Iconic NM Restaurants: Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon

Posted at: 11/26/2013 6:45 PM
By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Nestled in the heart of the Jemez Mountains is a place that's an embodiment of the Old West.

Welcome to Jemez Springs and to Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon.

Originally from Mexico, Co-Owner Olga Appell, who's been working here along with her husband for the past five years, is used to running things, even on bigger stages than at the saloon.

"I competed for Mexico in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympic Games"

That's right! Olga is a former Olympic marathon runner.

She also ran in the 1996 summer games in Atlanta under the American flag.

"I didn't win a medal but being on the U.S. Olympic team was the equivalent to winning a medal. That was something very special for me," Appell said.

She only runs the restaurant now instead of marathons, and Los Ojos has quite a bit of history.

The bar has been around since the mid-40s and before that was the village trading post and school.

It was known to be a bit rough back in the day with the bullet holes to prove it. Olga says those days are long gone. It's all about the food now, especially the premiere plate: the Los Ojos Special.

It's a meaty burger served open-faced on a bun surrounded by seasoned fries, topped with cheese and your choice of red or green chile.

If you've never been to Los Ojos yet it looks awfully familiar, there's a reason for it.

It's where the country music duo Brooks and Dunn shot their first ever music video: "My Next Broken Heart."

The group thanks Los Ojos for making them famous!

To Olga, Los Ojos is more than the food, the history, and the publicity. It's all about the hospitality.

"I love this place. I don't get tired. I just love being around people, you know? I love my customers and meeting all kinds of people from all over the world," Appell said.

More: New Mexico Culinary Treasures