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6 restaurants that honor New Mexico’s Indigenous culture and cuisine

Native American cooking heavily revolves around the Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash). Photo courtesy Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Native cuisine is New Mexico’s lifeblood. Most dishes that are labeled “New Mexican” carry on traditions that were practiced by the region’s First People, then shared with the Spanish and later arrivals.

Corn, beans, and squash—the Three Sisters—remain the mainstay of Native American cooking. Deer, rabbit, trout, and piñon supplemented those nutritious crops. Spanish settlers brought chile, along with sheep and cattle from Mexico, and they quickly became important staples in the Pueblo diet. The Spanish also introduced hornos—domed adobe ovens—for bread-baking.

These foods and agricultural techniques have defined New Mexican cuisine for centuries. At the heart of Indigenous cuisine is a deep respect for the land that provides the food and an appreciation for New Mexico’s First People. 

Native fare continues to evolve, adding new ingredients to create tasty dishes and to expand its audience. The following restaurants offer a range of meals, from traditional plates enjoyed at family gatherings to fusion items that have put New Mexico on the world’s culinary map.

1. Indian Pueblo Kitchen


Rancheros de Albuquerque served with coffee and orange juice.

Rancheros de Albuquerque is a popular menu item at the Indian Pueblo Kitchen. Photo courtesy Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Executive Chef Davida Becenti melds her Polynesian and Diné heritage with Pueblo cuisine to create meals rooted in tradition.

“When I cook, I’m honoring everyone I’ve known. Everything I make is rooted in love,” says Becenti, who grew up on Kaua‘i and later moved to Farmington, where relatives introduced her to traditional Diné fare. “Even though I have these different backgrounds, they all work very well together because the food all comes from Mother Earth, and there’s the same respect for that. Everyone I cook for is my grandfather or grandmother. Everyone is my family.” Closed Mondays.

Dishes at the Indian Pueblo Kitchen:

Everyone who works at this restaurant in the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center contributes to the menu, from Becenti to longtime servers. Becenti says she’d like one of her menu contributions to be mutton (sheep) stew, a Diné staple that is also loved at the Pueblos.

Currently, the menu offers a Pueblo stew (choose from red chile beef, green chile pork, or bison cabbage), which comes with a choice of fry bread, house-made tortilla, or Pueblo oven bread.

Becenti showcases her Diné heritage with blue corn atole topped with amaranth, currants, and piñon, and Pueblo-style bread pudding garnished with currants and cheddar cheese. She also whips up New Mexican classics such as Indian tacos and blue corn enchiladas.

You may also like: Pueblo-owned hotels and resorts in New Mexico

2. Itality


Amaranth waffles, topped with berries, a dollop of cream, and a mint sprig.

Itality's amaranth waffles are topped with a fresh berry maple syrup compote. Photo courtesy Itality

Tina Archuleta brings her Jemez Pueblo roots and her passion for healthy eating to her restaurant Itality, which she opened on Indigenous People’s Day (October 10) in 2022. She serves Pueblo-inspired plant-based food, smoothies, and cold-pressed juice. The restaurant is just down the street from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, where Archuleta offers workshops on wellness and plant-based diets.

“Itality is centered on a culture of health and community,” Archuleta says. “We want to make healthy food accessible. It’s also about equity. You never see a Native American category next to Thai, Mexican, German, Italian, and other types of cuisine. Native Americans were the first to cultivate melons, pumpkins, squash, beans, chile, and other foods that were then shared throughout the world. We want Native people to embrace our food heritage, and we want to share it with everyone.” Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Dishes at Itality:

Itality opens for breakfast with items such as the blue corn amaranth waffles (gluten-free blue corn amaranth-seed waffles topped with fresh berry maple syrup compote and coconut whipped topping), and the ever-popular Break-Fast Burrito (black beans, potatoes, greens, and tofu wrapped in a fresh-made tortilla).

Lunch sees the Sacred Salad (locally grown veggies with a creamy lemon tahini dressing topped with 3 falafels), the Ital NDN Taco (Pueblo-style fry bread smothered with red chile beans, avocado, veggies, and a pumpkin chi sauce), Pueblo Pizza (Pueblo oven bread topped with house-made marinara, olives, greens, mushrooms, peppers, and garlic sauce), and other veggie-forward dishes with gluten-free options.

House-made biscochitos, which use flax and coconut oil instead of lard, provide a delicious, healthier take on New Mexico’s state cookie.

You may also like: Ways to learn about New Mexico’s Pueblos

3. Yaak’a Café

Acoma Pueblo

Green chiles.

Green chiles are a staple in New Mexican dishes. Photo by Evgeny Karandaev/

Yaak’a Café is located near Acoma Pueblo’s 2,000-year-old village that sits atop a 400-foot mesa. It offers traditional Acoma foods as well as contemporary dishes prepared by tribal members.

