With the most extensive and creative, craft cocktail menu in town!
If you are thinking about ringing in the New Year in a low-key way – perhaps after a long day on the mountain – with dinner and drinks in town, The Gorge is a great place to spend the evening when you are planning on keeping it casual!
Serving dinner until 10pm, The Gorge stays open later than most eateries in town, and once you’ve downed your last cocktail, it’s a mere stroll to the Alley Cantina where you can party on till the wee hours of New Year’s (and any other) morning.
One early December afternoon, after walking around downtown, doing a little window shopping during our slow season – the calm before the storm – I dropped in on Lucas Motsinger,the General Manager of The Gorge. We had made a plan to chat about the restaurant a week earlier when I’d gone there for a quick bite to eat with a friend before the Lighting of Ledoux.
Lucas, who has managed the restaurant for eight years, grew up in Taos with my kids, and I’ve known him since he was just a kid. He is now a fully engaged adult member of our community; not only managing one of the busiest establishments in town, but he also sits on the Lodgers Tax Board and is involved in other aspects of marketing Taos as well.
Lucas is a great example of several young Taos professionals; entrepreneurs and creatives, who are using their savvy and skills to better this community in so many ways.
When I arrived, I asked the hostess if she could let Lucas know I was there.
“He’s bartending,” she said as she smiled in his direction.
“I’ll just go and sit there, then,” I told her.
I found a vacant seat and watched Lucas as he masterfully created a few bespoke cocktails, including a wicked sounding green chile martini and a herb infused Manhattan.
“We infuse all the liquor in-house,” he explained to the two gentlemen seated in front of him, as he showed them the bottles containing the herbs and chile pods.
As he took their card to the register he noticed me,
“Hi,” he greeted me, “one of my bartenders is out sick,” he explained, “so I’m here till Toby gets in at 4pm.”
“We can still talk here,” he suggested, “if you don’t mind the occasional interruption?”
I looked around, the bar was half filled with whom I presumed were regular patrons and the restaurant was still a hub of activity at 2pm. Apparently “slow times” don’t extend to The Gorge! We talked about the holidays coming up and what the restaurant had planned.. With their menu about to undergo a seasonal change, Lucas was anticipating a busy winter.
“The Town and Karina (Armijo), are doing such a great job with promoting us as more than just a Ski Destination, I think we are looking at a busy season ahead,” he said
“Not to mention the flights to and from Texas,everything is about to blow up here!”
“I think it’s going to be a real winter,” he said, “with a lot of snow.”
That means healthy, hearty food, warming beverages and a great place to spend time with friends and family apres ski are at the top of the agenda for folks visiting this winter, as well as loyal locals. Just take note of the chefs in town gathered at the bar after their respective shifts are over.
One I know swears by the Green Chile Stew. “Best in town, ” he told me, never mind that the restaurant where he works has won awards for its version!
Adam Dooling the Sous Chef at Lambert’s told me he goes regularly for the sliders and a Scotch.
More than a few of our local cops love the burgers, (do try the Green Chile with bacon and cheese version and swap out not so regular,beer batter fries for sweet potato ones instead), artist Ed Sandoval is slightly addicted to the restaurant’s Reuben sandwich,which is as good here as anywhere I’ve ever eaten one, and Salon X’s Delta Bayer swears by the Fish Tacos!
Lucas told me one couple comes in without fail every Tuesday evening, for two dozen oysters on the half shell (flown in fresh that day), and champagne. Sounds awfully civilized to me.
With much more on the menu besides – there really is something for everyone here – from gluten-free options to vegetarian dishes that won’t leave you hungry, The Gorge Bar & Grill is the perfect choice for family and group gatherings.
The restaurant’s owners have a long history with the building. Twin brothers Keith and Kevin Roessler, who operate Seasons Rotisserie & Grill, Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro and the Savoy Bar & Grill, in Albuquerque, used to visit Taos during school breaks and work for their uncle at his restaurant.
Ogilvies was a popular spot with locals and tourists alike for more than three decades, and when their uncle decided to close it in order to follow a new dream (he now owns a winery in Napa Valley with his brother, their father), the twins (and their wives), decided to open a new restaurant in the same location.
The family also owns Parcht, housed downstairs in the same building.
With its great location (and awesome people watching perch above the plaza), The Gorge Bar & Grill, is a understandably popular spot year round. As I witnessed on that slow day in early December,before the snows and the arrival of Holiday visitors.
The Gorge is also a perfect place for hosting events, as the facility and kitchen are equipped to handle a relatively large crowd. Wedding rehearsal dinners and Graduation parties are frequently held here.
As Lucas made easy banter with his customers, while still wearing his managerial hat when required, I marvelled at his ability to trouble shoot while doing his mixology thing and still keeping our conversation going!
I wondered out loud if he’d get any time off during the Holidays to enjoy time with his family as well as the white stuff?
“Oh yeah,” he nodded, “ this place runs like a well oiled machine,” he laughed. “My staff rocks, so a day off for me is def a day off!”
“As long as I have my phone, I’m fine,” he smiled.
I left him shaking up yet another infused martini for the gentleman (a former Town councilman), seated in front of the TV, eyes glued to the screen, barely looking up as the drink was set down before him. His friend did the talking for both of them.
For much more about The Gorge Bar & Grill, please visit their site linked below this post.
All images thanks to The Gorge
Photo of Lucas and his wife,Rachel, lifted from his Facebook Page.