Roots Farm Cafe: A Neighborhood Gathering Spot
Tijeras farm-to-table cafe serves up fresh veggies and small-town charm
Just a short drive over the Sandias, there’s a little town called Tijeras that feels like a microcosm of New Mexico to me. It’s surrounded by natural beauty and dirt roads, and filled with hard drugs, hikers and friendly mountain folks from extreme ends of the political spectrum. Here, your lesbian separatist co-op farmers live side-by-side with your gun-collecting doomsday preppers. Not necessarily in harmony, but, y’know. Side-by-side.
One place that all those folks come together, though, is Roots Farm Cafe. This little community hub on Route 337 brings in the newspaper-reading seniors and traveling hippies on a typical Saturday morning. There’s a bulletin board where people can post about lost dogs and cars for sale, a lending library with lots of Rudolfo Anaya books, and a drop-off donation box for school supplies from the East Mountains Democrats. This place is clearly a lot more than just a restaurant.
Besides being a cafe where neighbors gather, Roots Farm Cafe also includes—you guessed it—a farm. They source a lot of their ingredients from said sustainable, horse-powered farm, located 10 miles south of the restaurant, and from other local organic farms and ranches in the mountains. So the restaurant staff is happy to tell you where each ingredient came from, especially because they likely picked it themselves. They sell produce, eggs, honey and all other sorts of locally-made produce and products in the restaurant. It’s a sort of year-round farmer’s market in there.
There’s also an education component to the Roots farm. The Roots Natural Learning Center is a non-profit organization that offers classes and workshops which, according to their website, “are aimed at furthering sustainability and self-sufficiency in our daily lives.” Here, you can learn about pickling and canning, dry-farming, and raising honeybees. The updated list of events is available at the cafe, or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
My friend Matie and I took a leisurely drive out to the cafe part of Roots over the weekend for some pre-hiking sustenance. It’s a breakfast-lunch establishment that serves some New Mexican staples as well as sandwiches and salads. Both the specials and the baked goods change daily based on whatever’s in season and available, so look forward to hella pumpkin stuff in the coming months.
We arrived just in time to wonder if we should order breakfast or lunch. Rather than getting the dish by which most New Mexico restaurants are measured (the breakfast burrito) I opted for the lunch menu and got the veggie wrap ($6.75). Matie ordered a kale salad ($8.00) off the daily specials menu, and we both got fresh baked cookies ($1.50 each) to offset the healthiness of our respective main courses. Next time around, I’ll go for the morning hours and get their panini-pressed breakfast burrito, which looks crazy good.
It had never occurred to me to put Australian river salt on top of a chocolate chip cookie, but I’m glad it occurred to the folks at Roots. Since I don’t have too much of a sweet tooth, the sweet-salty combo really did it for me.
The veggie wrap with pesto and feta cheese was chock-full of zucchini so fresh that it tasted like it had been pulled out of the ground that morning (like, in a good way, not a “this tastes like dirt” way). The kale salad was just as fresh, and the kale itself wasn’t as tough and bitter as it usually is this late in the season. “Maybe the mountain air does it? I don’t actually know, I’m just making that up,” said my dining partner. I did not have my copy of the Farmer’s Almanac on hand, so I could neither confirm nor deny her conjecture.
Everything was flavorful and fresh, and came in actually reasonable portions. I also dig that the prices aren’t as ridiculously high as what usually comes along with anything vaguely “farm-to-table.”
We took our time lounging at the cafe long after we finished eating, enjoying the mountain view and the hummingbirds flitting to and from the feeders on the front porch. There’s a take-it-easy vibe that permeates the place, and I appreciated the opportunity it gave me to soak up some sunshine and talk with my friend. Eating is supposed to be slow and social, y’know.
I love that places like Roots exist in the world. I probably won’t go there terribly often since it’s out of the way of, well, everything except the mountains, but its remoteness gives it a lot of its charm. Whenever I do make it out to Tijeras, I’ll certainly enjoy paying the place a visit to sit on the porch, drink some iced tea and watch the comings and goings of a small New Mexican mountain town.
11784 Highway 337
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-4pm
Vibe: small-town gathering place for organic vittles
Alibi Recommends: Panini-pressed breakfast burritos, baked goods, whatever’s in season