“Where’s a good place to eat around here?”
It’s almost verbatim every time. Yes, travel tipsters have told you to ask a local, and this is sound advice; however, Taos is full of great restaurants and it’s difficult for us, the locals, to mention just one or two places that are always at the top of the list.
I’ve been working retail in the historical district for about three years. And part of my job as a retail associate in a tourist town is providing information about Taos to our visitors. This includes directions, where to purchase necessities, and yes, where to eat. Taoseños are more than happy to recommend some of our favorites, but please, help us out – be prepared to give us more info about what you’re looking for. A general question such as “where’s a good place?” is more likely to get you the easiest answer, which may not be the best choice for you.
Here are some factors to take into consideration:
Do you require within walking distance or do you mind a short drive? Taos is a scattered place and a lot of the restaurants are a mile or more away. Some of the really good ones are even located in the small towns nearby.
What is your price range? Don’t be surprised if the restaurant seems a little expensive – the food is usually worth it – but prices are higher in Taos. As a visiting friend of mine once said, “Oh, you have New York prices.”
Do you want NEW Mexican or Mexican? Please understand there is a difference. We will explain it if you need us to, but I would encourage you to just be brave and go get some delicious chile. We can tell you who has the best red, the best green, or the hottest.
Are you vegetarian or gluten-free? Do you want something fresh and green or are you into greasy burgers and fries? Keep in mind that our tastes could be vastly different. I once recommended what I think is a really good brunch spot to a couple, but when I bumped into them later, their response was “meh.” They didn’t go into details, but maybe their definition of a good brunch differed from my own.
Do you want breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner? We will give you a different answer for each.
How important is ambiance? I can send you somewhere with historical flair, with vigas on the ceiling and kiva fireplaces, or I can point you toward that hole-in-the-wall joint or food truck (yes!) that has the best burritos.
In the mood for beer, wine, or perhaps a cocktail? Not all restaurants serve alcohol, while some just have beer and wine.
Giving us just a few of these bits of information will increase your chances of getting a true recommendation, and not just an easy answer because we’re bored with hearing the same question half a dozen times already that day.
One more response we might have for you, but probably will not say aloud is, “Have you tried Yelp?”