NOTE: It has become necessary to note that this piece was posted way back in April of 2012 and that things can sometimes change over time. Please bear this in mind when making any decisions about a visit.
Whenever we go to Taos, Anna and I like to treat ourselves to lunch at the Trading Post Cafe & Gallery (http://tradingpostcafe.com). I’ve mentioned it on the blog a couple of times before (see previous posts A Day In Taos, New Mexico and San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Taos, NM) but thought it was time to write a full post about it. It is one of my favorite restaurants in all of New Mexico after all. In fact I highly recommend that any of you traveling the High Road plan on having lunch or dinner at this lovely establishment. You’ll be glad you did.
The building itself has a rich history. This old adobe structure was a trading post through 1981. It offered clothing for sale as well as canned and fresh foods, building supplies and liquor. Also functioning as a drug store and a butcher shop, the old Ranchos Trading Post was the largest general store in the Taos area. It even had a soda/lunch fountain. No wonder it became a true community center for the region. During the depression and WWII its owners, the Sahd family, sent trucks out with supplies for the elderly in the community, so it was a beloved institution.
Kimberly Armstrong and Rene Mettler, the current owners since 1994, have worked hard to honor the heritage of this historic place by creating the Trading Post Cafe & Gallery. Showcasing the work of local artists (and Chef Mettler’s oil paintings as well), they hope to, once again, make it a true community center.
One of the ways they are accomplishing this is by serving truly special food. Rene Mettler, who created the entire menu as well as all of its daily specials, is an accomplished cook to say the least. His resume is long but to offer a sampling, he began his career in the culinary arts at age eighteen when he apprenticed as chef at the Hotel Schwert in Nafels, Switzerland and continued in Basel and St. Moritz. He has been the chef for the Hotel Carlton Elite in Zurich, and the Piccadilly and St. George Hotels in London, to name a few. He’s won many medals in national and international culinary competitions, including two Olympic gold medals in New York and Frankfurt (I had no idea there even were culinary competitions as part of the Olympics). And he is right here in New Mexico—on the High Road, no less! Are we lucky or what?
On this day, Will came by to take our orders. We started with the daily special salad, which included a roasted avocado—something even Anna had never heard of. Anna had the fried calamari, while I had a steak sandwich. I apologize for not getting any good photos of our main courses. They were beautifully presented but I could definitely use a food stylist for these food shots, let me tell you. Just picture dazzlingly beautiful oval plates filled with sumptuous delights and you’ll be pretty close to reality. Our lunches were superb and we’re already dreaming of going back.
As if this wasn’t enough, Anna and I expressed to Kimberly how much we liked the paintings in the next room. John Schrup, the artist, had just arrived so she brought him over to our table to introduce us. What a lovely man! Very humble about his work. We chatted for awhile and then he agreed to let me take his picture in front of his paintings. And, lo and behold, by the time we got there, two of his painter friends had also arrived. Does this give you an idea of the kind of artful clientele the Trading Post attracts?
I’ll admit it was hard to leave such a nurturing place to go run our errands, but at least they were fun errands. We bought an old couch for the gallery’s studio and strolled through the beautiful greenhouses at Petree’s. All in all, a very lovely day in Taos. You can bet we’ll be back!
Oh, and for those of you who are local or planning trips soon, Kimberly and Rene are hosting a special three-course dinner for only $12 every Tuesday through Thursday from 4-6. You should check it out. You know Anna and I will.
Trading Post Cafe & Gallery
4179 HWY 68 (at HWY 518)
Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557-0698
Love to you all,
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