La Merienda and Farm Shop at Los Poblanos Ranch
July 31, 2013
New Mexico has a wonderful local cuisine, and I always overload on New Mexican food when I visit. However, until recently, there has not been any alternative cuisine options that are particularly special or memorable. But now that has changed - in a big way - with the arrival of Los Poblanos.
I found about Los Poblanos about a year ago and I decided to gift a dinner for two at their restaurant to my mother-in-law. She loved it, and on our most recent visit to New Mexico, she took us there. It was a absolutely a treat and by far the best restaurant in Albuquerque.
Los Poblanos - La Merienda
When you enter the gate, you see the farm on the right side, and on the left is the inn. The approach to the restaurant (La Merienda) through the inn is charming. The back yard was absolutely gorgeous with an amazing flower garden, complete with... a peacock. The outdoor eating terrace has a fantastic view of the Sandia mountains. It is such a beautiful place to enjoy a nice and slow meal with your friends and family.
In typical farm-to-table fashion, Los Poblanos' menu features ingredients from their own farm. But here, the "farm" is more than a bunch of vegetables. It includes an array of herbs (lavender!), fruits, bacon from their pigs, honey from their bees, and so on. The kitchen is barely more than a large home kitchen, but what they do with their homegrown ingredients is precious.
(Top left) Cheese plate : Mountain Tam triple cream with Balsamic fig jam and house-made graham crackers;
Old Windmill Dairy chevre with lavender and fennel pollen and house-made seeds and nuts crisps;
Gorgonzola with mint gelee and house-made water crackers
(Top right) Pollo Confit Rillette
(Bottom left) Savory goat cheese custard, black pepper mecerated strawberries, grissini, Monticello NM 16 year old aged balsamic
(Bottom right) House-made focaccia
I tend to find first courses (appetizers) to be more attractive than main courses and La Merienda at Los Poblanos was no exception. We enjoyed some great local cheese with unique accompaniments including house-made crackers (different crackers for each cheese), rillette made with chicken confit and goat cheese custard. The plates were big enough to share (in our case, we shared those three first course among five people), and, along with a fantastic sparkling wine, it was a wonderful start to our meal.
Although I enjoyed the first course, the main course were also fantastic. Our group had "Lamb Two Ways" (chimmichurri rack, carnitas style shoulder, blistered young onion and shallots); special sea scallops with pinto beans; pork loin (larded and brined, honey red chile glaze, roasted root vegetable with coriander); and sausage and papperdelle pasta. Each one was perfect.
We finished our dinner with rhubarb raspberry pavlova and chocolate panna cotta.
Usually, La Merienda is Los Poblanos' restaurant for their inn guests and while guests at the inn have priority, if there are any tables available, you can have a chance the best dining experience in the city. They also offer different events like wine tasting and a once-a-month dinner event called Field to Folk dining. If you are in Albuquerque and you want the best cuisine in the state, don't miss Los Poblanos.
Los Poblanos - Farm Shop
The photos above say it all - the Los Poblanos Farm Store is wonderful, authentic, unique and more than I can put into words. They sell products made from their famous lavender (I bought a jar of culinary lavender mix) and other spice mixes, honey products, cured meats and gelato along with lovely gardening and cooking tools. My favorite of the kitchen items were the cute kitchen towels made by local artists and organic soap and lotions made from lavender and honey. Outside the store, you can feed their very cute goats, roam through the lavender, check out the livestock and more. The store is so lovely and real, it was hard to leave there. I recommend if you go Los Poblanos for dinner, go early and visit the farm store.
Los Poblanos is certainly my favorite spot in entire Albuquerque culinary scene, and finally, as much as I appreciate the unique and special spirit of New Mexican food, it is wonderful to have such a special farm-to-table alternative as well.