Tesuque Village Market is the kind of restaurant you could permanently move into, if they'd let you. There are mountains of food. There's a bar. There's pie and a fully stocked corner shop, including TVM's own signature Ohori's coffee roast. You would never have to leave. And judging by the number of locals hanging out on a recent weekday night, some people rarely do.
I first stumbled upon Tesuque Village Market the way I imagine most people stumble upon a new place these days: the Internet. I was coming back from a big hike, looking to congratulate myself with a bigger drink, and TVM had the most stars on Yelp. Even before arriving, I felt I was on to something special. The twisting drive up Bishop's Lodge Road in the summer is beautiful, especially the descent into Tesuque as trees tower above the road on either side and lush ranches zip past.
With a spacious, outdoor patio stretching along the front of the restaurant, TVM quickly became my favorite place to grab a late-day drink. Options range from the Santa Fe-centric "Sangre de Cristo," a blood orange-infused margarita ($10) to the "Turquoise Trail," a blueberry pomegranate martini ($10).
I settle for the layman's house marg ($10). It's zesty and a splash sour, and comes served up casually in Mason jars. I ordered up two back-to-back and sat starting at the guy one table over, wondering if he might be Cormac McCarthy, who maybe ambled over from the nearby Santa Fe Institute (The verdict: probably not. I doubt McCarthy wears a pager). Lazy afternoon traffic glided by on County Road 73. It was perfect.
I returned to TVM last month to see if I could recreate the magic. Could it have as much to offer on a crisp October night, when the patio was most likely shuttered? As it turns out, TVM is not only a perfect place to soak in the summer heat—it's just as ideal for stepping into from out of the cold. There's an immediate warmth upon entering—cozy is the best word for it. The creaky wood planked floors remind me of a sunken ship, and there are plenty of hidden treasures inside.
Grinning Día de los Muertos skeletons greet you at the door, with softly glowing red-chile lights strung above them and the bar. To the left sits a glowing display case filled with homemade pies topped with ice cream. To the right, a wall-length fridge filled with six-packs of craft beers and bottles of wine.
The menu continues the sensory experience. It bursts with options, zigging and zagging from brick oven pizza ($15 and up) to NY-style deli favorites like pastrami, Reuben and BLT ($11-$13), to the obligatory burrito, taco and enchilada plates ($11-$14). I'm from Chicago, and so far the only green chile pizza I've tried came from a greasy to-go box from Dion's in Albuquerque. While I wanted just about everything, I decided to exorcise the demon and order up a pizza at the waitress's suggestion.
I recommend getting it well-done. I'm told traditional Neapolitan-style brick oven pizza is supposed to be a little limp, maybe even soggy. But I'll be honest. Soggy pizza doesn't get my juices going. The mozzarella had a rich back-of-the-tongue milkiness, while the bright green chile crackled with heat. With a little more time in the fire, and a crust that bit back, the pizza would have been stellar.
Even if slightly soggy pizza's your thing, there's one thing that's sure to leave a bad aftertaste—the $10 corkage fee for beer and wine, even for bottles purchased five feet from your table in the TVM store.
Still, as the sun finally dipped from view, I didn't want to head back out into the cold. A handful of people fresh off work were idly chatting at the bar, while families ate together and Tesuque locals swapped tips on winterizing their houses. Nobody seemed likely to move anytime soon. It's this small town—or village—atmosphere that makes TVM truly special. While I sometimes feel lost in Santa Fe's tourist shuffle, TVM is a place where everyone might know your name. After a handful of visits, they probably will.
Tesuque Village Market
138 Tesuque Village Road, 988-8848
Open daily, 7 am-9 pm