By Shirley Nelson | New Mexico Wino
Wine aficionados often are forced play detective as they search for local wines at restaurants outside of California, Oregon and Washington. Those traveling through New Mexico on I-25 might be surprised — and pleased — to discover Las Vegas as a good stop for local juice. Las Vegas? Yes, the original Las Vegas, as proclaimed by local residents. It’s just off the highway between Santa Fe and Raton and boasts of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and Billy, the Kid.
While many restaurants in this historic town serve our famous chiles — both red and green — look to these three that showcase a variety of flavors and serve New Mexico wines.
The Plaza Hotel
Step into the refined elegance of the Victorian era at the Plaza Hotel. Located on an old fashioned plaza, complete with a gazebo, this historic hotel features New Mexico wines in two settings. If you’re ready for dinner, head to the Landmark Grill just off the hotel’s lobby. A formal setting with white linen tablecloths enhances the Victorian atmosphere but the staff welcomes guests in casual dress. The menu changes frequently, with the knowledgeable staff ready to suggest an appropriate New Mexico wine as an accompaniment.
Not ready for dinner but curious about New Mexico wines? Walk to the Plaza Wine and Gifts Shop, which adjoins the hotel and discover a striking display of New Mexico wineries, with each winery offering several of its wines. The selection ranges from St. Clair in southern New Mexico, through Albuquerque’s Casa Rondena, Milagro and Gruet wineries, to the north and Black Mesa and La Chiripada. Tastings are offered and wines are available for purchase. 230 Plaza
El Fidel Restaurant
Local art adorns the walls of this quiet, charming restaurant. Also located in a historic hotel, the El Fidel Hotel, this restaurant seems detached from a hotel atmosphere, perhaps because one does not walk in from a lobby but from a street entrance to be greeted by the friendly staff. Locally grown ingredients are featured on the menu, even local lamb when available. Pasta, tastefully prepared seafood and vegetarian entrees are the norm, but chef specials are often the best bet. A limited but well-thought out wine list features wines of New Mexico’s Blue Teal Winery. And for an additional New Mexico flavor, try Albuquerque’s Marble Red beer – on tap! 500 Douglas Ave.
Fifth Quarter Grill
Golf, food and wine come together at here. Right now, the Gene Torres Golf Course looks rather brown due to New Mexico’s drought, but the atmosphere in the grill is cheerful and friendly. Try hearty buffalo barbecue or pesto shrimp with Black Mesa’s Pinot Grigio and look forward to a greener gold course in a few months and outdoor dining on the patio. Country Club Drive