Friday, October 19, 2012

New Vegan Option in Taos

Old Martina's Hall, which was once Old Martinez Hall, has been struggling to open for a long time. Small town bureaucrats with big egos stood in the way as long as they could, but eventually sanity won out, and this beautifully renovated historic building, just across from the famous Ranchos Church, is finally open for breakfast and lunch. We've been hearing good things about it, but of course I was skeptical about there being anything on the menu I could actually eat. We popped in over the weekend to check it out, and found many pleasant surprises.

First off, the place is absolutely gorgeous. Buckets of money have been poured into the renovation, and the building itself is a work of art with its thick adobe walls, high ceilings supported by rough vigas, and original glass in the front windows that reflects on the walls in a wavy, dreamy way.

The menu is kind of eclectic, with offerings ranging from German to New Mexican fare. They have several items marked as either vegetarian or raw, but nothing specifically vegan. After asking a few key questions, I found that our server and the chef were more than willing to get creative for me. I tend to not want to be a bother to people, but I'm getting better at asking for what I want in regular mainstream restaurants. I call it Menu Deconstruction, and it works quite well.

First look over the menu as if it were a shopping list. Mentally note all the ingredients you see that would work in a vegan meal. Salads are always a good place to start, but they aren't the end of the line. Maybe there's a salad that looks good, but it has meat or cheese on it, but across the way there's a burrito with beans and potatoes. Ask them to substitute plant ingredients for animal ingredients, rather than just leaving off the meat and cheese, which tends to leave a pretty bland and uninspired meal on your plate. If it's in the kitchen, they can do it.

At Martina's Rick had a breakfast burrito minus the bacon, cheese, eggs, and sour cream. That seemed to leave only beans and potatoes, until he asked for some veggies in place of the other stuff. He got just what he wanted, and had it topped with their veggie green chile. It was fabulous, and nothing was missing.

I had a veggie burger, which is a good house made patty, usually topped with a goopy pile of cheese. They subbed calabacitas (squash) and spinach for the cheese, and even had a gluten free bun. Everything was good, and everyone was happy.

Keep in mind that it's important to be super pleasant when asking for all this special treatment. We want vegans to come across as nice people, and we want restaurants to understand that there are rapidly growing numbers of us, and it would be in their best interests to feed us too. They won't know what we want if we don't ask for it. And be sure to tip well. A happy server will take even better care of you next time you come in.

We're really looking forward to Martina's opening for dinner and entertainment in the near future. It looks like they're off to a good start, with good food, friendly staff, a very pretty and well stocked bakery case, and a nice wine and beer menu to add to the general appeal and festive mood. When you come to Taos, we'll meet you there!


Kristi Bowman said...

That burriton looks yummy, I'll have to look around for a green chili recipe. It all looks good!

Ellen Dooley said...

Hey Kim,

This place looks great! Your blog is like a little whisper in my ear saying, "you can do it it , you can do it!"

Thanks for the interesting posts and motivation!
May be coming to visit some friends in Dixon..will have to check it out

Kim Miles said...

Of course you can do it Ellen! Let me know when you'll be in the area. Maybe I can meet you at Martina's for a snack!