In addition to the The Taos Pub Crawl, otherwise known as the Big Three, a few other watering holes draw a crowd, usually for live music of some kind.
Wood-paneled Eske’s Brew Pub (106 Des Georges La., 575/758-1517, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) is across from the plaza, tucked back from the southeast corner of the intersection of Paseo del Pueblo Sur and Kit Carson Road. With live music on Fridays and Saturdays, it serves its house-made beer to a chummy après-ski crowd. You’re in New Mexico—you should at least the green-chile ale.
Named for its location one mile from the landmark traffic signal, The Old Blinking Light (1 Hwy. 150, 575/776-8787, 5–10 p.m. daily) is a casual, sprawling restaurant and bar where locals head for live bands. The food is only so-so (except for the deadly Mud Pie), but the atmosphere is very mellow and friendly, especially Monday nights for live music and on weekend afternoons, when people bring their kids to run around the back garden. If you’re on the lookout for Julia Roberts (probably sans twins), this is a good bet; so far, Donald Rumsfeld hasn’t been spotted.
Taos’s swankiest boîte—really, the only place in town that could be called a boîte—is the moodily lit Anaconda Bar in El Monte Sagrado resort (317 Kit Carson Rd., 575/758-3502, from 11 a.m. daily), where deep leather booths curve around tables built of African drums. Skilled bartenders whip up pomegranate margaritas, and the list of wines by the glass is varied. Starting around 9:30 p.m. most nights, there’s a not-too-intrusive live band; closing hours depend on the crowd. Another plus: the reasonably priced, wide-ranging bar menu.
Taos Mountain Casino (575/737-0777, 8 a.m.–1 a.m. Mon. and Tues., 8 a.m.–2 a.m. Wed.–Sun.) claims to be the “coziest” in New Mexico, and it certainly is an intimate gambling spot, just inside the pueblo entrance. All the basic slots plus blackjack and craps, but perhaps the biggest perk is that it’s smoke free.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition