Few things in life are as romantic as dining on the banks of the slowly trickling, mocha-colored Rio Grande on a crisp early autumn night with only a hint of moonlight to illuminate your partner’s visage–unless maybe it’s dining by that same river as it rages murkily, carrying off the Sangre De Cristo’s winter ablutions during its spring runoff. Located 25 miles south of Taos and 41 miles north of Santa Fe on Highway 68, the Embudo Station offers patio dining with unforgettable vistas and memorable meals.
The Embudo Station is steeped in history, having served as a narrow gauge railroad station for the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (affectionately called the “Chile Line”) from the 1887 until 1941 when it was abandoned. In 1983, the Embudo Station was purchased by Preston and Sandy Cox, tax accountants who left Santa Fe’s rat race for the peaceful village life of Embudo. After spending two years renovating the rundown property, the Coxes launched a sprawling complex that includes a restaurant, brewery, smokehouse, rafting company, a smoked goods mail-order catalogue company, an arts and crafts store, and an overnight cabin.
The old station house was converted into a brewery in which more than 20 different ales are brewed (including green and red chile ales). The aromatic fragrances emanating from the smokehouse form a two-part harmony with nature’s own aromas, particularly in the early winter when fireplaces and stoves are ablaze with woods from the local forests. At the Embudo Station, the smokehouse specialties include ham, sausage and ribs, all of which are available on the menu. If you love barbecue, your best bet is the combination platter which features meaty pork ribs, spicy sausage and ham along with coleslaw and black beans. The meats retain a smoky taste despite being slathered with a tangy barbecue sauce.
The eclectic menu ranges from barbecue to steaks, grilled chicken, New Mexican entrees and several vegetarian choices. One of the house specialties is roasted rainbow trout (locally caught) roasted on a cedar plank which Preston prepared for Food Network luminary Bobby Flay. Recently (in 2005) reintroduced into the menu is the Embudo Station’s version of a green chile cheeseburger, a juicy quarter pound plus beef patty garnished with roasted green chile with a bite. It’s an excellent burger and is accompanied by sweet potato fries that might be the best of their genre in Northern New Mexico.
The New Mexico state legislature, which is criminally indecisive on “trivial” matters such as enacting tough DUI penalties but acts quickly on more “essential” matters such as designating a state cookie (the biscochito) and official state question (red or green) has surprisingly not designated chips and salsa as the official state snack. If it did, the Embudo Station’s version might make a good poster child. Served with yellow and blue corn tortilla chips, the salsa features chunky red tomatoes decorated with cilantro.
The Embudo Station also provides more than perfunctory choices for vegetarians. Both the red and green chile are vegetarian and make their presence felt on excellent New Mexican entrees such as the wild mushroom enchiladas with asadero cheese, black beans and choice of chiles. It truly is a vegetarian delight. Salad choices include an outstanding tomato salad with house-made mozzarella cheese, greens and a tangy vinaigrette dressing.
Dessert choices include key lime pie, a tart taste treat not that common in New Mexico restaurants. A molten chocolate individual cake with whipped cream cures all for chocoholic diners.
PO Box 154
Embudo, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 25 September 2005
# OF VISITS: 4
BEST BET: Combination Barbecue Platter; Green Chile Cheeseburger; Sweet Potato Fries; Key lime pie