Santa Fe Food Review
We spent a few days between Christmas and New Year’s Day on a fabulous trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico with Dustin’s parents. Dustin and his parents are Santa Fe regulars, so I was excited to see and taste everything I’d heard about over the years. We ate lots of fabulous food (most of which contained green chile), saw lots of fabulous art, beautiful snowy mountains, and even bought coordinating wedding bands that will always be a reminder of the great time we had together.
The Range Cafe
Erin- We stopped at The Range Cafe on our way driving from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. I ordered the Huevos Rancheros for lunch because the restaurant was still serving breakfast, and I have a hard time passing up breakfast items when I can order them on the menu. The Huevos Rancheros were proclaimed to be the best in Albuquerque. They were good, and the only complaint I have is that there was not nearly enough green chile on the plate.
Dustin- I knew that this was going to be the only chance to get a green chili burger, so I had no choice but to get that. Fortunately, The Range Cafe had a killer green chili burger that actually had a chili relleno on it too. It’s rare to find green chili burgers anywhere, but sometimes you will, and it’s typically just a little bit of mild chili spooned on top. This, oh this, was the real deal. Utterly delicious.
Erin- We ate at Restaurant Martin hoping for a great dinner to relax and visit. Unfortunately the service put a bit of a damper on things to begin with. We were a few minutes early for our reservation, so we sat in the tiny bar area to wait for our table. It took over twenty minutes after the time of our reservation for us to be seated an nobody from the restaurant bothered to keep us updated about when to expect a table, apologized for the inconvenience, or offered any sort of complimentary appetizer or glass of wine or anything else for that matter. Once we were seated our server wasn’t very prompt either and took his sweet time in coming to take our order and bring bread. Again, no apologies for the slowness. However, once we received our food, the night greatly improved. I ordered the butternut squash and lobster bisque as an appetizer because there aren’t two things I like in the world much more than butternut squash and lobster. The flavor of the bisque itself was excellent along with the perfectly accompanying flavors and came with a delicious and slightly sweet browned butter cake with lobster in the middle as well as maple mascarpone, granola, and a sliver of pear. For an entree, I ordered the maple glazed duck breast that came with these delicious pears cooked in a wonderful sauce. The duck breast was great, but all I can really think about from that meal are those awesome pears.
Dustin- My dad put it nicely. The back of the house did its best to make up for the front of the house. But the front of the house sure did its best to screw everything up. When you go out for a nice meal, the one thing you take for granted is some level of competence in restaurant management. Best Buy had better service. My pork loin was very good, and I too enjoyed the bisque, but seriously, this place was unprofessional and insulting. There are plenty of places to eat in Sante Fe, and Martin did a wonderful job of pointing me elsewhere.
Erin- While I may have previously complained about my plate not having enough green chile, the same cannot be said for the blue corn turkey enchiladas I ordered at the Guadalupe Cafe. This lunch was the quintessential New Mexican meal with blue corn, LOTS of green chile, and posole. There’s nothing more to say about this meal other than that it was absolutely delicious. And it ended perfectly with a sopapilla made sweet with copious amounts of honey (at least on my end).
Dustin- Sopapillas stuffed with beef and pinto beans. There’s nothing more to say. Spectacular New Mexican.
Erin- The Cantina is one of the Santa Fe places I’ve heard so much about from Dustin, so I was really excited to experience it with him. We had a great time drinking margaritas, snacking on chips and a trio of delicious salsas while enjoying our waiters perform show tunes. Yes, I am amazed that Dustin loves this place because they sing show tunes, which he does nothing but complain about if I ever ask him to go to a musical with me. I am going to give him a hard time about this pretty much forever. The dinner was also excellent. I ordered a steak with a side of green chile mashed potatoes, and let me say that I was probably swayed to order this by my love of mashed potatoes and the addition of green chile. We’ll definitely have to add green chiles to mashed potatoes sometime for a Southwestern flair. Oh, and yes the steak was excellent as well!
