Best New Mexican in Taos?
Yup. And certainly among the best in all of Northern New Mexico.
September 5, 2011
I have commented before on these pages that Taos is somewhat of a culinary wasteland. Most of the food is touristy, with no real attention to detail. There are notable exceptions. Lambert’s,and Dragonfly Cafe are among the best restaurants anyplace in New Mexico. I can now add Orlando’s to this select list. It will beon my regular rotation list when I visit Taos, which I do about five or more times each year.
This is a small and funky restaurant. Eat outside on the patio, if the weather is nice. Plenty of natural and umbrella shade will keep you cool.There is nothing small or funky about the food. The small but interestingly different menu lists some dishes that you will be hard pressed to find elsewhere. What really sets the dishes apart from the wannabees is the freshness and quality of the ingredients.
We ate lunch there on Labor Day with our dear friends Sally and Andy, Taos residents and gastronomes both. Rather than starting with chips and salsa, we all decided that we would start with a plate of Nachos with chicken and beef. That way we got to try the fresh chips and delightfully piquant salsa with other ingredients, including cheese. The plate was sprinkled with slivers of really fresh lettuce and diced tomatos that tasted like they were in the garden that morning. The salsa is among the best I have has anyplace. Good choice for starters.
Sally and Andy have eaten here before, and both ordered LOS COLORES, a dish consisting of three rolled enchiladas: one with shredded (not ground) beef covered with red chile, one filled with shredded chicken with green chile, and one filled with cheese covered with chile caribe. The reds were beautifully done, complex, and of medium piquancy. Tjhe green was smoky and milder. Wonderful combinations. The entree was accompanied by pinto beans and posole, a fine combination. Both sides were exemplary. Great dish.
I wanted some seafood, so I ordered GRILLED SHRIMP & CHILE RELLENO COMBO— One chile relleno with choice of chile, topped with five grilled marinated shrimp. Served with beans, posole and flour tortilla I chose green and red chile for the relleno in order to sample both. It was delicious. The shrimp were marinated and gently grilled and served on a small skewer. Slightly smoky from the excellent grilling, they were perfectly done and delicious. The sides of pintos and posole are so much better that the crappy rice that is customarily served in lesser restaurants that I wonder why I ever eat rice. This dish was stunning: beautiful as well as tasty.
Jane had a “CREATE YOUR OWN BOWL”— Choice of (anything)! Beans, posole, cheese, green chile, red chile, chile caribe, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, beef or chicken. Served with a warm tortilla. She ordered everything on the list. She declared it to be fabulous.
I need to repeat that the lettuce and tomato garnish is several cuts above what we are used to. Fresh. Tasty. Would that other places pay so much attention to the small details.
We were so full and satisfied with this meal that we tried to skip dessert. Didn’t work. Our delightful server begged us to try the Avocado Pie. We got four forks, and bit into this creation. Sure glad that the server shamed us into it. This is cold avocado pureed with a hint of lime juice served in a graham cracker crust is unique. Incredibly delicious. I am begging you to try it. You’ll thank me for it.
Orlando’s is a remarkable find. You really need to try it. Five minutes north of the Plaza, it is easy to get to. Urbanspoon lists Orlando’s as the number 1 restaurant in Taos. I think it is surely among the top three.
Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe
1114 Don Juan Valdez Ln
Taos, NM 87571
View the menu
I couldn’t bring myself to eat anywhere else in Taos once I ate at Orlando’s.
My only complaint is they would not allow my 40 pound wiener dog to join us on the patio.