An update from Jordan, a junior communication studies major:
When I arrived in Taos at the beginning of June, I knew very little about New Mexico or this quaint tourist town. I was bombarded with facts that first week. I found out that the highest peak in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak (13,161 feet!!), is located in the Taos ski valley and that we would be hiking it. I discovered that Taos is an arts Mecca and home to a plethora of nonprofit organizations. I noticed that the gas at Smith’s grocery store is always at least ten cents cheaper than any other gas station in town. I learned that residents of Taos are known as Taoseños. And I learned that while Taoseños are the friendliest bunch you could ever hope to meet in person, they transform into impressively impatient and road-rage-inducingly rude people when driving. This was all superfluous, background information as far as I was concerned, though.
You see, I come from a family of foodies. We believe that good food is an essential component of a happy life. We love ethnic food (or anything tasty). When travelling, we will try just about anything, especially if it is recommended by the locals.
When my family spent a month travelling in Europe, we gobbled up gelato in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Venice, Lake Como, Cinque Terre and Florence. We were determined to find “The BEST Gelato In All Of Europe!” forgetting the small complication that we were not going to “all of Europe.”
Although we were beginning to feel sick of the magical frozen goodness that is gelato by the end of the month, we persevered and continued our “research” (Italy did, of course, have the best gelato).
We had a duty to fulfill. I felt a similar call to duty when I arrived in Taos. My goal was to find really good food in this picturesque little town.
I honestly thought I’d already completed my quest when I walked out of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on my second day carrying $20 worth of chocolate. While I certainly had struck gold (it’s only a three-minute walk from my apartment door … and that’s only the first time you walk there, before you know there’s a yummy chocolate prize waiting for you at the end of the journey), I knew I had to keep looking.
So, I kept my eyes peeled for contenders. Being gluten-intolerant and a vegetarian, I have to avoid meat and most common grains, like wheat and oats (yes, that means no regular bread, and no, it is not “torture”). This means my food options are a bit limited, but I still get to eat plenty of delicious food. Plus, Taos is an extremely friendly town for those on a gluten-free or vegetarian diet. Thus, the quest continued.
My radar went off when I overheard people saying things like, “Oh, I just love Guadalajara Grill!” I tried Guadalajara (inexpensive and pretty tasty, but my veggie tacos were drenched with grease). I tested out several Asian restaurants, including Song’s (great pad thai!) and Dara Thai (not my favorite fried rice in town). The Old Blinking Light, famous for its margaritas and cool ambience, served great queso, and I loved the nachos, but they were almost too rich.
Decked out in “Best of…” plaques for just about every category you can imagine, tiffany lampshades and rustic wooden furniture, Michaels Kitchen is certainly quaint. While the vegetarian tacos were pretty tasty, I was a bit disappointed that (compared to other Taos restaurants) their gluten-free and vegetarian options were rather limited. I went to Taos Diner three times, because they had plenty of options for me. Also, the cubed home fries were fun to draw ketchup smiles on and the nachos are so good you won’t mind if you get a rude waitress.
Of course, I had to try Graham’s Grill, which won the 2011 “Best in Taos” award in the restaurant category and, luckily for me, offers tons of gluten-free and vegetarian options! Their vegetarian tamales are gluten-free and, aside from the mushy side of rice, it was one of the best plates of food I have ever had the privilege to enjoy. While this came very, very close, it did not to win my prestigious Best-Restaurant-Experience-While-I’m-In-Taos-This-June Award. Interestingly, my two favorite meals both included burgers!
Now, I do not typically eat burgers, since the main ingredients are the two things I cannot eat: bread and meat. I don’t think I have ever found a gluten-free veggie burger back home in Dallas and I cannot remember the last time I ate a burger since becoming a vegetarian. Needless to say, it was a very pleasant surprise for me to find that two of my favorite food experiences in Taos involved burgers (admittedly, most of that enjoyment probably came from the fries that accompanied said burgers, but po-tay-to, po-tah-to). Oh, but how amazing those fries were.
Graham’s Grill (or G.G. as I like to fondly think of it), with their oh-so delectable Cajun fries, won me over from the first bite. I just cannot pile enough accolades on Five Star Burgers, though! Their regular and sweet potato fries are both scrumptious on their own, but the green chile mayo just makes the meal.
Not being a fan of spicy foods or mayonnaise on my fries, I was rather reluctant to try the mayo when the waitress brought it to our table. One timid bite later, though, and I am officially an addict! So, if you’re travelling to Taos, you cannot pass up a meal at Graham’s Grill, and you absolutely must stop at Five Star Burger. But beware; you may never appreciate plain fries again!