When my aunt and uncle came to visit me in Santa Fe while I was a college student there, my uncle had only one stipulation for where we should go for dinner: He wanted a real local’s spot, a hole-in-the-wall.
I knew exactly what he meant, and in Santa Fe there’s no dearth of those sorts of places that make up for in character and taste what they lack in square footage.
Richard’s On 3rd is one of those places. You feel like an insider just finding the place, tucked into a historic house on 3rd Avenue in a decidedly residential area. If you have the option always sit on the patio; the interior is fine, but the patio shines.
Richard himself is a former resident of Taos so he understands the sort of Southwestern ethos my uncle was searching for in Santa Fe. That understanding translates not only to the location and the atmosphere, but most definitely to the food. Ever since moving to Colorado, my husband and I have searched for true New Mexican food. Let me be perfectly clear about this: nothing else we have eaten here has even come close. Richard’s trumps them.
We started the night with a prime spot on the patio, some good friends and margaritas that took up most of the available real estate on the table. Richard’s margaritas are seriously tasty—and seriously strong. We contemplated our entrée choices while we munched on freshly made guacamole, a basket of tri-color chips and a very good and interesting salsa made with that very green chile we were hoping to taste. A tasty twist that made all the difference.
I ordered a combo plate to be able to try a variety of traditional New Mexican components. My chile relleno was just the way I like them: dipped in an egg batter and flash fried for a crispy shell. But the red chile on it was too strong and subsequently too bitter for my liking. The chicken enchilada, on the other hand, smothered in Richard’s signature vegetarian green chile, was outstanding. The true test of a New Mexican restaurant is their green chile and Richard’s is outstanding: deeply flavorful and hot without being overwhelming. I knew as my husband tucked into his own combo plate with a groan of happiness that we’d hit the motherload. This was green chile as we knew it could be—as opposed to the “greasy gravy” we’d had at other so-called New Mexican restaurants. My blue corn beef taco was deliciously flavorful but so juicy that I couldn’t actually pick it up and eat like a taco. No matter; I enjoyed it just as well with a fork.
Our friends took a more eclectic path: the blue corn chicken and mango enchiladas and the portabella bites. The mango was a perfect way to cut the heat of the green chile for someone who doesn’t like their meal with as much bite as I do, adding a fine sweetness and tropical flare to an old favorite. The portabella bites were one of many great vegetarian options Richard offers with his vegetarian green chile.
Richard’s On 3rd isn’t a fine dining establishment, nor does it try to be. Service is attentive and friendly, but can be slow, and the quirky atmosphere might be off-putting to some, but the details are what make this place a true neighborhood gem in my mind—a true hole-in-the-wall in the very best sense of the word.
Richard’s On 3rd
1283 3rd Ave., Longmont
Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of New Mexican fare, this is your best bet.