Santa Fe, New Mexico is a city brimming with history and culture. It is not only the capital of New Mexico, but established in 1610 it is the one of the oldest cities in the United States (behind St Augustine, FL and Jamestown, VA). The architecture of the buildings, with the look of the old Spanish pueblos, visibly display this history. For these reasons, it is a great place to visit. But with a diverse and vibrant restaurant scene, it’s also a great place to dine!
I was staying in the center of the historic district, and most of the places I ate at are in that part of the city. I did go to a couple outside, but all are within walking distance of city center.
Before covering the restaurants, I want to make a couple of comments. First, I want to talk about green chiles. I’ve written before about the New Mexican Green Chile. It is THE ingredient in New Mexican cuisine. Made from roasted Hatch Chiles, it is found in all sorts of dishes: burritos, omelets, burgers, and even shakes. It can be found whole, chopped, or sauced. Dishes with the sauce will have the option of red or green. If you want both, it is called Christmas. I am a big fan of the Green Chile, and order it whenever I get the chance.
The second is a bit of advice. Restaurants in Santa Fe have limited hours. Some are only open for breakfast and lunch, while others are only open for lunch and dinner. And restaurants are closed between lunch and dinner, opening up again around 5:00. The dinner restaurants close early, no later than 10:00 PM. All this makes getting a table at a restaurant difficult. I did not have too much trouble as I was there in the off season, but I often ended up sitting at the bar. Therefore, I recommend making reservations.
Cafes and Bakeries
I was surprised to discover that Santa Fe has many great cafes. These are restaurants where you can get a cup a coffee, a pastry or a light meal, and have places to sit, read, talk, or play board games.
The first place I ate at in Santa Fe is a lovely book store with a cafe called Collected Works. It’s at the edge of the old town area, right on the corner of East Water Street and Galisteo Street. The area it occupies is relatively large, with both the book section and the cafe having plenty of space. I greatly enjoyed time browsing the books and was glad to see that they had a good sized local interest section. Details about what I bought are in a separate section below.
I came across Collected Works shortly after arriving in Santa Fe, during the early afternoon. I had eaten very little while en route and as a little hungry. Collected Works was exactly the kind of spot I was looking for to get a small bite before dinner.
They have a small selection of baked goods and two main dishes: quiche and the soup of the day. I tried ordering the quiche, but they were out. They did have a little soup left, but not a full bowl. Accommodatingly, they sold it to me for half price. The soup of the day was tomato. I’m glad I was able to have some, as it was quite good – thick and full of flavor. A unique touch is toasted pumpkin seeds on top
I also tried one of their cafe drinks. The coffee section has all the varieties you would expect: Espresso, Latte’s, Cappuccino’s, etc… Cold brew is also an option. The tea selections also includes cold brew, along with Chai and a drink called London Fog. I had not heard of it before. After my trip a friend told me what it is: half Earl Grey tea and half steamed milk, with a little bit of sweetener. I did not get it, as I ordered a Matcha Latte. I like green tea, but had not had a Latte version before. I saw it often in Santa Fe and quickly grew to like it. It had a strong green tea flavor, mellowed a bit by the milk.
Cakes Cafe is another lovely cafe in historic Santa Fe. I discovered it one morning while walking around and ended up having It is located on Galisteo Street, just a block south of Collected Works.
The cafe has a pretty decent breakfast menu, including Frittatas, French Toast, and several breakfast sandwiches.
But I was pretty full after the previous nights meal, so I ordered the oatmeal. I was not prepared for what I got. It was a big bowl of hearty oatmeal (maybe steel cut, but certainly very thick), and almost completely covered with an assortment of fruit. Fruit that was incredibly fresh. The pears in particular were ripened to perfection. Now this is the way to have oatmeal!
I was also still a bit jet lagged that morning. This gave me the perfect opportunity to try the Mexican Mocha – Mexican Hot Chocolate mixed with coffee. I am normally not a coffee drinker, but liked the combination of the rich taste of Mexican chocolate and the strong flavor of coffee. There are almost a dozen coffee drinks on the menu.
I liked the place so much that I came back for lunch. And I brought a friend. There were two specials that day: Green Chile Grilled Cheese and Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. I could not decide between them, so I got both. Albeit, for the soup I got a cup instead of a bowl.
