When married couple Noah Pettus and Brittany Garner decided to come back to Taos, they wanted to bring their culinary experience with them. Pettus, an Arroyo Hondo/Arroyo Seco native, went to the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Garner attended Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, and both wanted to start a restaurant that reflected their core values.
“We wanted to do something that would be appealing to locals and to the neighborhood,” says Garner. “We wanted a casual experience in a casual environment, but with the highest quality food possible. It’s as local as possible, as organic as possible.”
Aceq (shortened from “acequia”) opened in April and bills itself as a “family-owned, farm-to-table” restaurant located in Arroyo Seco. The small eatery is in the space formerly occupied by Hunter Tom’s and Hiro Hobo.
Pettus describes Aceq as a “French bistro concept” with an emphasis on Northern New Mexico. The menu includes local cuisine like chicharones and posole juxtaposed with more exotic fare like ceviche and charred rapini.
“Our menu changes a lot with the seasons and what product is available to us,” Pettus says. “I wanted to serve real food with integrity that speaks to where were at.”
Among Aceq’s local sources of produce are Living Light Farms in Arroyo Seco and Charybda Farms in Arroyo Hondo. The restaurant is getting meats from Sheppard’s Lamb in Tierra Amarilla and Wag Dorper, just up the road in El Salto.
“We buy whole lambs, whole pigs, and we try to use every piece of the animal as possible,” Pettus says.
The couple held a “sacramental first matanza” to slaughter a pig that came from Llano Billy Farm in Peñasco.
Growing up on a farm near Taos, Pettus says his family regularly butchered their own animals. “For us it’s a huge part of the culinary experience,” Garner adds, saying for many people, there is a disconnect between the animal on the hoof and the meat wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.
Aceq is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m., with Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The restaurant can be reached at (575) 776-0900. A menu can be seen online at aceqrestaurant.blogspot.com.