Los Poblanos Historic Inn is a pastoral oasis on Rio Grande Boulevard in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. Located 4 miles from Old Town, this verdant gem is a world unto itself, a serene getaway for travelers, and a lush wedding venue and events space for locals. The 25-acre property features an inn, a cultural center, two pools (including the first pool ever installed in the Duke City), a working farm, a distillation operation, and a restaurant helmed by a James Beard–nominated chef. Gardens and fields of aromatic lavender surround the property. Several peacocks and guinea hens patrol the place, occasionally serving as unwanted alarm clocks. The front desk provides ear plugs.
Albert and Ruth Simms
Originally the property was part of the Elena Gallegos land grant, owned by Ambrosio and Juan Cristobal Armijo in the late 1800s. The parcel stretched from the banks of the Rio Grande to the base of the Sandia mountains, an enormous tract that provided both viable land for crops and ample grazing land for livestock.
In the 1930s, Congressman Albert Simms and his wife, Ruth, purchased the 800-acre property. They developed a model experimental farm during the 1930s and 1940s, growing a variety of crops, like alfalfa, oats, corn, barley, sugar beets, and lavender, now the signature crop at Los Poblanos. This was also the original home of Creamland Dairies, one of the pioneers of New Mexico’s dairy industry.
Penny and Armin Rembe
In 1976, Penny and Armin Rembe purchased one-half of the property. They had careers and four kids. Initially, they didn’t plan to become innkeepers. However, in 1999 the other half of the property went on the market and they were concerned that the historic buildings would be destroyed in favor of a housing development. The Rembe children, now adults, decided to purchase the property in partnership with their parents. They developed a plan to preserve it and Los Poblanos Historic Inn was conceived.
Penny and Armin ran the inn for four years. Their son, Matt, took over operations in 2004. He expanded the line of lavender products, added fine dining, and incorporated cultural programming and events. Los Poblanos rapidly expanded, with three operations growing under the auspices of one organization.
Renovations and Expansion
In 2017, Los Poblanos completed a $10 million renovation, facilitating the expansion of every branch of the business. The Farm Shop, which sells the entire line of Los Poblanos spa products, was refurbished, with more retail space added. They sell a variety of local products, in addition to the Los Poblanos line, with an abundant selection of fresh breads, meats, cheeses, and spreads. The acreage dedicated to lavender was increased to accommodate hundreds of new plants. The inn added 28 rooms, bringing the total to 50. The They constructed two new buildings. Both are surrounded by lavender fields. The new buildings incorporated materials salvaged from other buildings. The Rembe’s scoured old farms and hotels around New Mexico for light fixtures and furniture. They heeded every detail, including building the rooms to catch a cross breeze, which reduced the need for air conditioning.
They converted the former Creamland Dairy milking barn into an incredible, new restaurant space, Campo. The shotgun style bar, dining room, and state of the art, open kitchen is simultaneously open and cozy. The cooking stations form a horseshoe, hinging on a large, wood fired hearth at the back, readily visible from the dining room. The hearth is the focal point, the captain’s chair. It is helmed by Jonathan Perno, the afore-mentioned James Beard nominee. Jonathan’s philosophy, talent and commitment are a perfect match for Los Poblanos’ vision of preservation, environmental stewardship, and sustainability.
Field to Fork
Jonathan has won an abundance of prestigious local and national culinary awards. Bringing that up in conversation makes him squirm. He is a humble fellow, uncomfortable in the spotlight. Though his approach to cooking draws on the principles of “field to fork”; relying on local farmers, focusing on regional staples and taking advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables, he views the phrase as buzzwords, associated more with marketing than the quality of the meal.
Jonathan considers fresh ingredients critical and he understands the economic impact of sourcing what he needs locally. He found the perfect ally in Executive Director, Matt Rembe. Both men ardently support the local agricultural community from a culinary and economic perspective. They source 90% of their ingredients locally during the growing season and 60% during the winter. They define local as within a 300 mile radius. Most of the produce is from New Mexico, as well as all of the meat and dairy products, other than fish. Everything is 100% organic.
Rio Grande Valley Cuisine
Jonathan’s describes his food as Rio Grande valley cuisine. He looks to local traditions and ingredients for inspiration. Numerous dishes draw upon regional staples, like chile and blue corn; however, the menu offers the opportunity to try dishes that aren’t readily available elsewhere, like cazuelas and chilaquiles. The bad news is you need to go to Campo to try the cazuelas. The good news is Jonathan shared his recipe for chilaquiles.
Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish using lightly fried corn tortillas, called totopos, as a base. The word is derived from the Nahuatl word “chīlāquilitl.” If you can pronounce the Nahuatl word correctly, please let me know. My pronunciation is abhorrent. Top the chilaquiles with refried beans, eggs (any style), beef, or with guacamole as a side dish. As with many Mexican dishes, regional and family variations are common.
Campo features chilaquiles (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃilaˈkiles]) on their breakfast menu, with eggs made to order. This recipe can be gluten free, dairy free and vegan with a cheese substitute.
- 24- Yellow corn tortillas- cut into strips or wedges
- ¼-Yellow onion medium diced
- 2-cups Red chile sauce warmed (Los Poblanos red chile recipe)
- ½ lb. grated cheddar cheese
- 3 Tbsp.-virgin olive oil
- 8-eggs cooked to one likes
- Salt to taste
- In a large sauté pan heat oil just till smoking, then add tortillas and salt. Sauté until the tortillas just start to get toasted.
- Add the onions and continue to cook for about one to two minutes longer.
- Remove from the heat and add the warmed sauce.
- Toss together then add the cheese and mix just so the cheese melts into the sauce and tortillas.
- Place the mixture on a plate or large platter and serve with the eggs the way you like them.
For patrons who want more privacy, Campo has a large side room, and a small, outdoor patio overlooking lavender fields. Late June and July on the patio is like being served a free side of aromatherapy bliss.
Please leave your recipe modifications, or any questions that you may have, in the comments.
4803 Rio Grande Blvd N.W.
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM 87107
Set among 25 acres of lavender fields, enormous cottonwood trees and lush formal gardens, Los Poblanos is one of the most magnificent historic properties in the Southwest. The property was designed in 1932 by the region’s foremost architect, John Gaw Meem, the “Father of Santa Fe Style”.
Los Poblanos combines 50 guest rooms, a working organic farm and world class cuisine. The natural beauty, comfort and privacy of Los Poblanos provides guests with a memorable experience in a truly relaxing environment. It is also an ideal setting for meetings and special events.
Campo is a casual fine-dining experience featuring the purest field-to-fork menu in the Southwest. Located at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, their Rio Grande Valley Cuisine is rooted in seasonal organic ingredients from their fields, as well as from longstanding relationships with local farmers and herdsman.
To make a reservation: 505-338-1615
The Los Poblanos Farm Shop takes pride in hand-crafting quality, meaningful products. The shop features artisan lavender products made from the organic lavender grown in the fields and distilled on the farm, including culinary lavender. In addition to their products, they sell items by other local businesses.
Contact the Farm Shop: (505) 938-2192