Michael's KitchenDate of Visit: Monday, June 23, 2008
304 C N Pueblo Rd.
3 blocks north of Plaza
Taos, New Mexico 87571
Time: Breakfast - 8:30 AM
Number of Diners: 8
Food Quality: 8
This place is legendary across New Mexico for good food and great bakery items. You can tell a place is good when the parking lot is four times the size of the building - in an area where parking is scarce! I went with my wife and a half dozen other motorcylists to try the breakfast, and it did live up to the legend. The place is a little nondescript, and you have to enter via a long breezeway - to accommodate the frequent long lines. Our timing was perfect, hitting the soft spot between the pre-work breakfasters and the vacationers - the breezeway was jammed as we tried to leave at 9:30. The place has two main rooms in the front, separated by a walk-in bakery counter filled with countless delights. There are additional rooms in the back, too. Bustling and noisy, the decor was old southwest, with rough-hewn plank flooring copiously stained with generations of coffee, syrup, and other items.
They seated our party of eight in seconds and brought coffee (regular or pinon) for those so inclined. Pinon adds a mellow, almost chocolate flavor to the coffee, but our table of mostly tourists considered it more of a contaminant. It's a love-it or hate-it deal, kind of like New Orleans chickory coffee.Our waitress was a veteran professional, so she immediately asked if we wanted one check or several, and did not flinch when we told her two groups of two and one group of four.
What we had with menu descriptions...
The menu had a large selection of standard and New Mexican breakfast dishes, and our group sampled several.
My choice: Breakfast Enchilada
Corn tortillas filled with scrambled eggs, smothered with your choice of chile, served with rice and pinto beans: 7.95
My wife's choice: Tortilla Relleñada
Delicious diced ham and lightly scrambled eggs with chives, wrapped in a flour tortilla & smothered with your choice of chile and cheese: 8.35
Martín's Breakfast Burrito
Scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, diced green chile and hash browns wrapped in a flour tortilla: 8.35
A gourmet delight heated blueberry compote surrounded by thin pancakes and topped with sour cream: 8.65
And my wife summoned all her resolve not to get the Viva La French Toast
Delicious cinnamon bread swizzled in a rich batter browned to perfection and topped with one egg, any style, and two bacon strips or sausage: 7.65
The food arrived within 10 minutes for the entire table, delivered two by two in the hands of our capable waitress. I opted for pinto beans and rice with mine. The two enchiladas were excellent - chewy corn tortillas offsetting the creamy egg/cheese filling. The green chile sauce topping was spicier than average, and full of small chunks of beef (they also offer veggie green chile). Another diner, who had both on hers, assured me that the red was quite good also. The pinto beans were whole (as they should be) and not refried. The rice was a soggy Spanish-sauced white rice - the only disappointment. The beans, chile, enchilada combo was outstanding. I also sampled the Rellenada that my wife ordered. The eggs were very fluffy and well-seasoned with chive and shaved ham - absolutely delicious with the green chile as well. Other diners added their praise to the generous dishes. Upon exiting, I browsed the menu case with a range of cake donuts, colossal cinnamon rolls with and without pecans/maple glazing, and other delights. I chose a blueberry muffin to go and paid the modest check ($27 for two, including $5 tip). Later that day the muffin did not disappoint - jammed full of fruit and very light on the sugar.
I really must say, Michael's food was excellent. Both the green and red chile sauces were unique, and I found the red much more to my taste that the type found south of Santa Fe. In fact, it was so good that we returned again for two more breakfasts and three lunches that week! All were legendary. Here's a quick review of our other experiences - 4 diners each time...
Something Deliciously Different
Omelette enhanced with roasted green chile and smothered with cheese: 7.45
Poor Man's Eggs Benedict
Two eggs any style on a toasted English muffin, nestled between shaved ham and chile and crowned with melted cheese: 8.35
Two eggs served on a corn tortilla, piled high with pinto beans and surrounded with your choice of homemade red or green chile with meat: 7.95
A zesty blend of cheese, ham, peppers, onions and chile salsa: 7.85
And for lunch...
Bacon Chile Cheese Burger
Our huge burger with bacon, melted cheese, and diced green chile, served with french fries 7.95 - These were so good I had two (on different days!)
Pure ground beef smothered in onions and melted processed cheese, served on rye bread, grilled in butter: 7.95
A delicate sopapilla stuffed with beans, cheese, onions and ground beef. Your choice of chile is ladled on, then crowned with guacamole and sour cream: 8.35
BLT with Green Chile Wrapped up in a Flour Tortilla Mmmmmmmmmmmm: 7.85
Grilled chicken in a flour tortilla, a tangy blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, diced green chiles and avocado. Grilled and served with rice and beans:6.85 - Side of fruit ordered extra to aid digestion!
It should be noted that on our first visit we were seated in an overflow area. The main dining room is much nicer and more tastefully decorated with stained glass, antique iron stoves, local photographs and other local art, plus an enormous wood scroll-saw landscape on one wall. Both food and ambiance scores have increased a full point based on our subsequent visits. The food was all outstanding, with the patty melt trailing the pack at simply good. The stuffed sopapilla was absolutely delicious, and the bacon green chile burger rivaled that of the famous Owl Cafe in San Antonio, NM. The quesadilla was quite good, approaching but not rivaling the Range in Bernalillo, NM. Service was consistently friendly and capable. On top of it all each meal came with one or more sopapillas for dessert with honey butter plus honey on the table. I gained a pound a day during my week in Taos!
Michael's Kitchen - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Highs: Excellent, bountiful, rib-sticking food; friendly, informal atmosphere; reasonable prices
Lows: Noisy and often crowded - only open for dinner on weekends!
Bon Appétit! - W. Ego