Shine yer best boots and lace up yer chaps, we’re going out! These three Western-style restaurants are just a short ride away.
Written and photography by Jennifer C. Olson
The Buckhorn Saloon & Opera House
Up in the hills outside of Silver City, The Buckhorn Saloon & Opera House has served as the watering hole for pioneering gold miners, grizzled hunters, and thirsty travelers. Stepping onto the wooden decking of the Buckhorn and pulling on the wrought iron door handle transports you to another era, a Wild West you’ve heard about but never really experienced.
A lion pelt on the wall coupled with the gussied up barmaid dangling her pale plastic legs from a ledge over the bar lends the aesthetic you’ve been seeking. Just one whiff of the smoke escaping from the fireplace plus a smiley welcome from a dimpled young thang relaxes you right away.
If you only need to whet your whistle, then it’s best to sit belly-up to the bar with the regulars. But if it’s a steak you’re after, then ask for a quiet spot in the dining room.
Either way, you’re neked without a drink in front of you at the Buckhorn.
The bartender’s experienced hands know their way around a whiskey cocktail, but they’re just as happy to pour you a tall glass of merlot or hand over an ice-cold bottle of beer. Sip on whatever suits your fancy while drooling over the menu.
First, warm your soul with the Buckhorn’s famously rich green chile stew, sprinkling cheddar over the bowl before digging in.
Next, figure out what you’d like chef and proprietor Thomas Bock to whip up for your entrée. If you go with the herb-marinated quail or the pan-seared Muscovy duck with an apricot port reduction, you are guaranteed an adventurous feast. And if you go the more traditional route and order, say, the eight-ounce prime filet mignon, there’s also opportunity to spice up your supper: Get your beef smothered in Hatch green chile sauce “buckhorn style.”
When nature calls, look for the pair of swinging saloon doors and head thataway. Just don’t be startled by the Indian in the corner. He and his two long braids have been setting on that same barstool, playing the same slots, for the past few decades.
Before you leave, ask the waitress for a tour of the opera house next door, complete with a rundown on the building’s history—and the spooks haunting it.
32 Main St., Pinos Altos, NM
Open Monday through Saturday, 3pm to 10pm
Food is served in the saloon starting at 4pm, and the dining room opens at 5pm; reservations recommended.
Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch
Leave your six-shooter at home and wrangle the children for a trip to the 36,000-acre Indian Cliffs Ranch, where a legendary steakhouse has been serving up the juiciest meat around since 1973. Just on the outskirts of El Paso and along the Butterfield Trail and the San Antonio stagecoach route, the biggest ranch in the immediate region boasts a zoo, a lake, an adobe stagecoach stop, and of course Cattleman’s Steakhouse.
When you go, build in time to explore the ranch’s walking trails and roads, where you can discover an antique wagon collection, working stable areas, and an Old West town. Signage points the way to the Indian maze and the fields where buffalo and long horns graze, and the occasional peacock crosses your meandering path. Evidence of Indian camps turns up around the property, and the remnants of owner Dieter Gerzymisch’s original livery still dot the ranch.
You work up a fierce appetite wandering the same landscape that Native American’s thrived off in the 1800s and that stagecoaches traveled while delivering mail and passengers all over the West. But Cattleman’s will both satisfy your appetite and please your palette.
You start the family-style meal off right with mesquite-smoked BBQ beef ribs, which smoldered overnight in old-fashioned mesquite smokers, and order up a frozen drink made of blended liqueurs and ice cream. (The Rustler, a Cattleman’s specialty, comes highly recommended.)
Since you’ve got a hankering for a two-pound T-Bone, The Cowboy is the menu item you need. But the missus has a slighter appetite and is better off ordering the one and a half-pound T-Bone (The Cowgirl) instead. The kiddos enjoy The Little Wrangler, which is a tender seven-ounce sirloin, cut just for smaller tummies.
Everyone heaps their plates with the ranch beans, coleslaw, and bread that appear on the table, and there are toppings to quench any craving. Butter and sour cream come standard, but you ask for a side of jalapeños to put a little hair on your chest and a dish of herbed butter for topping your steak with.
No ranchero’s meal is complete without a slice of apple pie, and you prefer it a la mode, opting for a scoop of vanilla ice cream with yours.
4.5 miles north of I-10 from Fabens (Exit 49)
Monday through Friday
from 5pm to 10pm
Saturday from 12:30pm to 10 pmI
Sunday from 12:30pm – 9pm
The Adobe Deli
You won’t believe it until you see it: The ramshackle tavern in the middle of nowhere that’s haunted by taxidermy, plastered with rusty highway signs, and frequented by hungry folks looking for a truly Western experience.
Cowherds flank one side of the narrow road leading from the town of Deming to The Adobe Deli, and gravesites flank the other. Just after passing the oddly located cemetery, you will come upon an unassuming building, labeled simply “tavern” and sitting under an enormous wooden windmill. Park your steed near the smokehouse and mosey on in.
An elk statue greets your party on your way through The Adobe Deli’s front gate, while a bison figurine meets y’all on the other side. From the trolley car in the corner of the grassy courtyard to the rustic front deck covered in grapevines, the restaurant’s exterior harkens to the time when cowboys on horseback cooked their grub over a fire and when Apaches and mariachis roamed this desert, too.
Inside, stuffed mountain lions and bears gnash their teeth at every outlaw in the place, the scales of mounted swordfish and gators glint in the dim lighting, and one stiff coat of armor watches over the wait staff. A well-stocked bar glows from under rows of ancient sombreros, trucker hats, and Stetsons, and a local blond shimmies out from behind it to take your order.
Choosing between the French onion soup and the house-made bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers proves impossible, so you order both and follow the appetizers with a rib eye that barely fits the platter it’s served on.
Looking around, you notice daylight filtering in through the gaps between the timber walls and the roof, admire the dusty tassels on the chandeliers over a pool table, and run your hands along your tabletop’s coppery finish. You see that the red roses in each water-filled Jägermeister bottle are real and that the lanterns flicker with genuine kerosene flames.
And after you’ve enjoyed a couple of draft beers and that salty soup, The Adobe Deli’s dining room starts filling up. A group of of blue-collar workers hoots and hollers. A sophisticated couple sips a bottle of chilled white. A family orders every dessert on the menu. You yourself can’t resist the chocolate toffee mousse and a glass of The Adobe Deli’s own Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Choosing between the French onion soup and the house-made bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers proves impossible.”
3970 Lewis Flats Road Southeast,
Monday through Saturday
11am to 5pm and 6pm to 10pm