Even though it’s just a blip on the map, this town supports two great burger joints: the Owl Bar & Café (U.S. 380, 575/835-9946, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $5), which has always gotten all the press, and the lesser-known Manny’s Buckhorn (U.S. 380, 575/835-4423, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $5), just across the street. Both serve beer and green-chile cheeseburgers, both have chummy local staff and plenty of lore—so how to choose? Go to the Owl if you like your burgers thin, to Manny’s if you like them a little fatter.
Actually, the Owl gets an extra point for historic detail: The bar here is from the world’s first Hilton hotel—not part of Conrad Hilton’s international chain, but the one opened by his father when he moved here in the 1880s; Conrad was born shortly thereafter, grew up to be his father’s business partner, and went on to develop hotel properties around the world. The Owl’s owners salvaged the bar after the structure surrounding it burned.
If you want to wake up and get straight to the birds, Casa Blanca B&B (13 Montoya St., San Antonio, 575/835-3027, www.casablancabedandbreakfast.com, $80 d) can put you up for the night in one of three cozy rooms in an 1880 Victorian farmhouse; it’s open only October–May.
You can camp at the Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park (575/835-1366, open year round, $20), just 100 yards north of the reserve border on Highway 1.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition