Breaking Bad fans, though one knew about Lydia’s poisoning. When I told them they were sitting at THE table they were thrilled. They let me take several pictures of them and one even asked me to take one on her iPhone. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one bag of Stevia in the restaurant and it was too crowded to try to ask for one. That was disappointing. Cool trivia fact: The Grove is located between High and Walter streets! Thanks to my friend Mark Tessier for pointing that out to me.
After the Grove, I went to Tuco’s hideout. This building is fantastic with its colorful, graffiti-like exterior. In real life it’s a coffee shop, and a very popular one based on the number of people there. No explosions took place though.
Jesse’s house was not far from Tuco’s. Apparently the owners don’t much appreciate Breaking Bad fans taking photos, so I was surreptitious and low key. Man, it’s a gorgeous house. But all I can think about when I see it is the bathtub.
Next was Los Pollos Hermanos. This was a bit of a drive out to the south valley, but it was totally worth it. The place is actually called Twisters, and they serve hamburgers and burritos there (I had a veggie Indian taco, and it was great). Although you wouldn’t know it’s Los Pollos Hermanos from the exterior, when you go inside the Los Pollos logo is painted on the wall. I was pretty excited about that. Plus, the interior looks just like it did in the show (except for the menus at the front). I even got to eat in Walter’s booth. My bum sat where Bryan Cranston’s bum sat (I sat on both sides of the table because I couldn’t remember for sure which side he sat on, so I covered my butt either way). This was a true moment of zen.
Finally, I went to the old Albuquerque rail yards. I wasn’t expecting much here, but it was one of the most interesting places on the tour. Everything is fenced off, of course, but I can stick a lens through a fence and get good shots. I love old buildings like this, and the windows had so much personality. From what I’ve read, the green color of the titles for Breaking Bad was inspired by the green glass in these windows. Even if that’s not true, the green windows were amazing. Apparently, several scenes were filmed here, but I don’t remember any. Of course, I watched the whole series in three weeks, so I might’ve missed some details.
I didn’t get to some of the other locations, but overall this was a terrific tour. And now that I’ve been there, I am motivated to watch the entire series again! Anyone up for a binge watch with me?