New Mexico has a new Reigning Chomp green chile cheeseburger: Bar Castañeda took home the top prize at the 2019 Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown, held Sept. 7 at The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Company. Executive chef Sean Sinclair oversees the restaurant, which is located in the historic Castañeda Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico (505-434-1005, kinlvnm.com). Albuquerque’s Steel Bender Brewyard (505-433-3537, steelbenderbrewyard.com) took home the event’s coveted People’s Choice Award. Smackdown evaluators also unveiled a new Secret Judge’s Award, which went to Pajarito Brewpub & Grill in Los Alamos (505-662-8877, pajaritobrewpubandgrill.com).
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Gruet Winery this September marked the 30th anniversary of the release of its sparkling wines. The Albuquerque-based winery released its first two sparkling wines in 1989. Head winemaker Laurent Gruet continues creating Champagne-method sparkling wines today, along with the family’s third generation of winemakers, Sofian Himeur, who serves as Laurent’s assistant. To mark the anniversary, Gruet released two limited-edition sparkling wines. The barrel-aged Brut blends chardonnay and pinot noir grapes and is aged in oak for six months. The sparkling Pinot Meunier is 100 percent pinot meunier, crafted in the traditional méthode Champenoise, using grapes grown and hand-harvested at Tamaya Vineyard at Santa Ana Pueblo. 8400 Pan American Freeway NE, 505-821-0055, gruetwinery.com
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One of Taos’ most historic and acclaimed restaurants is also getting a refresh. Imprint Hospitality purchased the historic Taos Inn in early 2019 and has announced new chefs at the helm of Doc Martin’s restaurant and the Adobe Bar. The hospitality group tasked Zakary Pelaccio with overseeing the new food and beverage program. Pelaccio is the winner of the 2016 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northeast and owns the Fish & Game restaurant and BackBar in New York’s Hudson Valley. Chef Nite Marquez, a Taos native who started his culinary career at Doc Martin’s and has spent time in several top restaurants in Taos, helped reshape the menu, which focuses on Northern New Mexican food and sources ingredients locally (and seasonally) from the Taos region. 125 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, 575-758-1977, taosinn.com
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The suds will be flowing at Expo New Mexico during New Mexico Brew Fest, from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, with tastings from 22 local breweries and brewpubs, including sponsor brewery Bosque Brewing Co. The fest will include craft-brew staples like Marble Brewery and La Cumbre Brewing Co. and newer players like Toltec Brewing, Palmer Brewery and Ciderhouse, and The 377 Brewery. Food trucks, live music, and arts-and-crafts vendors will also be on hand. General admission runs $25; early entry passes, which allow ticket holders to enter the tasting area an hour early, cost $45. Expo New Mexico, 300 San Pedro Drive NE, Albuquerque, 505-362-4848, nmbrewfest.com
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Cheers to The Whiskey Classic, which is back for its second year just outside of Santa Fe, on Oct. 12th, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event brings together industry professionals and whiskey, bourbon, and scotch aficionados for a tasting event at San Cristobal Ranch, a Western movie set in Lamy, New Mexico. Tickets to the main event ($45) include samples and tastings from two dozen distilleries, a commemorative tasting glass, a buffet, and live music. Participating distilleries include New Mexico-based Noisy Water Winery & Cellars, Safe House Distilling Co., Hollow Spirits Distillery, and Broken Trail Distillers. Whiskey fans can also attend a five-course whiskey pairing dinner ($235) the night before, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at Four Seasons Santa Fe-Rancho Encantado. The Whiskey Classic is only accessible via free shuttles (with ticket purchase) from downtown Santa Fe to the venue. Departure point: Santa Fe Railyard, 332 Read St., whiskeyclassic.us.
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