AN EPICURIAN ADVENTURE
Dining in El Prado and Arroyo Seco
by Virginia L Clark
Way more than a pizza shack, this is where you are treated like an amigo. This friendly neighborhood spot serves up Italian cuisine and New York-style pizza, pasta and delicious desserts, all bursting with the goodness of fresh and many locally sourced ingredients.
Located at the foot of the Sangre de Cristos, the large dining room windows and even larger patio enhance the view of mountain and meadow. Appetizers are a big hit – some folks make a meal of the appetizers alone. Salads are a meal in themselves and can be customized with any pizza toppings. Their pizza is world class, but it’s just one kind of great food on the menu.
Garlic salt, cheese, peppers and other seasonings are right on the tables so you can customize each slice or dish as you prefer. Wines and a wide variety of beers chase the tastes with chilled gusto.
They also serve an Italian American dish known as Utica Greens – hot peppers, sautéed greens, chicken stock or broth, escarole, cheese, pecorino, bread crumbs and variations of meat and prosciutto.
This is a great family restaurant, too, providing kiddos with books, crayons and a fenced yard for running around – not to mention kids birthday parties.
This place is busy so call ahead. In the preCOVID-19 era, it was jammed with both tourists and adoring locals, crowding about when the urge for Italian strikes.
Pizaños | 23 State Road 150, El Prado | (575) 776-1050
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A few blocks up the road from Pizaños is “medley.”, named after chef/owners Colleen and Wilks Medley. The name also reflects their philosophy of offering a medley of American and international fare, “something good for everyone, modern spins on nostalgic classics, craft cocktails and innovative desserts.”
There’s both formal fine dining and a casual bistro under the same roof. Most of us locals hit the bistro or one of two patios offering fab mountain views and lawn games to go along with happy hour libations and small plates.
Medley has a full-service bar and retail shop, boasting more than 500 wines, spirits and beers, all available to diners, as well as take-out.
Lots of locals watch TV at the bar, chowing down on a burrata – prosciutto and loose-textured, small, soft cheese curds-and-cream in an outer shell of mozzarella; plus the peel-n-eat shrimp faves. Also try their pan-seared trout with horseradish mashed potatoes, or Sicilian seafood stew, with a great arugula and parm starter. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available. One vegan entree is glazed roast veggies with tofu and quinoa. But most of us stick to ordering and sharing around the many small and interesting plates.
It’s first-come first-served in the patios and bar, so come early for that ambiance. Reservations are taken for the more formal inside dining room.
medley. | 100 State Road 150, El Prado | (575) 776-8787
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Tucked away across the Seco creek, Sabroso is on the last driveway going north, just before entering the village of Arroyo Seco proper. This is a local’s favorite for decades, long before any other restaurants even existed along State Road 150.
Most folks gather in the outdoor patio portál and outdoor bar on warm days. On chilly monsoonal evenings, we congregate inside with the cozy bar and fireplace.
Just great fine food here, folks. Try the duck wings and the bison, green chile and gorgonzola sliders, or the grilled salmon with chile-tinged asparagus. They sometimes offer a heavenly chicken pot pie. A full service wine, beer and spirits bar, the hand-squeezed fresh lime margaritas are some of the best in the Southwest.
Sabroso books top-notch local musicians who play well and entertain the crowd without stifling diners’ conversations.
This is the place to spend time with friends. It’s elegant but easy-going with a down-home ambiance. In colder weather, indoor music includes piano solos, so the inside bar is your go-to for tapas and cocktails. Arrive early to take advantage of happy hour and the great music.
Sabroso | 470 State Road 150, Arroyo Seco | (575) 776-3333
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Smack in the middle of Arroyo Seco is Aceq, so-named by founders Noah Pettus and Brittany Garner to honor traditional acequia agriculture and their commitment to serving locally sourced foodstuffs. Aceq is tucked within the first cluster of shops as you enter the village coming from Taos, opposite the Snow Mansion at the mouth of the village.
Local bon-vivant Michael Wagener purchased ACEQ in 2015. The Wisconsin native relocated to Taos for its deep snow and outdoor adventure. Wagener’s menu spans the spectrum from beer battered cheese curds (a clear nod to his Wisconsin heritage) to chicken and waffles, fresh poke bowls to a daily homemade pasta.
The menu is short but the daily specials change often. If available, try the lobster and shrimp on pasta with rich and buttery alfredo. The lobster is typically of medium size, red and perfectly prepped to eat. Sea bass and pasta carbonara both burst with flavor. Mains often come with roasted artichokes, asparagus and pureed potato.
Located amid a small roundabout boardwalk, outdoor picnic tables also offer great ambiance. Couple the food and atmosphere with an excellent wine selection and you may have your new must-do diner in the north valley of Taos.
ACEQ | 480 State Road 150 Arroyo Seco | (575) 776-0900
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SOL FOOD MARKET AND CAFÉ
This is an organic café and market bordering Aceq’s back walk, offering lots of gluten-free options, salads, paninis, juices, smoothies and coffee. They pledge to use natural, organic and local ingredients whenever they can. Though the market with outdoor patio dining has been open for over a decade, the café just opened April 2019, when Weaving Southwest moved out of the space. At press time, both café and market open at 8 a.m., but the café closes at 3 p.m. and the market at 8 p.m.
One super star has been the Taj Mahal curry sandwich with pulled pork and papas (potatoes) con chile. The menu has a specialized selection of interesting salads and sandwiches. The Taj Mahal salad (curried chicken salad over baby greens, sprouts, tomatoes, cucumber and figs) is yummy.
Do check out their awesome pesto and artisan cheeses. That, plus all the local meats and veggies tell you that Anna and Chris Woodall have an eye for sourcing high-quality items, creating a mecca of wholesome foods and locally made consumables. Typically served with a bed of greens slathered in delicious dressing, their sandwiches stand out. Definitely a must-include stop in the tiny village of Arroyo Seco.
Sol Food Market and Café | 591 Hondo-Seco Road, Arroyo Seco | (575) 776-5765