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Aug 23, 2006 08:45 PM

Santa Fe Report in several parts

Since we are two Chowhounders with sometimes diverging opinions, our week-long trip may end up as multiple posts.

O'Keeffe Cafe was a disappointment to me. We'd had terrific lunches there (I remember the portobello napoleon as transcendant on first eating, merely good on the second) and were eager to try dinner.

First, the good news: 50% off the excellent wine list on Sunday evenings. (Same discount at Pranzo, another restaurant with the same ownership, and they offer a local's 50% on Wednesdays.) Terrific service. Nice atmosphere. Huge servings on the tasting menu. The food was the not-so-good news. The roast vegetable tower appetizer was greasy and the eggplant was bitter. The coconut shrimp appetizer was overcooked. The venison chop and the beef tenderloin were in the same dark gravy and neither was very good. Dishes that got better reviews: the romaine salad with ground pistachios (they use nuts in so many dishes); the creme brulee, the duck confit with garlic risotto.

Shohko usually features wonderful sushi; but on a Monday night they were out of so many things (including the Kobe beef, so it wasn't just a seafood-after-a-busy-weekend issue) that we were limited in what we could order. We also didn't appreciate a $3.50 surcharge (amply disclosed) for fresh wasabi. Would recommend a different night of the week for this restaurant.

Maria's is so reliable: we go for fantastic margaritas and acceptable New Mexicon food. Last night we had the added benefit of our entire table, which ranged in age from 41 to 54, being carded. This made us very happy, which led to more margaritas. Great waitress service led us to the best selection of margaritas. The chile rellenos are very good, and though my ribs were good, I understand that they are sometimes dry.

We couldn't face the line at Cafe Pasqual's for breakfast today so we went to the Plaza Restaurant, right on the (you guessed it) Plaza. What a great find! We may never go back to Pasqual's, even though there is often a line for the Plaza Restaurant, it had several open tables today at 9:30, when the wait was 25 minutes at Pasquale's. My papas fritas were very good (and I couldn't complain about the spiciness of the chile, not that I would, since the menu cautions "not responsible for spiciness of the chile"). My BF's Huevos con Nopalitos, scrambled eggs with cactus, crema, mushrooms, and served with real hash browns, were to die for good. Will go back again this trip for those.

The Fajitas truck at the southwest corner of the Plaza produces a credible tamale for $1.00 and terrific chicken fajita for $3. We recommend going early in the lunch hour, because on a return for a second fajita at 2:30 the meat was being kept warm instead of grilled to order, and it suffered a bit.

More later....

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  1. Being the aforementioned BF, I need to add my own notes:

    I had the duck confit at O'Keeffe Cafe and it was excellent. We had a $150 bottle of wine for $75, which made it seem like a steal. There's also a 15% discount for locals (defined as holders of a NM drivers license) at both O'Keeffe and Pranzo Grill on Wednesdays.

    I love Shohko generally and am a regular at the sushi bar in front of Kuni-san. But the restaurant was dirty, disorganized, and out of 4-5 featured items. With neither Uni nor Toro nor Aji in its seasonal selection, we ended up ordering the "usual" stuff. I think I'll stick to the sushi bar at lunch on any day but Monday.

    The specific margarita we ordered at Maria's New Mexican Kitchen was the Elizabeth Two with combination of Grande Marnier and Countreau as well as Tesoro handmade tequila. Our friend ordered the Free Range, made with mezcal instead of tequila for a very different taste, what he called kind of "country". I've had the chile rellenos every time I've gone to Maria's and think that the relleno are just as high quality as the margaritas and the guac (as referred to in other posts as the only reason to go to Maria's).

    The Plaza messed up our order and basically forgot to bring my Huevos con Nopalitos. They were so embarrassed they comped the dish. I would have paid, it was so good. They were first class in dealing with their mistake.

    We also went to Tesuque Village Market for breakfast yesterday. The place has been completely renovated with a different seating arrangement and a new stand-up bar. The food seemed to be from the same kitchen and just as good as before, but the place bears watching since it may not meet the expectations previously set.

    1. I just can never see the hype about Pasquel's. We have tried it a few times and the food was always just OK and expensive for what you got. We are big fans of Tia Sophia and the Plaza, both are frequented by the locals, both serve honest, solid food at a reasonable price. Tesuque Market recently changed hands, it would be sad to see it go "touristy" instead of a local favorite.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LikestoEatout

        Tesuque Village Market while being sort of a "local" 7-11 and impromptu place to eat for those of us who live nearby has always drawn many, many visitors; especially when Rancho Encantado was open three miles up the road. I'm in there daily for my "fix" of the New York Times and to buy a Sage Bake House bread of some sort if I'm too lazy to drive into town.

        New owner has strong food credentials having owned restaurants in New York and Los Angeles so I'm hopeful that the quality of the food will continue to gradually improve/upgrade. I'm among those that felt it had gotten "tired" with indifferent service under the previous owner who had owned it for nearly thirty years. (When he bought the place it had gas pumps out front!)

        Rancho Encantado is finally undergoing a long awaited rebuild and in about two years will be an Auberge du Soleil Resort/Spa. When it reopens, the Tesuque Village Market might get "uber touristy".

      2. Can you clarify something for me? What is the Tesuque Village Market? When I was last in SF (2 years ago) we went to the market, which was just an outdoor flea-market type thing, with no food. Is this something else???

        3 Replies
        1. re: Scribbler

          You are obviously referring to the Indian Market near the opera. Tesuque Village market is a market/restaurant in "downtown" Tesuque.

          1. re: Scribbler

            bhoward has it right...

            The Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market is alongside US 85/285 adjacent to the Santa Fe Opera.

            The Tesuque Village Market is a combination convenience store and casual restaurant (restaurant is much like Harry's Roadhouse on the opposite side of town). TVM is at an intersection about a mile and a half off the highway; only other business is another nearby restaurant, El Nido.

            Hope that helps.

            1. re: fyfas

              Thanks for setting me straight! Obviously, I am way overdue on my return trip to SF!!

          2. re: Shohko - we just tried it and were delighted but it was also a Monday and they were out of Ama Ebi. However chef Kuni advised us to come on Thursday - he told us that they get fresh fish in every day but "special fish from Japan" comes on Thursday. When in Santa Fe we will definitely return to Shohko, its wonderful.