Have Fork, Will Travel
Daytrip to Taos
Four restaurants worth leaving the plaza for
By Nora Hickey
Next time you make the trip and mealtime comes, skip the usual plaza suspects and the traffic, and try one of these off-the-beaten-path spots.
There are plenty of reasons to go to Taos no matter the season: the Sangre de Cristos, the fiestas, the art, the skiing, the hiking, the head clearing elevation. A mere three-hour drive from Albuquerque, Taos is a beloved weekend destination. Next time you make the trip and mealtime comes, skip the usual plaza suspects and the traffic, and try one of these off-the-beaten-path spots.
At the southern end of town, a mile or so before the plaza, sits the fragrant and spacious Guadalajara Grill. This Mexican (no, not New Mexican) joint boasts an extensive seafood menu. As soon as I read the description for the fish tacos—white fish grilled with peppers and onions—I didn’t even bother to ponder how far the nearest sea was. The contents were juicy and the flavors simple. They paired wonderfully with the homemade guacamole, thick and liberal in cilantro. The meals of my companions—carne adovada, nachos, barbacoa tacos—were found to be equally satisfying. The food at Guadalajara is affordable, and the service is fast, leaving you with plenty of time and money to continue your journey through Taos.
Some people speak of a mythic road that leads you to the Northwest side of Taos without having to crawl through the center of town. Take it, and you risk getting lost; take it, and you may find yourself at Taos Pizza Out Back even faster. The weeknight I visited, the outdoor picnic tables were packed, and we had to wait in the hot restaurant until one cleared. It’s no cliché to say that the pizza here is worth the wait. Thirty minutes later, our pizza arrived laden with toppings: smoked mozzarella, mushrooms, tomatoes, capocollo (an Italian cured meat) and, of course, green chile. Each slice was a succulent, dripping treasure.
Hopefully, the 15 minutes it takes to get to Arroyo Seco, a small village just north of Taos, is long enough to build up an appetite for dessert. The charming main street is worth exploring, but hold off until you can stroll with ice cream in hand. You can procure this ice cream at the homey Taos Cow.
Heading out of Arroyo Seco, our home to the South beckons us back. But before you cue the Boss, there’s one more place to see. On the road that passes over the Rio Grande Gorge, Taos Mesa Brewing surfaces from a windswept horizon. The building looks a bit like one of Dr. Frankenstein’s creations, with its recycled parts from old schools and the defunct Santa Fe Borders bookstore. Taos Brewing’s commitment to sharing with the community is also apparent in the high number of musical acts that play the outdoor and indoor stages on any given night. The beer helps in community relations, too, and the IPA is a safe bet for a bold drink. If hops aren’t your thing, Taos Brewing has a number of styles on tap including Kölsch and red and brown ales. Take your pint outside, raise your glass to the sun-splashed Sangres, and toast to your Taos dining adventures.
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