Raton Pass had been used by Spanish explorers and Indians for centuries to cut through the rugged Rocky Mountains, but the trail was too rough for wagons on the Santa Fe Trail. Raton was founded at the site of Willow Springs, a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. The original 320 acres for the Raton townsite were purchased from the Maxwell Land Grant in 1880. In 1879, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway bought a local toll road and established a busy rail line. Raton quickly developed as a railroad, mining and ranching center for the northeast part of the New Mexico territory, as well as the county seat and principal trading center of the area.
La Cosina Café
745 South Third, Street Raton, NM 87740 | 575-445-9675
1445 S. Second Street, Raton, NM 87740 | 575-445-2221
Founding date: 1954 Owner-Manager: Linda L. Long
The Oasis serves good homemade food and generous portions in a pleasant friendly atmosphere, just as it has since the current owner's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Elias Sawaya, built it in 1954. Operated for a while by all five of the Sawaya daughters, it is now owned by just one of them, Linda. Some of the employees have been on staff nearly 40 years. The Oasis still serve homemade soups, pies, chile, and real French fries and mashed potatoes, along with roast beef, chicken-fried steak, liver and onions, steaks, and Mexican food. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Pappas Sweet Shop Restaurant
1201 South Second Street, Raton, NM 87740 | 575-445-9811
Founding Date: October, 1923 Owner: Mike Pappas
Dimetrios Papadomanokalis, born on the isle of Crete, made his way through Ellis Island in 1912 with a 20-dollar gold piece and high hopes for becoming a part of this land. He changed his name to Jim Pappas. A friend told him there was good money to be made in the coal mines of northern New Mexico, so he headed West. With money he saved from that work, he bought goats and began to produce goat cheese. It was the Prohibition era and there's some speculation that Jim made a little extra money on moonshine. Eventually he acquired a local candy store, and it grew to include ice cream and a full restaurant. Jim Pappas ran the business with great success until his son Mike took over in 1958. Mike still operates the restaurant with the help of newer generations of the family. Hundreds of collectibles are on display, many related to the original manufacture of candy and ice cream at the Sweet Shop. Sandwiches, soups, and salads served at lunch, with choice Angus steaks and seafood on the dinner menu. Homemade bread too. Lunch and dinner.
Red River is a mountain vacation destination for skiers, hikers, bikers, fishermen, and families looking to relax and reconnect in a small town.
Texas Reds Steakhouse & Saloon
400 East Main Street, Red River, NM 87558 | 575-754-2922
Founded: 1967 Owner: Steve Heglund
Texas Red was an outlaw who roamed north and west Texas around the middle of the 19th century. It was said that he once traded all the loot from a train robbery for a good steak and a bottle of whiskey. Texas Red was also the nickname of the man who built the building that was the original location of Texas Reds Steakhouse. It's a great place in Red River to enjoy steaks, other fine food and fun.
San Antonio, when part of New Mexico Territory, was the birthplace of Conrad Hilton. Hilton was one of the original legislators in the newly formed state of New Mexico, and founded the Hilton Hotels Corporation. Hilton's name can still be seen ("C Hilton 1903") carved on the wall of what was once the schoolhouse, since then a mechanic's garage, and now a barn.
68 U.S. Highway 380, San Antonio, NM 87832 | 575-835-4423
Founded: 1943 Owner: Bobby and Debby Olguin
We are a small old rustic Southwest restaurant with good old-fashioned home cooking. Everything is fresh and handmade. The Buckhorn has become wildly well-known for our green chile cheeseburger since Bobby defeated the Food Network's Bobby Flay in a burger Throwdown in 2009. Lunch and dinner. Expect a wait.
The Owl Bar & Cafe
77 U.S. Highway 380, San Antonio, NM 87832 | 575-835-9946
Founded: 1944 Owner: Rowena Baca
The Owl Bar & Cafe is a family-oriented business which has been in operation for nearly 70 years. We use only fresh ingredients – we grind our own fresh sirloin everyday. We peel and slice fresh grown (not frozen) potatoes. All vegetable, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions are fresh. We use locally grown green chile. Our green chile cheeseburger has been a favorite for generations.
