Sumptuous bar menus not to be overlooked at local watering holes
By T.L. Testerman
Greasy and gutbomb. These terms are sometimes synonymous with bar cuisine: in other words, food that you may not notice.
And while some food and beverage managers, chefs and bartenders in Taos have different philosophies about what makes a good menu when booze is the main dish, nearly all agree on simplicity and ease of preparation.
That being said, a few bars defy conventional wisdom:
The Anaconda Bar at El Monte Sagrado Resort and Spa offers a menu to pair with libations that excites the palate, soothes the hunger and comforts the spirit.
The team behind the provisions includes Mark Montoya, the food and beverage manager, and Cristina Martínez, the executive chef, Le Cordon Bleu honor graduate and primary creative force. Together, they have created a culinary smorgasbord infused with a Southwestern flair.
The featured dish at the bar is bison meatballs with onion chutney and freshly made tomatillo salsa. One can also take pleasure in the charcuterie platter, a culinary mosaic of locally sourced meats and cheeses.
The menu’s counterpoint is a whiskey-beet cured salmon. The dish includes whipped juniper berry cream, fresh cut cucumbers, house-made pickles and crostini. Montoya said his go-to combination after work is the bar’s famous cucumber jalapeño margarita, ice cold, with top-shelf tequila and Cointreau paired with a plate of carne asada nachos that play structure to pinto beans, freshly melted cheddar, sour cream and a healthy scoop of red and green chiles.
El Monte Sagrado is at 317 Kit Carson Road. Open 3-10 p.m. seven days a week.
Old Martina’s Hall general manager Sebastian Walther earned his bar and restaurant management spurs in the demanding trenches of the Mandarin Oriental in Munich, Germany.
Walther wants the everyman to come in after work and share the hall’s “wicked good shrimp” with colleagues. The dish is drizzled in a sweet Thai chile sauce and served with a side of freshly grated carrot apple coleslaw.
Floor manager Shara Martinez added that another option is an “appetizer portion of baby back ribs with a sweet tangy barbecue sauce that is popular and delicious.”
Old Martina’s Hall is at 4140 State Road 68 in Ranchos de Taos. Open 4-9 p.m. weekdays and 4-10 p.m. weekends.
The Alley Cantina is one of the town’s rare finds with a kitchen that stays open until 11 p.m. for late night revelers looking to land one of their popular green chile cheeseburgers. It’s also a good spot to catch an NFL or NBA game.
Manager Mark Geery’s feature items include traditional offerings with a bespoke approach: “Our beer batter is house made, and our onion rings, mushrooms and calamari are hand cut and hand dipped.” He added, “Our nachos are huge and really well-built. Our chips, salsa and guacamole are all house made.”
The Alley Cantina is at 121 Teresina Lane, off the northwest corner of Taos Plaza. Open 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily except Sunday 11:30 a.m. to midnight.
Eske’s Brew Pub offers a green chile stew that features a top-secret vegetarian recipe of squash, potatoes, onions, garlic and loads of New Mexican green chile. Manager Blair Stoltzfus said, “Wanda’s Green Chile Stew” is a local favorite that can be modified with cheddar cheese or ground turkey.
Another popular pub love is “The Fatty”: a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with beans, homemade mashed potatoes, green chile stew, onions, feta cheese and cheddar cheese topped with Wanda’s Green Chile Turkey Stew. A vegetarian version is available.
The pub houses a small-batch brewery in its 100-year-old adobe walls and is a community watering hole for musicians and poets with live music featured weekly.
Eske’s Brew Pub is located at 106 Des Georges Place. Open noon to 9 p.m. weekdays and noon to 9:30 p.m. weekends.
The Adobe Bar in the Historic Taos Inn premiers an iconic version of classic nachos, an excellent afternoon or evening nosh, which pairs nicely with a fresh cold margarita.The eye-popping lexicon of tequilas available to experiment with is equally legendary.
Grace Lawrie, director of marketing, said nachos are easily the most popular item on the menu and made completely with in-house ingredients. “Nachos are synonymous with the Taos Inn. You come to the Adobe Bar, see all your friends and order a big delicious plate of nachos to share. It’s a Taos tradition.”
The menu also includes items that are vegan-friendly and gluten-free. The Taos Inn is located at 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Open 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week.
The TreeHouse Bar and Lounge above Lambert’s of Taos offers made-to-order chips and queso that features a noteworthy combination of Oaxaca and cheddar cheese and pickled jalapeños topped with bacon lardons. Another popular offering are organic deviled eggs that are served with house-smoked trout and pickled jalapeños.
For vegetarians, and those favoring a lighter fare, a red beet risotto with chevre and topped by fresh watercress might hit the spot. The menu varies and offers seasonal, locally sourced items when available. Everything is made from scratch. Lambert’s of Taos is at 123 Bent Street. Open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Happy hour is from 2:30 to 6 p.m.
This article originally appeared in the Tempo section of The Taos News.
In the red zone
Don’t worry sports fans, Taos has bars with plenty of TVs and tempting eats.
575 Sports & Co.
1109 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos
Located on the south side of town off the main drag, the 575 Sports & Co. establishment is full of surprises. Perhaps you’ve heard of famous stadium favorites such as the Halo Dog from Anaheim, a BBQ Stuffed Baked Potato from Houston, Gilroy Garlic Fries from San Francisco, Corn off the Cob from Chicago (White Sox) or a Juicy Lucy Slider from Minneapolis? It’s here that you can get those specialty dishes that aim to replicate that hometown taste. Also serving breakfast. Open Sun.-Thur. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/monicanluciano/ or call (575) 779-8486.
El Monte Sagrado, 311 Kit Carson Road
Monday Night Football and General Trivia, 6-8:30 p.m. Visit elmontesagrado.com or call (575) 737-9879.
The Burger Stand at Taos Ale House
401 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos
A few blocks north of Taos Plaza, you’ll find a great game-day spot that serves up gourmet burgers; a “Catfish Po Boy;” falafel; “Duck Fat Fries;” to-die-for “Truffle Fries;” an eclectic selection of dipping sauces; and small-batch craft beers. Open daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Visit taosburgersandbeer.com or call (575) 758-5522.
Gorge Bar & Grill
Historic Taos Plaza
Conveniently located on Historic Taos Plaza, the Gorge Bar & Grill offers “fresh and modern” casual dining including a variety of menu selections such as fresh oysters, Bison sliders, grilled salmon, green chile chicken Alfredo and juicy burgers. Open Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Visit thegorgebarandgrill.com or call (575) 758-8866.
KTAOS Solar Center
9 State Road 150, El Prado (Taos Ski Valley road)
The home of Taos’ 100 percent solar-powered local radio station (101.9 FM) also has a bar with food and a music venue with drinks and dancing. Catch games on hi-def TVs every Monday, Thursday and Sunday starting at 2 p.m. Happy Hour is 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Visit ktao.com or call (575) 758-5826.
Taos Mesa Brewing Taos Tap Room
201 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos
The Taos Tap Room is conveniently situated near the Historic Plaza in downtown Taos just down the hill on the main drag. The “wood-fired kitchen” delivers pizza favorites and unique options such as the Inferno topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, Gosar chorizo, chile peppers, taleggio, mozzarella and hot honey. Italian-inspired sandwiches (lunch), soups, salads, appetizers and wood-oven skillet dishes (dinner) round out the menu. Everything goes great with one of their signature hand-crafted, on-tap brews. Open every day at noon. Visit taosmesabrewing.com or call (575) 758-1900.