The Hidden Gem Restaurants in New Mexico

There's nothing like stumbling upon an amazing restaurant that you haven't tried yet. From Santa Fe to Ruidoso, New Mexico plays host to an incredible selection of restaurants that are truly hidden gems. Whether they're tucked away or kept secret by locals, these restaurants deserve discovering. Here are the 10 best in the state. 

El Merendero Posa’s Tamale Factory & Restaurant, Santa Fe, NM

A stop here is all about handmade tamales. A popular favorite is the vegetarian, a mix of mozzarella and asadero cheeses and green chile. Don’t miss the vegan one, even if you’re not. It’s a blend of squash, black beans, corn and, of course, green chile. Pork tamales are still made according to Grandma Lugan’s original recipe. Chiles come direct from the Hatch Valley. 

Bent Street Cafe, Taos, NM

The colorful umbrellas on the outdoor patio might lure you to this restaurant, but the menu is going to keep you there. Breakfast or lunch options are the definitive comfort food. Thick and delicious French toast, fluffy eggs and omelets, imaginative sandwiches, house-made soups, stews and desserts are just a few of the highlights. A gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu. Southwest fare includes green and red chile specialties.

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Oso Grill, Capitan, NM

Tucked into a historic corner building on the main drag through town is this stylish restaurant with a chef committed to serving fresh, distinctive food. The cozy ambience encourages diners to stay awhile, lingering over a pinto bean and green chile pancake or chicken fried chicken sandwich or homemade Indian fry bread. They use only certified New Mexico beef for hamburgers and steaks. Hurry in, they just won the State Fair Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge.

The Dolan House, Lincoln, NM

Not only is this restaurant a hidden gem, but with only 50 residents so is this historic Old West town. It’s where the infamous gunslinger Billy the Kid busted out of the local jail. The restaurant is housed in a building built in 1883. You’ll find a good mix of both American and Mexican home cooked favorites, all served on fine china on tables set with lace tablecloths. The dessert menu is larger than the meal menu. Don’t miss chocolate chip walnut cake or the pecan bread pudding with Brandy sauce.

Oasis Restaurant, Raton, NM

A road trip would not be a road trip without stumbling across a really good diner. This one is attached to a local motel. The menu, a throwback to early diner days, boasts fare like chicken fried steak, a mega burger with fries and the Oasis club sandwich. Daily specials include meatloaf and roast beef plates with all the fixin’s. Good food with great prices.

Hidden Tap, Ruidoso, NM

There’s always a local bar “where everybody knows you name.” Well, this is a place where “somebody goes to be nobody.” It’s off the beaten path, out-of-site of passing crowds. If you find it, you’ll be treated to the best of New Mexico beer and wine, as well as an eclectic menu that ranges from an elk burger to nachos to chipotle meatloaf. Arcade and bar games make this a fun place to hang out.

Adobe Springs Cafe, Silver City, NM

An active natural spring runs beneath this refurbished adobe, home to the cafe… hence the name of this old-time restaurant. It’s open seven-days-a-week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kick off the day with homemade biscuits and gravy. Grab a three-cheese patty melt at lunch. Finish off a day of sightseeing with a grilled pork ribeye adovada-style. The day’s fare doesn’t get much better than this.

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La Salita, Albuquerque, NM

Locals know to order chile rellenos. They’re fresh stuffed every morning, hand-dipped in a house-secret batter that’s mixed fresh daily. Yum. Great for vegetarians. If meat’s on your mind, try the carne adovada, chile braised pork cooked to perfection. Satisfy your sweet tooth with house made sopapillas, served hot with clover honey. The food is so good it will become a home-away-from-home dining out experience.

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Jerry’s Cafe, Gallup, NM

You can’t miss the giant yellow arrow topped with the name Jerry’s that points to this tiny restaurant just off I40. It’s long and skinny, with small booths down the middle and lining the walls. It may be small, but be prepared to indulge in huge portions of New Mexican comfort food, many doused with chile sauce. The menu is chockfull of favorites, but don’t miss the green chile turkey melt or Jerry’s special, a hamburger steak smothered in green chile and cheese.

Ardovino’s Desert Crossing, Sunland Park, NM

The desert is home to an assortment of peculiarities. This old-school Italian eatery, with its retro neon sign, located way off any main highway, is one unique site. Just a few miles from the Mexican border, it is indeed a refuge in this arid region. It has a storied past, centered around the original Ardovino founder. Today, with its beautiful patio, funky red-velvet dining room booths and authentic Italian fare, it’s a gem worth finding.

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