Wanderlust: Santa Fe - July 2015 - Kansas City
Some Like it Hot: Savoring the Flavors of Santa Fe
By Jill Dutton
a strong desire to travel.
I don’t know if wanderlust is innate, instilled or inherited, but I caught the bug at an early age. As a school teacher, my mother traveled extensively each summer—I her lucky companion. As a teenager, we spent summers traveling the US or backpacking through Europe. But then I grew up, had children of my own, and left that all behind.
The lust lay dormant for 35 years. This year I renewed my passion and started exploring the United States by rail. The first leg of my journey took me to New Mexico and Arizona in January.
Santa Fe is renowned as a food-lovers heaven, with New Mexican cuisine leading as Archangel. The food is spicy, vibrant, flavorful and oh-so-delicious. The quality, whether New Mexican or standard American fare, is outstanding. Could it be the altitude? On my first visit in January, I commented to a friend that the salads tasted alive and fresh—the colors brighter, the taste crisper. New Mexico is known as The Land of Enchantment, and my friend joked in return to my comment on the salads that it's really The Land of Euphoria. And perhaps that's somewhat true. No matter the reason, the food journey in Santa Fe and beyond is truly a euphoric adventure not to miss.
113 1/2 E Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, NM
One taste of the green chile sauce and my taste buds went numb. After that, nothing seemed very spicy. I asked the waiter, "Which sauce is hotter: red or green?" He responded that most folks think the red sauce is spicier. The green sauce was deep and hearty while the red sauce had a smoky flavor to it. Both were delicious and I was happy my friends recommended I order my meals "Christmas," so I could sample both flavors.
But before I seared my taste buds, there was the salad. Perhaps the best salad I've had. Maybe it's the closeness to the sun, a longer growing season, or even the local availability of fresh produce, but the lettuce was vibrant and crisp. Top it with blue cheese, walnuts, Kalamata olives and a balsamic vinaigrette, and it's near perfection.
54 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
A blend of New Mexican and Mom's home cooking waits for you at the Plaza Café. Whether you're craving blue corn pancakes, a salad, New Mexican food or down-home comfort foods, the Plaza Café has them all. After a 16-hour train ride, I was craving something soothing, and the Cafe's Original Chicken Fried Steak delightfully filled the need.
210 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, New Mexico (505) 983-9880
After a long morning walking the Plaza in Santa Fe, a friend and I popped into Tia Sophia's for lunch. We were greeted like family, which I later learned is common practice at this humble, yet delightful restaurant. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, closing at 2 p.m. each day. My friend and I split the Polo Adovado, chicken marinated and simmered in a rich red sauce, and ordered their huge, fluffy sopaipillas for dipping. My friend mentioned the breakfast burritos are worth a second trip back, so I have it on my to-do list as this unintimidating restaurant serves top-notch New Mexican fare.
Blue Corn Café
133 W. Water St., Santa Fe, NM 87501 (505) 984-1800
Sometimes you just want a salad. At a rooftop table. Overlooking the Plaza.
Rancho de Chimayo
300 Santa Fe County Rd 98 on the "High Road to Taos," Chimayo, NM
It was one those 300-some-odd days of sunshine a year in Santa Fe, so my sister and I decided to take the "high road to Taos" and visit Chimayo and some pueblos and churches along the way. Luckily we were flexible with our plans as we didn't have a map and were relying on GPS on my phone to navigate. It never occurred to us that we might lose cell service in the mountains—and thus our navigation. Though we had a gorgeous detour while "lost," we eventually made it to our ultimate destination: Rancho de Chimayo.
I have yet to have a sub-par meal in Northern New Mexico. My advice: try it all, order the sauce on the side if you're not sure of the heat in the chiles and take advantage of all the opportunities for walking on the Plaza and in nature to burn off some of the calories. You'll need it.
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Jill Dutton is publisher of Evolving Magazine. Follow her story, Wanderlust: One Woman’s Journey of the USA by Rail, at www.jilldutton.wordpress.com.