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Epic day in Santa Fe

To simply say it, our second day in Santa Fe was epic! We started off early with breakfast at The Pantry, where they’ve been serving quality, fresh-from-scratch, comfort food for six decades.   It’s a local favorite, so we just had to try it out.

Some of the dishes we tried included:

  • Breakfast Burrito –  which had bacon, egg and of course, red and green chile.
  • Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs – Hand-breaded steak smothered in green chile or country gravy served with two eggs cooked your way. We tried it two ways.
  • Huevos Rancheros – Nothing says a Mexican dish like …fried eggs served upon lightly fried corn tortillas smothered in cheese and topped with red or green chile.

Next  we went to the Santa Fe School of Cooking where we got quite a history lesson from chef Michelle Roetzer on the area and the types of foods that  Santa Fe has embraced for centuries. Here we tried samples of Chef Michelle’s passion as she prepared some Zucchini Cakes that consisted of  roasted corn and poblano salsa, bell peppers, cilantro, limes, & shrimp, most of which came straight from her personal garden. It was light and tasty.

For our first lunch of the day, we headed over to La Boca where chef James Campbell bellied up to the bar with us and explained some of the items he’d prepared, which included blood sausage and pickled anchovies. La Boca is an intimate Spanish tapas restaurant where the menu is influenced by chef James’ travels throughout Spain.

Not ones to sit idle, Brian and I headed off to Anasazi, which is run by chef Jauan Bochenski.  Anasazi Restaurant offers a fine dining atmosphere that is welcoming, elegant and rusticly Southwestern.

This outstanding establishment stood out for me for many reasons, but mainly because of the fantastic roasted lamb loin with purple potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, bok choy, and chocolate & cherry mole’ sauce.  The mole’ added such a nice complexity to the lamb. Simply delicious.  We also tried Julio’s Chicken Enchiladas, which were more healthfully prepared than most enchiladas you’ll find.  With  slow cooked chicken, green chile, black beans, asadero cheese, & Mexican rice, this dish was simply wonderful.

It was a challenge to not eat everything at Anasazi, but we needed to save room for our next stop…Maria’s, which has re-established itself as one of Santa Fe’s premier restaurants, constantly receiving local, national, and international praises for its ambiance, cuisine, and hospitality. Their focus is New Mexican cuisine and Real margaritas. Here we tried the Red Chile Pork Tamale, Sweet Corn Tamale, and the Chile Relleno. And for dessert…a Mexican classic…flan.  The flan was one of the most authentic I’ve ever had.

Thankfully it was time for a well deserved break from eating.  Santa Fe is not only known for great food, but also for the unique and luxurious spa treatments available.  Brian and I headed to the Spa at Hotel Santa Fe where I enjoyed a pumpkin Spice Facial (which made me look at least five years younger).  Brian was treated to a Squash Blossom Body Scrub & Wrap…apparently it was so relaxing that he fell asleep.

After a bit of pampering, we were off for more eating…we are representing the “Best Food” category no less.  We headed over to the square, or the heart of town and enjoyed an elevated view from the deck of Marble Brewery.  Here we tried a number of bold and hand crafted ales and lagers, along with some artisan pizzas from Rooftop Pizzeria. From the first bite of their thin crust gourmet pizza we knew we were one step closer in our quest for pizza perfection. Chef Russell Thornton joined us to explain some of the various pizzas he’d prepared for us, which included this amazing large list:

  • No. 1 Pizza – Fresh Mozzarella, Ripe Red and Yellow Tomatoes, Roast Garlic Spread & Basil on Artisan Crust.
  • No. 2 Pizza – House-made Hot Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, Canadian Bacon and Four Cheeses with Red Sauce on Artisan Crust.
  • No. 3 Pizza – Grilled Chicken, Green Chile, Cotija and Asadero Cheeses, and Toasted Pinon with Alfredo Sauce on Blue Corn Crust.
  • No. 7 Pizza – Wild and Domestic Mushrooms, Truffle Oil, Roast Garlic, and Four Cheeses with Alfredo Sauce on Artisan Crust.
  • No. 10 Pizza – Lobster, Shrimp, Mushrooms, Apple-Smoked Bacon, Carmelized Leeks, Truffle Oil, Alfredo Sauce, and Four Cheeses on Blue Corn Crust.
  • Specialty Pizza – Artisan crust and “secret sauce” (a mix of Alfredo & Tomato Sauce) topped with ground beef, cheddar cheese, and finished with a garnish of shredded lettuce, tomato slices, and waffle-cut pickle chips.

After that we went over to the stage area in the square and listened to an all female mariachi band…a group. I might add, that has been invited to perform at the 2012 Olympics in London. At intermission, the Mayor of Santa Fe came by to thank “Best of the Road” and Brian and I for coming to town and introduced us to the crowd.

Shortly thereafter we had work to do…not to eat, but to be judges in a mixology contest.  We headed over to the “Den,” which is part of the ever-popular Coyote Cafe.  The Den was quite crowded as everyone gathered with excitement to see who would be crowned king of the cocktail and have one of their concoctions officially named “Best of the Road.” We had four outstanding mixologists competing for the coveted honor, which was sponsored by Santa Fe Spirits. First up was Forrest with Milagro at the Ore House…he made the: Boiling Coyote “The Best of the Road Cocktail”.  Next was Chris from Secreto Lounge at the Hotel St. Francis…his drink was a Warm Fuzzy.  Next up James from the Inn of the Anasazi made a Gossamer Cocktail.  Lastly, the mixologiest for the “Den” itself was up…he created the “Boiling Coyote Cocktail.” It was a tough decision, but the top honors went to Forrest!

Our final stop of the evening was Coyote Cafe, a very, very popular place in Santa Fe…and it’s no wonder.  Our meal was simply sensational!  Chef Eric DiStefeno kept sending out dish after dish until we finally had to ask him to stop as the hours were waning and our waists were busting. Coyote Café is a collective talent of passionate individuals who are seasoned in the art of hospitality, unprecedented experience, and, a common drive to be the best experience in the Southwest.

Some of the dishes we thouroughly enjoyed included:

  • Mexican Sashimi Plate – this included Tuna, white shrimp, avocado, and fresh crab meat. This dish was so colorful, flavorful, and delicious.
  • Next up was the lobster latte…a lobster soup with cream.
  • Then we had grilled Maine Lobster with New Mexico Chile with Vietnamese chutney. Soooo good.
  • Then it was smoked duck salad with Belgian endive and Port wine.
  • If that wasn’t enough, next they brought out prime fillet of beef with a vegetable crepe, tempura asparagus, and veal with demi-glaze.  It was spectacular!  We finally had to yield, but they wouldn’t let us go until we tried some dessert…”it would be light” the chef said.
  • So, for dessert we had a Mango strawberry shortcake with basil ice cream and New Mexico tiramisu.  Again, dessert was just as good as everything else we had tried.

It was nearly midnight and we had to do it all over again the next day, so we were off to La Posada, our home for several days while we enjoyed Santa Fe.

Santa Fe has a rich and vibrant history with a creative flair that extends to every part of life…food being no exception. Many of the restaurants we visited have been around for generations and continue to serve the highest quality dishes that have made Santa Fe a destination for centuries.