Like I said above, the Green Chile can be found everywhere. I found both the cheese and the chile mild; together they made for a unique and tasty combination. The roasted soup was not spicy, but did have a a little kick to it. Very thick and served with crusty bread, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
My friend ordered the Ham and Cheese sandwich. The cheese on the sandwich was provolone and it also came with an aoli sauce, so this was no ordinary ham and cheese. Along with it, he ordered a side salad. Both got favorable reviews.
Cakes Cafe also has a varied selection of pastries, including cinnamon rolls, croissants, and an assortment of cookies. There is one item you can only find in New Mexico: the state cookie. Called biscochitos, they are short bread style cookies flavored with anise and cinnamon. The ones at Cakes Cafe are square and are stamped with the symbol of New Mexico and the 505 area code. I had to order one. I found them a bit dry; perhaps they had been sitting out for awhile? I’ll have to try them again.
Cakes Cafe has incredible ambience. It is in a long narrow building with rustic decor, dining tables, sofa chairs, and card tables for playing games. There are a small selection of games available. The walls are tastefully decorated with large pictures that I found fascinating, and 70s and 80s music plays softly in the background. I absolutely love the place.
Dolina Cafe and Bakery
Dolina Cafe and Bakery is a highly rated lunch spot just on the outskirts of the historic area. It is located on North Guadalupe Street, a short walk in the north westerly direction from central downtown. I went there with a group of friends on our last day in Santa Fe. One of the unique things about Dolina is that it is a Slavic restaurant, serving dishes from Eastern Europe. Indeed, I was surprised to see the Hungarian street food Langos on the menu; I wrote about it in my article on Budapest.
The menu contains brunch staples such as sandwiches, pancakes, French Toast, omelets, and other egg dishes. They also have the New Mexican staple, the breakfast burrito. But many of these dishes are a bit different from the standard fair. The pancakes are made with Ricotta. The French Toast is Orechovnik French Toast, made with the house’s walnut cinnamon swirl bread. Omelet options include Pesto or Santa Fe style (with red or green chile sauce, of course).
I wanted a Slavic meal and one item on the menu peaked my interest: Kapustnica soup. This is a soup traditionally served at Christmas time. This is a seasonal item, so I did not want to pass that up. Made with sauerkraut and sausage, Dolina’s version also comes with mushrooms,a dollop of sour cream, and a big slice of toasted bread. The sauerkraut isn’t as strong as I was expecting, providing more texture than flavor. But the broth has plenty of flavor. Quite satisfying.
Along with my meal, I ordered a cup of Matcha Latte. This was the second time I had this drink in Santa Fe (or elsewhere). The presentation was amazing, as was the taste. The Matcha Latte has now become one of my favorite drinks.
Here is what my companions ordered. One also ordered the Kapustnica soup. The other dishes were: the Salmon Tartine, Organic Chicken Schnitzle, and the Paprikash.
The Paprikash is Dolina’s version of a classic Hungarian dish: Chicken Paprika. Traditionally, it is roast chicken seasoned with paprika. Dolina’s is chicken, but serve in a creamy paprika sauce with barley on the side. My companion said it was excellent. The Schnitzle also got a positive review. Salmon Tartine consists of smoked salmon served on a “Wild Leaven quinoa sourdough” bread. My friend who got it said the salmon was a little salty for him, but otherwise enjoyed it. None of us ate any baked goods here, but one did buy a pack of biscochitos as a gift for his kids.
The Dolina Cafe and Bakery was quite busy. That was not too surprising given how highly regarded it is. Nevertheless, our group was quickly seated. It took us a bit to look over the menu, but once ordered our food came out fairly quickly. All of the items did come out at the same time. We found the wait staff very friendly and accommodating. Dolina’s reputation is well deserved.
New Mexican restaurants
Here I will highlight restaurants in Santa Fe that serve traditional New Mexican food. The cuisine is very similar to Mexican, but with a different focus. I will cover Mexican food in the next section.
Most restaurants serve entrees with beans in rice. For health reasons, I avoid rice and so asked for a double serving of beans or to just leave the rice out. Please don’t think New Mexican cuisine does not have rice, because it does.
