One minute, you’re tubing on white sand; a short drive later, you’re slipping down a snowy slope, all thanks to the geographical magic of southeastern New Mexico.
In the Tularosa Basin, in and around Alamogordo, visitors can explore White Sands National Park, a space museum, pistachio farms and petroglyphs. Thirty minutes away, in the Sacramento Mountains, there’s Cloudcroft complete with shopping, ski slopes, skating, a national forest and a decidedly Old West vibe.
And all along the way, local food and drink establishments fuel and fun. Bakeries, breweries, wineries and diners are all packed with personality and personable locals.
Pistachios and Wine
For example, on the patio at Heart of the Desert Pistachios and Wine near Alamogordo, sunsets are toasted with sips of wine, pistachios and other snacks. Midweek, a food truck and musicians roll in for WineDown Wednesdays.
At D. H. Lescombes Winery and Bistro, a glass of wine tastes even better with a shared Signature Nosh – a spread of meats, cheeses, artichokes, olives, fruit, and sweet and spicy Mesilla Valley pecans. At 575 Brewery, a roomy patio and guest food trucks make this an inviting local gathering place.
Speaking of brews and food trucks, each year the area celebrates these niches at the Cottonwood Brew Fest (April) and the Battle of the Food Trucks (November). The food truck showdown grows larger every year with almost 20 trucks participating in the latest one. The menus include can’t miss favorites like Off the Wall Curbside Creation’s five-cheese mac and cheese with buffalo chicken and Lolita’s tacos de carne asada.
In contrast to Alamogordo and its high desert clime, Cloudcroft is a cool respite in the summer and a snowy playground in the winter. On a December day, it can be near 70 in Alamogordo and snowing in Cloudcroft.
With a population of 777 or so, the small town is surprisingly stuffed with eating options. Within a few steps along and near Burro Avenue, visitors find not one, but three bakeries. All are unique and beloved for their cakes, pies, croissants, cookies and cupcakes. Those treats taste even sweeter with a cup from Black Bear Coffee, located in Cloudcroft’s old post office – a natural gathering spot. In another vintage building along Burro Avenue’s covered boardwalk, dollar bills left by patrons plaster the walls and hang from the ceilings of the Western Bar and Café. This rustic Cloudcroft tradition is known for filling omelets, steaks and everything in between. Cloudcroft Brewing’s creative pizzas pair well with it’s equally creative brews like Rail Spike Red Ale. Beyond downtown, the line pours out the door at Mad Jack’s Mountaintop Barbecue while a generous lineup of vegetarian entrees balance the steaks, chops and barbecue at Big Daddy’s Diner.
For a sweet, nostalgic end to several days of exploring, seek the shiny chrome and pink neon of Caliche’s, a frozen custard stand in Alamogordo. Dig into the crowd favorite Fudge Brownie Bliss — vanilla frozen custard, brownie bits and hot fudge —and savor all the cool adventures you’ve experienced in the valleys and mountains of southeast New Mexico.
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