The Laughing Lizard Inn & Cafe
Village of Jemez Springs, NM
“The residents of Jemez Springs- and those who pass through in all seasons to enjoy the beauty of the canyon walls, the singing and streaming waters and the ascent to the Valle Grande are blessed to have The Laughing Lizard at the heart of the village. The Lizard is a restaurant of singular merit; an institution of good food and good will. The menu is ever imaginative and enticing, the coffee, a secret blend is just right and the desserts are the best in a hundred country miles. Come and see and taste for yourselves.” - N. Scott Momaday
The Laughing Lizard building dates back approximately 95 years. Early entrepreneurs, Mr. and Mrs. Block, one of the few non-Spanish families in the new Jemez settlement, were responsible for a number of the original structures. They built a hotel, a general store, several residences, and the Lizard building.
In the early days only horses and wagons used the narrow dirt road through the village. Whiskey barrels, food and gunpowder were sent from Albuquerque, a two-day, dusty trip and stored in the Lizard basement awaiting delivery to points further up the canyon. Rumors still fly about Al Capone sightings in the area. The village was Spanish speaking and of course everyone knew each other well. No one went without.
Most of the Blocks' enterprises eventually burned to the ground, as did many of the old wooden buildings in Jemez. The Lizard, built of stone and rock still stands strong today. Some of the many uses of the property were Miller’s cafe, The Country Cafe, Hilltop Cafe, a dance hall, Gypo logging Union Hall and the Chili Bowl. It was not unusual for Jack Dempsey to put on boxing demos in the center of the dining room.
Today, the cozy Laughing Lizard Cafe offers eclectic and seasonal menus of delicious meals, decadent desserts and, of course, great coffee! In summer, visitors can relax at the Lizard; have a meal inside, on the deck, or on the screen porch facing the red rock canyon walls. The two most popular dishes are the spinach burrito with sweet potatoes and the bison burger with sautéed fries. Espresso drinks, juice, smoothies, beer, and wine and milkshakes are much in demand. Sweet-tooths from Santa Fe have been known to call ahead to make certain a slice of the chocolate raspberry pie will be saved for them! Located in the heart of the village, the Lizard is a short walk away from hot springs, the Bath House, two other cafes, a coffee shop and two art galleries
The Inn at the Lizard.
Even the four rental rooms have a history. Originally built as cabins for loggers, the small cottages were skidded all over the Jemez Mountains by mules and finally came to rest on the Lizard property. A grand covered porch was built offering spectacular views from the rooms. It is not unusual for guests to just sit on the porch and watch the clouds pass over the mesas only to melt into the deep blue of the New Mexican skies.
Each room offers its own thematic ambiance, filed with cozy furnishings, local artwork and its own paperback library. Many guests discover their favorite room and request it year after year.
Overnight visitors often stay for days using the Lizard as a jumping off place for hiking and day trips to Bandolier, Valle Caldera and Chaco Canyon. And, when they are hungry, the cafe is just a few steps away.
For more information, go to www.thelaughinglizard.com