Comfort Food for Winter

Lynn Cline - February 15, 2017

These dishes will take the chill off a cold winter's day

Now that Valentine's Day has come and gone, we're deep in the thick of winter, with snowy days, cold nights and no holidays to look forward to until the spring. This is the time of year that requires comfort food—hearty dishes that warm the soul and remind us of the foods our mothers and grandmothers once made to take off the chill of a winter's day.

Not all of us have time to cook the way our ancestors did, so comfort food for you may simply mean toasting an English muffin then slathering it with butter and jam. Or heating up a frozen pizza that barely hints at the flavors in your mom's homemade pizza. But just because you don't have hours to barbecue a beef brisket or assemble a shepherd's pie doesn't mean you can't enjoy the real thing. Wintercomfort foods are on the menu at restaurants all around town, whether you're craving a bowl of savory soup or Hungarian goulash, a spicy serving of Cajun gumbo, an ethereal chicken schnitzel or a hearty pairing of sausages and sauerkraut..

Here are a few suggestion for some of the best winter comfort food in town. You may find some of your old favorites, updated with a modern twist or two, and you may also discover some new dishes to add to your list.

Start your day with Cardamom French Toast with Quince Glazed Bananas and New Mexico Pecans at Cafe Sonder. Or expand your culinary horizons with the Japanese Farmhouse Breakfast, a combo of a soft boiled egg, taken, smoked tofu, shiitake, togarshi, sticky rice and nori. The breakfast burrito , one of the comfort food staples of New Mexico cuisine, is served here with eggs, home fries, Christmas chile, black beans and cheese.

For lunch, Vinaigrette's Duck Arugula Salad—duck confit tossed with baby arugula, creamy goat cheese, balsamic roasted pears and hibiscus vinaigrette—will brighten up a grey, snowy day, especially paired with a bowl of Cajun gumbo with Andouille sausage, shrimp, chicken and rice. Or fuel up with the Vinny Rib Sandwich, featuring spicy beer-braised short ribs. Be sure to order a slice of homemade pie with seasonal fruit, which Gwyneth Paltrow describes as “dangerously delicious” in a recent issue of goop, her weekly lifestyle publication.

Loyal Hound's Southern fried chicken is a winter comfort-food winner—served atop a homemade buttermilk chive waffle with spicy maple syrup and apple fennel slaw. Or try the spicy green chile mac'n'cheese (order yours topped with bacon!). The seasonal specials here will take away the winter chill—Shepherd's Pie with local lamb; Welsh Rarebit; Hungarian goulash and more. Keep an eye out for Loyal Hound's monthly Supper Clubs, featuring wine and beer pairings.

Over at Joe's Dining, the Blue Plate daily specials are all about comfort food, but Monday's is especially mouth-watering: grilled sausage and smoked pork loin with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Thursday's sounds great, too: BBQ beef brisket with mashed potatoes and vegetables. The regular menu features comfort food fare, too, from eggplant Parmesan or roast duck with spaetzle and cabbage to chicken fettuccine Alfredo and vegetable lasagne.

For an elegant twist on comfort food, The Compound’s chicken schnitzel with capers, lemon, parsley and sauteed spinach is a local's favorite, available only at lunch. For dinner, you'll find great comfort in the handmade lobster carbonara—a tangle of fettuccine, pancetta, Maine lobster, egg and Parmesan that melt in your mouth—and the wild mushroom and stone ground polenta with black truffle relish, Parmesan and arugula.

The small plates at Eloisa are big on comfort food. Try a bowl of green tomato soup, with tomatillo aged Baja cheese, Greek yogurt and black bean compote. Then, feast on jicama tacos with fresh jicama wafer, escabeche, avocado, cilantro and pickled ginger. The pastrami tacos are justly famous, crisp blue corn tortillas, pastrami, sauerkraut, pickled serrano, and ballpark mustard. Or splurge and revel in The O'Keeffe Table, a five-course tasting menu that artfully honors the iconic American painter with foods she grew in her garden and from her native Wisconsin.