The café is inside the Sky City Cultural Center & Haak’u Museum, where visitors can learn about the history and culture of the Acoma Pueblo through displays on traditional farming tools, pottery, art, and more. Irregular hours, call ahead.

Dishes at Yaak’a Café:

Yaak’a Café’s menu has a Feast Day section featuring red chile beef posole, green chile pork stew, and fry and horno bread sold by the loaf.

The Kadzima Plate is blue corn enchiladas topped with beans and red or green chile.

The stuffed acorn squash entrée is halved and filled with wild rice and roasted piñon nuts, and served with red or green chile.

Burgers and sandwiches are served on different types of traditional bread: The Yaak’a Burger uses fry bread, the Sky City Burger uses a cornmeal-dusted bun, and other sandwiches (including the BLT, grilled cheese, and grilled chicken sandwich) use horno bread.

4. Amaya at Hotel Santa Fe

Santa Fe 

Amaya stuffed poblano, roasted Ruby trout, and pan-seared scallops.

Amaya at Hotel Santa Fe has a rotating seasonal menu. Photo by Steve Larese

Executive Chef Walter Dominguez helms the kitchen at Amaya, located inside Hotel Santa Fe, which is owned by the Picuris Pueblo. Visitors can see touches of the Pueblo’s culture throughout the luxury property, especially at Amaya.

“With traditional ingredients like trout, elk, corn, fruits and vegetables, and, of course, chile, it’s not too hard to come up with excellent dishes that appeal to a wide range of guests,” Dominguez says.

Dishes at Amaya:

Seasonal appetizers might include Chimayo red chile soup with asadero cheese and corn tortilla strips, and Picuris salad with roasted corn.

For entrées, seasonal offerings feature green chile chicken enchiladas with blue corn tortillas, roasted Ruby trout, black bean–stuffed poblano peppers, and a hamburger made with Santa Fe bison. Bison is an important dish for the Picuris Pueblo, as the Pueblo raises bison for tribal members.

The public is welcome to fish at the Pueblo’s trout pond; more information and fishing permits are available at the Picuris Smokes, a convenience store at the intersection of NM 75 and NM 76.

You may also like: New Mexico food trucks worth following

5. AshKii’s Navajo Grill


Stack of fry bread

Fry bread is a traditional component of Indigenous cuisine. Photo by Anton/

Bernice Begay opened AshKii’s Navajo Grill in 2010 as a way to bring home cooking to Farmington’s many Diné Nation members and to share authentic Diné meals with visitors to the Four Corners.

“Our food is such a part of our culture,” says Begay. To add to the homey atmosphere of AshKii’s, which means “little boy,” the restaurant plays KNDN, a local radio station that broadcasts only in the language of Diné Bizaad. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.

Dishes at AshKii’s Navajo Grill:

The Mama’s Boy with thin-sliced mutton and grilled green chiles wrapped in fry bread is a local favorite, as is the Navajo dumpling stew with mutton, called K’ineeshbízhii.

The Big Boy Burger comes with 2 side-by-side cheeseburger patties on a bed of lettuce and tomato, all wrapped in a huge piece of fry bread.

The Little Boy Taco is a plate of fry bread smothered in seasoned beans and ground beef with a generous topping of shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes.

For a truly authentic dish, try the Chubby Boy Combo that includes an ach’ii wrap (grilled sheep intestines wrapped in a tortilla), a mutton rib, green chile, and fried potato chips.

For dessert, the Navajo corn mush, called Tanaashgiizh, is a blue corn porridge that can be sweetened with honey.

You may also like: New Mexico food halls you’ll want to visit

6. Tiwa Kitchen Restaurant and Bakery


Tiwa blue corn.

Tiwa Kitchen serves delicious blue corn tacos topped with red or green chile. Photo by UCKYO/

In 1992, Ben and Debbie Sandoval began building the adobe-brick Tiwa Kitchen, along with a pair of outdoor horno ovens, by hand. With the help of family and friends, they opened their doors to customers just a year later.

Today, Tiwa Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch using recipes learned from the owners’ grandmothers. Every morning, Debbie is at the hornos baking fresh bread and pastries.

“We make everything from scratch just like we were taught,” she says. “We even grow our own blue corn and peaches. We want to make sure that our food is part of visitors’ experiences here.” Closed Fridays and Saturdays.

Dishes at Tiwa Kitchen:

Breakfast (“He-Ya-Hoo” in Tiwa) dishes include Pueblo red chile stew served with horno bread, and blueberry pancakes topped with chokecherry (a tart berry) syrup.

Lunch (“Pien-Ta-Ke”) items include Frito pie with red or green chile; a fry bread buffalo burger; blue corn tacos with red or green chile; and the Pueblo sandwich with chicken, bacon, and green chile. The chokecherry lemonade is a great way to wash it all down.

For dessert, try the pumpkin cookies, horno-baked fruit pies, and other sweets of the day.

When not waiting for the next Feast Day, Steve Larese explores the Southwest for AAA Explorer, GearJunkie, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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