Legal Tender: food, history and music

Food, history and music are an interesting combination. It’s the one that makes Legal Tender in the small, historic Lamy, New Mexico work.

Legal Tender

HistoricLegal Tender in Lamy. NM, photo/Steve Collins

Lamy, a booming town in the 19th century when railroads were king and cattle drives meant business as usual, is now a sleepy hamlet. The only passenger train service going through here these days is, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, connecting Chicago with LA. There are two trains a day, one going east and the other heading west. Originally nicknamed “The Train of the Stars,” because many Hollywood luminaries rode the rails, it’s maiden run was in 1936. Today, its fate is up in the air. The route, with stops in Trinidad, Colorado, Raton and Las Vegas, NM, before it hits Lamy, may be rerouted in 2014 due to decaying track conditions. Its future is being debated in the New Mexico legislature at the moment.

Legal Tender

The Southwest Chief, headed to Chicago, photo Steve Collins

Legal Tender, housed in a building dating to 1881, was originally the town mercantile, complete with a bar and poker rooms. It shares the historic building with the Lamy Railroad & History Museum. The dining room, with its period décor and stage decorated with Can-Can dancers, recalls the old west. The barroom, complete with an antique cherry wood bar and Victorian artwork on the walls and the adjacent El Capitan Poker Room, where you might find a game going, echo the period feeling.

Legal Tender

The historic bar, photo Steve Collins

Chef Michael Gintert, former owner of the Lamy Station Café, a now-defunct eatery that was housed in a vintage ‘50s dining car sitting across the road, is in charge of the kitchen. The restaurant, run by a Learning Minds, a non-profit organization, has an interesting business model. Except for Gintert and his kitchen crew, the place is run by volunteers. The entire front of the house staff, from the bartender to the server, works purely for tips.

Legal Tender

Chef Michael Gintert plying his trade, photo.Steve Collins

The live music, from Thursday through Sunday nights, brings the crowds. Reserve in advance or you won’t get one. They’ve been consistently selling out.

Legal Tender

Lots of games of poker have been played in the El Capitan Room, photo/Steve Collins

If you don’t want to drive out at night, or make plans in advance, take a weekend drive out to Lamy. Walk around the historic hamlet, visit the museum and grab a spot of lunch. Spring is in the air and it’s a great time to get out of town and explore.


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4 Responses to “Legal Tender: food, history and music”

  1. Pola (@jettingaround)
    February 18, 2019 at 10:56 pm #

    I love places like this! You can’t beat history, great decor, and ambiance. Thanks for introducing me to Legal Tender. Good to know that I could get there directly from Chicago…
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Palmer House lobby Chicago: A classic (and classy) hangoutMy Profile

  2. Donna Hull
    February 22, 2019 at 4:01 pm #

    Exploring off-the-beaten-path is travel at its finest. Lamy sounds like a fun visit. The business model at Lamy Station Cafe is intriguing.

  3. Margaret
    February 24, 2019 at 8:55 pm #

    I haven’t been here in ages. I think I’ll put it on the list for my next trip back to NM.
    Margaret recently posted..Weekly photo challenge: forwardMy Profile

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