Two Very Different Styles of Southwestern Cuisine
Abe's Cantina y Cocina
In the winter, the parking lot of this little restaurant/convenience store/bar in the Village of Arroyo Seco may look a little different than when we visited in June. Instead of expensive SUVs belonging to skiers coming to and from Taos Mountain, we saw mostly weathered cars and trucks belonging to workmen and ranchers in the area... folks who know good food!
Gum, Medicines, Tamales and Burritos
Our table was right next to the counter. We could peek in at Lina who was cooking our tacos and burritos. We didn't get to do much chatting because she was very busy. Lina's father started working here in the 1940's when his aunt and uncle owned the business. He took over at some point and although he is now in his 80s, he still works in the bar which is attached. I would have gotten a photo of the cave-like bar, but the gentleman sipping away at noon did not look like the kind of person who would put up with my camera.
Food on Foil
Don couldn't look much happier about his meal. We had to wait a while for our feast served on foil, but it was worth the wait.
I wish I'd taken a look at the 2 other tables nearby. An old man with faded overalls and beard ate while reading the paper at one table. A father and son (guessing) sat at another table dressed in work clothes with identical sleek braids down their backs. (Almost identical since one braid was black and the other black and gray.) There was something so at home about the other diners who had obviously come in many times before. I'm sure they have their favorites and why didn't I see what they were?
I'm afraid my photo doesn't make my beef and guacamole burrito look exciting at all, but it was. It was also incredibly messy, which was part of the fun. I wanted to reach into one of the nearby freezers for a dessert popsicle or ice cream sandwich, but we had dinner to look forward to in Taos. Maybe next time I'll sample Lina's famous tamales with a freezer dessert!
Dinner at Doc Martin's in Taos!
Luckily we ate early lunch at Abe's and had room for our feast at Doc Martin's. This was by far our best meal in New Mexico. It helps that the restaurant has some history to go along with the good food. The restaurant was once the home of Dr. Thomas Martin who was the only physician in the area for 40 years.
Once Doc's Home
This wonderful restaurant with its unique wood ceiling and colorful chairs and art was once the home and office of Doc Martin and his wife. They arrived in Taos by horse and buggy in 1890. They bought the biggest house in Taos and turned it into their home and doctor's office.
At night the atmosphere was an ideal mix of travelers and locals. There were a few tourists who made me feel okay about pulling out my camera. And there were enough locals greeting the bar tenders and each other that let me know we'd picked a good place. There was an energetic buzz in all of the cozy rooms, yet the feeling was relaxed and almost peaceful. Our waiter was efficient and friendly and even looked pretty festive in his bowler hat and black vest. Wish I'd gotten a photo.
Doc Martin's has a tiny bar tucked into the end of the main dining room, as well as the Adobe Bar within the attached Taos Inn. Both offer 14 margaritas with names like Horny Toad and Baby Buddha. I'm no margarita expert, but I know these do not taste like your syrupy sweet chain restaurant margaritas.
Sometimes I get so caught up in my surroundings that I forget about the food. Not here! We started with an appetizer of rattlesnake and rabbit sausage with ancho chile dried cherry sauce. I ordered the blue corn beer battered chile relleno with green chile and goat cheese cream, sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. This is the dish they are known for and I see why. It was crunchy and just rich enough. Good pintos and rice as well!
It was too warm to have a fire in the adobe fireplace near our table, but it was perfect weather for dining out in the courtyard. This picture was taken in the morning when all was quiet, but this is where I'd like to sit next time! I do love outdoor dining!
Hope to Return
We will miss this wonderful cluster of buildings that makes up Doc Martin's Restaurant and the Historic Taos Hotel. Nothing like fat walls of adobe surrounding delicious food & drink along with a nightly offering of live music!
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.