Elk Horn Restaurant in NM
Chama, New Mexico
There wasn't much going on in the town of Chama, when we passed through in July.
We were lucky to find this cute log restaurant, painted barn red! It was time for lunch!
I love the nostalgia of knotty pine! There was a lot of it, on the walls and ceiling.
The metal chairs looked cute in the little cafe, but after driving half a day, I would have preferred comfier seats.
The air felt wonderful though! The windows were open and the lacy-fringed curtains moved with the breeze. I felt at home.
There was some interesting decor. A ceiling fan with horns and lots of heavenly metal art, on the walls.
Under the Clock
We took a seat next to the partition, beneath a large clock. We were near the counter, where we could witness lots of playful banter. A waitress chatted with some local diners as they checked out. She had some humorous complaints about achy feet.
I expected a paper menu at this casual restaurant, but Natasha greeted us with a smile and a big hefty menu. It was decorated with elk horns!
The options looked good and the prices were reasonable. We ordered right away.
Don's impressive chicken quesadilla plate, was only $10. There was a generous amount of meat packed into each quarter and lots of extra goodie on the side, for adding more flavor!
We like to support small town cafes, when we travel. But, my road trip clothes were getting tight. I reminded myself there was no need to apologize for my choice, but I still felt guilty ordering the 5-dollar salad.
Ordering small salads in small town cafes, often means iceberg and bottled dressing. But I lucked out! Fresh mixed greens, red onion, mushrooms, crispy and colorful peppers, cheese & tomatoes! All served on a sleek, modern plate. What an unexpected and filling surprise!
Don and Barbara
After finishing our quick feast, Don checked out with Barbara at the counter. Barbara's mask did not hide her warmth and enthusiasm. She and Don talked a long while about Barbara's memories of Elk Horn. She talked about growing up in Chama, a town of around 1,000. She hinted about "wilder" days, when snowmobiles were more popular. I'm not sure what that meant exactly.
Barbara told Don that the restaurant had originally been a house and then it became a tackle shop. At some point, (I'm guessing 1950's) the property was owned along with nearby cabins, lodge and gift shop.
Growing up in the Restaurant
Barbara said it was 28 years ago, when the property owner leased the building to her mom. Their restaurant opened up 5 days before Barbara's 10th birthday.
Barbara grew up around the restaurant and now her own daughter is old enough to work on weekends. She said it was a good town for raising her 2 kids.
It turns out that we had been seated at the very table where the previous owner Don, dined daily for years.
Barbara said that Don used to come into the restaurant once a day for breakfast. He would order one pancake and a small milk.
"Don't you dare try to give him a large milk!" Barbara added with a laugh. "You don't want to do that!"
Barbara said her mother eventually bought the restaurant, but not the cabins or lodge.
She said the lodge was recently purchased and was being fixed up. We took a peek after we departed. Who knows? Maybe we'll be back for an overnight, someday. I can include a Notable Night write up as well!
What a perfectly satisfying stop on our travels. Good food and equally good conversation.
If we return in a couple years, I'll have more questions for Barbara. "What foods are as popular today, as 30 years ago?" "What was the best thing about Elk Horn that you remember, from when you were 10 year?" I could go on and on.
A sweet place!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.