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Old And Beloved Favorites

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These are the restaurants our readers turn to when they have guests in town 
and want to give them a real taste of the place. They’re where your parents 
took you when you were a kid. Places where you watched the owners’ kids 
grow up and take over. Places where you don’t even have to look at the menu
because you already know what you want.

SANTA FE

La Plazuela
It’s one of Santa Fe’s most iconic images: Sunlight streaming through the painted windowpanes of the historic La Fonda Hotel’s courtyard restaurant. Dining here can be an inexpensive breakfast or a deluxe dinner, but the holiday buffets are a tradition.

SantaCafé
A favorite since it opened in the 1980s, SantaCafé was great when Ming Tsai was the chef in the mid-1990s and was still great when Giada De Laurentiis named it one of her favorites a couple of years ago. The menu combines flavors of the Southwest and Asia, the courtyard is gorgeous in the summer, and the cocktails are fantastic.

The Pantry
For nearly 70 years, the Pantry has been dishing up huevos rancheros just like your abuelita’s, and making guests feel like family. As one reader wrote, “We went there two days in a row. The staff acted like we were long-lost relatives!”

The Shed
Extremely popular with tourists streaming off the Plaza, the Shed remains a fixture for Santa Feans who have come to love the quirk of getting a plate of carne adovada with a hunk of crusty garlic bread. (It does a heckuva job at soaking up every last drop of chile.)

 

ALBUQUERQUE

El Pinto
This lush North Valley institution has been owned by the same family for generations—and the bond is strong. In 2016 owners (and twin brothers) Jim and John Thomas hired chef Marc Quiñones from a four-star resort in Santa Fe, returning him to the restaurant where he got his start more than a decade ago.

Pueblo Harvest Café
The stacked-stone restaurant inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is the best place to get a taste of food from all 19 New Mexico pueblos—and to compare traditional dishes like mutton stew with the edgy, modern creations of the café’s ambitious chefs.

Mary and Tito’s
Both Mary and Tito are gone now, but their children and grandchildren still run the place, and the fruity red chile, crispy chicharrones, and characteristic “turnovers” (read: stuffed sopaipillas) are the same ones that earned this little café an America’s Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation.

Monte Carlo Steakhouse
Stepping into this dark dining room is disorienting. You seem to have been transported back to a time when people drank martinis and ate steaks at lunch on a weekday, sitting in red-vinyl-backed booths. But no, that still happens at this throwback treasure.

 

TAOS

Doc Martin’s
Every-one who comes to Taos eventually eats, drinks, or stays at the Taos Inn, the historic hotel at the center of town. The blue corn and blueberry hotcakes are always a hit at brunch.

Alley Cantina
It’s billed as “the oldest house in Taos” and it’s certainly one of our readers’ most enduring favorites. A hoppin’ lunch spot during the day, it’s one of our top picks for drinks later at night.

El Taoseño
Whether you’ve been skiing, hiking, or shopping all over town, king-sized platters of enchiladas are ample reward for the weary and the hungry.

 

LAS CRUCES

La Posta de Mesilla
This wildly colorful 
hacienda was once a stagecoach stop on the Butterfield Line. It’s still a place where dusty travelers refuel, Las Crucens go to celebrate, and everybody likes to see the colorful parrots 
swooping around their cage in the lobby.

Nellie’s
What started as a burrito delivery route in 1962 is now a 50-year-old fixture. Don’t miss the picadillo (ground beef with jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes).

 

THE BUZZ 
AROUND
 THE STATE

Rancho de Chimayó became one of the country’s favorites in 2016 when it won the America’s Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation. Charlie’s Spic & Span Bakery and Cafe is the place to see and be seen in Las Vegas. Don’t leave without a cherry limeade, a bag of fresh tortillas, and a doughnut for the road. Diane’s in Silver City is a favorite place to pick up a loaf of bread or linger over a glass of wine and listen to music.

Brewpubs, Gastropubs and Taprooms

Java Faves