Nestled within the Sangre de Christo Mountains, Taos is known for its idyllic scenery, thriving art galleries, Native American culture, and, perhaps surprisingly, an eclectic food scene. From fine dining to local mom and pop establishments, this Northern New Mexico town offers a taste of the good life, if you know where to go. Here are some of the ones you won’t want to miss.

View of Taos Mountain from the patio of Salt + Wine @Ron Stern all rights reserved

1.Salt + Wine

Serving fusion cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere, Salt + Wine is a favorite among locals and has spectacular views of Taos Mountain from their patio seating area. They have a wide selection of wines and a nice rosé would go well with the view. Like many dining venues, their dishes vary depending upon the season and availability. Start with the cabbage-wrapped forest mushrooms, creamy polenta, and tomato sauce ($12). If you like seafood, their grilled salmon with farro broth, celery, fennel, and sesame is light and flavorful ($24).

Ice Cream at Manzanita Market @Ron Stern all rights reserved

2. Manzanita Market

Tucked into a corner of the iconic Taos Plaza, Manzanita Market is owned by local Jen Hart. The cool, white space is her signature (also seen in her Love Apple Restaurant) and she serves farm-to-table-cuisine on long, communal tables.

For the hidden treats, head towards the rear where she offers her freshly made ice creams. There are usually about eight from which to choose, and, while you might be tempted to pass them by—don’t! Hart together with Michael Williamson has created some truly brilliant tastes with flavors such as candied lemon and rosemary and vegan chocolate coconut.  Their wild mint choclate chip is infused with fresh mint grown from the nearby Taos Pueblo, and this might possibly be the best, most intense chocolate mint you have ever tasted.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are used in making Freshies Juices @Ron Stern all rights reserved

3. Freshies Juices

Also located on the Plaza is a colorful little kiosk offering freshly made juice. On a hot day, the lines can be long but it’s worth the wait. Freshies Juices extracts the fruit right on the spot and has flavors like watermelon, carrot, and apple. Try their Tropical Passion made with pineapple, kiwi, mango, and coconut— simply cool and delicious.

Flight of chocolates at Chokola Bean to Bar @Ron Stern, all rights reserved

4. Chokolá Bean to Bar

This family-owned confectionary is another reason why so many love living here. Using small-batch, organic ingredients, the owners craft a variety of chocolate items such as hot or cold sipping chocolate, white and chocolate mousse, bonbons, gelato, and sorbet. Here, you can sample the chocolates from various countries, watch how they are made in the lab, and take home their award-winning chocolate bars.

Roasted beets at The Love Apple @Ron Stern all rights reserved

5. The Love Apple

Specializing in locally grown, organic, home cooking, The Love Apple’s casual, fine dining ambiance is draped in shades of cool white. Owner Jen Hart recreated her restaurant in what was formerly a small Catholic church from the 1800s.

The menu reflects seasonal changes, and starters might include roasted beets or squash and grilled asparagus. A nice selection of salads is available prepared with locally-sourced greens and homemade dressing. Entrees could be beef, chicken, or seafood, and their grilled ruby rainbow trout wrapped in corn husks with lime butter and topped with chipotle crème is light and healthy. ($17).

Chef Chris Maher at a Secret Supper

6. Secret Supper Club

For a special treat, book an advance reservation with Taos Secret Supper Club. Think of it as a pop-up gourmet dinner prepared by celebrity chef Chris Maher. Recognized by the James Beard Foundation as one of the region’s great chefs, Maher brings his talents to Taos in the form of a cooking studio and also through meals he prepares in local homes. The location is divulged the day of the event and then the fun begins.

Guests typically arrive at a private residence an hour before the event to mingle, chat and enjoy wine prior to the multi-course meal. A past dinner included gazpacho, salad, jerk chicken, and dessert. Getting to know the locals during the meal is all part of the fun.

The Valencia at Trading Post Cafe @Ron Stern all rights reserved

7. Trading Post Café  & Gallery

Located in the south end of the city, The Trading Post Café & Gallery is still a community secret to locals but relatively unknown to visitors. Perhaps it’s the unassuming storefront alongside the highway, but walk through the door and get hit with the wow factor!  The open kitchen looks like you just stepped into one of the most beautiful restaurants in Italy with splashes of color and meals prepared by owner Kimberly Armstrong.

She and her late husband, Master Chef René Mettler, renovated what was an old trading post and turned it into their dream restaurant. René, who was Swiss-Italian did most of the cooking back then, preparing an eclectic menu of mostly Italian dishes that locals came to love.

The interior covers several rooms, and they have almost run out of wall space for all the awards Rene won over the years. The delightful terrace is adorned with red and white checked tablecloths and gets filled up quickly on weekends. Kimberly does the cooking now and everything is made to order. Try their off-menu Valencia dish. This is a lovely piece of pan-seared flounder in brown butter, Worcestershire, and lemon topped off with raisins, almonds, and grape tomatoes on a bed of angel hair pasta and spinach ($16 lunch).

View of Taos Mountain @Ron Stern All rights reserved

Where to Stay:

Book Taos

Owner Richard Spera with his “girls” at Casa Gallina

Casa Gallina

Host Richard Spera has created his own little oasis in Taos set on several acres with individual casitas. He has about 50 chickens, which he calls the girls, and he brings their fresh eggs to your fully outfitted casita where you can make your own breakfast. The property includes a garden with fresh herbs, shady sitting areas, a meditation hut, and a small brook that runs through the property. Here, you can slow down and enjoy what Richard calls his farm to table inn.

Breakfast area at Hacienda del Sol

Hacienda del Sol

Called One of the 10 Most Romantic Inns in the US by USA Today, this luxury bed and breakfast features 12 rooms and suites with comfortable furnishings and even a fire-ready kiva for colder nights. The lush grounds and gardens include several courtyards with grand views of Taos Mountain, and each morning, the caretakers cook a complete made-to-order breakfast for each guest.

Palacio de Marquesa

Palacio De Marquesa

Part of the Heritage Hotel & Resort Collection, this luxury boutique property includes modern and bright rooms with clean lines and comfortable furnishings. Each of the rooms pays homage to notable women who have influenced Taos.

Upon check-in, your host will take your food order, and in the morning, they deliver a complete gourmet breakfast right to your room.

Adobe & Pines Inn exterior

The Adobe & Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

Set among acres of lush foliage, the property reflects the owner’s landscape architect roots. As you enter the office, you are greeted with a cool drink like mulberry lemonade and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

The rooms are colorfully adorned in a Southwestern palette with regional style furniture, including a comfortable bed. Guests love the laid-back ambiance and special attention they receive during their stay.  A full breakfast is offered in their dining room with dishes such as broiled bananas, eggs Benedict, and fresh fruit. The property has received consistent 5-star ratings on TripAdvisor.

This was a sponsored trip; however, all opinions herein are the authors.