In New Mexico, it isn’t just the linen napkin, hovering servers, kind of restaurant that can be hard to get in. Many of the spots with the longest lines are low key, mom and pop joints. These restaurants are popular because they serve mouthwatering food that is truly worth waiting for. So, don’t be deterred if you see a line snaking around the block at one of these 11 New Mexico restaurants. We promise that they’re well worth the wait!
1. Tia B’s la Waffleria, 3710 Campus Boulevard NE, Albuquerque
When you hear the word “waffleria,” you know that you’ll be indulging in some good food. Tia B’s delivers so thoroughly on that promise that it draws a big crowd, eager to chow down on gourmet waffles. This isn’t the kind of fare you can whip up at home with a waffle iron. The sweet options include creative combinations like the Bombay coconut waffles, which are topped with cardamom coconut whipped cream and the savory waffle benitos, which come with a delectable green chile cream sauce.
2. Grill Caliente, 2800 Sudderth Drive, Ruidoso
Grill Caliente is hot in every sense of the word: not only is this restaurant popular, but it also serves addictive yet spicy dishes like fried green chili rings and green chile cheeseburgers made from New Mexico beef. Vegetarian options are abundant, especially when it comes to tacos.
3. Old Mesilla Pastry Café – The Shed, 810 S Valley Drive, Las Cruces
Expect a wait at this popular breakfast and lunch place. Breakfast is available throughout the day, so you can chow down on pancakes, eggs Benedict (served with a chile hollandaise sauce), or green eggs and ham whenever you want. The lunch menu is extensive and features pizza, pasta, soup, salad, and more.
Tip: Your chances of securing a table are better on the patio.
4. Cafe Pasqual's, 121 Don Gaspar Avenue, Santa Fe
Café Pasqual's has been doing a booming business for 31 years. Since the restaurant can only accommodate 50 diners at a time, there seems to be a permanent line. However, once you’re seated in front of a plate of blintzes, mole enchiladas, or the scrumptious chile rellenos that minor inconvenience will be forgotten.
5. Fork and Fig, 6904 Menaul Boulevard NE Suite C, Albuquerque
Fork and Fig has been acclaimed virtually since it opened its doors. The small space – the restaurant only seats 40 people - and subsequent crowds make this a poor pick for date night, but an excellent choice for just about any other occasion. Whether you opt for a green chile cheeseburger, veggie burger, or a gourmet sandwich, you’ll never regret waiting in line here.
6. Waffle and Pancake Shoppe, 950 S White Sands Boulevard, Alamogordo
This family-owned restaurant has been around for 40 years and its novelty has yet to wear off. It’s bustling at breakfast, especially on the weekends, where diners devour plates of pancakes, omelets, or chicken-fried steak with gusto.
7. The Shed, 113 1/2 E Palace Avenue, Santa Fe
The Shed is a family-owned and operated restaurant that opened in 1953. The restaurant encompasses nine different dining rooms, yet still there is a wait. Thankfully, the staff is typically efficient and, before you know it, you’ll be tucking into blue corn chicken enchiladas and inhaling your body weight in guacamole.
8. El Patron Café and Catering, 1103 S Solano Drive, Las Cruces
The Mexican food at El Patrón Café is so delicious that you can understand why the restaurant draws a crowd. Many of the dishes are made using old family recipes and the brisket nachos are in a league of their own.
9. Taos Mesa Brewing, 20 ABC Mesa Road, El Prado
When a game’s on, this place is hopping. Fans are almost as excited about the Frito pie as they are about sporting results – or at least they should be because Taos Mesa Brewing dishes up one of the best Frito pies in the state. The tacos are also stellar. Try the pork mole or smoked steak ones.
10. Plaza Café, 1501 W Historic Highway 66, Gallup
The locals already know that the fare at Plaza Café is worth a little wait. Here you’ll find comfort food at its best, from French toast to chicken fried steak.
11. Farina Pizzeria and Wine Bar, 510 Central Avenue SE, Albuquerque
Farina Pizzeria has been rated as one of the top 20 pizzerias in the nation. As a result, this restaurant is often slammed. Tables are close together so it gets pretty noisy. But, let’s face it, once you’re holding a slice of crispy artisanal pizza, straight out of a brick oven, conversation is just a distraction!