The Mountain Abides and So Does the Food Scene at Taos Ski Valley
By Haven Lindsey
The old adage that, ‘you don’t need a silver fork to eat good food’ is as fitting in 2021 as perhaps ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered doors of restaurants and altered the dining habits of people everywhere yet chefs, diners, and foodies everywhere have adapted. The food scene at the Taos Ski Valley looks a bit different these days and it turns out that indeed, the food tastes just as good without the silver fork.
Despite some doors being shuttered, others continue to be open. And in the case of two creative entrepreneurs who thought outside the proverbial box, they hauled their food trailers up to 9,000’, put em’ in park, and opened for business. For the first time ever, Taos Ski Valley has two food trucks on site that have proven to be an overwhelming success with locals and tourists.
If you make it, they will come.
Aly Hyder is a long-time Taos resident who hails from New Zealand. Many recognize her from her years of managing the Alpine Village and the Austing Haus. She has proven that if you make it, they will come. Skiers and snow boarders line up for her New Zealand-style specialties including gourmet meat pies, filling quiches, hot dogs and brat’s sandwiches but the clear favorites are the sausage rolls made daily with puff pastry. Aly’s Food Truck is small yet the variety and quality of food she serves is indicative of her secret ingredient located at the foot of the mountain. Quail Ridge Taos in El Prado was once home to Common Fire and when the restaurant closed, Quail Ridge owner and operator, Kurt Edelbrock, offered the fully-equipped commercial kitchen space to the creative chef. Aly’s may look like a small food truck but most of the magic is made in a commercial grade kitchen a couple thousand feet below. As the seasons change, so will Aly’s menu. Her summer offerings will include Gyro’s, falafel and New Zealand’s specialty homemade ice-cream, ‘Hokey Pokey’, complete with honeycomb.
Aly isn’t the only chef with a certified commercial grade kitchen although the one Christof Brownell and Asia Golden use is in their surprisingly spacious food truck. Nestled in the pines, Der Garten’s diverse menu is fresh, healthy, and hearty enough to satiate the biggest of appetites. Der Garten’s menu reflects the support that Brownell gives local businesses. The bison is sourced from the Taos Pueblo, fresh veggies and greens come from Herbs and Roots Farm in El Rito, and the hot chocolate includes chocolate from none other than local favorite, Chokola, in Taos. The specialty sandwiches and green chile stew are favorites and each day Der Garten offers at least one special. The couple’s shared vision doesn’t stop with the food truck. They anticipate having a beer and wine license by summer which will no doubt be popular with the live music and table tennis they have in store. They also plan to offer summer ‘Picnics to Go’ lunches for hikers.
If we don’t serve it, you don’t need it.
The Historic Hondo Restaurant at the Snakedance Condominiums, a long-time favorite with locals and tourists, continues serving their tasty and affordable favorites. Social distancing may be in place but the skiers who line up for the green chile cheeseburgers, mussels, sweet potato fries, seafood linguini and more, understand that this long-standing establishment delivers quality and quantity. The popular menu covers nearly every craving which is why diners notoriously have difficulty deciding what to order.
Walk through the ski resort and there will be food and beverages for everyone. Espresso? You don’t have to ski the black diamond trails to enjoy the Black Diamond Espresso. Juice bar? You’ll only have to decide the flavor and size at Squeezed. Snacks and drinks? Bumps Market is stocked with groceries, provisions and their popular Burrito Bar. Haus Dining serves made-from-scratch breakfast and dinner and will deliver up to a two-mile radius.
Perhaps no other restaurant can tout the expansive patio and Kachina Peak views that The Bavarian can claim. The German restaurant, as is the case with every TSV establishment, meets – if not exceeds – the current social distance requirements. Skiers and hikers may come for the extensive wine list and specialty imported beers but they stay for the view.
The ski valley has made substantial efforts to ensure skiers, hikers, and guests feel welcome and safe. Despite the masks and the social distancing requirements, the vibe is upbeat and the spirit of the mountain abides. The pandemic will eventually be in everyone’s rearview mirror and the ski valley will continue to serve food and drinks to suit every palate and craving. With the summer season shining on Taos County, the creative, enthusiastic personalities that have begun to infiltrate the ski valley will continue to welcome summer visitors looking for fresh, healthy, locally-sourced goodness. The ski valley continues to be a year-round destination and visitors have learned that food, when made with love, whether it’s served in a to-go container or eaten under the pine trees, is all that really counts.