Saturday, September 3, 2011

Where to Eat in Santa Fe and Albuquerque

So when you go to New Mexico you have to eat New Mexican food not 'American' food. I mean sure New Mexico is part of the US but lets face it New Mexican food is very different than your usual American meat and potato fare. To really get taste of the New Mexican flare (yeah that's right flare not fare) you have to frequent the cheap local joints that really know what they are doing not the haughty expensive American New Mexican fusion type places that are only pretending like they have any idea as to what true New Mexican food is supposed to taste like.

Ok so the first place we went to was Jalapenos more out of desperation because we were going to be late for our first night at the Santa Fe Opera. We had tickets for Faust that night and Jalapenos was right outside our hotel. They had the most excellent house made lemonade. Justin got a nice pork mole with pineapple and red chile sauce. My flautas were a bit plain but hey it was quick and tasty.

The day of my birthday was the tastiest day of the trip though.

We started the day with breakfast at Tia Sophia's. This place was great. I got the pork adovada which is basically pork slow cooked in a chile sauce and it was served with eggs and beans for breakfast. This went great with Justin's huevos rancheros which he got christmas style (red and green chile) with potatoes (wonderful buttery strips of hashbrown goodness)and some tortillas so we could make our own little wraps using both of our breakfast dishes. The blueberry pancake we got on the side had a nice savory cornmeal flavor and an unbeatable fluffiness.

pork adovada

huevos rancheros

Justin waiting for food

We were so full from breakfast we had to skip lunch. What did tide us over however were some great cupcakes that Justin got for me for my birthday while I was relaxing at the 10,000 Waves Spa. He picked the cupcakes up from the Little Cupcake Shop and he told me that the owner was there when he went and she was really nice and told him that she had started out with a cupcake stand at the mall but she got so much business she just expanded to a whole store front. The cupcakes might not have looked as impressive as those at Georgetown cupcakes but they tasted just as good and they were less expensive too (yay!). My favorite was probably the Boston Cream cupcake which was filled with a vanilla custard and topped with chocolate ganache (it tasted just like a Boston cream pie!). Second favorite was the chocolate raspberry cupcake (the raspberry jam filling was really good), then came the carrot cake cupcake (mmm all those raisins, and the strawberry cupcake (some people just can't get the vanilla cake to be that moist and tasty), and then the chocolate mint (that is a real thin mint girl scout cookie on top-I wonder whose her dealer?) and the chocolate birthday cupcake came last (Justin knows I don't like plain flavored cupcakes but he had to have his rainbow sprinkles).


In the evening we mixed a contemporary opera, The Last Savage, with a traditional New Mexican restaurant, Los Potrillos. Los Potrillos was not in the downtown area but not far out and it was full of locals. This was probably my favorite meal of the trip just because of its authenticity. I got the Molcajete al Pastor which is basically a pork, pineapple, onion and pepper dish that is nicely spiced and served in a real lava rock bowl. It comes with a tortilla and beans for making your own wrap and it looked so good when it came to the table that this old lady came up to me and asked me what it was that I ordered because it looked so yummy. Justin got this corn cheese tortilla pudding dish that was out of this world. It was both sweet and spicy and cited as a traditional New Mexican dish on the menu. We also got the albondigas (Mexican meatballs) but the broth that came with it was too spicy (you can't win them all amigo). Ahh if only we had time and room for the tres de leche or mexican hot chocolate. Some other day I suppose.

Molcajete al Pastor

Justins dish

Our last night in Santa Fe dinner was spent savoring delicious leftovers and a traditional love story, La Boheme.

Our last day we finally snagged a seat at the popular Cafe Pasquals for breakfast but ordered the wrong things because everything else looked much better than what we got. My chile relleno with egg and beans was completely soggy and Justin just got another version of the huevos rancheros but with sauteed bananas. The thing to order there seemed to be the oatmeal which came with a plate of fresh fruit, crunchy granola on top and a bowl of fresh yogurt on the side. The breakfast burritos also looked promising. We did get to order some mexican hot chocolate here. It was a little on the cold side but had a nice cinnamony flavor but not spicy like I thought it would be.

chille rellenos
huevos rancheros + bananas
Justin + Mexican hot chocolate

We only got to eat one meal in Albuquerque but it was a good one. I did want to try the green chile cheeseburger and a quality papusa before I left New Mexico but since there was some kind of truck strike going on in the downtown Albuquerque area I made do with the place I was in and when I walked by a bustling pizza place called Farina Pizzeria which was emanating amazing smells and had a nice cozy but new age atmosphere I was instantly drawn to the window to look at their menu. While there a man at the table by the window gave me a thumbs up and mouthed 'its good' to me. Well that had me decided and I pretty much dragged Justin inside and we were seated right away (luckily they had a two seater open and everyone who was waiting were in groups of 4). Ok, so it took awhile to get our pizza I will admit but man was it GOOD. We got the special salad and the special pizza of the day which has different kinds of chile peppers, purple potatoes, arugula, deliciously thin slices of ham and caramelized onions and garlic. With this we got tomato sauce (filled with sweet tomato chunks and spices) as well as a Gorgonzola dipping sauce for the crust (what a novel and fantastically wonderful idea-Justin just loved this sauce even if it was an extra buck he thought it was well worth it). This was definitely a wood fired over pizza with the thin crispy crust but not overly burnt and definitely quality. The price for the pizza was right too. The salad was nice but not great and cost almost as much as the pizza even though it was a tiny little thing. Next time two pizzas-even if we will have a whole pizza left over (1 pizza is def enough for 2 people).



I would definitely go back to New Mexico. The opera was great, all the little art galleries were adorable, the landscape was breathtaking and the food was fantastic.

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