The city and the surrounding areas have a high concentration of artists. One of the most well-known New Mexico–based artists was Georgia O'Keeffe, who lived for a time in Santa Fe. Canyon Road galleries showcase a wide array of contemporary, Southwestern, indigenous American, and experimental art, in addition to Russian, Taos Masters, and Native American pieces. Santa Fe is generally considered to be the second largest art center in the United States after New York City.
235 North Guadalupe, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | 505-982-0215
Founded: 1954 Owners: Fernando and Debbie Olea
One of Santa Fe's last original drive-ins, Bert's has been around for nearly 6 decades serving pretty much the same menu as it did to start, down to the popular green chile cheeseburger. The original owner (that was Bert) convinced the Oleas, who had a nearby furniture business, that he wanted them—and only them—to take over the business when he retired. The Oleas have added a few different types of burgers to the menu, like ostrich and kobe-style beef, but everything else is pretty much like a snapshot from an earlier era. When the restaurant turned 50, Representative Tom Udall declared Bert's Burger Bowl Day in the U.S. Congress. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
418 Old Las Vegas Highwa,y Santa Fe, NM 87505 | 505-983-5319
Founded: 1953 Owner/Managers: John and Bonnie Eckre
Famed for its burgers and steaks from coast to coast, the Bobcat Bite has been a local culinary landmark since first opened by Rene Clayton, owner of the nearby Bobcat Ranch. The café, on the outskirts of Santa Fe, sits on what was once part of Route 66 before the highway was realigned to bypass the city. Bobcat Bite is as tiny as its reputation is large, so expect a wait at lunch and dinner. Ever since Clayton's daughter Mitzi sold Bobcat Bite, it has been operated by a mom-and-pop. Today's welcoming hosts, the Eckres, have been the owners since 2001.
The Compound Restaurant
653 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | 505-982-4353
Founded: 1967 Chef/Owner: Mark Kiffin
The only "treasure" with a James Beard award-winning chef-owner, The Compound is among the state's most elegant dining venues. In what was originally a residential compound steps from Canyon Road, the original owners created Santa Fe's first architecturally stunning dining environment by bringing in world-renowned designer Alexander Girard. When Chef Kiffin became owner a decade ago, he gave the menu a much needed overhaul but wisely kept the Girard décor. Sophisticated contemporary cooking and exemplary service. Lunch, dinner, bar.
808 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | 505-983-9912
Founded: 1835 Owner since 1985: David Salazar
Spanish tapas in a rustic but lovely old adobe, and one of Santa Fe's most beloved bars.
555 Cordova Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505 | 505-983-7929
Founded: 1952 Owners: Al and Laurie Lucero
Santa Fe's September Fiesta weekend in 1950 offered something new to revelers: a modest take-out stand on Cordova Road, operated by Maria and Gilbert Lopez. The couple named it Maria's to capitalize on her reputation as a good cook. That original take-out stand was in the area that today houses Maria's bar and modern kitchen. Many of the early New Mexican menu items remain popular today, especially the hearty tortilla burger, which Maria herself claims to have invented. The Lopezes sold the restaurant to Don Hammond, who at that time was Chief of the New Mexico State Police. From Chief Hammond, the restaurant passed to his bartender, Charlie Lopez, and then to Peter Gould and Priscilla Hoback, daughter of Pink Adobe restaurateur Rosalea Murphy. Santa Fe native Al Lucero and his wife Laurie have owned Maria's since 1985. The Luceros have made Maria's internationally renowned for its margaritas and extensive tequila list.
1820 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505 | 505-986-0022
Founded: 1948 Owners: The Singley family
A classic Southwestern cafe with formica counter, lots of seating, friendly service, and a New Mexican slant to its breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu.
