how is the food scene in taos?
hello all and happy new year! i was in taos once 3+ years ago, and was thinking of moving to taos for a little bit, but am curious as to what kind of ethnic food is available there. can you get decent chinese and sushi? i'm guessing there is decent mexican and new mexican, but is it outrageously priced? i just remember eating dinner at some mexican place and having some shrimp dish that was very good, but probably about $15 (and this was in '05)...thanks for any info! btw, if you had to pick an area in NM in which to live, where would it be and why?
Lambert's now has new owners and a great new location, and was reliably good when I was there last summer. Mango chicken enchiladas are a specialty. A new steak-oriented place, Martyr's, opened less than a year ago and is very good. I am not a big steak-eater, but I loved my tournedos and a friend really liked her trout. Steak tartare there is excellent, if you can believe it. Old Martina's Hall and the Love Apple are, for me, more notable for their interesting architecture/ambiance than their food. There is a top-rated chef at Old Martina's but I haven't liked her dishes there as much as I liked her when she was at a casual lunch place a few years back; I have a feeling this may be due to too much involvement in the menu by the owner. But the woman spent a couple of million restoring the building, so it's understandable if she hovers. Love Apple is chef-owned and is in a wonderful "Alice's Restaurant" kind of setting, but I wasn't very pleased by the two meals I ate there last fall. In the past, the trout has been good. Also -- since I'm not a big chile/spice-eater, I can't speak to those dishes at Love Apple or elsewhere. Unfortunately, old stand-bys Graham's Grill, the Dragonfly and Antonio's have all closed in the last 6 months. I have never had a good dinner at Doc Martin's, although the Taos Inn lobby is a great place to listen to music. I also can not understand the high ratings of El Meze. Orlando's is the big local favorite for New Mexican specialties. Personally I prefer Guadalajara Grill, esp. the northside location, for Mexican seafood specialties. It looks like a dump, but it's very good and very reasonable. Alley Cantina is in the oldest building in Taos and has great green chile cheeseburgers and chicken enchiladas, plus music nightly starting at 9. Five Star Burgers, on the south side of town, has incredibly good burgers -- especially the crab-burger (different from the crab cake sandwich). Inexpensive Italian, mainly pizza: I much prefer Pizanos (mountain view from enclosed patio) to Pizza Outback. If you're only there for one night, you're probably not looking for sushi or Japanese, but Sushi a La Hattori is very good. A lot of people like Ranchos Trading Post Cafe, but I have been unimpressed the last couple of times I've been there -- notably because of the saltiness in the sauce of one entree. (I live in Taos four months of the year.)
Michael's and Doc Martin's are both over-rated in my opinion. Doc Martin's in the Taos Inn is OK for breakfast, but I had such a mediocre dinner there one time that I've not returned. Eating out on the patio for lunch is fun. Taos Diner has much better food than Michael's -- which now gets buses full of tourists occasionally. (And there aren't THAT many buses of tourists that come through Taos.) Graham's Grill, now open 7 days a week, 3 meals a day, has gotten better and better. Sushi Hattori is a very good sushi place. There is also a "Japanese roadhouse" type restaurant in the village of Arroyo Seco -- halfway between Taos and the Ski Valley -- which is very interesting. Love Apple is "Alice's Restaurant" transported to the 21st century. Like Graham's -- chef-owned. Only open 5 nights a week. Guadalajara Grill -- esp. the northside location -- is great for Mexican food, primarily seafood. It looks like a dump but it is GOOD -- light years better than Orlando's in my opinion. Old Blinking Light is a great standby, and eating outside with a dead-on view of Pueblo Mountain on Pizano's patio is not to be missed. The fact that it has the best pizza in town is an added bonus. I have so far been disappointed with Chinese. If you're considering moving to Taos -- I suggest you try it out first. There are more restaurants, grocery stores and movie screens than you would think is justified by the population, but it IS an eccentric place. I love it because it's the "anti-Dallas" (where I grew up and have lived most of my adult life), but it's NOT for everyone. Quite eccentric -- I mean do you believe one town could attract both Dennis Rumsfeld and Dennis Hopper, both of whom have had homes here for 30+ years?
Doc Martin's Restaurant
125 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87571
908 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87571
23 Highway 150, El Prado, NM 87529
Old Blinking Light
Mile Marker # 1, Taos, NM 87571
Since the original post (from a year and a half ago) mentioned ethnic food, I'll chime in that my wife and I stumbled onto El Gamal during our trip to Taos last weekend. It was awesome. It may even be the best Middle Eastern food I've had outside Israel. I wrote this little blurb on Yelp about it:
I agreee with the earlier posts in that there are only a few chinese places in taos, and the one I went to was nothing special. I personally liked michaels kitchen, good sopaipillas, and a cheap price, but I dont know if they are serving dinner there right now, or if its just breakfast and lunch. I heard good things about la cocina but never went. The Guadillajara grill (north/or south) is nothing special but has consistintly good mexican at a low price. For a high end place I heard that josephs table is good as well, but a lack of funds prevented me from going. Its a really great area though, I was sad i had to leave
Best new restaurant in town is El Meze', on the highway north of town, between Cids grocery & Orlando's. Advertised as Moorish-inspired, it's really New Southwest, and (so far) very, very good. On our last visit, we started with an order of herbal french fries, served with homemade mayonnaise, in a HUGE basket for (ims) $4. Hard to eat them all and still have room for the meal.... I had a wonderful bowl of oyster stew/soup, full of plump, tasty oysters. Wife had the pasta special, which she liked a lot. Huh, now I can't remember what we had for dessert, except it was very good, and you had to order it early, or wait a bit. Chocoalte souffle'?
