Restaurants in Silver City

Like most small towns, Silver City has a pretty consistent restaurant scene where a few rock steady restaurants thrive and new places have a hard time getting a toe hold. This visit I was pleased to see a couple new places had moved onto Bullard Street and were also thriving.

Tre Rosat Cafe

Tre Rosat Cafe was once a tiny lunch space connected to Cienega Spa. They’ve now taken over their own space downtown and they offer lunch and dinner. Their food tastes super fresh with generous portions, I had the southwest cob salad above and ate it for two different meals. I especially liked the heirloom tomatoes in the cobb salad and their creamy potato salad with green onions, bacon and blue cheese was an incredible combination that I went home and duplicated.

I have trouble describing Tre Rosat’s food vision given the wide range of ethnic influences on a menu that includes a Korean bulgogi hoagie, shrimp po boy and tempura vegetables. However, I find this kind of range in most restaurants in Silver City. I suspect it’s easier for restaurants to offer a little bit of everything rather than narrow their focus to one type of cuisine. In any case, Tre Rosat offers well cooked tasty food so I think that no matter what you order, you’ll enjoy it.

Little Toad Creek

I last visited Little Toad Creek three years ago when they opened out in the Mimbres as an Inn and Tavern. This new iteration of Little Toad is a brewery and distillery on Bullard Street in the corner space formerly occupied by Isaac’s.

Little Toad’s creative pub food menu is a bit of a conundrum. A sampling of their menu includes potato chip nachos, roasted beet hummus and a southwest reuben – above – with green chilies, plus a Chinese chicken salad, chicken and waffles and smoked salmon with cream cheese and rye toast. Where is that all going? I don’t know. They also only offer beer brewed in New Mexico and liquor brewed by their distillery. That’s both a lot of choice and a distinct lack of choice, all in the same restaurant. Very curious.

Here’s the thing: I liked the sandwich. I thought the green chilies worked surprisingly well with the sauerkraut and pastrami. I also tried the stout, which I thought was ok, and their porter, which I really liked. And I love their corner restaurant space because it’s big and roomy and cozy and popular. There’s so much possibility here that I want Little Toad to stay open! However, I look at that menu and I don’t know what’s happening. Clearly I’m not a restaurateur but  I wish upon them a food editor to create a cohesive menu with some regular pub options – like chickpea hummus and nachos with corn chips – and perhaps some creative sandwiches and entrees? A theme, that’s all I’m asking, Little Toad. Let’s see what happens the next time I’m in town.

Curious Kumquat

On the complete other side of the spectrum, Curious Kumquat is an even better restaurant than the last time I was here. The Kumquat is where I met Virginia and I’ve eaten here several times but this last visit showed a cuisine leaps and bounds more interesting than my last visit.

I eat a lot of tasting menus and most of them blur into a happy haze of good food. I love the ones that stand out because of the ingredients or the cooking techniques. The Kumquat offers a unique tasting menu unlike anything else in the Southwest because Chef Rob forages in the hills and lakes around Silver City for edible nuts, seeds and wild plants. He designs his menu around the historic Apache diet using foraged food cooked in a modern fashion and I can tell you that it’s all fascinating and full of things I’ve never eaten. That alone is saying something since I live my life eating in restaurants.

My favorite dinner moments included the cattail salad – above – served with a crisp bitter vinaigrette and the acorn flour muffin bite, which was dense, nutty and sweet. I also had incredible tender rabbit entree, slow cooked until it fell off the bone and topped with a drizzle of tart prickly pear sauce. Kumquat’s tasting menus have surprisingly large entrees so you will not go away hungry. The only misstep for the entire dinner was the dessert, but that’s a common event in tasting menus. I rarely eat a tasting menu dessert that equals or even compliments the quality of the dinner courses.

I applaud Chef Rob for the foraged food direction he’s taking the Kumquat. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere. And that’s a good thing.

Meet Virginia

I met Virginia last summer in Silver City, New Mexico.

I had gone to The Curious Kumquat for dinner by myself, intending to write about it and sell the article to the New Mexico Magazine.  So, I sat alone and ordered the chef’s tasting menu.

The first course came out; the waitress described it to me and left. 10 seconds later I saw her bring that same course to someone whose table was in the next room and describe it to them.

The waitress delivered the second course to me and I had a few questions that she didn’t know how to answer. She delivered the second course to the other person and then came back to me and asked if I could do a better job describing it than she did. So I poked my head around the partition and described the course to lovely Virginia sitting by herself at a table in the next room. When the third course arrived, Virginia and I were trying to compare notes about the food while sitting at two different tables in two different rooms so I asked if she wanted to have dinner with me and she said yes.

We finally left 4 hours later after a long conversation covering every topic imaginable. Both of us are writers, both of us are working on our first books, neither of us live in Silver City and we both love food. With those topics alone, we could have talked for 4 weeks but we didn’t have that much time. As it was, we stayed for so long that we left a big tip and felt that even that wasn’t enough. So Virginia drew a picture of me:

And I wrote a thank you extravaganza about her and we left them for the chefs of the Curious Kumquat who subsequently posted them on their blog.

In the year since then, Virginia and I have kept in touch and shared our writing back and forth. This summer, almost exactly a year from when we first met, we’re both unexpectedly back in the Southwest for the month of July to focus on our writing. Virginia drove through Tucson on her way to Silver City and we had dinner tonight. It was such fun to have dinner  and know that we’ll be geographically close for the next month and be able to follow each other’s writing path.

Sometimes fate throws people into my life. Virginia is one such person for me. Greta is another. I love meeting people by accident. I love even more when those people are doing interesting things. It’s so fun to watch the evolution of creative projects and creative careers. It inspires me in my own projects and makes me feel very fortunate.

As I said before, keep an eye on Virginia and remember her name. You’ll see it in print soon enough.