Hidden Gems Series: Cafe Ricochet

If you don’t live north of the blinking light, there’s a good chance you don’t even know about Cafe Ricochet yet. Fortunately, my Hondo-yurt-dwelling compatriot Gina clued me in, and she and I set out to have a delicious meal and report back in full.

You probably know (or at least know about) local restauranteur Sheila Guzman, most recently of Hiro Hobo in Arroyo Seco. You may even have assumed, as I did, that the restaurant which replaced Hiro Hobo is just the newest incarnation of Sheila’s constantly-evolving desire to create food that she’s excited about. Not so! She sold the place (now called Aceq) to a former employee, and went in search of a new location.

The location she settled on is perhaps the most improbable place you can imagine for what’s quite a classy little joint. About .2 miles past the blinking light on Wheeler Peak Road — on the left, down in that little valley  next to the Honda supply store.

A brief chat with Sheila reassures us that the location choice is working out just fine. “Everyone told me it was a bad location — that no one just goes past this place. But two days ago we were so busy I was praying for it to slow down, so…” Frankly, she seems to revel in the off-the-beaten-track-ness of the place. She refers to it as a “cult cafe” — she does exactly zero advertising, and doesn’t have any intention to do so.

There’s only one waitress, Mona, and Sheila mans the exposed kitchen alone, with no plans to expand any farther. “Employees are the bane of a small business owner’s existence,” she quips. Sheila is relaxed and funny, but there’s an underlying intensity and savvy to her that reveals why she’s done so well on the Taos culinary scene (note the “irritating substitutions” surcharge warning on the menu).

“I cook what I cook, and I enjoy the people I cook for,” says Sheila. And what she cooks is, in a word, damn delicious. I had the curry bowl — spinach and tomatoes drowing in a mouthwatering green curry — and Gina the Maki bowl (which, she sheepishly admitted, she orders every time she’s there).

We skipped dessert this time, but they have a gorgeous selection of homemade goodies on display — next time, methinks.

The menu shifts around a bit — the curry I ordered is actually listed on the menu as red, though if you ask me the switch to green was an excellent decision — but it’s all lunch selections, many Asian-inspired. “I’m not trained or anything, I’ve just always known how to make food taste good,” says Sheila.

We agree wholeheartedly. Cafe Ricochet is probably the best-kept secret on the north end of town.

Cafe Ricochet
Just past the blinking light
Tuesday – Saturday, 11-3