T or C dining: Latitude 33 where pigs fly

Some places seem to pull people to them and Truth or Consequences NM is one of them. Former travel writer, Joseph Schmitt came to T or C for a writing assignment on spas in New Mexico in 2008. Something about the town attracted him and he moved here from Palm Springs in April 2013. He opened opened his pan-Asian eatery, Latitude 33 in June. It was almost an immediate hit.

Latitude 33 at night, photo Steve Collins

Latitude 33 at night, photo Steve Collins

Schmitt was attracted to T or C for the creative freedom this clearly quirky town offers and its healthier more affordable lifestyle. The eclectic mix of people and friendly small town vibe were also draws. With the decision to move made, he needed a way to make a living; opening a  restaurant was at the top of the list. Schmitt has had a long-term love affair with food and cooking. He credits travel writing with opening “my palate and passion for food”. He chose pan-Asian cuisine as it encompasses the foods he loves the most. How did the restaurant get its name? Latitude 33 signifies two things. “It’s the northern latitude that ties all my favorite flavor profiles together,” he says. “It’s also the latitude on which T or C sits.”

DGreen curry walls in the ining room at Latitude 33, photo/  Steve Collins

DGreen curry walls in the ining room at Latitude 33, photo/
Steve Collins

He discovered a vacant space in a circa 1940 building at 304 South Pershing Street. It was love at first sight. The rustic look created by the corrugated metal on the ceiling and windows reminded Schmitt of both a Thai fisherman’s shack and the buildings on the Navajo Reservation back in his native Arizona. He was sold.

Latitude 33’s color palette, on both the building’s exterior façade and interior walls, reflects the rich hues of the food they serve. The green evokes the color of the Thai green curry, the orange was inspired by the sauce in the Orange Chicken, while the indigo picks up the color of the black rice pudding on the dessert menu.

The Duck and Chips we ate are no longer on the menu , photo/Steve Collins

The Duck and Chips we ate are no longer on the menu , photo/Steve Collins

The dining room is warm and inviting and with a retro ambiance. The décor combining vintage Asian chotchkies with Navajo art from the collection his grandparents started in the 50s, reflects the two sense memories the space brought back to him. The pan-Asian food came from his background. “My godparents were Chinese immigrants,” he says. “They owned a very successful large pan-Asian restaurant when i was a kid.” It was a great choice that has been embraced by both locals and visitors.

Food is all made from scratch and is MSG-free. All soups, stocks, sauces and dressings are made in-house.. In season Schmitt source from some local herb growers. Food prices are surprisingly reasonable. Dinner entrees are mostly priced between $9 and $12, a few dishes area a bit pricier. The menu has evolved a bit since we were there. We ordered the irresistible Duck and Chips, duck confit in plum sauce served with golden yucca fries and pickled watermelon radish. At $18, it was the most expensive dish on the menu. Schmitt has since reconceptualized the dish. The quarter duck confit remains but is now accompanied by forbidden black rice and French green beans. I bet it works incredibly well both visually and taste-wise.

Crispy Mango Steak one of the evening's special, photo/Steve Collins

Crispy Mango Steak one of the evening’s special, photo/Steve Collins

We ordered an interesting sampling from Latitude’s offerings. I’ve always loved the expression “when pigs fly”. They do here. The menu includes Crispy Pork Wings; five petite pork shanks served with sweet chili sauce and toasted sesame seeds. It was literally finger-licking good. We also ordered Crispy Mango Steak, one of the evening’s specials. The thinly sliced marinated flank steak was served in a house made sweet chili mango sauce accompanied by a large mound of delicate jasmine rice. Even though we were full,  the black rice pudding that Schmitt sent out was too good to resist. We’ never encountered this before and found it to be delicious, aromatic and a bit addictive. We couldn’t stop eating it.

If you’re traveling to T or C (or if you live there) Latitude 33 deserves a place on your dining list. Just ask a local! According to Schmitt, “It’s all done with love.”

Read more about T or C
Good eats around Truth or Consequences NM
T or C dining: Cafe Bella Luca a taste of Italy
Discovering quirky T or C New Mexico
Exploring the art galleries of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Pamper yourself at Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa

Author’s note: We were guests of Latitude 33 for dinner. This generosity has not affected our opinion in any way.

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2 Responses to “T or C dining: Latitude 33 where pigs fly”

  1. Agness
    June 25, 2019 at 7:18 pm #

    You always go for the best food! The Duck and Chips as well as Crispy Mango Steak look just incredibly yummy!

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