Dustin- Erin brings up a good point. Why do I love this restaurant so much? Every memory I have of this place is so incredibly positive. Every visit, this place comes alive with intensity from the servers and the crowd. It’s watching a performance with close interaction with the participants, so you feel drawn in and involved. Not to mention, the food is to die for. Maybe the atmosphere enhances the food (or maybe the delicious and keep-em-coming margaritas), but what the kitchen serves makes this a no brainer. You have to visit if you ever go to Santa Fe.
Erin- To break up all of the green chile eating, we stopped for simple, wood-fired pizzas and salads at Il Vicino before walking around The Plaza. I ordered their version of the Cobb salad with roasted chicken, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, walnuts and gorgonzola covering greens with a vinaigrette dressing. My pizza had sausage, mushrooms, oregano and goat cheese, and was quite tasty. I think the best part of the experience might be that they brew their own delicious, sugary, root beer to serve alongside of the pizzas. Root beers aren’t treated any differently than regular soft drinks at this restaurant— slightly unusual, but super cool. They actually offered us refills, an unnecessary, but appreciated touch.
Dustin- Again, Il Vicino is one of our regulars. 10 bucks for a large salad, hand made pizza, and on-tap root beer? Sold. I’ve been going here almost every time since I was little, and even though I’m all grown up, everyone still needs to eat a good pizza once and awhile.
Erin- The tapas at El Farol, on Canyon Road, the heart of the art scene in Santa Fe, were pretty fantastic. Definitely the best we’ve ever tried. We shared and sampled a bunch of different dishes as a table alongside a bottle local sparkling wine. It’s hard to remember everything that we tried. The most memorable plate for me was the chorizo, perfect in every way. The dessert of mascarpone stuffed dates and figs with orange slices was bursting with flavor and a great and creative way to finish the evening.
Dustin- My favorite dish the olive tapenade covered octopus. It looked a little freaky on the plate considering they basically handed you an entire octopus, not at all trying to disguise the shape of what you were consuming. Once you got past the shock of the form, the taste was incredible. I even ate the head of the octopus. It was good.
Kakawa Chocolate House
Erin- We heard from Dustin’s parents about this amazing hot chocolate place called Kakawa Chocolate House where you order these small, but intensely rich cups of hot chocolate drinks. Kakawa focuses their drinks on “authentic and historic drinking chocolates” from “Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Mayan Aztec” and “1600’s European drinking chocolates,” which I think is a really interesting and unique concept. I ordered the Marie Antoinette with chocolate, almond milk, and orange blossom with hints of cinnamon and vanilla, which in my opinion created the perfect hot chocolate. I love the combination of chocolate and orange, so I was really drawn to this drink. According to their website, this drink was brought by Marie Antoinette from Vienna to the Royal Court of France. You definitely are safe ordering the small drink because even though it doesn’t look like much, the flavor is so rich, you only need to take small sips each time.
Dustin- When I was handed a tiny, little, miniature, miniscule cup of hot cocoa, I started thinking oh great, what a rip off. Slap. I thank God that’s all they served me. My hot chocolate was even thicker than Erin’s and any more, and I don’t think I could possibly drink another sip. Not that it wasn’t amazingly delicious.
Erin- Though not technically in Santa Fe, we thought it important to discuss the sweet rolls from The Frontier restaurant in Albuquerque that we picked up on our way to the airport. These cinnamon rolls were another thing I had heard so much about, so Dustin insisted we had to stop there because of my sweet tooth. We all split a big, gooey sweet roll with hot dripping icing for dessert, which I probably didn’t need after the delicious green chile cheesesteak and fries I ate for lunch at Seasons in Albuquerque. It was worth the stop, especially because we got to take one home which we warmed up for breakfast on New Year’s Day, which I swear tasted even better than the one at the restaurant. It wasn’t a bad way to start the new year!
Dustin- Sorry I can’t write any more. My mind is obsessed with that sweet roll…
All in all we had a great and indulgent trip and can’t wait to go back!