The Plaza Cafe is looks over the central plaza in Santa Fe. Recommended by my Uber driver, it was the first restaurant I ate at a full meal at. While it calls itself a Cafe, it feels more like a family restaurant and serves traditional New Mexican dishes so I am including it in this section. It opened in 1905 and the Razatos family has owned the restaurant since 1947.
The many New Mexican dishes on the menu includes Chili, enchiladas, burritos, and stuffed sopapillas. The also serve breakfast fare all day. Non-New Mexican items includes sandwiches and burgers. After considering my options, I chose the Blue Corn Enchilada; an enchilada made with a blue corn tortilla and covered with New Mexican Chile sauce. You get a choice of fillings. And that is where I made a mistake. Thinking I was getting carnitas (grilled pork), I ordered the calabacitas. Calabacitas are a mixture vegetables, with squash being the most dominant. It was quite good, but I did miss having some meat. It was served with sopapillas, which I had not had before. New Mexico’s version is a soft, puffy bread. I quickly learned to love it as an accompaniment.
The Plaza Cafe has a small dessert menu. It includes the state cookie, although I did not know that at the time. I was interested in the Quatro Leches Cupcake (a play on the classic Tres Leches cake), but I was too full to order it. Instead, I ordered a Mexican hot chocolate. Mexican chocolate it slightly different in that it is less sweet and has a little spice to it. It is great!
Tia Sophia’s (Aunt Sophia’s) is the most recommended breakfast spot in Santa Fe. It was the first place I went for breakfast. A small diner, it is right on San Francisco Street just a couple of blocks west of the central plaza.
Tia Sophia’s is a classic diner. You can get standard breakfast fair — eggs, French toast, pancakes — or traditional New Mexican dishes – burritos, enchiladas, and even Carne Adovada. They have a variety of burritos, but they are known for their Breakfast Enchitladas: scrambled eggs and bacon wrapped in a tortilla and covered with New Mexican Chile. Of course, that is what I got. How was it? While the eggs were a bit more soft than I prefer, the sauce and beans were very good and I liked the bacon and there was plenty of it, chopped into little bits and mixed in with the eggs.
Tia Sophia’s opens early and the service is quite prompt. The ambience is that of a diner, and a very family friendly one at that. I saw several people, who all looked like locals, eating with their kids. Everyone seemed to know each another. It’s a great place for a quick breakfast, for either American style or New Mexican style.
Cafe Pasqual’s is another highly regarded breakfast and lunch spot. It is located in the center of downtown, at the corner of East Water Street and Don Gaspar Ave. It opens at 8:00 AM. Breakfast is served all day; lunch is served from 11:00 to 3:00.
The breakfast menu has about 20 items, with typical breakfast fair such as eggs, pancakes, smoked salmon, and avocado toast. Many have a New Mexican flair, with the Chile sauce. Also, while there is traditional wheat flour pancakes on the menu, there are also pancakes made with corn. New Mexico specific breakfast items include Chorizo Burrito, Chile Relleno con Huevos, and both Breakfast Burritos and Breakfast Quesadillas. These last two include eggs, making them more breakfasting. The dishes can be made vegetarian, replacing ham or bacon with tofu.
But I was interested in lunch fare. There are more than 20 items on the lunch menu. This includes several choices for salad (Pomelo, Spinach, Caesar, Wild Rice, or Heide’s) and almost a half dozen sandwiches or burgers. New Mexican options include enchiladas (Blue Lady or Mole), tacos, Carne Asada, and Birria de Chivo (a Mexican stew). The is also a Plato Primo that is a combination platter.
I chose the Oaxacan Tamales. These are tamales stuffed with black beans and served with a mole sauce. They came out still inside a banana leaf wrapper (in which they are steamed). I am a big fan of tamales and order them often. But this is the first time I have had them with mole sauce, which is a specialty in the Oxaccan region of Mexico. It’s a great combination. But even without the sauce, the tamale would have been excellent. It was soft and moist; absolutely perfection.
