Food by the foot: Food Tour New Mexico | - July 7, 2011

Food Tour NM delves into local cuisine, culture and history

Food fans, get ready to eat your way through Santa Fe  with Food Tour New Mexico.  Founder Nick Peña, a savvy guide and local history aficionado, takes you on a three-hour epicurean odyssey through the streets of downtown Santa Fe to sample some of the finest foods the city has to offer.

This is not your typical walking tour. With Nick at the helm, you'll learn about the secret tunnels buried beneath the city and the ancient pueblo that once thrived along the banks of the Santa Fe River. You'll also taste some of the best posole on the planet, along with sushi made with green chile, imported olive oils and 18-year old balsamic vinegars, chicken sesame spinach salad, specialty pizza and artisanal chocolates made right here in Santa Fe.

Nick, a 28-year-old Santa Fe native who knows all the hot dining spots in town, grew up in Santa Fe with a love of food. He recently launched Food Tour New Mexico to showcase the diversity of excellent food in Santa Fe. His Sample Santa Fe tour stops at six downtown eateries, where tour-goers taste an array of foods that go way beyond the typical burritos, enchiladas and tacos most people associate with New Mexico.

As you follow Nick in and out of restaurants and down the winding streets around the Plaza, he shares stories of Santa Fe history, culture and lore, including a thrilling account of La Llorona told along the banks of the river. In between bites, his followers quiz him about the city's restaurant scene, ingredients and favorite dishes. "I'm a big foodie," he says about the reason he decided to launch a culinary walking tour. "I love to cook, and I love to eat." His good taste is evident in the six restaurants he's chosen to include on the tour – San Francisco Street Bar & Grill, The Ore House, Kohnami Japanese Cuisine, Santa Fe Olive Oil, Upper Crust Pizza and Señor Murphy.

Our recent tour began with a healthy serving of chicken sesame spinach salad at the San Francisco Street Bar & Grill, followed by a bowl of red chile posole with cilantro at The Ore House, a slightly spicy concoction inspired by the chef's great-grandmother's recipe from Oaxaca. Next, our group stopped at Santa Fe Olive Oil to sample incredible olive oils and balsamic vinegars mixed with a variety of flavors, from black truffle and chocolate to strawberry, citron vanilla and other inventive flavors.

A short walk over to Kohnami rewarded us with the Santa Fe roll, a sushi treat made with shrimp and green chile tempura, served with wasabi and ginger. From there, we headed to Upper Crust Pizza for slices of margarita pizza topped with fresh basil and tomatoes. Our moveable feast ended with the perfect dessert, chocolate delicacies from Señor Murphy, including bolistas, turtles and sugary fruit slices.

Our group of eight tour-goers came from Denver, Las Vegas, Dallas/Fort Worth and Alamagordo, and all were impressed by the rich diversity of cuisines served up by Santa Fe restaurants. Some had never eaten posole or green chile. One of the tour takers had food allergies, and each restaurant was willing to accommodate him, serving him samples a different food than the rest of us ate. We were all grateful that each restaurant served plenty of water to keep us all hydrated during the tour. Some of the participants made plans to return to the restaurants on the tour for dinner that night.

One of the best things about this kind of tour is that after each tasting, you get to walk, working off the accumulated calories and working up an appetite for the next stop. Food Tour New Mexico launched just a little over a month ago, but already it's become so popular that Nick is putting together other types of tours that will showcase different restaurants and foods.

Tours meet Monday through Saturday at 10:45 a.m. on the northwest corner of the Plaza, across the street from the clock. The tour cost $43, which includes enough food to fill you up as well as Nick's wonderful stories and history. To sign up for Food Tour New Mexico tours, visit