With the advice of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, we picked 40 years of age as the milestone New Mexico’s Culinary Treasures must have reached. We put out the word statewide and received nominations from loyal patrons, staff members, cooks, chefs, and owners. Then we convened a team of culinary experts to confirm their qualifications and comb around for more.
Here you have it, whether you’re ravenous for huevos rancheros, hungry for hash browns, or craving a plate of stacked red enchiladas. Among these Treasures, you’ll find cafes, diners, drive-ins, country general stores that serve meals, and classics from the golden age of Route 66. The list also boasts one of the state’s most elegant dining venues, The Compound in Santa Fe, overseen by James Beard award-winning chef-owner Mark Kiffin.
If a vintage favorite of yours isn’t on the list, it may be that it’s not quite old enough, like a couple of venerable establishments in Albuquerque, Barelas Coffee Shop and the Frontier Restaurant. Some well-known spots found in ancient buildings haven’t been operated long enough as dining venues. Personal or family hospitality is among the pluses of Culinary Treasures, so we stipulated that the restaurant could have no more than one “sibling,” which left out a few other favorites that are now small chains. While we looked carefully, you’re sure to find places we missed. We’ll add them with our next update if you’ll let us know.
We don’t want you to miss anything yourself, so always call ahead or check the restaurant’s website to confirm details (including whether a reservation may be helpful) before going out of your way. We update periodically, but facts can change. Buen provecho!