New Mexico might often get attention for its culture, climate and scenery but it also deserves a famished traveler’s thanks for the tasty traditional foods on offer. Of course, visitors can find all the big national chains in most urban centers but to really get a feel for New Mexico’s distinct culinary trends - with clear links to the state’s Mexican roots - more in depth investigative work is in order.
Farmers Markets are a good place to get a feel for what’s growing regionally - try Santa Fe’s year-round market for one. Though there’s ample choice when it comes to artisan cheeses, fresh eggs, local meats, dried beans or corn, the real New Mexico darling is the chile, red or green depending on when it’s picked (and of varying degrees of hotness). You’ll keep seeing this spicy fruit around town, stuffed with cheese, chopped into salsas, ground into enchilada sauces and served in stews like caldillo, a soup of meat, potatoes and, yes, the chile. Corn has also long featured historically in native New Mexican dishes, whether it’s made into gruel, or atole, tortillas, dough for tamales and hearty Posole, a slow-cooked stew of corn, pork, onions and garlic.
Still hungry? Seek out fresh pico de gallo and chile con queso to enjoy with tortilla chips for starters, followed by enchiladas, empanadas or a few flautas and, if you can, a handful of bizcochitos and some natillas for desert. Come breakfast, plan for a hearty helping of huevos rancheros, eggs poached with chile, chased with a green chile Bloody Mary (or a shot of tequila, depending on the circumstances). For mid-day libations, consider one of the microbreweries in Albuquerque or Santa Fe, or plot a tasting tour along one of the state’s wine trails.