Being relatively off the beaten path and surrounded by the state’s largest wilderness area, Silver City is an unexpected destination for foodies. But this isolated town, founded by miners and ranchers and coming to terms with its potential as an arts and outdoors hub, boasts a variety of eateries that are worth the trip almost in themselves. Whether you come to gallery hop or hike the Gila National Forest’s remote trails, you should come prepared to dine downtown, drink in a historic mining settlement, and visit every secret stash the locals might not otherwise let you in on.

Corner Kitchen 

300 S Bullard St

Breakfast is just one of those meals that most don’t want veering from convention too much. But seeing how it’s the most important meal of the day, it’s key to pack in whole foods and dense nutrients—which is where Corner Kitchen comes in. At an almost forgotten, low-traffic intersection at the south end of downtown Silver City, Corner Kitchen dishes up breakfasts and lunches that are always made from scratch and full of flavor. Whether a hearty oat bake topped with creamy yogurt or a bright omelet filled with lightly wilted greens and bites of sweet potato, Corner Kitchen offers home cooking at its finest—like eating around your great-grandmother’s table in all the best ways. Having been in business since early 2018, the chef and owner, Howard Richardson, is on a first-name basis with most of his customers and is known for greeting first-timers warmly and inviting them back with unmatched sincerity. Starting at 9:30 am each Thursday through Monday, Corner Kitchen serves until the food sells out.

Two Piece Fried Chicken

601 N Bullard St, Ste E

At high noon on certain days of the week, The Hub Plaza offers some of the best smells around. Wafting from the kitchen of The Mint Chip Creamery is the smell of—wait for it—fried chicken. Chef Nathan Howard established a pop-up restaurant that operated two days per week all summer and is expanding hours this fall and winter. “People around town have started calling it a chicken shop, which I’m not too mad at,” he says. 

Howard grew up in kitchens, and at age twenty, he interned with celebrity chef Tanya Holland in Oakland, California, where he’s from. “I do Southern and soul food. My family has roots in the South, and I’ve lived in New Orleans. A lot of the dishes I’ve created come from staff meals from other restaurants I’ve worked at,” he says. “For example, I’ve melded [my] Southern roots [with] Indian cooking in my curry nuggets.” (The curry nuggets are little pops of mouth- and brain-satisfying crunch and flavor, no matter which of the three sauces you dip them in.)

While low-country food is Nathan’s specialty, he approaches it with the methodology of haute cuisine. “I always think of my food as low country, high technique,” he explains. “I think the best food in the world is what you eat off a bunch of newspapers on a park bench.” The pandemic transplant also draws on New Mexico tradition and ingredients, adding bits of pickled jalapeño to his slaw and spicing his chowchow with fire-roasted poblanos. 

Two Piece Fried Chicken is open every Monday and Tuesday from 11 am to 6 pm; starting in mid-October, they’ll be open Wednesdays too. Check their social media channels for info about occasional brunches offered in partnership with The Mint Chip. 

Iron Door BBQ and Grill

The corner of Twelfth and Pope Streets 

When you need to feed a crowd or have worked up an appetite, hit the little red food truck parked near grassy Gough Park. You’ll know you’ve found it when a delectably smoky aroma hits your nostrils. When word about his smoked meat spread, former insurance agent Allen Townsend—with his wife, Cruz—began catering. The success of that endeavor gave way in 2019 to today’s iteration of Iron Door, which has expanded from a stand-alone trailer in the parking lot of Townsend’s then agency to an inviting seating area next to the smokers. Whether taking out a large order of ribs or devouring a combo plate at a picnic table with the couple’s dog at your feet, do not skip the smoked mac ’n’ cheese.  

Forrest’s Pizza

601 N Bullard St, Ste J

The pizza oven takes up most of the one-room space that produces Silver City’s most popular pizza pies. For lunch, locals order by the slice and eat outdoors at The Hub Plaza. (Pro tip: Ask for your slice “to go” and you’ll get it warmed up again.) For dinner, try a specialty pizza; The Marilyn—dressed in all white—is a crowd-pleaser. When invited to a get-together, know that hosts and other guests always appreciate a steaming bag of garlic knots and marinara. If it’s dessert you’re after, ex-pat Italians I know swear by Forrest’s cannoli. This tiny pizzeria is open Tuesday through Saturday starting at 11 am.

The Buckhorn Saloon & Opera House

32 Main Street, Pinos Altos

Finish off a day trip to the Gila Cliff Dwellings or a hike up to the Signal Peak lookout tower with a stop at The Buckhorn. Locals know to sit at the bar in the saloon, where live music and a whiskey cocktail pair perfectly with a steak sandwich, a bowl of green chile stew, or a portobello burger. Here, the dress code ranges from your rattiest cowboy hat to your least-ratty jeans. But locals also know that on black-tie occasions, a table reservation in The Buckhorn’s dining room is the only acceptable option. Chef Thomas Bock stands out in his white coat, as the saloon’s other fixtures are more reminiscent of a bygone era of the Wild West. Food is served in the saloon from 4 pm on, though you can get a drink earlier. The dining room is open Monday through Saturday from 5 to 10 pm. Reservations are highly recommended; call 575-538-9911.

Jennifer C. Olson

Jennifer C. Olson tells the stories of the Land of Enchantment’s people, places, and culture through outlets such as edible New Mexico, The Bite, and New Mexico Magazine. Whether shining a light on a single fruit or diving into the complexities of the rural food system, she relishes the grains of stories in all of life’s moments. She lives on the outskirts of the Gila National Forest.