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Ask the Locals

Cathy Lea.
When traveling through any small town the best way I know to find good food is to ask the locals. Sure a modern phone with apps like Yelp and Trip Advisor are fine, but I have had the best luck just asking around.

A friend and I took a road trip to Taos, New Mexico (the 47th state) many years ago long before the Internet was open to the public if you can imagine that. We spent time walking around the plaza and would ask shopkeepers and people on the street where I could find the best food. More than half of them said at my house but unfortunately none of them invited us for dinner. Many of the others said to go to the Chow Cart and order a Suzy. Back then it wasn't on the menu, but it was a very popular item. So off we went, driving down the main road in search of a big parking lot with an old converted UPS van at the back. Sure enough, there it was. There was a hand written menu board in front of the truck with a few items, but none of the customers standing in line seemed to read it. A young lady came out to our truck and asked what we would like. We both ordered the mysterious Suzy. We had no idea what it would be, but it was recommended enough that we had to try it.

Imagine a roasted green (Anaheim) chile stuffed with mild cheese then coated in a cheesy batter, grilled to crispy perfection and served wrapped in a flour tortilla with a little refried bean, guacamole and some sour cream. It was the best combination of hot and cold, spicy and mild, crispy and creamy in almost every bite. Serious yum on several different levels which is why this is still one of my favorite food finds decades later!

The Chow Cart is now an actual restaurant building. They now have a real menu board with the Suzy listed, booths to sit at and even a framed painting of the old UPS truck on the wall. It is still one of my favorite places to eat in Taos. I have never been able to recreate that crispy cheesy batter at home and they won't tell the secret.

So be adventurous, ask the locals, tell them what you like and try their suggestions.

Oh and as a general rule I avoid restaurants with white tablecloths when possible. I much prefer restaurants that pay more attention to their food than the décor.

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