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Oct 30, 2011 09:26 AM

Santa Fe Report

I was on a six day business trip to Santa Fe and brought along my wife. We hadn't been to New Mexico in years and wanted to eat a lot of New Mexican food, but nothing trendy or expensive. There seems to be quite a bit of the latter in Santa Fe. For example, the chorizo breakfast burrito at Cafe Pasquals is $15. Sorry, but I won't pay that much for a burrito. We wanted some good, reasonably priced chow and we found it.

To get to Santa Fe from the airport in Albuquerque we decided to take the Rail Runner train (only $7!). We had to wait a couple hours for the next train but luckily we found the Standard Diner, only 3 blocks from the station. The 3 squashes soup was outstanding. A "cup" turned out to be a small bowl. My wife had the best green chili cheeseburger of the trip (we had several) and I ordered what Guy Fieri got when he came here for his TV show, the meatloaf. It wasn't very fresh, but I enjoyed it.

For our first dinner in Santa Fe we went to Del Charro Restaurant which was touted as being a real bargain joint. We sat outside on the covered patio near the fireplace. I had their frito pie (served on a plate) which was very satisfying and my wife had the green chili chowder with a grilled cheese sandwich. We had three draft local beers and natillas for dessert and our tab was about $30. This place is a great deal.

The next day we rented a car and went sightseeing in the area. We wanted to try the famous Restaurante Rancho de Chimayo on the "high road" to Taos. We got there about 2 pm and the place was still doing a busy lunch business. I got the "pequeno" (small) pork adovado plate and my wife had the tamales. The pequeno plate was plenty big and all the food was delicious. The complimentary sopapillas for dessert are the best. They served us four but we had to leave two behind because we were stuffed. This place is really worth the trip to Chimayo.

One morning for breakfast we got up early before my meetings and hit the Tecolote Cafe when it opened at 7 am. This place is a Santa Fe institution, and for good reason. I had the "carne y juevos" which was more pork adovada and eggs (can't get enough adovada). It was more picante than usual and the waitress was concerned that it might be too much for me. But I managed. The tortillas on the side helped to tone down the heat. My wife had the juevos rancheros with the complimentary fresh made breakfast muffins. You have to come here for breakfast when you visit Santa Fe.

On our next to last evening my business associates wanted to go somewhere as a group. The Blue Corn Cafe accommodated about 18 of us on short notice. This turned out to be a very good choice. I had a cup of the corn chipotle soup and a green chili cheeseburger with the IPA they make themselves. My wife splurged on the green chili mac and cheese served with grilled chicken on top. The service for our large group was attentive. This place has good food at reasonable prices.

On our last day I couldn't leave town without having the famous frito pie at the Five and Dime on the plaza. This is the original frito pie served in the bag -- it was invented right here in 1962 when the Five and Dime was a Woolworths. There is just something great about the combination of fritos, red chili and beans, grated cheese and onions that you stir up with your fork into a molten mass. Only $4.75. It's a soul-satisfying meal in a bag. Don't miss out on this when you visit Santa Fe.

Standard Diner
320 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Tecolote Cafe
1203 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Cafe Pasqual's
121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501

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  1. Thanks so much for the report; Santa Fe is a small enough town that there aren't many local hounds, so it can start to feel like an echo chamber in here sometimes.

    Totally with you on Tecolote Cafe, every time I go I kick myself for having waited so long between visits. There's something about that mini muffin basket that always manages to make me smile, and the NM favorites are reliably good and pretty reasonably priced.

    Blue Corn Cafe, like the other restaurants in the Rio Chama mini-empire, always feels a little too corporate to satisfy me entirely, but they really do a nice job being most things to most people. I don't go out of my way for the chow or beer there, but I'm never sorry to go.

    Tecolote Cafe
    1203 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505

    Rio Chama
    414 Old Santa Fe Trl, Santa Fe, NM 87501

    1 Reply
    1. re: finlero

      Finlero, I don't understand why there is an echo chamber in these parts. SF is (according to the national food media) one of the hottest food markets in the country. I guess it's like a lot of things here, people just don't participate. Seems the most postings we get are from out of towners looking for recommendations.

      We don't eat out as much as we used to, but I cook a lot everyday and pay attention to restaurant reviews so that when we do go out, we don't waste our money. I'm always interested to hear what others have to say about the SF food scene, local or otherwise, especially since I am a transplanted East Coaster myself.