Come hungry

Taos Diner I and II: home to the ‘in crowd’ of Taos


Taos Diner is a must-do weekly, or more, for locals and sometimes a daily stop during visitors’ stays. This longtime Taos staple has a family atmosphere that welcomes all comers with open arms and “howdy neighbor” camaraderie.

The food is exactly what you’re hungry for any and every day of the week. It is the go-to place for all your special needs – particularly helpful for travelers trying to stick to their diet regimens. Got celiac issues? There are two Taos Diner locations and both have the same menu including lots of gluten-free options, such as the red or green chile, pancakes and bread. Really unbelievable, but true. Just ask for gluten-free.

Vegetarians and vegans can find a number of plates at the Diners, so everyone has plenty of choices. Dropping the potatoes and toast? Just ask to substitute fresh or steamed veggies to round out your meal. You’ll feel well taken care of and walk away “full, full, full” as one happy Yelp reviewer put it last winter.

If you’re thinking about heading out to the gym or maybe going skiing or hiking, fuel up and kill hunger pangs with a delicious, steaming hot bowl of pecan and raisin or cranberry walnut oatmeal.

The house chai will thrill you all over, inside and out, as well as the lattes and cappuccinos – perfect to help brave the elements.

Probably most important to both visitors and locals is owners Annie Powell and Jay Powell’s commitment to serving humanely bred and processed animals and ingredients, such as locally sourced beef from West Best in Jaroso, Colorado and Larry Roybal in Cerro, New Mexico; Kyzer pork; organic-fed, free-range local eggs; and duck eggs from Three Guys Farms in Monte Vista, Colorado.

Big sellers are the giant breakfast burritos smothered in red, green or Christmas (the New Mexican favorite featuring both red and green chile sauce side-by-side smothering the huge burrito). They are stuffed with meat of choice, scrambled eggs and home fries, which many folks halve, taking the rest home for later.

Also bestsellers are the generous buttermilk biscuits that come with everything. Other favorites are the Charles Breakfast Burrito (named after a local 18 years ago) or Copper John’s Eggs (named after copper artist John Nettles). But hands down, the homemade corned beef hash is by far one of the most popular plates. Try pairing it with eggs over-easy and mix it all up with the hash and creamy egg yolks. Delish!

Frequently chosen for Best of Taos awards, the Taos Diner I at 908 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, was originally bought by the Powell’s in 2004. Taos Diner I is located on the north side of Taos, a couple driveways from the Taos Pueblo traffic light on Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Taos Diner II opened in 2010, at 216 Paseo del Pueblo Sur on the south side of town, just up from Smith’s Food & Drug. Both places serve breakfast, lunch and brunch, from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day of the week.

Annie maintains the Diners’s popularity is, of course, the great food but more than that it’s the employees. “They’re the rock stars over there. They pretty much run the whole thing,” she said.

Taos Diner I’s longtime favorite employees include Robert Lujan (a waiter who started 14 years ago when he was 13), and Kristin Gossner who’s been there 17 years – “Forever. It’s embarrassing,” she said of being a fixture at the original Taos Diner. Gossner’s son, Victor Jacquot, just started bussing and is a bright and shining addition to Diner I.

Lujan likes the Diner because of the good vibe and the fact you can order anything you want from good ’n’ greasy to healthy and organic. Another big plus at the north side Diner I is Annie’s Taos Market located next door, featuring a wide range of organic and locally sourced meats and produce.

Employee Melissa Winters at the south side Taos Diner II said the food is fab. “I not only work here, I eat here,” she said happily.

Besides organic coffees on tap in both Taos Diners, you’ll also find cold brew coffee. A few years back they added homemade kim chi and Dragonfly baked goods from the ovens of everyone’s favorite local baker Karen Todd.

But that is not to diminish the popularity of Priscilla “The Cinnamon Roll Lady” Marcus’ gigantic cinnamon rolls. (Lujan swears Priscilla is his grandma — she said she’s everyone’s grandma). The rolls have been a success for more than two decades and are still a local fave.

Local artists’ works are on the walls at both locations. North-side artists include Josh Larson (he creates the big white board art for specials), Rachel Houseman’s acrylics, CheyAnne Sexton’s oils and minis, Claire Briggs’ photography and Mary Alvarado’s collages and mirrors.

South-side artists include Diner employee George Jennings’s mixed media and acrylics, plus the oils of painting/life partners Don Brackett and PJ Garoutte.

So come on down and have the fabulous fare and rub elbows with more locals than you ever knew lived in Taos — the “in crowd.”


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