Maria’s dessert menu has about 10 items. This does not include the cookies available from their pastry case. I did not have enough time to order one, but want to cover the options. To name a few: Ten layer honey cake, Apple Turnover, Warm Gingerbread, Red Pear Tart, Toasted Pinon Ice Cream, and Prickly Pear Sorbet. What a fantastic list! The only dessert like item that I ordered was a glass of Mexican Hot Chocolate, which I had before the meal. It was quite good.
Pasqual’s was very busy but I was fortunate enough to get a table right away. The whole time I was there, people kept on arriving. The pace never let up. Service was prompt but I did not feel rushed. The inside is quite atmospheric. The ceilings are walls are covered with New Mexican themed decorations. Yet the place still has the at home feel, as if you were in a Grandma’s country kitchen. Pasqual’s is an experience you do not want to miss.
A couple people had told me that the best Margarita’s in Santa Fe is in a restaurant called Maria’s. It’s a little over 2 miles from the historic area, on W Cordova Rd (right off of St Francis Drive). I walked it, but you may want to drive. I was there on a very busy Friday night.
Turns out, Friday night is not the time to go to Maria’s without a reservation. The place was packed and I had to wait for a seat. Fortunately, there is a large waiting area with with lots of comfortable seating. There was a lot of people in that area. Some were waiting for a table, but many were ordering take out. I was seated at a table in a little over a half hour.
When I was handed a menu, I got to see why Maria’s has such a stellar reputation. They have 30 different Margarita’s, with any kind of Tequila imaginable. These are the brands available: Casamigos, Chamucos, Corazon, El Tesoro, Herradura, Hornitos, Milagro, Patron, Peligroso,Green Chili Meatballs and Tres Generaciones. I must admit that I had never heard of most of them and had no idea how to choose. So I asked the waiter and he gave me a recommendation: a drink made with Hornitos Tequila called the Horny Toad. It was excellent.
But what about the food at Maria’s? The menu contains many New Mexican dishes, including Blue Corn Enchiladas, tamales, Huevos Rancheros , and Green Chile Flautas. I went with Carne Adovada. This is a quintessential New Mexican dish and I had to have it at least once while in town. I also ordered an appetizer, Maria’s “award winning” Green Chili Meatballs.
So how were they? I liked the meatballs. This is largely due to the Green Chili sauce which was exquisite and had a good spice. It went well with the meatballs. As for the meatballs themselves, I was not impressed. The night before, I had La Boca’s meatballs and these did not compare. I did not have better luck with my entree. Carne Adovada is a pork stew with the meat in a red chile sauce. Maria’s version is quite bland. Given how popular the place is, I am quite surprised. Especially for a classic New Mexican dish such as this! I suspect other items on the menu are better. But based on my experience this, I recommend to go to Maria’s for the Margaritas and to get New Mexican food elsewhere.
However, there is one food item on the menu that I can wholeheartedly recommend: the Chef Zan’s Dulce De Leche Cheesecake. It was one of two desserts on the daily special menu. The other was Dessert Nachos – tortilla chips covered with cinnamon and sugar and topped with whipped cream. Already having my fill of chips, I decided to get the cheesecake. Rich, moist, and light for a cheesecake, it is delicious.
The interior of Maria’s is large and there are lots of seating space. My table was in the basement, in what looked like a bar area. The service was quick and the waiter was,for the most part, attentive. There was a stretch when I did not see him while he was serving tables in another room. But it was a busy Friday night, so I don’t hold that against them. In general, I thought the service was good and that the staff was helpful.
I went to a couple of restaurants that were Mexican, as opposed to New Mexican. Both are top notch.
Paloma is a restaurant slightly outside of the historic downtown Santa Fe. Not far from the train station, it is close enough to walk. I went to it because a friend had heard that it is “the best Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe.”
The appetizers section of the menu is sizeable, containing an assortment of salads, chips, nachos, tostaditos, and vegetables. Wanting a light vegetable to go with my main meal, I ordered one of the salads.
It is called a Pepita salad. The description reads “butter lettuce, chives, queso fresco, poblanos, creamy pepita dressing.” It is excellent; the greens are big and crisp and the dressing is creamy and flavorful. What was disappointing was the poblanos. There are poblanos in it; tiny bits of poblanos. The poblano is one of my favorite peppers, so I ordered this expecting big chunks. Despite that, I enjoyed it, barely noticing the lack of peppers. I hadn’t realized they were in short supply until half way through.
