THE HEART OF TOWN Historic Taos Plaza

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THE  HISTORY OF TAOS PLAZA may go back centuries but its vibe is always of-the-moment.

From being the site of one of Northern New Mexico’s most comprehensive farmers’ markets, to being a weekly outdoor venue for live music and dancing, to being the home of Fiestas de Taos, to hosting the cutting-edge street artists of The Paseo, Taos Plaza remains the heart of town.

The plaza has seen some exciting new merchants grace its walkways and portals, and Manzanita Marketlocated at 103 North Plaza, is one of them. Offspring of The Love Apple, an acclaimed restaurant on the north side of town, Manzanita offers both a breakfast and lunch menu of “simple and wholesome food” relying upon locally sourced seasonal organic ingredients. The welcoming, funky environment has made it a local favorite for meeting and eating.

Or if you’re looking to relax with a glass of your favorite wine accompanied by some scrumptious small plates or charcuterie, then head to Parcht, a laid-back wine bar tucked under The Gorge Bar and Grill, at 103 East Plaza. It’s deservedly earned a local reputation as a choice gathering place with an uncommonly chill atmosphere, not to mention its stellar menu and carefully curated wines and craft beers.

Afterwards, maybe you’re craving a hand-crafted truffle, or a sampling of chocolate mousse (be-still-my-heart as I write this). Visit Debi Vincent and her husband, Javier Abad, at their exquisite café called Chokola Bean to Bar, 100 Juan Largo Lane, where you’ll also enjoy pastries, ice cream, hot or cold sipping chocolate, and an extensive collection of single-origin chocolate bars.

"Our customers love the actual experience of the shop,” the international award-winning chocolatiers say. “It’s the different tastes, textures and aromas mixed with hot and cold temperatures that makes our full tasting menu so popular.”

Down the way, Studio 107B stands as a singular plaza gallery, with its calendar of multicultural, multi-media shows. Artist/gallery owner Máye Torres has energized the contemporary art scene with her themed pop-up shows that are both thoughtful and thought-provoking, attracting huge audiences.

Torres is passionate about the local energy of Taos Plaza. “This is the center of what’s going on in Taos. Our friends and neighbors come out for the concerts [Taos Plaza Live: Thursday evenings, historically from May through October], they come out to support our local farmers, they go to Nambé for wedding gifts and Mesa’s Edge for birthday and anniversary gifts, supporting the region’s best artisans.

“The food at Manzanita is pure and energizing,” Torres continued, “and Debi and Javier are preserving the crafting of chocolate like no one else in the world. I could go on about every one of us on the plaza. We have great food, great wines and most of all, representation of the best of contemporary artists local to Taos.

“Taos is multicultural and we on the plaza strive to be equally representative across our three cultures and across the sexes,” she concluded.

So while you’re eating, sipping and shopping like a local, keep an eye out for the unexpected. For, if nothing else, the historic Taos Plaza will always surprise you.

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