Santa Fe for 2 Days -- La Choza, The Pantry, Kakawa, Bobcat Bite
My wife and I swung by Santa Fe for our first visit as we drove from Los Angeles to our family in the South for the holidays. We made it in just ahead of the snow a week or so ago, and so had an absolutely magical time in the area. Here's a quick sketch of our eats.
We were trying to be moderately "good" while there, so we ended up sharing a lot which obviously limited the number of items we could eat each place.
We hit, in order, La Choza for dinner, The Pantry for breakfast, Kakawa for snacks, and Bobcat Bite for dinner (our other breakfast was an early morning room service at Inn of the Anasazi).
First off, let me say I am a BIG fan of New Mexican. Here we ordered the chips and salsa; Stuffed Sopaipilla; and the Combination Platter with Carne Adovada, Vegetarian Tamale, and Chile Relleno.
The chips & salsa were fantastic. Well, really, the salsa. Chips were good, but I ended up eating like a third a bowl of salsa on one chip. Seriously, I could drink that stuff. SOOOOOO good. It could be my meal.
We got both dinners Christmas; I only had a couple bites of the Sopaipilla (stuffed with ground beef), and it was very good. I didn't love the tamale, but I feel I should have gotten the pork instead of vegetarian. The Relleno was solid overall, though too mushy from a textural standpoint.
But the star of the show was the adovada with Red Chile. Holy god. That. was. freaking. amazing. I'm drooling thinking of it right now. Yum.
The accompanying sopaipillas with honey were the perfect way to end the meal, but it's that adovada that haunts my tastebuds.
A friend of mine grew up in SF, and when I called him from La Choza he went crazy and started texting me tons of places to eat and explore while there. One was The Pantry.
Again, trying to maintain some semblance of "health" - how on EARTH are all of you Santa Fe'ans not 300+ lbs? - we shared a Cinnamon Roll and Breakfast Burrito with Adovada, Christmas style.
I'll admit, I'm a bit of a Cinnamon Roll snob. I make them at home, and have basically resigned myself to the fact that 99% of the ones out there are complete and utter crap. Usually they're too dry, or too sweet, or not "cinnamon-y" enough, or any mixture of the three, but this one was not too shabby (at this point, high praise from me with respect to the CR). Actually, it was good, though personally I would have preferred a bit more cinnamon.
That being said, the dough/bread was moist and fresh, with a nice touch of springiness to it, the icing was not gloopy or heavy-handed in application, and the cinnamoniness (is that even a word?) was not too far off from how I like it.
I can't believe I just spent a couple paragraphs on that when it was the Breakfast Burrito that was the star. Again, you guys just know how to kill adovada, and while I normally find myself gravitating towards Verde, all the times in Santa Fe I had it the Red Chile was superior. The meat was moist and not overdone, and the skillet fries! Good grief!
For the two of us, sharing these two items was more than enough for a breakfast, and we REALLY enjoyed it.
Kakawa Chocolate House:
After a busy morning of walking and exploring, we stopped here for some Hot Chocolate and a snack. I love how they let you sample as many of the elixirs as you like, and while I can't remember exactly what each of us chose, I know mine was a Meso-American one (with a bit of heat to it) while my wife had a more classic (Jefferson maybe?) one. I also has an arbol chili dipped in chocolate and caramel. Everything was really wonderful, and I can tell there is a lot of care and love put into their products, which is why we took an assortment of chocolates home with us (and are, in fact, still enjoying them -- they've managed to hold up quite well!).
After an even busier afternoon of exploration, we headed out to this quaint little place to try the vaunted burger, which we split between the two of us along with a side of their fries.
The meat was REALLY tasty, despite being a little overcooked. Perfectly seasoned, and I love that they grind it in-house. The burger was quite good, though I didn't get a ton of flavor from the chiles. I was hoping for just a bit more kick. But as I said, the meat was just fantastic.
The fries were good, though not up to the level of what he had earlier at breakfast.
I can tell this spot has its regulars, as the staff seemed to know most everyone by name. They were all super nice, and while this was probably my least favorite of the meals we had, that's not to say it wasn't enjoyable ... just perhaps a bit under the absurd level of hype, which is pretty much impossible for any place to live up to.
We had a fantastic visit, and are already looking forward to our return.