Friday, February 28, 2014

A Visit to El Meze Restaurant

mini cardamon doughnuts with caramel chocolate dipping sauce
It occurs to me that I have not written about my favorite restaurants in Taos. How can that be? My "day job" is blogging over at my Napa Farmhouse 1885 and Red or Green? blogs. My favorite hobby is cooking. My weekly food shopping trip to our local organic market, Cid's, is a treat. So how did I miss telling you about the best places to eat? For such a tiny town, (Taos' population is around 5000 and Taos County is approx. 30,000), we have a number of excellent restaurants. I look forward to sharing the ones I consider the best of the best.
photo from el meze website

I am starting my favorite restaurant round-up with El Meze. Located in El Prado (about a mile from the center of the town of Taos), El Meze serves delicious, local, farm-to-table food. Chef Frederick Muller describes it this way:

"At El Meze Restaurant, I prepare fresh, regionally inspired rustic comfort food that is uniquely American. I call it, “La Comida de las Sierras,” the food of the mountains, fresh trout, jamon, corn and chiles, wild mushrooms from our mountain forests, local organic produce from our small farms. This is how I like to eat and how I like to cook, clean flavors, rustic and simple."

El Meze opened in 2008 but I went for the first time this past December. Full disclosure, I planned to go for New Year's Eve in 2012 but had a bit of a bad experience when trying to make a reservation. Long story short, they had a prix fixe menu and I phoned to ask if they had vegetarian options. The curt response was "No". I took offense, made other plans, and wrote them off. Bad idea on my part...everyone has a bad day, right?  Some girlfriends of mine decided to have a holiday celebration the week after Christmas and convinced me that El Meze was not to be missed. They were so right!

L-R Shawn, Me, Eliza, Jennifer, Lily

El Meze (which means table or tapas) serves small "Share" plates (which are much bigger than the menu portrays) and "Large" entree sized portions for main dishes. Because there were five of us we ordered a number of items and sampled everything. For starters we had the crispy Herb Frites, Chile Rajas; roasted Poblano Chile, roasted red peppers, chevre and seasonings, Frijoles de olla; heirloom bolita beans from New Mexico with sharp white cheddar from Vermont, jalapenos, cilantro and green onion served with grilled flat bread. (This is my personal favorite) and we had a order of Chicharrones; These are not your typical fried pork rinds. El meze's version delivers squares of pork belly rubbed with spices, fried to a crisp and served with a chimmichurri sauce. I would recommend everything.
photo from el meze website
We shared salads (try the grilled hearts of romaine) and for entrees we had the Tamale de cardenas; buffalo, the Beef Oxtails and the Pasta e Fagiole; homemade pasta with white beans, tomatoes, basil, garlic and Reggiano Parmigiano which sounds typical but, with the fresh ingredients used, is amazingly good.
the amazing mini cardamon doughnuts

I don't always order dessert when I go out to dinner. Skipping dessert at El Meze would be a big mistake. We ordered 5 different kinds...everything was amazing...but I have to tell you about the doughnuts.  Oh my...the donuts. Made to order Cardamon Spiced Mini Doughnuts served hot, crispy on the outside...meltingly tender on the inside. They come with a hot chocolate & caramel dipping sauce and they are fantastic. You would be crazy if you didn't give them a try! We also tried a creamy Lavender Creme Brulee, a dense but light Dark Chocolate Souffle Cake and and an Almond Semifreddo served with fresh berries. 

El Meze has a wonderful wine list and their dessert menu lists suggested sherries, port and dessert wines. 

Postscript. My birthday is in February and to celebrate my husband told me to pick anywhere I wanted to go to dinner. I picked El Meze because I wanted to go back and I wanted him to experience it too. He started with the mussels for his appetizer and then had the fabulous Truchas Verva Buena; grilled whole trout with preserved lemon, mint, cilantro and garlic. He said it was the best trout he had ever eaten. We, of course, shared the aforementioned doughnuts...He fell in love! We each had a glass of the Alvear Solera 1927 Sherry from Spain with our dessert. Another magical evening with an incredible meal. I cannot wait to go back to El Meze.

peter enjoying his doughnuts at el meze!

El Meze

Located at the El Torreon Hacienda

1017 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, El Prado, NM 87571
Mailing address: 309A Apache, Taos, NM 87571
P – 575-751-3337
F – 575-751-7394
Email –


Tuesday – Saturday 5:30pm – 9:30 pm
CLOSED: July 4th, Labor Day, New Year’s Day, Sunday & Monday
OPEN: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

My best,
Feb 28, 2014

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