The Taos people have continuously inhabited the legendary Taos Pueblo, a collection of multi-storied adobe buildings, for over 1,000 years. Located just off the highway en route to this UNESCO World Heritage Site (and National Historic Landmark), Tiwa Kitchen invites visitors and locals alike to stop and smell the hornos.
Ben and Debbie Sandoval began building the traditional Pueblo adobe building by hand in 1992. Out back, they constructed an adobe oven, called a horno, for baking breads, cookies, and pies. When the couple opened Tiwa Kitchen, it quickly distinguished itself as a rare outpost for homestyle Pueblo and New Mexican comfort food. For over 25 years, the Sandovals have been preparing dishes that have been passed from generation to generation—the same ones Ben’s grandmothers taught him to make on feast days.
Ben grew up at Taos Pueblo and incorporates local ingredients into the menu. The Pueblo’s bison herd supplies meat for their burgers, served on outdoor oven–baked buns. Homegrown blue corn adds a crisp coating to local trout and appears in hard-to-find specialities such as Phien-tye (a buffalo-stuffed, smothered blue corn fry bread) and steaming mugs of grits-like, periwinkle atole. Even popular New Mexican dishes, such as the restaurant’s heirloom green chile stew, are crafted using crops harvested from Pueblo land.
Eating inside Tiwa Kitchen is as close as you can get to being invited for lunch at a local family’s table. The dining room is warm and welcoming. Ben and Debbie are often in the building, zigzagging from kitchen to dining room to cash register. Start your day off right with an order (or two) of homemade blue corn tortilla chips, and finish strong with dessert fresh from the horno. The pie made with apples, prunes, and piñons is not to be missed.
Know Before You Go
Tiwa Kitchen is closed on Tuesdays.