When a restaurant attracts a steady stream of local customers, it turns into more than a place to grab a bite to eat. It becomes part of the neighborhood and the backdrop for many good memories. Here are 12 New Mexico restaurants that everyone adores, not just because they serve addictive food – which they do – but because they help to define a neighborhood.
1. Mary and Tito’s Café, 2711 4th Street NW, Albuquerque
The red chile at Mary and Tito’s has earned it many loyal fans, especially among locals. This hole-in-the-wall joint is also known for its carne adovada, which is particularly good when stuffed into a savory sopaipilla.
2. Irma’s Mexican Restaurant, 123 S Silver Avenue, Deming
There’s no disappointing dish at Irma’s. Whether you’re in the mood for chile rellenos, tacos, enchiladas, or burritos, this Mexican restaurant comes through.
3. The Pantry, 1820 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe
You’ll always find some locals at The Pantry, which has been in business since 1948. Breakfasts are the big draw here, from blue corn or stuffed pancakes to whopping breakfast burritos.
4. La Nueva Casita Café, 195 N Mesquite Street, Las Cruces
Although cheerful, this restaurant doesn’t dazzle at first glance but, once you step inside, you’re treated to a warm welcome and downhome, Mexican food. You can’t go wrong with the enchiladas or flautas washed down with horchata. The salsa is hot – just how the locals like it – so bear that in mind if you’re unaccustomed to a kick.
5. Jerry’s Café, 406 W Coal Avenue, Gallup
It doesn’t matter what time you show up, you’ll always find some locals in Jerry’s. Pop into this neighborhood joint for a breakfast sopaipilla or later in the day for chicken enchiladas or chile rellenos. Service is both fast and friendly.
6. Charlie’s Spic & Span, 713 Douglas Avenue, Las Vegas
This bakery and restaurant, which serves New Mexican food, makes tortillas in-house - you can really taste the freshness. The baked goods, from humungous cream puffs to chocolate-dipped donuts, really hit the spot.
6. Tina’s Café, 522 Sudderth Drive, Ruidoso
If you’re in Ruidoso in the morning, head to Tina’s Café for a hearty breakfast burrito. The restaurant also serves a killer peach and chile pie, and cinnamon rolls topped with bacon.
7. Pete’s Café, 105 N 1st Street, Belen
Pete's, a family owned and operated restaurant, has been serving delicious New Mexican fare since 1949. It’s become an institution. Try to go on a Friday night because the specials are usually scrumptious.
8. High Desert Brewing Company, 1201 W Hadley Avenue, Las Cruces
Hang out in this local brewery that offer 27 beers and lagers. You can’t drink on an empty stomach and why would you want to when High Desert Brewing makes such juicy burgers and yummy, jalapeno-laden nachos?
9. Range Café, 925 Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo
The Range Café first opened in 1992 and it has built a loyal following, becoming a key part of this neighborhood. Both the customers and the food are usually local. Bring your appetite because portions here are massive. Try the green chile strips.
10. Frontier Restaurant, 2400 Central Avenue SE,
Albuquerque’s Frontier Restaurant has become an institution since it opened in 1971. Its proximity to UNM makes it a student favorite but, at one time or another, most Albuquerque residents have lined up for a sticky sweet roll, breakfast burrito, or green chile stew.
11. La Choza, 905 Alarid Street, Santa Fe
Many tourists who come to Santa Fe are directed to The Shed and for good reason - it’s a superb New Mexican restaurant in a sprawling old building. But locals tend to go to its sister restaurant, La Choza.
This establishment is known for its red chile (oh, the carne adovada), queso, and margaritas. It also offers a few unusual menu items like green chile clam chowder!
12. Doña Maria, 1930 San Juan Boulevard, Farmington
Doña Maria’s is a laid-back neighborhood restaurant that mostly attracts locals. The flour tortillas are homemade and that pushes the dishes over the edge. Menu favorites include the enchiladas, the steak tacos, and the tortas – try the carne asada.
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