Inspired by the seafood of the American Northwest, the culinary team at Desert Fish prepare exclusively wild-caught catches using fresh, contemporary seasonings. The cucumber-melon finish of their Shigoku oysters from Washington State’s Willapa Bay prime palates for kona coffee-crusted Hawaiian snapper or house-made gnocchi with littleneck clams and pan-roasted brussel sprouts in brown butter sauce. Behind the bar, bartenders compliment the dishes with wines and specialty cocktails mixed with fresh fruit juices and herbs, such as the Mint Mirage martini, whose basil Hayden Bourbon and fresh mint magically disappear before diners’ eyes over the course of about 20 minutes. The restaurant also serves weekend brunches, offering a diverse selection that spans from fried oysters with biscuits and gravy to crab cake Benedict.
Creative Balloons & Invitations populates weddings, quinceañeras, anniversaries, and birthday parties with a wide range of invitations and celebratory packs of motley balloons. The DIY invitations provide a huge range of customizable invitation formats, none of which rely on yelling invites to a fête through a parking-cone megaphone. A $10 setup fee applies for in-store printing, and single invitation prices range from $1.20 for a 4"x6" card to $1.85 for a 6"x9" card. Ready-made invitations for birthday parties, anniversaries, and other momentous occasions also stand ready to entice recipients with heartfelt emotions and cavalier carousing. Form a helium-filled force field around a birthday bash or C-SPAN2 viewing party with a balloon arch ($6/foot; $10 travel charge for parties 6–25 miles from the store), or buy balloons one at a time ($.99 each) as an expression of inflatable individuality.
Dragon’s House of Horror, whose edifice used to house Rio Rancho’s city hall, sends chills racing up and down visitors’ spines with two stories of frightening special effects. The spooky building opens its doors to thrill-seekers Mondays through Saturdays for the entirety of October, as well as the last two Sundays of the month. Dragon’s House of Horror ensures a safe, family friendly environment for young children with an on-location kid’s harvest and a low-scare level for the first hour after opening. By 7 p.m., the easily frightened should flee the scene before tortured spirits, ghoulish monsters, and persistent tax collectors materialize out of the darkness to raise hairs with the help of bone-chilling sound effects. or ####RR Winter Wonderland Occupying the same building that was once Rio Rancho's City Hall, RR Winter Wonderland rules in favor of the holiday spirit by immersing visitors into a seasonal dream world. Inside, guests young and old navigate through a lineup of interactive, Christmas-themed activities, including toy-making workshops and a lights maze. Between those stations, guests may stop to snap pictures with Santa and characters from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas or to browse Christmas trees waiting for a new home.
Back in the '80s, winemaking was just a hobby for artist and wine enthusiast Jim Fish. Today, some of his original hobby casks still serve as a reminder of how far he's come, as they stand surrounded by hundreds of gallons of newer wines. At Anasazi Fields Winery, Fish focuses on table wines made from locally-sourced fruits and berries such as plum, apricot, blackberry, and peach. And despite being fruit wines, they're dry and multi-faceted, a far cry from the sweet varietals some might imagine when they hear fruit wine.
The winery is open throughout the year, beckoning visitors inside for tastes and tours, events, or to buy a bottle, sold on the premises. Orchards and vineyards surround the property, all watered by a spring-fed irrigation system that dates back more 1000 years when Anasazi people farmed the valley.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, visitors would stop to rest at the historic El Rancho de las Golondrinas as they began or ended their long journeys along the royal road that stretched between Santa Fe and Mexico City. In the 20th and 21st centuries, Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, Val Kilmer, and the cast and crew of some 30 films used the ranch's 200 scenic acres and 34 historic structures as backdrops to their movies and personalized birthday cards. With preserved and restored villages dating back to the early 1700s sloping through a rural farming valley, the grounds collapse time, bringing the past to the present and the present to the past.
Today, guests wander this living history museum to explore how colonial and frontier life was lived the Southwest. During a self-guided tour, visitors pick up or download a map of the ranch before weaving through a snapshot of history brought to life by villagers clothed in the styles of the time. Feet patter past a molasses mill, a blacksmith shop, and defensive towers where guards kept watch on the horizon and coordinated messages for passing UFOs. With a reservation, docents will lead you through the trails that cut through a landscape dotted with goats, sheep, burros, and horses, fostering an understanding of the culture and arts of historic New Mexico.
Pecos Flavors Winery opened fairly recently—in 2004, originally just as a Roswell-based tasting room—but it brims with New Mexico history. The facility's current tasting room, for instance, takes on the identity of a southern New Mexico ranch. Its bar is a century old, plucked from Hondo Valley. Nearby, a statue of Billy the Kid keeps watch, staring grudgingly at anyone who spills their glass.
Befitting its state pride, Pecos has an extensive selection of New Mexican wines. More than 80 different blends of regional wine populate the Pecos collection, including the winery's own varietals grown at a pair of Chaves County vineyards. Pecos offers a number of other New Mexico products, too, such as coffee, sauces, and chocolates, as well as beers gathered from in-state breweries.