There is much that is special about Taos, New Mexico, a small town nestled in the dramatic Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There is the magnificent Taos Pueblo – a thriving Native American community still without running water or electricity – and the challenging slopes of Ski Valley, not to mention adobe architecture, artists and cowboys and endless high desert vistas at every turn. Add to that list incredible food – most of it locally sourced – that is prepared using traditional, regional ingredients in inventive and unexpected ways. At the top of my list is The Love Apple, a restaurant that is, I believe, worthy of Michelin stars.
The eatery is set in a sweet, old wooden chapel complete with a church bell – and while we opted to sit inside during my last visit, the atmospheric patio, framed in rough-hewn beams and twinkling tapered candles, beckoned.
Seated at one of just 13 tables, we browsed a menu of organic dishes famous for being made from scratch using added-hormone-free meats, local flour, produce and artisanal cheeses. Housemade flour tortillas with harissa, crème fraîche and cilantro-lime relish and bacon-wrapped dates (here made with bourbon-brined Arizona medjool dates) were perfect starters – and I am still dreaming about the Las Aguas Farm spinach salad with bacon, avocado, blue cheese and fried egg.
Chef de cuisine Andrea Meyer’s entrees were just as scrumptious, with her haute tacos particularly standout. We selected from chicken, fried avocado and chimichurri, and braised “grass-fed & finished” beef varieties, and then topped them liberally with green-chile coconut-creamed corn. Grilled ruby rainbow trout cooked in cornhusks with lime-compound butter and a delicate quinoa-piñon fritter was also memorable, as were sides of Love Apple potato gratin and green beans lightly sautéed with cinnamon. The wine list is similarly noteworthy, with pinot noirs from Oregon (Erath 2011), Bourgogne (Pascal Janvier 2012) and Sonoma (Flowers 2011) a few under-the-radar highlights.
The only cautionary advice I’d give about The Love Apple is to book in advance – there’s an extremely loyal local fan base – and bring cash. No credit cards are accepted, which only adds to the authentic, slightly hippie charm of the place.