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Red Ball Café

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Padilla Residence
pre-1922; 1931–1942 addition; 1997–1998 restoration. 1303 4th St. SW.
  • (Photograph by Regina N. Emmer)

The Red Ball Café is an early example of a private residence converted for commercial use in Barelas. The original two-story house is a typical example of railroad-era building from the first decades of the twentieth century, with tongue-and-groove board siding over a balloon-frame wood structure and a hipped roof. Before 1922, it was altered to become a restaurant on the first floor that catered to the local community and became known both for its New Mexican cuisine and its five-cent Wimpy burger. Between 1931 and 1942, after Fourth Street was designated part of Route 85 in 1926 and automobile traffic increased dramatically, further additions were made, including a projecting concrete entrance with large storefront windows and a circular red road sign advertising the restaurant to passing motorists. The cafe closed in 1979, a victim of Barelas’s economic decline. It remained abandoned and vandalized until it was purchased and restored by a new owner in 1997–1998, at a time when Barelas was being rehabilitated by various local, state, and federally funded initiatives. The café closed again in 2013, but the building has been preserved as part of the Barelas-South Fourth Street Historic District.


Kent, John R. “Return of the Red Ball.” Albuquerque Journal, December 29, 1997.

Webb, Andrew. “Red Ball Cafe Shut Down as Barelas Decayed but Returned Amid Revitalization Efforts.” Albuquerque Journal, December 10, 2005.

Wilson, Chris, “Barelas-South Fourth Street Historic District,” Bernalillo County, New Mexico. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1996. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Writing Credits

Regina N. Emmer
Christopher C. Mead
Regina N. Emmer



  • 1900

    Original house built
  • 1922

    Original house altered for use as the Red Ball Café
  • 1931

    Addition and alterations
  • 1979

  • 1997

    Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Barelas South 4th Street Historic District
  • 1997

    Restored by owner Jim Chavez

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Regina N. Emmer, "Red Ball Café", [Albuquerque, New Mexico], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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