Dining in Santa Fe
Santa Fe is a town with a strong cultural heritage. It’s home to several historic sites both sacred and secular, a thriving artistic community and a rich food and drink scene. Before visiting I was well aware of the historic and artistic elements of Santa Fe but had no knowledge of it’s culinary scene. After visiting a variety of it’s establishments I can now with certainty say it’s one of my top food destinations.
Previously, I mentioned my introduction to the signature chile cheeseburger on my first night in town. Little did I know this would be just the beginning of a fabulous foodie adventure. On my first full day in town my aunt and I were treated to lunch at Il Piatto – one of Santa Fe’s top restaurants.
Il Piatto specializes in Italian Farmhouse cooking and has been serving Santa Fe for 20 years. An early adopter of farm to table dining they locally source the ingredients in their dishes. As it was lunchtime I decided to go light with the Prosciutto Pizzette topped with arugula, caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes and prosciutto. It was filled with flavor and was the perfect sustenance for exploration around town.
After a long day of exploring my aunt and I were pretty hungry and looking forward to dinner. Luckily, we had a reservation for a complimentary meal at Sazon another top Santa Fe spot. Sazon is located on a quite side street just of the plaza. It has an unassuming exterior that belies the beauty that lies within. Walls covered with contemporary Southwestern art and a roaring fire provide a cozy setting for a gourmet meal.
To start we were given freshly made miniature tortillas and a trio of homemade moles to dip them in. Each mole was rich with flavor and the dish was a delightful precursor to the meal ahead.
I started with the Soupa de Amore which consisted of a scoop of fresh crab topped with a peppery soup and creme fraiche. It was extraordinary. Incredibly rich and filled with a spicy sweet flavor it was one of the best soups I’ve ever had.
Soon it was time for the entrees and my aunt chose the Popocatelpetl, a black pepper crusted beef tenderloin, and I opted for the Coyoacan – shrimp enchiladas in a zucchini blossom sauce. My aunt raved about her steak. It was so tender she could cut it with a fork and tasted delicious. My enchiladas were also fantastic. Stuffed with shrimp, topped with the creamy zucchini sauce and surrounded by mole it was so rich and flavorful I devoured it all.
Yet, I still had room for dessert (barely). My aunt and I opted to share the Dulce Simfonia – a sundae unlike any we had ever had. Chef Olca, the proprietor, came to our table to present the dish and advised us to be sure to include every item (ice cream, sauce and whipped cream) in one bite. He advised it would create a symphony of flavor in our mouths. He was right. Spicy, sweet, creamy, tart notes filled my mouth. It was delicious. After we enjoyed it we were given the ingredients – avocado ice cream, beet whipped cream and ginger caramel. Wow!
After our incredible dinner we decide to eat more casually the following day and we headed to Cowgirl Barbeque for our last complimentary meal.
This casual eatery has been a mainstay in Santa Fe for over twenty years and was filled with diners when we arrived for lunch. The large menu offers down home favorites with a Santa Fe twist and we decided to get a few dishes and share.
Chips and Guacamole, Huevos Rancheros and Chile Cheddar Fries all caught our eye. What an indulgence! The dishes were generously portioned and full of flavor. I loved the huevos rancheros topped with the green chile sauce and my aunt couldn’t get enough of the Chile Cheddar Fries. Chiles are a mainstay of Santa Fe dishes with good reason – they’re delicious!
After our stomachs settled we decided it was time for dessert and headed to Kakawa Chocolate House.
This charming shop creates an array of delicious chocolate treats and their specialty is drinking chocolate. They are devoted to recreating historic drinking elixirs that range from the Pre-Columbian era to 1600’s Europe to the present. Each day there’s a revolving variety of cocoas for sale and they allow you to sample as many as you’d like. I had to try the Aztec cocoa and opted to purchase the Tzul.
Wow! The combination of chocolate, cream and spice was incredibly rich and flavorful. It was the perfect drink for the crisp Santa Fe afternoon.
Soon our visit was coming to an end but we had time for one last meal before we headed to the airport. After asking around, we were told to try Tia Sophia’s – a low key spot popular with residents. Our concierge told us they had the best breakfast burritos in town so you know what I had to try.
I went all out and got it Christmas style – topped with both red and green chile sauce. Oh Boy! Out of all my meals in Santa Fe this was by far my favorite. The burrito was stuffed with potatoes, ham and egg and topped with melted cheese and the sauce. It was incredible. Simply incredible. I can taste it right now and wish Tia Sophia’s was just down the street to I could run over and grab it.
Santa Fe was a culinary delight and I’m so glad I was able to explore its delicious cuisine.