New Mexico is one of my favorite Southwestern states to road trip through, and I have done it many times in the last twenty years. Highway 40 goes right though New Mexico, and parts of old Route 66 still exist in this state. The food scene in New Mexico is spicy and full of flavor, and probably my top reason of why I like driving through it.
My favorite city to eat in is Santa Fe, which is also my favorite city in New Mexico. The flavors of this state have a Mexican food base, but are different due to the cultures and region. There is a mix of Native American and contemporary flavors, along with the traditional red and green chile sauces that are specific to this state. New Mexican cuisine is terrific, and I now want to take another road trip just to eat in Santa Fe.
From an upscale lunch at the luxurious Inn of the Anasazi, to eating a great backyard burger in Roswell, my “What I ate in New Mexico – A Food Journal”.
The Inn of the Anasazi
Santa Fe– The Inn of the Anasazi is one of Santa Fe’s most luxurious hotesl. It has an intimate ambiance, and is decorated tastefully with a Southwestern inspiration of the Anasazi, the ‘Ancient Ones’. This inn also offers magnificent dining both inside and on the patio. Since I was planning to graze throughout Santa Fe, I decided to have a casual upscale lunch on the patio.
The restaurants at the Inn of the Anasazi offers extraordinary and flavorful Southwestern dishes with a contemporary flair. Even the casual dining experience of “The Patio” was fantastic. I was served sumptuous dishes while sitting on their front patio, on a gorgeous Santa Fe day.
On the table was a brick of Ash Onion Bread, which was terrific in texture and flavors. At the time, this was my first experience with eating foods made with activated charcoal/ ash. I loved it and this bread was a nice introduction into eating charcoal based foods. Then I ordered the Seared Scallops with edible flowers for my entre and it was wonderful. The fresh scallops were cooked to perfection and very flavorful. Now the dessert was something else! A pyramid shaped cheesecake with white chocolate, local cherries, crystalized sugar, and edible flowers. It was almost to beautiful to eat, almost. It was remarkable, and had different layered flavors from tart to sweet. This was a spectacular casual upscale lunch in Santa Fe!
For more information, please visit – The Inn of the Anasazi
Santa Fe– Café Pasqual’s was one of my favorite places to eat while in Santa Fe, and it was a very popular place. This restaurant serves all day, from breakfast until dinner, and offers flavorful dishes made with organic local produce. I enjoyed everything about this place- the ambiance, friendliness, and its delicious New Mexican flavors.
On the table were a couple of tasty cheddar biscuits served in a cute corazon “heart” shaped dish. I ordered the Grilled Mexican Corn, Barbacoa Quesadillas, and a dessert. I really enjoyed both the corn and quesadillas, the fresh flavors were incredible. One of the better meals that I had in Santa Fe. I am just sad that I did not have enough time to go back in for one more meal.
For more information, please visit Café Pasqual’s.
Roswell – The town of Roswell is known for one thing, aliens, and they totally own it. I was in Roswell for a day, and wanted something casual after visiting the International UFO Museum & Research center. Like I said, this city totally owns the Alien thing.
I had done a little research and found that Julie’s Place had high ratings for their food. I did not realize that I would be driving into a sketchy part of Roswell, to have one of the best burgers and fries in the city. I do sometimes enjoy hole in the wall places, and this definitely was one. Julie’s Place was one of the better backyard burgers that I have tried, and the crunchy zig-zag fries were nostalgic and delicious.
For restaurant information, please visit – Julie’s Place.
Organic Baker Vendor
Santa Fe- While I was walking through town, I spotted a lady selling baked goods which looked delicious. Everything was freshly baked, and made with organic ingredients. I purchased both the Pear Tart and a bag of Tea Cookies, which were delicious and divine.
I brought them back to my hotel, and had the tart for breakfast. Then I ate those sweet little cookies while driving the following day. It was so much better than convenient store snacks.
Tucumcari – I first read about Del’s in ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die’ book by Patricia Schultz. That has been my travel bible for over a decade, and has never steered me wrong. Del’s Restaurant is a special place along Historic Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico. It opened in 1956 and has been serving the best Chicken Fried Steak for decades.
Del’s is a steakhouse but does offer seafood and chicken dishes as well. If you do find yourself here, please order the Steak Fries or the Chicken Fried Steak, it was the best that I have tried. It was very difficult for me to order that dish in other restaurants after I had it here, just a warning!
For restaurant information, please visit – Del’s Restaurant
Santa Fe Espresso Company
Santa Fe– I had stepped into this casual dive of a coffee place, and came out with two donuts, plus coffee. This little shop offered both ice cream and donuts, but I opted for these delicious donuts with unique flavors.
Both of these cake donuts were so different from each other as the Lavender Blue Corn was lighter than the chocolate, although the blue corn made it denser. Now the chocolate donut with red chile, toffee, and bacon was as sinful as a cake donut can get- Delicious!
Gallup– El Rancho Hotel and Restaurant is a great place to stay and eat while traveling along Highway 40. The hotel was the ‘Home of the Movie Stars’ throughout the 1930s and 1940s, with the filming of old Westerns in the area. I know that is what drew me into this place, I love establishments that had ties with Old Hollywood. I do not think it has anything to do with me being born in Hollywood, but maybe it does?
