Uintessential New Mexican food could succinctly be defined as anything made with New Mexico’s famous red or green chiles. And I’m not talking “a little bit” of chile — “a lot” of chile is what really sets each dish apart from the rest of Southwestern cuisine. Here’s a few of our favorite dishes and where to find them in the state.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
Green (or Red) Chile Enchiladas at Duran Central Pharmacy
You’ll notice something strange about this pharmacy as you begin to enter it from the parking lot. Something that smells absolutely delicious is wafting from the inside. It’s the smell of authentic New Mexican cuisine, coming from the kitchen of the restaurant attached to this Old Town neighborhood pharmacy. Duran serves up some of the best New Mexican cuisine in the state- and it’s all based on New Mexico’s most delicious and coveted export. Chile peppers that come in green or red. The joke is that the state question is: “green or red?” You don’t have to choose just one- try both at once, in what they call “Christmas” style. Be prepared, though. This isn’t Pace Picante. It’s spicy. But if you’re the kind of person who loves spicy food, you know you can’t get enough of it. It’s a regional take on Spanish and Mexican cuisine that you really can’t find anywhere else in the country.
At Duran, everything is good, but try the enchiladas with green (or red. Get the idea?), and you’ll see what we’re talking about when we stress that this is New Mexican cuisine.
Taos Mesa Brewing, El Prado
Taos Mesa BrewingEl Prado, United StatesKnown as TMB or just ‘the Brewery,’ this is the first place locals will tell you to go and the first place you’ll see in Taos. Just outside of town on highway 64, it’s hard to miss the quirky Quonset. Open 7 days a week, the Brewery has at least nine of their brews on tap at any given time and boasts live music every night. Join the after-work crowd and order a Great Scotch Scottish. #free-wifi #food #casual #dancing #open-late #beer #music #brewery
Carne Adovada Burritos at Frontier Restaurant
This cafeteria style restaurant across the street from the University of New Mexico feels stuck in the 1950’s, not just in the decor, but the prices too. These tiny burritos cost $1.99 each, and they’re full of another regional delicacy- Carne Adovada. It’s tender pork marinated for hours in an adobo red chile sauce. You can find adovado anywhere New Mexican cuisine is served, but this is my personal favorite spot for it, if nothing else for the classic setting alone. It’s spicy, so make sure you get flour tortillas or sopapillas to cut the intensity.
Alley Cantina, Taos.
Alley CantinaTaos, United States‘The Alley’ is in the plaza, in one of the oldest buildings in Taos. Open late, it is great place to grab a burger with friends and locals. They have live music every night that will fluctuate between dive bar bands, jazz ensembles, and surprisingly melodic hidden gems. Stop by for jazz night on Sundays and enjoy a game of cheap pool. #bar #food #casual #dancing #cheap-eats #open-late
Huevos Rancheros at Cocina Azul
Huevos Ranchers are a staple of any Mexican breakfast- eggs cooked your way with a salsa on top, beans on the side and tortillas to sop it all up. This Mexican restaurant (with a section of the menu dedicated to New Mexican cuisine, as all classic Mexican restaurants seem to have) does it special. They fuse it with your choice of red or green. The green is the spiciest, almost too spicy to eat without an order of semi-sweet sopapillas to wrap it all up in.
Ham Sandwich on Green Chile Bread at Golden Panaderia Bakery
Yes, even when you just want to eat a sandwich, there’s going to be a chile element to it. Just down the street from Cocina Azul is this bakery that’s got loving adornment from media all over the world. Everyone who enters gets an automatic free treat of a fresh sugar cookie, the deliciousness of which lets you know right away this place is the real deal. The lunch and dinner options are fairly straight forward- pizza, sandwiches, salads, and sweet pastries for dessert (not to mention taps from local breweries to wash it all down), but that’s just because this place doesn’t want to get too far away from what it does best. Gluten. Any sandwich between two slices of its “famous” green chile bread will be a revelation to you (and not too spicy, either).
Blue Sky Donuts at Rebel Donut
Breaking Bad was a show on AMC that ran five seasons from 2008 to 2014 that I assuming you have not only heard of, but loved. The Albuquerque set show about a down on his luck chemistry teacher named Walter who starts cooking and selling his own crystal meth, in some ways put the city on the map. The success of the show created a tiny tourist economy of its own (Breaking Bad location RV tours can be taken). Local artisanal donut shop Rebel Donut decided to pay tribute to this by creating the “blue sky” donut, named after the brand of meth Walter invents. It’s got blue frosting and blue pop rocks for topping, and though it’s thankfully less addictive than meth, it’s only slightly less so.