Texas Reds – Red River, New Mexico

    Texas Reds in picturesque Red River, New Mexico

Texas Reds in picturesque Red River, New Mexico

Note: On Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004 Texas Reds burnt to the ground, but like a Phoenix, it has been rebuilt, albeit no longer as a two story monolith on Red River’s main street. In 2006, Texas Red’s also launched a second Colfax county restaurant, this one in Eagle Nest.

What does the alpine village of Red River in the picturesque Moreno Valley have in common with San Marcos, Texas, the beautiful gateway to the Texas Hill Country? Aside from both being heavily populated by Texans, they both can boast of a Texas Reds restaurant.

The original Texas Reds has been a Red River dining destination serving generous portions of friendly service and old west ambience since Thanksgiving, 1967. With an overdone touristy atmosphere that includes checkerboard tablecloths, wooden planked floors and the perfunctory peanuts you can toss on the floor, Texas Reds is a carnivore’s paradise. Its old west saloon is at ground level while the dining rooms are upstairs.

While it’s true that dining at nearly 9,000 feet makes the food seem to taste better and your appetite more robust, it’s also true that Texas Reds proffers one of the very best steaks in New Mexico. Charbroiled in butter, the porterhouse is 18 ounces plus of perfectly seasoned meat which seems to have addictive properties. It’s so good, you’re challenged to partake of the “odds ‘n’ ends” that accompany your meal. Even better is the nearly inch thick New York strip steak. Almost tender enough to cut with a fork alone, it’s one of the best slabs of beef you can find anywhere. For steak alone, Texas Reds is one of the two or three best restaurants in the Land of Enchantment.

The dinner salads are bountiful and creative, but are especially delicious when bathed in Texas Reds salad dressing or the blue cheese dressing rich with crumbles. Unfortunately, the baked potato is nearly as ordinary as the steaks are spectacular. Worse yet, you have to fully dress your potato (chives, sour cream, butter, bacon bits) yourself out of packaged ingredients. For dessert, a brownie sundae is ample enough for two to share, but after consuming a steak, you’ll have to loosen your belt at least two more loops.

Texas Reds, like Red River itself, is an experience!

Texas Reds
111 East Main
Red River, NM

LATEST VISIT: 24 September 2004
COST: $$$
BEST BET: Porterhouse Steak, New York Strip, Texas Reds Salad Dressing

The Burrito Wagon – Taos, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Elvis Presley once crooned about “Memories pressed between the pages of my mind–memories sweetened through the ages just like wine.” Sometimes memories take you back to an idyllic time or place when things were simpler and food tasted better.

Such is the case with my memories of the Burrito Wagon, a Taos institution I began frequenting shortly after its 1970 launch. No stereotypical “roach coach” to be derided and laughed at was this mobile kitchen serving the finest overstuffed burritos in Northern New Mexico. In my romantic’s mind, my unabashed affection for the Burrito Wagon took me to that idyllic time and place.

Alas, the reality was that because the Burrito Wagon is not open on weekends, we hadn’t visited since 1999. A September, 2004 visit saw my idyllic memories shattered and cruel reality set in.

The Burrito Wagon just isn’t the same restaurant that warranted delicious dreams. That reality set in when we discovered beans, ground beef and chile ensconced in store bought tortillas similar to the inferior products proffered by real roach coaches. If memory serves me right, The Wagon’s burritos once featured tortillas that tasted as if they were freshly extricated from a hot comal. My recollections were of ingredients apportioned and melded to perfection, not segregated within the tortilla so that you taste beef with one bite and beans with the next.

Worse yet was a Frito pie that has to rank with the worse we’ve had in New Mexico. The sole saving grace were two soft tacos in which well seasoned ingredients surmounted their store bought tortilla encasement. The Burrito Wagon features seven different burritos with cheese and red or green chile. We hope to someday visit one of the best reasons to visit Taos and find the Burrito Wagon has reclaimed past quality.

The Burrito Wagon
519 Paseo del Pueblo Sur
Taos, NM

LATEST VISIT: 24 September 2004
BEST BET: Burritos, Tacos

Cafe Pink – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)

For people watching, there may be no better Santa Fe venue than the outdoor patio at Cafe Pink, a 2004 addition to the “City Different” dining scene. The people watching is free and a meal at Cafe Pink is only slightly more expensive. Priceless might be a good term for the colorful mural depicting the Santa Fe fiesta scene past and present. That mural provides a backdrop history buffs might prefer studying to watching tourists with their mouths agape and their eyes wide with wonder at Santa Fe’s many historical attractions (the most striking of which is our incomparable blue sky).

Despite being a relative newcomer, Cafe Pink has an impressive pedigree as a member of the famous Pink Adobe Cafe restaurant family. The Pink Adobe Cafe is the oldest family run restaurant in Santa Fe and is one of the city’s most popular dining destinations.

Cafe Pink’s hip cafe ambience is somewhat reminiscent of patio dining in Portland, Oregon, albeit under more friendly skies. Its concept is simple–place your order at a counter, take a seat and wait for your meal to be served.

Panini sandwiches are a lunch specialty while an assortment of breakfast entrees are also available. The sandwiches are grilled to order with a light drizzle of garlic infused olive oil and seasoned with salt and cracked pepper. You can choose from sourdough, whole wheat or rye bread and each sandwich is served with homemade green chile chips. A good sandwich choice is the #4 which features Genoa salami, proscuitto and provolone served with a Caribbean spread and for a pittance more, sherry caramelized onions.

Better than the sandwich were the green chile chips which had a sweet and piquant flavor. The green chile stew features cubes of pork loin, potatoes, tomatoes. onions, green chile and other spices. It’s served thicker than most and is a great belly warming treat. Cafe Pink’s salsa is imbued with a red chile powder that gave it a salute worthy taste.

In its 60 plus years of operation, the Adobe Cafe’s world famous Rosalea’s French apple pie with rum sauce has earned a legendary reputation as one of the very best pies in the country–for good reason. This is an extraordinary apple pie that defines the very best of its genre.

Cafe Pink
410 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM

LATEST VISIT: 18 September 2004
COST: $$
BEST BET: French Apple Pie with Hard Rum Sauce, Panini Sandwiches