Adding gourmet ingredients to a meal makes a commonplace activity feel special, much like brushing your teeth with a sparkler or withdrawing money from an ATM while holding it at gunpoint. Add flair to your food with today's Groupon: for $12, you get $25 worth of New Mexican fare and drinks at El Meze Restaurant in Taos.
El Meze's chef Frederick Muller alchemically transmutes local and organic "food of the mountains" into a menu of regionally inspired cuisine from Spain, northern New Mexico, and the Mediterranean. Start off with a shared plate of chicharrones, a braised pork belly that is flash-fried and dusted with chili and smoked Spanish paprika ($8). Appetites can stay sprightly with a small meal of fresh Penn Cove mussels in an herb broth ($13), or stay grounded during a gravity outage with a large meal of truchas yerba buena, a whole trout marinated in mint and cilantro and preserved with lemon and garlic ($19). A dessert of mini cardamom doughnuts drenched in caramel chocolate sauce defuses sweet teeth before their timer reaches zero ($8).
El Meze adorns its scarlet-stucco walls with Southwestern artwork, which is best when foregrounded with the rim of a wine glass or a local beer such as Marble Brewery IPA ($4). Moroccan mint tea makes a more sober match to the restaurant's rustic hardwood floors and pueblo-style hearth ($3).