The Burger Stand – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“If you need good hot grillin’, Try my burger stand. If you need a slice of thrillin’, I’m the baddest in the land. Any way you want it baby, I am your burger man.” ~Burger Man by ZZ Top Those of us invited on occasion to judge competitive food events try to follow a few very sensical but ironclad rules to ensure our evaluations are fair, balanced and accurate—or at least as accurate as any largely subjective matter can be.…

Sugar Nymphs Bistro – Peñasco, New Mexico

Peñasco has always been the beautiful stepsister ignored by the dutiful suitors who prefer the company of Taos, its more glamorous sibling. Taos, the mystical art colony to which new age subscribers seem preternaturally drawn is the terminus of the high road, starting and end point of the enchanted circle and one of the most beautiful communities in the country, if not the world. Sugar Nymphs Bistro is helping Peñasco lure some of those suitors away…at least for a spectacular…

Old Martina’s Hall – Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

Between the years 2000 and 2014, The Taos News had the prestigious distinction of being named the best weekly newspaper in the United States by the National Newspaper Association. Although the most famous words in American journalism–“all the news that’s fit to print”–don’t grace its masthead, The Taos News has fairly and objectively reported news of events and personalities that seemingly can exist only in Taos county. Readers like me marveled at the periodical’s ability to refrain from punchline-pocked cynicism…

The Alley Cantina – Taos, New Mexico

In April, 2014, Gallup conducted a poll to determine state pride across the United States. More precisely, the Gallup poll surveyed people in all 50 states to find out what percentage of residents say their state was the very best or one of the best places to live. Sadly, New Mexico was rated the six worst state to live with only 28 percent of respondents indicating the Land of Enchantment was one of the best places to live. New Mexico…

Stray Dog Cantina – Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

There’s a rather ominous sign on the base of the Taos Ski Valley. In bold red uppercase print, the sign reads “DON’T PANIC!,” a preface for somewhat more reassuring text: “YOU’RE LOOKING AT ONLY 1/30 OF TAOS SKI VALLEY. WE HAVE MANY EASY RUNS TOO!” To novice skiers, the steepness of the ski runs visible from the base may as well be the “I’d turn back if I were you” sign Dorothy and her friends encountered when they entered the…

Five Star Burgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico

On Friday, March 19th, 2010 and to surprisingly little fanfare, a locally owned and operated burger restaurant by the name of Five Star Burgers launched in Albuquerque’s North Towne Plaza at Academy and Wyoming. Its opening predated by about a week, the launch of a similarly named burger establishment, an east coast based interloper named Five Guys which has exploded across the country with nearly 600 locations in 39 states. The latter opening was greeted with ruffles and flourishes, pomp…

Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe – Taos, New Mexico

During his 2005 visit to Taos for the taping of the Food Network’s Food Nation program, über-celebrity chef Bobby Flay, likely the best known grill chef in the world, probably didn’t do as much to put Orlando’s New Mexican restaurant on the culinary map as you might think. Ditto for all the many first place awards hanging on the restaurant’s walls–“Best Mexican Food in Taos County” every year since 2005, best red chile, best green chile, and more than 25…

Dragonfly Cafe & Bakery – Taos, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In 1989, the tarantula hawk wasp was designated the official state insect of New Mexico, joining the roadrunner (state bird), whiptail lizard (state reptile),  spadefoot (state amphibian), Sandia Hairstreak (state butterfly),  Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout (state fish) and the black bear (state animal) as official symbols of our great state.  Ostensibly the state legislature put aside partisan politics and selected these symbols after carefully weighing all options.  A case could certainly have been made for the dragonfly to represent New…

Graham’s Grille by Lesley B. Fay – Taos, New Mexico (CLOSED)

While it may be true that you only have one chance to make a good first impression, history has shown that bad first impressions can be overcome.  Further,  given a second chance, someone making a bad first impression may go on to  make a lasting positive impression.   In 1988, a charismatic  young governor was widely jeered during the Democratic National Convention, his first national stage.  After an uninspiring 32-minute-long opening night address, political pundits predicted the demise of the…

Gutiz – El Prado, New Mexico

I recently joked with my friend Lesley King that she is the true New Mexico Gastronome. Lesley, the wonderful author who enthralls readers with her monthly “King of the Road” columns for New Mexico Magazine, likes to say–jokingly–that she “eats and sleeps around,” because her writing assignments require that she sample so many restaurants and accommodations.  She has literally traveled every friendly highway and byway in the Land of Enchantment, dining in as many–or perhaps even more–restaurants than I have…

Antonio’s: A Taste of Mexico – Taos, New Mexico

Note:  Antonio’s has reopened in Taos.  More details to follow.  A traditional corrido from the Mexican coastal state of Veracruz recounts the story of a smiling woman with magic hands.  The kitchen is the world of Maria Chuchena and the intoxicating aromas and incomparable flavors she concocts in that world are utterly unforgettable.  With her cooking, Maria fills the world with surprises.  If corridos have sequels and characters in folk songs bear offspring, Maria Chuchena’s progeny might well be Antonio…

Taos Pizza Out Back – Taos, New Mexico

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 It’s unlikely the Taos Chamber of Commerce ever used that New Testament passage to lure visitors to Taos, but it would have made an excellent tourism slogan.  Taos, New Mexico seems to have a mollifying effect on weary souls.  It has been easing burdens and removing the yoke of the heavily laden for more than a millennium. Taos calls its visitors to…

Michael’s Kitchen – Taos, New Mexico

Murphy’s Law postulates that “if anything can go wrong, it will.” This rather pessimistic and oft-quoted expression has become a catch-all when everything seems to go askew. Murphy’s Law is blamed when you’re in the slowest line at a grocery store behind people who can’t find their checkbooks. It’s the reason the toast you accidentally drop off the table lands butter side down. It’s why the loudest and rudest people always sit in front of you at a movie theater.…

The Trading Post Cafe – Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

There’s an old Lebanese proverb that says, “some men build a wine cellar after only finding one grape.” That proverb aptly describes the many rags to riches success stories among Lebanese immigrants to the Land of Enchantment, primarily to our state’s northern villages. Some of the state’s most prominent names in business–Maloof, Bellamah, Hanosh and Sahd–embody the spirit of that proverb. The progenitors of many of New Mexico’s Lebanese immigrants left Lebanon during the repressive Ottoman Empire, the main exodus…

Sabroso – Arroyo Seco, New Mexico

We’ve all heard the expressions from a jack to a king, from a moth to a butterfly, from a lump of coal to a diamond, but who’s ever heard…from a chicken coup to an elegant gourmet restaurant?  That sounds like more than a bit of a stretch, yet that’s the metamorphosis that transpired decades ago at what is currently the site of Sabroso, one of Taos county’s swankiest dining establishments. Local lore posits that in 1960, entrepreneurs started a restaurant…