Very good service, chef-owned, reasonable prices. After 5 or 6 meals, It's now in our top 3 in Taos -- Orlando's. El Meze, Trading Post.
Happy eating, Pete Tillman
You're kidding, right? Ethnic food? There's a sushi place that is passable, one Chinese restaurant that is interesting and the Thai place which is, well, not really authentic. No Italian. However, there is some great food.
Orlando's. The best.
Lambert's. (Zeke sold out to a consortium that includes former employees and it's still dynamite.)
Graham's Grille is great. Yes, I've eaten there numerous times.
Stakeout. Retro and great.
Taos Pizza Out Back.
Michael's? Touristy, overrated and mediocre.
Doc Martin's? Gimme a break. Bad news. But the patio at the Taos Inn is the place to sit outside, drink martinis and watch the show on the Paseo.
You want culture and diversity and politcal correctness? Stay in L.A. You want great hiking, art, the outdoors and quirkiness? Go to Taos. If I were moving anywhere in New Mexico, however, it would probably be Silver City but it wouldn't be for the food.
hah, silver city, that's awesome...the only think i know about SC is it is the gateway to the gila, a place i've been dying to explore. i figured as much there's not much diversity, but you never know in this crazy world we live in today, and i feel your pain. i was living in maine for 6 months, and real tacos and tortas were unheard of. there was a thai place though, which i thought was odd. anyway, i think it'd be cool to live there, even if it were only temporary. im in the NYC burbs now and it's so bleh but that's just my $0.02. thanks for your input
We lived in Taos for a year before moving to Santa Fe. There are good fine dining options and cheap food also. In my opinion, what you will likely miss is ethnic food. You just don't have the variety you would find a place with a larger or more diverse website. The Chinese restaurant is okay, but nothing more. I am not a sushi person; there are a couple sushi places there, though. I heard bad things about the Thai restaurant, so I never went. FYI, last I knew Sheva Cafe (mentioned by Deb) was closed. I haven't been up to Taos in a while, so perhaps it has been revived. I much prefer the Taos Diner (in both food and ambience) to Michael's, which is always jammed with tourists. Cid's is a great independent grocery store in Taos.
Taos is an interesting place to live. I don't regret moving there, but I am also glad we moved away. It is VERY out of the mainstream of American life. Read the Taos News online for a while to get a sense of the local preoccupations. There are plenty of places to live in NM with access to outdoor activities, and Taos is a LONG way from most filming. You might look at some of the smaller towns around Santa Fe or Albuquerque: places like Pecos, Cedar Crest, etc. If you liked Madrid, that would give you pretty good proximity to filming (and restaurants!) in both cities, and I have heard of or seen a fair amount of film production going on in that area. For cost of living, I would suggest trolling some real estate listing websites, even if you are not looking to buy a house. It will give you an idea of relative prices. Good luck!
There are some very good places to dine in Taos and the prices will often reflect that fact.
Orlando's has excellent Mexican.
Michael's has great food and may be the least expensive place to eat in town.
Graham Grille has gotten good writeups.
Joseph's Table is top notch, Doc Martin is very good.
Dragonfly Cafe for breakfast or brunch.
Sheva Cafe for Middle Eastern.
Old Blinking Light, north of town
Tim's Stray Dog on the mountain.
These will get you started.
NM is a pretty big place with lots of different cities, villages etc. What are you looking for? Cost of living any concern? Need to work - employment? Good schools for kids?
Try fodors.com United States board for ideas about where to live since chow is usually all about the food.
thanks for the prompt response deb...actually, food is a concern, at least being able to obtain different cuisines since i'm pretty used to living in places w/ much diversity. no kids, so don't have to worry about that. i work in TV/film as a production assistant, and from what i understand, ABQ is where most things happen, but i don't think i'd want to live there from what i've heard, although who knows it could be great for all i know. santa fe seems too yuppy for me, as does taos, but taos just really stood out when i was there way too briefly a few yrs ago. i do remember liking madrid, but unless i have my own business, it doesn't seem like there's much work to be had. i also really enjoyed truth or consequences very much, but i think i'd rather be up in the higher elevations since i love snow. i'm 31, so that should be taken into account, and i LOVE outdoor activities ~ hiking, snowshoeing, camping, etc. cost of living does matter since i don't make a lot of $$ in my field, at least not at this point in my career. hope that helps, and thanks for the 411!