Santa Fe Daytripping: Taos

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Taos is tiny.  The population of the entire county is well under half that of the city of Santa Fe. But like Santa Fe, Taos packs a powerful per capita punch of  character and appeal. People know Taos for the world class skiing, Taos Pueblo, and the famous Rio Grande Gorge. But you won’t taste the full flavor of Taos with your first sip. It’s a rural, rooted, art-centric intersection of Spanish, Native, counterculture hippies, recreationalists and ranchers: much too much to capture in a single draught.

For good, general information on what to see and do in Taos, consult the Taos Vacation Guide website. Following are a few tips from our recent visit.

Start your day at one of two standout breakfast spots. At Doc Martin’s, the coffee is strong and the fare filling at a reasonable price.  Locals recommend the Kit Carson (poached eggs on a yam biscuit with red chile.) Gutiz, with its Latin-French fusion cuisine, is an absolute “must-try.” I ordered the Tortilla: a Spanish Frittata with potatoes, onions, cucumber salad and savory tapenade. Excellent, though the tidy, tapas-sized portion might not sate a heartier appetite. Joshua picked the Taoseña (eggs, red beans, green chile, potatoes), also quite good. The orange-cinnamon battered French toast with strawberries and bananas is a reputed treat. Plus, the staff was over-the-top pleasant and welcoming.

The Plaza is a point of orientation and good for a sit or stroll, but less imaginative for shopping (though admittedly, we are not power shoppers.) One exception was the upscale consignment boutique, Re-Neux, at 126 B West Plaza Drive. With modest prices relative to quality, Re-Neux is a destination of merit for current women’s fashions, designer labels and vintage.  If you’re a book lover, don’t miss independent icon Moby Dickens Bookshop, on Bent Street, offering rare and out-of-print Western and New Mexico titles on site, and the willing ability to hunt down your desired treasure.

15 minutes north of Taos, on SR 150, is the tiny town of Arroyo Seco. The Taos Cow Ice Cream Scoop Shop, Cafe and Deli has creekside outdoor seating in clement weather. Across the street is our pick of the town’s shops, Rottenstone Pottery: an eclectic gathering of wood-fired pottery in an inviting studio/gallery.  There’s no website at present, so check out Scott Rutherford’s Facebook Page for up-to-date info on events and hours.

We ended our day at the luxe Anaconda Bar at El Monte Sagrado–easy walking distance from our outstanding VRBO rental, Artists Atelier. Anaconda’s Perfect Margarita was a little sweet for me, but pleasantly strong. We ballasted with a plate of Kessler Calamari served on a bed of Moroccan aioli, green olives and cilantro, rich enough to ruin us for dinner.  Before heading back to our digs, we took a quick walk around the hotel’s fragrant, lusciously humid atrium. I found and bruised a Bay Rum leaf. Its warm, spicy redolence is at once nothing and everything like Taos: sensuous, different, restorative and well-worth seeking out.

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