Restaurants are always opening and closing, so it’s impressive when you come across an establishment that has been in business for many decades. Restaurants that are able to endure usually have a special quality that creates loyal customers. Here are 11 New Mexican eateries that have stood the test of time:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Hi-D-Ho Drive In, 414 S White Sands Boulevard, Alamogordo
This drive-in first opened in 1952 and it remains a popular spot for those seeking American or Mexican fare. The burgers are especially popular and come with standard New Mexican toppings like red and green chile, but also with less typical ones such as pineapple. As you’d expect at a drive-in, the drinks go beyond the norm and include options like freshly squeezed cherry lime.
2. El Parasol (multiple locations in Espanola, Pojoaque, Santa Fe, and Los Alamos)
This restaurant, which now has six locations, had humble beginnings. During the 1950s, two brothers started selling their mother’s tacos and tamales and used a patio umbrella to shade themselves against the sun. By 1958, the venture had turned into an official restaurant. Popular dishes at El Parasol include breakfast burritos, tacos, and biscochitos. Bear in mind that many locations are take-out joints.
3. Chope’s Bar and Cafe, 16145 S. Highway 28, La Mesa
This restaurant is another family enterprise that developed a loyal following. It began in 1915, when Longina Benavides began lighting a kerosene lamp outside her house to let people know that her enchiladas were available for sale, and Chope’s is still going to this day. The restaurant is renowned for its chile rellenos and enchiladas.
4. Casa de Benavidez, 8032 4th Street NW, Los Ranchos
About 50 years ago, Casa de Benavidez opened as a take-out restaurant with three tables. It has expanded substantially over the years into a large, always packed eatery. The restaurant has trademarked its famous sopaipilla burger (pictured) and there are yummy natillas for dessert.
5. Annie’s Soup Kitchen, 3107 Eubank Boulevard NE, Albuquerque
Annie’s Soup Kitchen has been chugging along since 1973, serving up soups, sandwiches, and quiches. At this hidden gem, you’ll want to try the French onion soup and the grilled cheese sandwiches. The same head cook has been employed here for over thirty years!
6. Casey’s, 209 W Broadway Street, Hobbs
The same family has run Casey’s since it opened in 1976. The restaurant serves diner-style food including breakfast fare, burgers, and sandwiches. If you stop by, check out the epic collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia.
7. El Sombrero Patio Café, 363 S Espina Street, Las Cruces
The same family has run this café since it opened in 1956. Its success can be explained because the folk here serve scrumptious beef fajitas, tacos, salsa and queso.
8. Mr. Powdrell’s BBQ House, 11301 Central Avenue NE, Albuquerque and 5209 4th Street, Albuquerque
In the 19th century, Pete Powdrell’s grandfather began cooking meat over hickory wood using an open pit fire, and he also devised the recipe for the restaurant’s bbq sauce. Now that’s some history. Today, people flock to this bbq joint for catfish and brisket.
9. Pete’s Café, 105 N 1st Street, Belen
Pete's is a Belen institution that first opened in 1949. Menu standouts at this family-run restaurant include the chile rellenos and the sopaipillas.
10. Owl Bar & Café, 77 US Highway 380, San Antonio
Back in the 1940s, when Owl Bar opened, it was frequented by “prospectors” in search of a good meal. Turns out that these “prospectors” were actually nuclear scientists working on the Manhattan Project. There’s one thing you absolutely have to order at Owl Bar and that’s the green chile cheeseburger, which is legendary – the beef is ground on site.
11. Plaza Café, 54 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe
The Plaza Café has been around since 1905 and serves diner food with Greek influences along with Mexican and New Mexican dishes. That means menu items range from Greek salad with gyro meat to green chile meatloaf to cashew mole enchiladas – all delicious. But, whatever you do, don’t leave without sampling the sopaipillas.