New Mexico Magazine Presents The Land of Enchantment’s Best Eats for 2010

The June, 2010 edition of New Mexico magazine

Having spent nearly two decades away from my beloved Land of Enchantment, what I cherished most were letters from home (in the years before e-mail) and my monthly copy of New Mexico Magazine.  Every issue transcended  time and distance and transported me back home.  Every vivid photograph was like a series of brushstrokes from God, awash in ethereal, other-worldly colors on a breath-taking topographical canvas. Every word stirred a longing to return home and swelled my chest with pride. Every issue was dogeared from my reading it over and over again.

Fifteen years later, New Mexico Magazine still moves me.  I marvel at the fact that the venerable elder statesmen among America’s official state magazines still showcases the Land of Enchantment in a fresh, dynamic and respectful manner. Launched in 1923, just nine years after New Mexico attained statehood, the magazine is an ambassador in print.  To expatriated New Mexicans, it is a  refuge and a reminder of what they are missing every day they are away from the Land of Enchantment.

New Mexico Magazine‘s pages have been graced by almost all of the state’s best-known authors and journalists–literary icons such as Tony Hillerman, Rudolfo Anaya and John Nichols and journalists like Pulitzer Prize award winning  correspondent  Ernie Pyle .  The tradition of superb writing continues today with writers whose words inspire and invite imagination–writers such as Lesley King whose monthly “King of the Road” column allows readers to immerse themselves in her  enthralling adventures throughout the friendly byways of New Mexico.

When Associate Editor Ashley Biggers invited me to collaborate on an issue celebrating the cuisine of New Mexico, I leaped at the opportunity.  Ashley and the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Tricia Ware have infused an infectious energy  and passion to my favorite magazine.  It bode well that they would treat my favorite topic, the foods and restaurants of New Mexico, with the same energy and passion.  They did!

The June, 2010 edition of New Mexico Magazine introduces readers to “New Mexico’s Best Eats,” eight of the very best dishes served in restaurants throughout the Land of Enchantment: Huevos Rancheros, Green Chile Cheeseburgers, Green Chile Stew, Comfort Food, Deli Sandwich, Tacos, Local Seasonal Ingredients and Desserts.  Two versions of each dish–a downhome version and an uptown version–are showcased in lyrical prose by Lesley King; Rocky Durham, culinary director of the Santa Fe School of Cooking; and this humble blogger.

Those stellar dishes come from some of New Mexico’s most popular restaurants while others are best prepared in tiny gems far from the well-beaten, well-eaten path.  New Mexico’s best eats come from burgeoning cities–Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces–as well as agrarian communities:  Angel Fire,  Pie Town, Silver City, Penasco, El Prado, San Antonio and Espanola.

Without further ado, 2010’s Best Eats picks are:

Best Burger: Down-home: Buckhorn Burger, Buckhorn Tavern, San Antonio; and Uptown: The Daily Grind, Rio Chama restaurant, Santa Fe

Best Huevos Rancheros: Down-home: Huevos Rancheros, El Camino Dining Room, Albuquerque; and Uptown: the Taoseño, Gutiz, El Prado

Best Deli Sandwich: Down-home: Hot Pastrami on Rye, Back Street Bistro, Santa Fe; and Uptown: Southwest Spin, Lula’s, Taos

Best Comfort Food: Down-home: Sopaipilla Compuesta, Nellie’s Café, Las Cruces; and Uptown: Zia’s Famous Organic Meatloaf, Zia Diner, Santa Fe

Best Taco: Down-home: Pollo con Guacamole Taco, El Parasol, Española; and Uptown: Filet Mignon Tacos, The Roasted Clove, Angel Fire, $12.95 for four-to-six

Best Green Chile Stew: Down-home: Bowl of Green Chile with Tortilla, Duran’s Central Pharmacy, Albuquerque; and Uptown: Green Chile Bison Stew, Sugar Nymphs Bistro, Peñasco

Best Dessert: Down-home: Chocolate Cream Pie, Pie-O-Neer Café, Pie Town; and Uptown: Chocolate Red Chile Soup, La Casa Sena, Santa Fe

Best Local, Seasonal Ingredients: Down-home: Farmers Salad, The Grove, Albuquerque; and Uptown: Candied Pork Belly Blue Corn Taco, Café at the Kumquat, Silver City

The magazine also reveals the winner of New Mexico Magazine‘s inaugural Salsa Contest.  Lesley, Rocky and I, all native New Mexicans who recognize that in our state pain is a flavor, tasted and re-tasted almost three-dozen nominees from throughout the Land of Enchantment, considering the overall flavor, piquancy and viscosity of each one.  The winner now holds a place in my refrigerator and it probably will yours as well.

Just in time for the onset of summer’s blazing onslaught, frequent magazine contributor Wendy Sue Gist explains how to churn out delectable, homemade ice cream with local ingredients.  Recipes for French Vanilla Ice Cream, Chile Chocolate Ice Cream and Lavender Ice Cream will have you drooling, but don’t do it on the magazine.  You’ll want to save this one.

About Gil Garduno

Since 2008, the tagline on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has invited you to “Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.” To date, nearly 1 million visitors have trusted (or at least visited) my recommendations on nearly 1,100 restaurant reviews. Please take a few minutes to tell me what you think. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd love to hear about it.

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2 Comments on “New Mexico Magazine Presents The Land of Enchantment’s Best Eats for 2010”

  1. Great article in the June issue. Three of my salsas, Santa Fe Seasons, appeared in this issue next to the winner. I appeared in Latina Magazine several years ago when I started my company. They dubbed me the Salsa Queen. While perusing your Blog site, Gil, I located an article about Consuelo Flores. She is a distant cousin. We are connected through my great-great grandfather, Alexsander Jan Grzelachowski from Puerto de Luna. He served Billy the Kid his last Christmas Eve dinner before the kid was shot by Sherrif Pat Garrett. We are planning a little reunion next month however I certainly hope to meet Consuelo before then. Perhaps the Salsa Queen and Burrito Lady will connect through their love of cooking and good food.

  2. Gil, I just read this article at my favorite Albuquerque Public Library yesterday. I picked up the magazine expecting to find another bland “everything is just fine everywhere” report like those found in another thick local magazine that shall remain nameless, or worse a readers poll comprised of too many votes from people whose idea of a great Italian restaurant is Olive Garden. When I started reading the article I realized right away that it must be written by people who know what they’re talking about! The dishes and restaurants cited in the article represent some of the truly best of the 505 and 575 (damn corrupt NM PRC 🙂 Any “best of” article that finally mentions some of NM’s greatest places like Nellie’s, Sugar Nymphs, El Parasol, Buckhorn etc. obviously has it right. Can’t wait to try the two places in the article I haven’t been to yet! Gotta go now over to nmmagazine.com to subscribe.

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