The nation’s oldest house and oldest church can both be found in New Mexico. Pretty much wherever you go in the Land of Enchantment, you encounter reminders of our state’s long history. This is certainly true of restaurants. Some of these 10 restaurants are housed in historic buildings, while others have been in business for so many years that they’ve become a part of New Mexico history.
1. El Farol, 808 Canyon Road, Santa Fe
If you were asked to guess what kind of cuisine the oldest restaurant in New Mexico serves, you first response probably wouldn’t be tapas. But El Farol has been serving small plates since 1835. That’s not a typo! This restaurant has been in business for 181 years. In addition to great food, this historic restaurant also has live musical acts every night of the week and puts on flamenco shows.
2. High Noon Restaurant and Saloon, 425 San Felipe Road NW, Albuquerque
Fancy dining in a haunted building that was supposedly once a brothel and gambling parlor? Then head to High Noon, a restaurant in Old Town that operates from a building that was constructed sometime before 1785.
The food here is classic – but with a twist. It’s the only place I’ve found brie empanadas and you'll rave about the short ribs. The restaurant is also known for its tequila selection and margaritas. If you’re hoping to find a different kind of spirit, a lady in white has repeatedly been spied in the Santos Room.
3. La Posta de Mesilla, 2410 Calle de San Albino, Mesilla
The La Posta Compound is on the National Register for Historic Buildings – it dates back to the 1840s. During the 1870s and 1880s, the Corn Exchange Hotel, a stop on the Butterfield Stagecoach Line, was housed in the building. The restaurant invented one of its most popular menu items, “tostada compuesta.” This dish features red chile con carne served with beans inside a tortilla cup (pictured).
4. Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House, 32 Main Street, Pinos Altos
You’ll find this restaurant inside a building from the 1860s. Its age is apparent as soon as you pull up and it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the Wild West. The Buckhorn Saloon is known for producing excellent steaks.
5. Trinity Hotel Restaurant, 201 S Canal Street, Carlsbad
The Trinity Hotel and Restaurant is inside a building from 1892, which was once the First National Bank. Several other businesses have occupied the space since, but this fine dining restaurant has left its mark. At dinner, the restaurant serves Italian cuisine and steaks, while the lunch menu is smaller and offers burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
6. Perea’s Tijuana Bar, 4590 Corrales Road, Corrales
Perea’s Tijuana Bar is inside a building that is more than 200 years old. It has gone through many incarnations from home, to general store, to gas station. The current establishment has been in business since 1934 and serves New Mexican favorites like stuffed sopaipillas and carne adovada.
7. Doc Martin’s, 125 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos
Doc Martin’s is housed in a registered historic landmark and is attached to the Historic Taos Inn. Come here for breakfast – try the blueberry pancakes. If you’re dining later in the day, be sure to sample the restaurant’s extensive wine collection.
8. Hillsboro General Store Café, 10697 Highway 152, Hillsboro
Eating here is like dining with history because you’re surrounded by memorabilia from days gone by. This building has been open for business for more than 130 years, but not always as a restaurant. It has served as a stagecoach stop, soda fountain, and telegraph office. Now, the restaurant dishes up thick shakes and juicy burgers.
9. Church Street Café, 2111 Church Street NW, Albuquerque
Church Street Café started off life as a private home, constructed in the early 1700s. In some places, the walls of this old building are more than two feet thick! Enjoy delicious enchiladas or fajitas on the restaurant’s pretty patio.
10. Rancho de Chimayo, 300 Juan Medina Road, Chimayó
Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante has been open for more than 50 years and it recently won the James Beard Foundation’s “America’s Classics Award.” The restaurant is inside a family hacienda that dates back to the 1800s and it serves authentic New Mexican cuisine.
There are so many historic restaurants in New Mexico that we couldn’t possibly feature them all. Feel free to add any awesome spots, which dish up both impressive food and history, in the comments. To learn more about some of the oldest places in New Mexico, check out these charming,
historic towns in our state.