The restaurant inside El Rancho offers all day dishes from breakfast until dinner. The menu is quite extensive, and serves classic American Entrees and Mexican dishes, with old Movie Star names. I had ordered the ‘Rita Moreno’ plate, which was a more exotic way to order enchiladas. The food was delicious and I enjoyed the classic western vibe. I already know that El Rancho will always be on my “Eat Here” list while road tripping along Main Street America.
For hotel and restaurant information, please visit El Rancho Hotel & Restaurant.
Comet II Restaurant
Santa Rosa– Comet II located along Historic Route 66 is a retro diner and drive-in that boasts “The Best Mexican Food in Town”. This old school diner is exactly what you would picture while traveling the ‘Mother Road’. It has been open since the late 1920’s, and is the oldest restaurant in Santa Rosa.
I had to stop and have lunch here before I drove through the remnants of old Santa Rosa, since I was taking photos along my road trip on Route 66. I have always been fascinated by the cities and sites that are are along this highway. Being that this is the oldest restaurant in Santa Rosa, I can only imagine it during this 66’s hey day.
The food was very good here and served in a retro diner way, on inexpensive plates and plastic bowls. They offer a big menu with North New Mexican specialties, sandwiches, seafood, and burgers. Since this is the best Mexican food restaurant in town, I ordered the enchiladas, and it was delicious. For seating, I decided to sit at the long lunch counter instead of getting a booth. It just looked cooler, and it felt right especially in a place such as Comet.
For restaurant information, please visit Comet II Restaurant & Drive-In.
Somewhere in New Mexico
Highway 40– Well, this was a terrible choice of road trip food! I had picked up this Green Chile Beef Jerky from a convenience store along the highway while gassing up. I had taken a photo of it while I was driving, and then opened it up. It was so bad and dried out, it may have been expired. One bite and I exclaimed that it tasted like dirt.
After this incident, I had never purchased beef jerky on the road ever again.
Plaza Café Downtown
Santa Fe– Please no comments on my breakfast bowl photo, as I started to eat it and forgot to take a picture of it before I dug into it. It was a delicious bowl of papas fritas, local green chile sauce, and egg whites. Plus a side order of the “Best Bacon in Santa Fe”. I kept overhearing about their bacon, and although I cannot confirm that it was the best bacon in the city, it was very good bacon.
Plaza Café Downtown, is located within the main square of Santa Fe. This is the oldest restaurant in the city, and was opened in 1905. The restaurant was taken over by Dan Razatos, a Greek immigrant in 1947, and has been family run since. It serves both New Mexican dishes with a hint of traditional Greek menu items also.
For more information, please visit – Plaza Café Downtown
Holy Spirit Espresso
Santa Fe– Holy Spirit Espresso, a very tiny coffee shop with very big taste. This little doorway coffee shop is known to have the best coffee in Santa Fe. In fact, many Italians say that Holy Spirit Espresso is “Almost Italy”.
The drink menu of Holy Spirit Espresso is fairly simple of espresso made drinks, hot chocolate, and tea. I had ordered a cappuccino and it was impressive. It all starts with that “Almost Italy” shot of espresso!
For more information, please visit – Holy Spirit Espresso.
Santa Fe– According to locals, Tia Sophia’s is one of the places for breakfasts in Santa Fe. I was also recommended to try their Cane Adovado breakfast plate, and it was fantastic. I had tried Carne Adovado before, but never for breakfast. It was superb when eaten as the first meal of the day with eggs, hash browns, and beans.
The Carne Adovado is on their Thursday’s menu for breakfast and lunch specials, so if this dish interests you – remember Thursdays!
Tia Sophia’s is a flavorful and casual family run restaurant since the mid 1970’s, and has been a favorite of locals and tourists alike. They are a breakfast and lunch restaurant, and only open until mid-afternoon, so please check their website for daily hours.
For restaurant information, please visit Tia Sophia’s.
Church Street Café
Albuquerque– We were introduced to Church Street Café over a decade ago when our hotel in the historic district of the city suggested it. We were hooked, and came back again a couple years later when we were road tripping through New Mexico. The restaurant is located inside of Casa de Ruiz, which was constructed sometime after 1706. This would make Casa de Ruiz the oldest residence in Albuquerque, as well as one of the oldest structures in New Mexico.
The food was excellent, especially their Old Fashioned Chile Rellenos, and Sopapillas. Their red chile sauce and salsa was terrific as well, and you can purchase them jarred to bring home. Church Street Café is our favorite Albuquerque restaurant in the historic district for their delicious Southwestern flavors, and the ambiance of Casa de Ruiz.
For restaurant an online store information, please visit – Church Street Café.
La Fogata Grill
Santa Fe– I had come into this colorful casual restaurant for a White Sangria, but left full after ordering the Shrimp Cocktail, and Grilled Mexican Corn. I enjoyed everything that I ordered, so fresh and delicious. La Fogata Grill is a great and tasty restaurant that offers a terrific Happy Hour, and a fun Taco Tuesday with live music.
LA FOGATA GRILL is a family-owned restaurant in the heart of Santa Fe, NM with a commitment to offer authentic traditional Mexican food We specialize in southern Mexican region cuisine like that of Oaxaca, Yucatan and Veracruz, with incredible herbs, colors, flavors and folklore in every dish.– LA FOGTATA GRILL Website
For restaurant information, please visit La Fogata Grill.
If you ever plan to motor west, Travel my way, take the highway that is best. Get your kicks on route sixty-six.– Chuck Berry (but I like to say Depeche Mode)
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