Where to Eat
Taos's restaurant scene has become more diverse in recent years—you're as likely to find fresh sashimi as haute cuisine with a Southwestern spin.
Doc Martin's Chef Scott Radek's regional menu changes each season. Try the seared venison tenderloin with shiitake cream and "tobacco onions" (flour-dipped and deep-fried), or the piñon-encrusted salmon with ancho pesto. The New Mexican Fumé Blanc is a perfect match for an extra-spicy chiles rellenos appetizer. Save room for the lingonberry Linzer torte with house-made Grand Marnier ice cream, or the bittersweet chocolate soufflé. Historic Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo N.; 505/758-1977; dinner for two $70.
Orlando's You can't pass through town without a meal at this congenial hot spot, where chiles show up in almost every dish. Its traditional New Mexican style and great value make Orlando's as popular with locals as it is with weekenders. The shrimp burritos are smothered in enough cheese to send your arteries into overdrive. 1114 Don Juan Valdez Lane, El Prado; 505/751-1450; dinner for two $25.
Lambert's Everyone will tell you that this is the best restaurant in Taos, and they're right. Owners Zeke and Tina Lambert came to Taos on their honeymoon 17 years ago and never left. Their love of the West shows up in Zeke's fiery dishes—such as chile-dusted rock shrimp and crisp roast duck with apricot-chipotle glaze. The ample wine list includes 28 Californian Zinfandels. 309 Paseo del Pueblo S.; 505/758-1009; dinner for two $60.
Dragonfly Café & Bakery If you can't get a table at the perennially popular Michael's Kitchen, head to Dragonfly, just a block north in a converted house next to the post office. This tiny café turns out inspired dishes such as French toasted pumpkin-bread pudding and the Dragonfly omelette, of house-cured gravlax, cream cheese, capers, and red onions. There's also a heavenly display of chocolate truffles—including one infused with potent red chile and covered in cinnamon sugar. 402 Paseo del Pueblo N.; 505/737-5859; brunch for two $17.
Byzantium The décor at this jewel box-sized restaurant—seven candlelit tables, mosaic-framed windows, and red-and-orange walls—is as inventive as the food. The dishes are a fusion of Asian, French, and American cuisines: Start with the seafood dumplings in a cilantro-sweet chile sauce, then try salt-and-pepper-crusted halibut with Asian vegetables. If you're craving comfort food, herb-crusted pork tenderloin will not disappoint. Be sure to ask the owners the story behind the retro Kawasaki motorcycle in the middle of the room. 112 La Placita, at Ledoux St.; 505/751-0805; dinner for two $90.
Guadalajara Grill BEST VALUE Looking for an authentic Mexican meal?Then head to this Taos mainstay, next to the town car wash. What Guadalajara lacks in décor, it more than makes up for in taste and price. For less than $12 you can get a full platter of grilled shrimp and beef with rice and beans, served cafeteria-style. The squash tamales and tacos al pastor are as tasty as those you'd find south of the border. This place is so popular, there's one on each side of town. 1384 Paseo del Pueblo S., 505/751-0063; 882 Paseo del Pueblo N., 505/737-0816; dinner for two $26.