THE LOVE APPLE, TAOS
White-plastered adobe walls rising to a bluebird sky greet diners at the Love Apple. Housed in a former 19th-century chapel, the Taos restaurant attracts culinary devotees with a menu that highlights local, organic ingredients. Proprietor Jennifer Hart works with farmers and growers throughout northern New Mexico, sourcing the freshest components for an ever-changing menu that could include grilled trout, lamb albóndigas, and tamales with a Oaxacan-style mole.
The Love Apple’s old wooden floors and thick vigas give the dining room a Land of Enchantment romance warmed by candlelight. The leafy patio is the place to be in the summertime, seated on whitewashed benches covered with woven textiles. Whatever shows up on the menu the night you visit, it’s bound to be New Mexico–inspired and delicious. (This 13-table establishment accepts cash or check only; come prepared.) Extra ❤️: Pop into shops around the Taos Plaza and buy your boo a bauble. 803 Paseo del Norte, Taos; 575-751-0050, theloveapple.net
IZANAMI, SANTA FE
Driving up Hyde Park Road makes a trip to Izanami, the restaurant at Ten Thousand Waves, feel like a getaway to a faraway land—in this case, Japan. “We don’t want to be a typical Japanese restaurant,” says manager Kaz Tani. “We serve izakaya style, like a Japanese pub or tapas. We want people to share dishes and enjoy more flavors. People laughing is the music of the restaurant.”
Izanami also pours from a stellar collection of artisanal sake. “We carry more than anyone else on this continent when it comes to unpasteurized sake. It makes Santa Fe a sake capital,” Tani says. The knowledgeable staff enjoys teaching diners about sake, which region each varietal comes from, and the process behind making it. “We are happy to teach and show you how to drink sake,” Tani says. “It’s really a lot of fun.”
The ambience at Izanami is crowned by paper lanterns hung over comfy booths, and a tatami room where guests are seated on the floor at low tables. Round windows overlook the mountain landscape. On a snowy, misty day, it feels like you’re in the hills of Japan. Extra ❤️: Schedule a pre-dinner spa treatment. 21 Ten Thousand Waves Way, Santa Fe; 505-982-9304, tenthousandwaves.com/food.
SKYFIRE AT BISHOP’S LODGE, SANTA FE
Overlooking the Sangre de Cristo foothills just north of Santa Fe, SkyFire, the restaurant at Bishop’s Lodge, has a menu inspired by regional cuisine. Behind the bar, an expansive window looks out over the property. “The restaurant faces the sunset,” says Alyssa Alexander, director of marketing at Bishop’s Lodge. “If you come at the right time, you get such a beautiful golden hour.”
Fireplaces throughout the restaurant and on the terrace crackle, wafting the spicy-sweet aroma of piñon. “The scent the fireplaces evoke is so grounding and romantic,” Alexander says. “It really draws you into a multisensory experience and sets the mood for this cozy environment.”
Tortilla stew, shrimp empanadas, and roasted celery root accompany heartier dishes like elk short ribs and a bison tomahawk steak. “Our chef is so accomplished,” says Alexander. “The food he makes is really beautiful.” Extra ❤️: Sign up for the resort’s monthly Alchemy of Breath session. 1297 Bishops Lodge Road, Santa Fe; 505-390-2323, aubergeresorts.com/bishopslodge
MESA PROVISIONS, ALBUQUERQUE
Chef Steve Riley opened Mesa Provisions in the Nob Hill neighborhood in the summer of 2021. It quickly rose to the highest ranks of Duke City eateries. The muted, blond-wood decor allows the spotlight to shine on the real star: the food. Born and raised in Albuquerque, Riley embraces local ingredients and has close relationships with farmers throughout the Río Grande Valley. The result is a hyper-seasonal menu that keeps up with the changing bounty of the high desert, and a devoted staff that can make a solo bartop diner feel like they’re having a lively conversation. Staples include a smoked half chicken served alongside duck-fat tortillas, pepita crema, and pintos, as well as biscuits with sharp cheddar and chiles, which regulars return for time and again. Make reservations; this intimate spot often fills up. Extra ❤️: Feel like kids again with the S’mores Tart dessert. 3120 Central Ave., Albuquerque; 505-494-5264, mesaprovisions.com
TABLAO FLAMENCO, ALBUQUERQUE
Flamenco dancers and musicians take the stage at Tablao Flamenco every weekend, creating a dinner-and-a-show experience. Nestled in Old Town’s Hotel Albuquerque, the full-on production includes professional lighting and sound that enhance the flamenco experience. Guest artists take the stage from Spain, as well as local premier dancers and musicians from the National Institute of Flamenco. No two shows are the same, as flamenco is an inherently improvisational art, born in the moment as the artists collaborate. Dinner is a four-course, prix fixe menu to which you can add a bottle of wine or cava. Purchase tickets ahead of time here. Extra ❤️: Toast your love with a post-dessert Spanish sherry. 800 Rio Grande Blvd., Albuquerque; 505-222-8797, tablaoflamenco.org
CAMPO, LOS RANCHOS DE ALBUQUERQUE
Architect John Gaw Meem’s legendary touches appear throughout the 25 acres of Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm. Built as a home in the 1930s, it’s now a world-class resort with a pool, spa, gardens, and acres of lavender fields along the Río Grande. Its restaurant and upscale bar, Campo, represent the terroir of the river valley with delicious dishes and craft cocktails—plus one of the best brunch menus in the state. The chilaquiles are drenched in red chile and come with an irresistible side of crispy potatoes. The dinner menu has New Mexican favorites like a tamale adovada and innovations like a sunchoke risotto. Try a Campo margarita made with Los Poblanos lavender syrup or a Lavender 99 made with gin, lavender syrup, crème de violette, and sparkling wine. Extra ❤️: Tack a yoga class onto your visit. 4803 Rio Grande Blvd., Los Ranchos de Albuquerque; 855-486-1380, lospoblanos.com
TRINITY HOTEL, CARLSBAD
Inside 1892 walls that once held Carlsbad’s First National Bank, the Trinity Hotel now welcomes guests to gracious rooms and a popular restaurant. The Trinity boasts a menu filled with classic pasta dishes like ravioli, manicotti, and lasagna, plus other Italian comforts like chicken parmesan. Owner Dale Balzano says the steaks are his favorite. “The ribeye and the filet are standouts,” he says. “Sometimes we serve a special Southwest steak with chile peppers and it’s really popular.” The restaurant has grown into a favorite date-night spot for locals, partly thanks to a wine cellar based on the owner’s Balzano Family Vineyard. “I think the feeling you get when you step into that old building is really unique,” Balzano says. “The ambience of the building makes it special.” Extra ❤️: Reserve a night in Room 206, which still holds an actual bank vault. 201 South Canal St., Carlsbad; 575-234-9891, thetrinityhotel.com
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