RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

New Mexico Chow : Restaurants for the Rest of Us, by Scott Sharot

New Mexico Chow

I think the most surprising aspect -- to me personally, anyway -- about Scott Sharot's New Mexico Chow: Restaurants for the Rest of Us is that I didn't recognize a single establishment that he profiles in the book. I have always been a seeker of darn good cuisine and fairly willing to hazard some sketchy-looking establishments while engaged in the pursuit of finding and tasting "the best ribs in America." I never thought that the appellation "chow hound" was a good thing, but after reading this really, really cool book, I would be proud to be considered a chow hound.

The first great -- and immediately apparent -- thing about this book is the size and format. At a slim 9"x"4", it will fit in just about every glove box and center console out there. All of the reviews are written in a down-home country prose with a brevity of ratings -- mostly based upon how much a meal will cost. The author's comments are often humorous and provide vividly useful descriptions of the type of dining experience one can expect to find in each of the establishments.

I consider this book to be my new "secret weapon." Since I am often accompanied by another road food adventurer who has perfected the "eye-roll commentary" when viewing an aesthetically-challenged eating establishment, I can now, with authority, whip out this book and point out the author's recommendation for ignoring the décor and savoring the offerings at places like the Coyote Moon Café in Lemitar or Robb's Ribbs in Albuquerque.

In the introduction, the author establishes the ground rules: "…I have chosen to list places that show a commitment to serving really good food. The guide is not limited to New Mexico cuisine or even restaurants with a roof over them…" What's great is that the author really delivers, covering establishments with menus from Ayurveda vegetarian and "full carnivore" to ethnic Greek and fancy French.

In about two weeks, I will be headed to Wyoming, and I am sorely tempted to take a slight detour and spend some quality time eating my way through New Mexico with Scott Sharot as my inspiring guide. As the author says it: "Above all, chow is fun. Let's eat!"

Mark Sedenquist

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