Not Just Hot Tamales
Given the region’s distinctive cuisine — from only-in-New-Mexico hot chile to gourmet creativity — it would be easy to plan a vacation entirely around eating.
Best Traditional New Mexican
“Green or red?” is the official state question, referring to the dilemma diners face when they order enchiladas, huevos rancheros, or anything else that can be drowned in an earthy red chile sauce or a chunky, vegetal green one.
- Tia Sophia’s : History was made in this greasy-spoon spot near the Santa Fe Plaza — allegedly where the breakfast burrito was invented).
- Orlando’s : The Taos favorite is known for its green-chile sauce — deceptively smooth and velvety, considering it’s often the hottest thing in town.
- Duran Central Pharmacy : An Albuquerque institution, this lunch counter is known for its hearty green-chile stew.
- Perea’s Tijuana Bar & Restaurant : In Corrales, in Albuquerque’s North Valley, this bar serves rich carne adovada, or red-chile-marinated pork, for lunch only.
- Barelas Coffee House : Here’s another spot in Albuquerque for excellent red chile, especially when it flavors traditional stews such as posole and menudo.
Best Green-Chile Cheeseburgers
This greasy treat is perhaps the best use of the indigenous green chile outside of standard enchiladas and burritos. The cheese both anchors the chunks of green goodness and softens their spicy punch.
- Bobcat Bite : Just outside Santa Fe is this restaurant that grinds its own meat and shapes the enormous patties by hand. There are other items on the menu, but they’re just window dressing.
- The Frontier : With the all-you-can-ladle pot of green-chile stew at the condiment counter, you can add as much heat as you want to your burger at this colossal diner in Albuquerque.
- Owl Bar & Café : Often cited as the best GCCB in the state, the Owl’s version requires a drive way down south of Albuquerque to the village of San Antonio. Once you’re there, though, you can also sample the Owl’s main rival, from Manny’s Buckhorn, across the street.
- Blake’s Lotaburger: A New Mexico chain, this place is far more accessible than the Owl and (heresy) almost as delicious. No individual Blake’s is reviewed here — just keep an eye out for the icon of the man in the red-white-and-blue top hat.
Best Local and Organic
New Mexico’s extreme climate makes farming difficult — perhaps why locally grown produce is so treasured by the foodie set.
- Treehouse Pastry Shop & Café : Set on the grounds of a Santa Fe nursery, the Treehouse gets a lot of its ingredients from right out its back door).
- Blue Heron : The chef honed his skills in bountiful Portland, Oregon, but he has adapted well to his new setting outside Santa Fe.
- Joseph’s Table : Chef Joseph Wrede pioneered local cuisine when his Taos restaurant opened in 1995. It’s still one of the state’s best.
- Los Poblanos : Guests at this historic farm inn in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque enjoy fresh eggs for breakfast, among other treats.
- The Grove : Using eggs and greens from the Rio Grande Valley, this Albuquerque café whips up all-day breakfasts in a chic atmosphere.