And while I did not get the chips and salsa(s), two ladies sitting next to me did. They generously allowed me to take a picture. All of the salsas are made in house. They look scrumptious.
The next section of the menu has smaller entrees. These include fish tacos, blue corn quesadillas, and mushroom sopecitos (masa cakes with refried black beans and toppings; in this case, roasted mushrooms). The full size entrees are: chicken mole, roasted cauliflower, grilled sea bass, and steak fajitas. I ordered the Pork Huarache, which is from the small entree section of the menu.
Huaraches are grilled corn tortillas topped with smashed beans, a meat, and various accompaniments. Paloma’s Pork Huarache has carnitas as its meat. Its accompaniments are radishes, grilled pineapple, avocado, and a large amount of cilantro. It’s a great mix of flavors and textures. The radishes are thinly sliced and provide a nice crunch. The pork is juicy and tender. All together it is fantastic.
The dessert options are churros, flan, and house made sorbet/ice cream. I am not big on flan and was not in the mood for ice cream, so I went with the churros. Consisting of fried tubes of dough seasoned with sugar and cinnamon, Paloma’s version has the churros in small rings. They are crisp and not greasy (a common problem with churros) but otherwise nothing special. What makes the dish special is the chocolate dipping sauce it comes with. Lightly spiced, it has a deep, dark flavor that is phenomenal. I scraped every bit of it out of the bowl.
Palamo has a half dozen specialty cocktails. Most have Mexican spices and/or are made with Mexican alcohol, such as Mezcal. In the winter, the cocktails include several hot drinks. As I was there in the middle of January, I went with one of those: The Tamarind Toddy. A hot toddy made with tamarind juice and Mezcal. It came out boiling hot in a ceramic mug; it was perfect for a cold winter night.
Paloma’s was very busy when I arrived. I almost did not get seated, but a space opened up at the bar. I had to wait a little bit, but was seated before too long. Service was relatively quick. The bartenders were very busy so occasionally I had to wait until they were free. Nevertheless, they were very attentive and checked in with me quite often. The food also came out very quickly once ordered. There is not a large amount of seating, so I recommend making reservations.
The food at Paloma’s is excellent. But is it the best in Santa Fe?
One restaurant that is on all the “best places to eat in Santa Fe” lists is a Mexican restaurant called Sazón. Located in the heart of Santa Fe, near the end of the Santa Fe Trail and just one block down the street from my hotel, I went there the first chance I got. I quickly found out it has a stellar reputation for good reasons.
Sazón is the brainchild of Mexico City born Chef Fernado Olea. Chef Olea has been a star of the food scene in Santa Fe since 1991. Sazón is his latest restaurant, opening in 2015. Its focus is on traditional Old Mexican cuisine, while also having dishes from around the world but with Mexican styling. Sazón is a high end restaurant and the prices reflect that. The meals are worth it.
The menu at Sazón’s is deliberately kept small, but there is variety. The sections are: appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, Mexican, and specials of the day. The appetizers feature items such as shrimp, yellow fin tuna, and chapulines (baby grasshoppers). The entree offerings include stuffed eggplant, beef tenderloin, pan seared tuna, and salmon. All of the dishes have a Mexican flair, but I was interested in a traditional Mexican dish. And at Sazón, that means Mexican Mole.
Mole is a sauce from the heart of Mexico. Sazón’s menu describes its history, with mysterious origins from the 16th century (or earlier). The exact spicing varies with the chef, but common ingredients are: ground seeds and/or nuts, chocolate, and chile. Chef Olea has his own version and I had to try it.
From about a half dozen items, I chose Enmoladas. Sazón’s Enmoladas consist of corn tortillas topped with sweet potatoes and duck breast, all covered with the mole sauce. The sauce is unique; quite deep and complex. It’s pairing with the duck and sweet potatoes is amazing. You can’t get a dish with this texture and flavor profile anywhere else.
Sazón’s dessert selection, like the rest of their menu, is small. I neglected to write down the items, but I had narrowed my choices to two: an ice cream made from mole or a dessert called Dulce Simfonia (sweet symphony). Asking the waitress for advice, she indicated that while both were excellent, I already had the mole. Therefore she recommended the Simfonia.
