The Mine Shaft Tavern: Madrid’s Culinary Treasure

Lynn Cline - October 24, 2017

A mecca for musicians, bikers, foodies, movie stars and more

If you've been to Madrid (and not the one in Spain), then you most certainly have been to the The Mine Shaft Tavern. This historic watering hole—one of Santa Fe County's oldest continuously run taverns —began serving Madrid miners back in 1947. Today, it's recognized by the New Mexico Tourism Department as a culinary treasure, a mecca for musicians, bikers, movie stars and more.

For foodies, The Mine Shaft Tavern may be most prized for its Mad Chile Burger, listed on the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail. It's also ranked No. 6 among the 10 Best Green Chile Cheeseburgers in the state by 10Best, USA Today and Sandwich America readers. Made with a whopping half pound of Black Angus chuck, topped with roasted Hatch green chile and a battered, fried Hatch green chile, it also has cheddar cheese and chipotle dijonnaise, all piled high on a brioche bun. This burger is so darn good it won the People's Choice Award at the 2014 Santa Fe Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown.

But it's the tavern's history that intrigues locals and visitors alike. The town's colorful past stretches back to 1835, when coal mining took off in what was then known as Coal Gulch. Around 1895, Coal Gulch gave way to Madrid, a company town that owned the tavern built around the same time. For decades, that tavern was a gathering place for miners and their families until it burned down on Christmas Day in 1944. A new tavern was built—The Mine Shaft Tavern—and when it opened in 1947, it boasted the longest stand-up bar in New Mexico. Forty feet long, the bar was a place where fatigued miners could prop themselves up after a long day spent doubled over in the mines.

During the 1950s, most mines shut down, leaving Madrid a veritable ghost town. In fact,The Mine Shaft Tavern reputedly is Madrid's most haunted residence. Its website reports odd “occurrences that are noticed—glasses falling from their shelves; doors opening and swinging back and forth; mysterious sounds; furniture unexplainably moved to other locations and orbs showing up in photography.”

If ghostly spirits are your thing, then head on down to Madrid for the Haunted Mine Shaft, on view through Halloween. Go ahead, view the decorations...if you dare. And come dressed to kill for the parties and costume contests. The first takes place on Saturday, Oct. 28, featuring rockin' Americana music by Damn Union starting at 8 pm. The second is held on Halloween Night with music by DJ Oona starting at 7 pm.

Be sure to bring your appetite, too, as The Mine Shaft Tavern serves up some tasty New Mexican roadhouse cuisine. Start the fun with a Mad Chile Margarita, a hair-raising concoction of agave tequila and cucumber jalapeño muddled with lime and served in a red chile-rimmed glass. Try appealing apps such as Panko-breaded Fried Artichoke Hearts with ranch dip, or Green Chile Blue Crab Cake with chipotle dijonnaise. The Habanero Poppers are a hot dish here, as are the Chicken Tenders, and both come with ranch dip.

For more of a meal, the Green Chile Stew is spiked with smoked pork and served with a tortilla. The Wagyu Steak Salad features local Lone Mountain Ranch sirloin with mixed greens, caramelized onions, roasted red bell peppers, blue cheese, tomatoes and cucumber, all tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.

If it's pizza your pining for, try the Pepperoni and Green Chile, made with tomato sauce, pepperoni, Hatch chile and mozzarella. The Greek is layered with pesto sauce, feta, pepperoncini, artichoke hearts and tomato,. Hearty sandwiches include BBQ Pork or Brisket heaped with barbecue sauce on ciabatta and grilled chicken breast with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, roasted red bell pepper, bacon and chipotle dijonnaise on ciabatta with mixed greens

The Mine Shaft Tavern is also famous for its vibrant live music scene every weekend, which takes place both inside the tavern and outside, at The Mine Shaft Cantina. Here, you can enjoy the same elevated pub fare and New Mexican microbrews served in the tavern along with splendid views of the town of Madrid.