I love the restaurant at the St. James Hotel in Cimarron.
I love that I can get in my car in Logan with my boyfriend and be in Red River in less than three hours. And I love that this past Friday, on the way to spend half-price weekend in Red River (half price on lodging, ski lift tickets, rentals, etc. – it’s a tradition in Red River, and a mighty fine one at that!), Dave suggested that we stop at the St. James in Cimarron and have my belated birthday dinner.
For those of you that haven’t been to Cimarron, there’s a whole ‘nother blog post about how much I love Cimarron. In the eastern foothills of the Sangre de Cristos, one of those New Mexico villages that has a history of outlaws and land grants (the largest in the world at one time), on the Santa Fe Trail, and now filled with colorful shops but not in the least pretentious, Cimarron is one of my favorite places in the state. It’s just that until recently it’s always been on the way to somewhere for me – we pass through it going to Taos or Angel Fire or Red River or Questa, and it’s usually where we stop for gas at Russell’s or ice cream or a calzone (all of which deserve their own post. Just give me time).
But one weekend this fall when we got a wild hair and went to Red River for a Saturday night, I turned off the main road in Cimarron on our way home and drove down to the St. James Hotel. I thought Dave would appreciate the outlaw and ghost stories, and it’s such a gorgeous building that it deserved another look from me. The Hotel sits in a great spot, just over a little bridge in the middle of Cimarron’s old town. It was built in 1872 by a guy who cooked for Ulysses S. Grant and Abe Lincoln and then came west looking for fortune and adventure. I think he found both in abundance.
What we discovered while wandering the hallway where the ghosts supposedly live (it is a little spooky, but I mean that in the best way possible) is that Lucien Maxwell, the owner of the largest land grant in the world at one time, has a wife whose maiden name is Beaubien, just like Dave. We spent that warm fall Sunday afternoon exploring, taking pictures of the graves of Maxell’s mother-in-law (obviously a Beaubien), taking the walking tour, peeking into the old jail, seeing where the Santa Fe Trail came right into town, and reading about the characters that stayed in the St. James, all the outlaws that either killed or were killed (at least 26 in all – more later on that – that’s also a whole ‘nother blog post as well). We took a turn through the dining room and bar, where there are bullet holes in the ceiling, and we vowed to come back and stay sometime soon. (more info at www.cimarronnm.com)
So on Friday, when Dave suggested a stop for dinner, I was excited to try it. The restaurant is very tastefully done – nothing over the top, but decorating that is obviously reminiscent of the history of the place. There’s a picture in the bar that was bought in England in the 19th century and brought here by the son of the original owner. There’s a huge two-sided fireplace in the dining room that was blazing on Friday night, and surrounded by people who all appeared to be kin to each other. The original bar is massive – and bellied up to it were several locals. In fact, the place was full of locals, all friendly, greeting one another, creased Wranglers and polished boots, and numerous Stetsons. Dave said, “These aren’t the types of cowboys I’m used to – there guys are ranchers instead of cow hands.” And they were – a very genteel but jovial crowd that made me want to get acquainted with all of them.
And to top off all that great atmosphere, the service and food were great. We ordered rib eyes – Dave the large, me the small – and they were cooked perfectly. The salad was good – not your usual iceberg and cheddar cheese served in most eastern New Mexico steakhouses. I had the homemade bleu cheese dressing and had to restrain myself from picking up the plate and licking it. The rolls were yummy.
And the service was great. Our waitress was attentive without hovering, and then the boss, or the owner, or whoever he was, a handsome tall man in cowboy hat and creased jeans himself, came around and visited with us, checking in to be sure we were completely pleased with how the meal was going.
I’m going back. It was the perfect birthday dinner – delicious and gracious in the midst of a really friendly crowd that seemed to be having a great time on a Friday night. Next time we’ll get a room and stay there – the boss told me that they serve a heck of a breakfast buffet to their guests. Like I’d need to eat again in 12 hours after that dinner.
I love good food. We have an abundance of it in New Mexico. Want to hear all about it?
More later. . .