The array of dining opportunities in New Mexico is eclectic and seemingly endless. Many of the restaurants here are home to chefs from all over the state, who combine the best of native and Mexican influences while infusing their own culinary flair. If you’re looking for rich flavors to make your taste buds buzz, stop in at any of these 12 excellent restaurants in New Mexico.
You might think by its name that The Range would feature big, thick steaks in a setting adorned with Western décor. You’d be wrong. The Range takes its name from the myri-ad of stoves, ovens and cooking-related tchotchkes that decorate the walls. This design, when combined with its eclectic selection of art, creates its signature quirky atmosphere. The food is just as excellent. Their motto, “ordinary food done extraordinarily well” is so right-on from breakfast to lunch through dinner and, most importantly, at dessert (all of which are made from scratch!). Fresh-sourced ingredients, certified New Mexico chile peppers in their red and green sauce, an in-house bakery and coffee bar. Stay awhile, you’ll be welcome.
The La Fonda Hotel, a landmark of the city’s downtown plaza, was designed by Mary Colter in the 1920s and epitomizes Santa Fe style. The hotel’s signature restaurant, La Plazuela, embodies its name, a delightfully intimate and festive environment with such good food you’ll just want to sit and enjoy the southwestern ambience. The menu is filled with classic New Mexican and Southwestern favorites served throughout the day. The guacamole, made tableside at dinner and served with a bowl of corn tortilla chips, is enchanting.
A stroll along the porch of the Palace of Governors in Santa Fe’s downtown plaza takes you by New Mexico Native American artists selling jewelry, pottery, paintings, weavings and other traditional wares. Everything is laid out on blankets on the ground so there’s a lot of bending, stooping, walking, and talking—enough, certainly, to work up an appetite. Fortunately, just a few blocks east of the plaza at the landmark Prince Patio is The Shed and the best red chile you might ever have. Don’t forget to try the enchiladas or blue corn burritos. Its colorful décor and outdoor courtyard patio calls to come eat, relax and enjoy.
Farming along the Rio Grande River has been happening for hundreds of years. The earliest farmers grew the Three Sisters crop—maize, winter squash and climbing beans. The original farm-to-table. Nowadays, the farm-to-table trend is being recreated by restaurants showcasing fresh, locally-grown, often organic, produce, dairy and meats. Farm & Table has embraced this concept and offers diners seasonal cuisine with locally-sourced produce, sometimes from the farm right behind the restaurant. Din-ner and brunch menus are small but packed with flavor. Field-fresh greens in the sal-ads, fresh eggs at brunch, grass-fed beef ribeye at dinner, homemade bread and pas-tries and a changing menu that captures the New Mexico farm seasons makes this a delicious destination.
Historic Route 66 is a vintage treasure trove of exploits so it’s worth getting off the Inter-state periodically to experience one. The famous El Rancho Hotel fits the bill. Dubbed the “Home of the Movie Stars” because so many stayed there during the Western movie heyday of the 1930s and 40s, it’s a piece of true Americana. The food at the restaurant, however, is all top-notch Mexican specialties. Try the Ricardo Montalbán: a taco, tostada, enchilada, tamale, beans and rice with homemade tortillas. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there’s a good variety of non-Mexican dishes too. You certainly couldn’t go wrong with the John Wayne burger smothered in guacamole, partner!
The Catholic Chapel, El Santuario de Chimayó, is on the pilgrimage path for many who come to this town because they believe in the physical and spiritual healing found inside. Hungry travelers make a similar pilgrimage to the Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante, just down the road from the chapel. They believe in the restorative powers of an extraordinary meal, too. For more than 50 years, this spot has been creating innovative dishes from locally-sourced ingredients. The area is famous for its heirloom red chile, a favored ingredient in many of their traditional Mexican dishes like hand-rolled tamales, blue corn enchiladas and chile relleno. Known as the creators of stuffed sopaipillas, this is a not-to-be-missed dessert worth saving room for.
The fertile Mesilla Valley is famous for… pecans, yes, pecans not chile as you might expect. As you head into Las Cruces from the south you’ll pass miles and miles or or-chards, beautiful at any time of year. If you’re hankering to try some pecan dishes, then stop at the Pecan Grill and Brewery and you’ll get your fill at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Choices include pecan beer-braised chicken, pecan-breaded stuffed hatch green chiles, pecan-crusted salmon and, of course, a pecan beer, an amber ale combined with the nut oil extract. In a nut shell, it’s great.
Breakfast is one of those meals that is easy to eat on the fly. A cup of coffee and a muf-fin can be it. But if you’re in the southern New Mexico town of Truth or Consequences in the early morning, it’d be a mistake to sail through without stopping at the Passion Pie Café for their Fat Elvis waffle— peanut butter sauce, banana slices and whipped cream with bacon or a Passionate Pear wafflewich—pear, walnut, honey and feta in a waffle sandwich. This place is unique for more than just its food. It’s a place that’s making a reduce-your-carbon-footprint statement: service ware is green-compostable and biodegradable, cold cups are made from plant starch, food items are composted and used in the town’s community garden. Coffee is fair trade and organic.
In the northwestern corner of New Mexico, near the junction the San Juan, Animas and La Plata rivers, as well as the Four Corners area, is this small town that sits in the midst of a bonanza of outdoor activities. When you’re finished hiking, biking, fishing or traipsing through a national park or cultural site, you might just want some food and drink. That’s where Three Rivers Brewery comes in. It’s classic pub food—burgers, wings, fish and chips—and a diverse selection of award-winning hand-crafted beer. A landmark in downtown Farmington in refurbished buildings from 1912, there’s a restaurant, tap room, pizzeria and a collection of more than 600 beer labels. It doesn’t get much better than that.
This place is for the intrepid traveler, since it’s off-the-beaten-track location on Highway 53, also known as the Ancient Way, is miles away from the closest town of Gallup. But if you like stumbling across a jewel in the middle of nowhere, then this is for you. It’s a coffee bar that serves an organic, fair trade, locally-roasted brew, which also serves or-ganic herbal, green and blended teas and a selection of food and snacks that includes a spicy jalapeno-cheese bagel with a green chile cream cheese. There’s also a gift shop that sells local Native American arts and crafts. A delightfully eclectic place that pops up just when you need it.
People have been living at the Taos Pueblo for close to a thousand years. That makes it one of the oldest communities in the United States, which has helped define the City of Taos’ commitment to honoring its past. The Love Apple, housed in the former Placitas Chapel, is a blend of the past and the future of food. Their menus highlight regional products and seasonal, locally-grown ingredients. Everything is made from scratch from the cornbread and tortillas made every day to the homemade tamales and potato gnocchi. Grass-fed beef, local artisan cheese, organic eggs are part of the owners’ belief that the best quality food creates the best food traditions.
This charming mountain resort town is a breath of fresh pine-scented air thanks to its location in the Lincoln National Forest in the Sacramento Mountains in southern New Mexico. At 7,000 feet, the cool mountain air is a refreshing change from the heat of the surrounding desert. But there’s plenty of heat to be found at the Hall of Flame Burgers on the town’s main drag. The green chile cheese burger is full of fiery flavor, as is the Southwest beef or chicken burger dripping in homemade chipotle sauce. In a town filled with shops, galleries and restaurants you might just walk by this small burger joint, so be on the lookout for one of the best burger places in New Mexico.