54 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | 505-982-1664
Founded: 1918 Owners: The Razatos Family
The Plaza Café, right on Santa Fe's main plaza, has been serving acclaimed traditional dishes since 1918. In 1947, Dionysi Razatos, a Greek immigrant with an American dream, took over the Plaza and his family has been feeding Santa Fe ever since. Danny (his Americanized name) met a local girl, Beneranda, and together they raised 6 children and ran the café. All the kids worked there and today two of them, Andy and Daniel, run it. Diners have a classic American diner experience, but the menu runs from the expected comfort foods to New Mexican, a few Greek specialties, and some modern dishes like halibut ceviche and quinoa fritters. Customers know to save room for dessert here, perhaps red velvet cake or coconut cream pie. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
113½ E. Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | 505-982-9030
Founded: 1953 Owners: The Carswell family
The Shed has been a Santa Fe dining tradition since Polly and Thornton Carswell opened it on Burro Alley nearly 60 years ago. The "Shed" structure formerly had been used by wood gatherers to protect their burros while the "Leñadores" quenched their thirst at the cantina around the corner. After several years of wildly increasing demand, the Carswells moved the restaurant in 1960 a few blocks, to its current Prince Patio location. The hacienda dates back to 1692. The patio acquired its present name when Governor Bradford Price bought 18 rooms around 3 patios. Family members continued to reside there until 1940. Today, it's more generations of Carswells who spend their working hours here, as Polly and Thornton's son Courtney and his wife Linnea took over, and have now been joined in the business by their four children, Kristen, Josh, Sarah, and Kenji. The Shed is noted for its green chile stew, red chile enchiladas and other blue corn dishes, tempting desserts, and margaritas. Lunch and dinner. Reservations accepted and recommended for dinner.
The first European settlement in the area was Aqua Negra Chiquita, "Little Black Water" in Spanish, in 1865. The name was changed in 1890 to Santa Rosa (Spanish for "Holy Rose").
Santa Rosa's stretch of U.S. Route 66 is part of film history. When John Steinbeck's epic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, was made into a movie, director John Ford used Santa Rosa for the memorable train scene.
The area has many natural lakes, an anomaly in the dry Desert climate surrounding it. These are sinkholes that form in the limestone bedrock of the area and fill with water, and thus the lakes are connected by a network of underground, water-filled tunnels. The most famous of these is Blue Hole, a popular spot for diving.
Comet II Restaurant
1257 Historic Route 66, Santa Rosa, NM 88435 | 575-472-3663
Founded: 1927 Owners: Martinez Family
The third generation of Martinezes is about to turn the reigns over to generation number four. Their friendly Route 66 café sits on the original block of the original Santa Rosa town site. They serve fine Mexican food with a northern New Mexico flair. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Joseph's Bar & Grill
1775 Historic Route 66, Santa Rosa, NM 88435 | 575-472-3361
Founded: 1956 Owners: Campos Family
Joseph's Bar & Grill, a family owned restaurant established in 1956, specializes in delicious authentic New Mexico food and American favorites including steaks, seafood, burgers and green chile burgers. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and have a full service bar featuring great margaritas. A Route 66 classic.
Silver Moon Cafe
2545 Historic Route 66, Santa Rosa, NM 88435 | 575-472-3162
Founded: 1959 Owner/Manager: Keith Ross
Established in 1959, the Silver Moon Café has gained legendary status as a Route 66 eatery. This landmark is known for New Mexican and American favorites.
Santa Teresa is a young community about four miles north of the Mexico border.
Billy Crews Fine Dining and Cocktails
1205 Country Club Road, Santa Teresa, NM 88008 | 575-589-2071
Founded: 1956 Owner: Billy Crews
High quality, value-priced aged steaks and a wine list with over 2,000 choices that has been winning awards since 1986. What distinguishes Bill Crews from other restaurants is the custom meat bar where steaks are cut to order, the homemade salad dressings, and the pies. The setting feels like classy supper club of a previous generation.
Springer was part of the Lucien B. Maxwell land grant. It is near the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. There was a range war in Springer in 1881, when Maxwell sold his land grant to a group of investors.
Minnie's Dairy Delite
42 Highway 56, Springer, NM 87747 | 575-483-2813
Founded: 1956 Owner: Frances Bernal
Burgers, sandwiches, and ice cream in a vintage setting.
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