You expect to have a memorable meal at big name restaurants that everyone raves about. However, restaurants that fly under the radar can also serve meals you’ll be talking about for weeks. Here are 10 joints in New Mexico that are off the beaten path but worth the journey.
1. Enrique’s Mexican Food, 830 W Picacho Avenue, Las Cruces
You’ve probably driven past Enrique’s Mexican Food without giving it a second glance. But next time you’re on Picacho, pull over and treat yourself to steak picado or a perfect dish of chile relleno. Prices are low and portions are large. (Bring cash.)
2. The Kitchen Window, 418 Cerillos Road, Santa Fe
You could live in Santa Fe for years without stumbling upon the Kitchen Window, which is hidden inside a mini-mall. The restaurant crafts superb soups, sandwiches, and salads – try the chicken cubanesque – and don’t leave without savoring a slice of pie.
3. Popo’s Mexican Food, 222 E Mcgaffey Street, Roswell
This humble restaurant dishes up simple yet scrumptious Mexican food. The salsa’s always super fresh and the dessert sopaipillas are to die for. Popo’s is an easy stroll away from Main Street, in downtown Roswell.
4. Torta’s Rainbow, 745 N Riverside Drive, Espanola
Surprisingly few people know to head to Torta’s Rainbow, when in the Espanola area. It may not look like much but order any of the burritos or the massive shrimp cocktail and you’ll be back.
5. The Pepper Pot Restaurant, 207 W Hall Street, Hatch
You expect mind blowing green chile in Hatch, but the welcoming staff at The Pepper Pot makes the experience even better. Two sisters run this locals’ hangout, which serves Mexican and American cuisine. (Bring cash.)
6. Saxony Steakhouse,
The Hobbs Family Inn,
501 N Marland Boulevard,
It’s a good idea to make reservations for this family-run steakhouse. Although it’s not well known – and is tucked inside a hotel - only a dozen or so tables are available. You come here for the beef; even hard to please carnivores will be impressed by the perfectly cooked steaks.
7. Route 66 Railway Cafe,
2150 E Historic Highway 66,
No need to be a train buff to enjoy the food at the Route 66 Railway Café. Admittedly, the railway-themed menu items are a cute touch. Who wouldn’t want to order a caboose burger? This restaurant’s exterior may be underwhelming but the beef dishes always deliver and the breakfasts ensure you start your day off right.
8. H2 Uptown, 48 N Angel Fire Road, Angel Fire
H2 Uptown is an out-of-the-way fine dining restaurant located in Angel Fire. It’s a smidge tricky to find because it’s at the back of the building on a lower level. Elk features heavily on this menu: as sliders, on nachos, and it replaces traditional veal in the osso buco. The restaurant also serves great seafood – try the bacon-wrapped shrimp or fish and chips.
9. Asian Garden, 1200 N White Sands Boulevard, Suite 109, Alamogordo
The outside of Asian Garden does little to advertise the treasure hidden within. Give this place a shot because both the sushi and Thai food are exceptional.
10. Big Mike’s Grill, 2350 State Highway 47, Belen
Big Mike’s knows burgers. Choose between the sopa burger (served on a sopaipilla), the riverside burger (topped with green chile, bacon, and guacamole) or, if you’re feeling crazy ambitious – or just plain crazy - the six quarter-pound patties that constitute the Big Mike XL. Locals crowd into this joint, lured here by the reasonable prices, quality burgers, and philly cheesesteak.
When it comes to dining, you definitely shouldn’t judge a restaurant by its exterior, or by its location.
Here are 12 more hole-in-the-wall restaurants in New Mexico that demonstrate why taste always trumps aesthetics.