The menu does not have much of a description for the simfonia and I soon found out why. The exact flavorings are designed to be a mystery. I will not spoil it here, but I will describe the experience. The dessert came out in with a spectacular presentation. Then the waitress told me to take a big bite. As I did, she proceeded to tell me the sequence of flavors I was tasting, as they occurred! Incredible! The dish is divine. It’s the most unique combination of flavors in the world.
Sazón was packed when I arrived, which was around 7:00 PM. As a consequence I was only able to get a seat at the bar. I was quickly seated and was treated to very prompt service. And as I indicated above, the waitress at the bar was very helpful with her recommendations.
I had planned on only one drink and settled on a Margarita. The one I ordered is called Oro Puro, which features lime juice and muddled orange mixed in with Cazadores Añejo Tequila. It was quite good and I was happy with the choice.
But when another patron asked for a drink recommendation, the bartender gave her favorite drink: an Old Fashioned made with Mezcal called El Caballero. This sounded so good that I promptly ordered one. The next day, I felt the consequences as I got a mild hangover. But the drink is every bit as good as she said.
Santa Fe has a lively restaurant scene that goes much beyond Mexican and New Mexican cuisine. I already mentioned Dolina’s Slavic cuisine. Here’s two more that I went to. There are plenty of others.
French Pastry Shop
The French Pastry Shop is in the heart of old Santa Fe, on San Francisco Street just half a block down from the Basilica. In addition to an assortment of pastries, it specializes in crepes. Opening at 6:30 AM, it is a great spot get a bite to eat in the early morning hours.
There are other menu items available, including a variety of sandwiches, a spinach quiche, and traditional French soups or salads.
But I was interested in the crepes. Sticking with the New Mexico theme, I ordered the Chorizo, Egg, and Swiss Cheese crepe. Chorizo is a spicy Spanish sausage common in Latin American cuisine. I’ve never had it in a crepe before, but when in Rome… The crepe was packed with plentiful amounts of all three ingredients. I was glad to see that. However, they were not very well distributed. One side was mostly egg while the other side was mostly sausage. Regardless, it was delicious.
I also ordered a dessert crepe. Dessert options include an assortment of fruit filled crepes, an ice cream one, one with Nutella, and a plain sugar crepe. I went with the Nutella, as that is one of my favorites. I was not disappointed. The crepe has copious amounts of fresh, delicious, Nutella inside a soft crepe. Perfect.
The French Pastry cafe also has an assortment of coffee drinks. I am normally not a coffee drinker, but I ordered one as I was still not sleeping well. While specialty drinks such as Espressos, Cappuccinos, and Lattes are available, I ordered a regular coffee. There was nothing special about it, but it did the job. The waitress did a good job of keeping my cup full.
You can’t tell from the photograph, but the shop was pretty busy that morning. Many people came in, ordering pastries and coffee to go. And there were a few people sitting behind me, out of view of the camera. Service was prompt and the crepes took about 10 minutes to come out. Not bad for freshly made crepes. I also ordered a chocolate croissant to go, but neglected to take a picture of it. It was great. The croissant is light and flaky and rich with butter. And the chocolate is dark and succulent. The French Pastry shop knows how to make a croissant!
La Boca is a Spanish restaurant, at the edge of the historic district, around the corner from the convention center. It serves small dish Spanish plates called tapas.
Tapas are intended to share. I like to go with a group of people in order to get a good sample of the menu. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of friends interested in going with me, so we were able to do that. I was surprised to find that La Boca’s offerings are quite different from the tapas I get back east.
We ordered five different tapas: chicken thighs, skirt steak, meatballs, Manchego cheese, and eggplant. All are excellent and I recommend each an every one. Here are some highlights. The chicken thighs are quite tender and set on a bed of eggplant puree. The puree has a nice, smokey flavor. The steak, cooked a perfect medium, came with two sauces: a steak sauce and a blue cheese. Both are good, but the blue cheese is my favorite. One dish stands out from the others. And that is the Lamb meatballs. The meatballs have absolutely no filler, are seasoned with a unique blend of Spanish spices, and are extremely moist and tender. They are meatballs prepared the way they are supposed to be!
We asked our waiter for dessert recommendations and he suggested the cherry tart. Consisting of sour cherries on top of a custard, all enclosed inside a tart. The tart is crisp, the custard light, and the cherries provide a sharp, contrasting flavor. We loved it.
La Boca is a very popular place and reservations are required. We did make a reservation, but had to go on a different day than originally planned. The service is excellent. The waiters are prompt and attentive and their recommendations are spot on.
There are several of breweries in downtown Santa Fe. A couple were recommended to me, but I made it to only one.
Santa Fe Brewing Company
Early one evening a friend was heading to Santa Fe Brewing Co and invited me along. It is in a nondescript building a short walk beyond of the downtown area. While its outside is not much, the inside has great ambiance. It reminded me of a classic British pub.
Santa Fe Brewing Company has about ten beers on tap, plus a few ciders and can pours.
My friend got the Java Stout and I got the Pepe Loco. I do like stout beers but their stout has a high alcohol content and my stomach was empty. So I went for a beer with lower content. The Pepe Loco is a dark, complex beer, so I did not miss out on any flavor. My friend also enjoyed his stout.
Santa Fe Brewing Co does not serve food inside the building, but they have a food truck in the back driveway. I imagine the truck varies each day. While I do not have another brewery to compare it to, I can say this the Santa Fe Brewing Co is a nice place to chill and get a good, local beer.
Next time I am in town
I did not get to all the restaurants in Santa Fe that were recommended to me. Inside the historic area the ones high on my list are The Shed and Coyote Cafe. Both are upscale restaurants serving modern American cuisine.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is not a restaurant, but a general store. The Five and Dime is the originator of the Frito Pie, and I dearly wanted to try it. However, they close up the hot food section around 5:00 (earlier if they run out) and I was not able to get there in time. One day.
Not on any lists, but of interest to me, are the restaurant in Burro Alley. Burros are pack mules that were used to carry goods on the Santa Fe trail. All along the alley are bars and Mexican restaurants celebrating that history.
Outside of the historic area are several world class restaurants that I want to try. Two within walking distance are Geronimo and Radish and Rye. Geronimo serves modern American cuisine while Radish and Rye is a farm to table restaurant. I passed it one night, while walking back from Maria’s. It was packed, so I expect reservations are required.
Not withing walking distance, but highly recommended are Santa Fe Bites and Jambo Cafe. The former is reputed to have the best Green Chile Cheeseburgers in Santa Fe and the latter is a well regarded African restaurant.
Santa Fe’s Books
As long time readers of this blog know, I like to pick up a cookbook and/or a history book in every place I visit. In Santa Fe, this was easy to do because I found Collected Works my first day in town.
The cook book I chose is Red or Green, by Clyde Casey. It features not only traditional New Mexican cuisine (including recipes for red and green chile sauce) but also miscellaneous recipes from local families. The American recipes in it have with a New Mexican flair: Green Chile Quiche, Las Cruces Deviled Eggs, Stuffed Mexican Cabbage, and a Baked Green Chile Omelet. There are whole chapters dedicated to chili and Salsas. The dessert chapter includes a recipe for the state cookie, Biscohitos. And the bread chapter has some unique recipes, including Hopi Piki Bread, Bread of the Dead, and Bread for Three Kings. The first is a recipe from the Hopi Indians, while the latter two are holiday breads. The first for Epiphany and the second for Day of the Dead.
The historical book I bought is The Wind Leaves No Shadow by Ruth Laughlin. It is a fictionalized telling of the story of Dona Tules Barcelo, a peon who opened her own gambling saloon in Santa Fe and amassed a small fortune. She lived during the mid-19th century, around the time of the Mexican-American War and was famous in that era. So far I’ve read a couple of chapters and it looks to be a personal look at life during the formative years of New Mexico.
It also turns out I already owned a book set in historic Santa Fe. Death comes for the Archbishop, which is about the two Jesuit priests who established a Catholic diocese in Santa F. It is set during the same time period of The Wind Leaves No Shadow.”
I was pleased to discover that Santa Fe, in addition to all the history and culture, has a vibrant restaurant scene. There are a wide variety of cuisines to choose from, and not just Mexican or New Mexican fair. As a foodie destination, it is great.