A Big Weekend of Food Fun

Lynn Cline - August 28, 2018

What to eat for Zozobra, Fiestas and Labor Day

This Labor Day Weekend brings a feast of fanfare and fun to Santa Fe, kicking off on Friday with the annual demise of Old Man Gloom. The festivities continue over the weekend with the celebration and ceremony of Fiestas de Santa Fe then wind down with the Labor Day holiday on Monday. Throughout it all, food plays a big role in celebrating these events.

You'll need some sustenance as you await the fiery end of Zozobra, the 50-foot puppet that burns away our doom and gloom each year. Zozo was first torched in 1924 and this year marks his 94th annual burning. Some 60, 000 revelers will fill the field at Fort Marcy Park to watch him go down in flames, and while they wait, often for hours, they'll be eating. You can choose from an array of foods from 20 different vendors on site, or you can avoid the lines by bringing a picnic with you. It's a great way to enjoy the live music, people watch and take selfies of Zozobra with yourself, your friends and your family. (Note that coolers and alcohol are not allowed.)

If you love mac'n'cheese (and who doesn't?), order take-out from Macalicious. What could be better for this vent than the Zozobra grilled cheese sandwich, spiced up with jalapeño and chorizo. You'll also find many tempting mac-n-cheese options, including Santa Fe—made with fresh roasted Hatch green chile, Monterey Jack and cheddar,—Mexican, with chorizo, jalapeño, salsa, Cholula hot sauce, Monterey Jack and cheddar. Zozobra would approve of all the fiery foods. Add a big order of green chile macaroni salad as it will make a great side dish for everyone in your party.

Consider bringing a crowd-pleasing pizza or two from Rooftop Pizzeria.You could start off with house-made garlic toast with Parmesan and marinara and stuffed risotto cakes with mozzarella roasted red pepper sauce and balsamic reduction. For pies, go with the House Specialty #3, loaded with green chile, toasted piñons, roasted chicken, cojita, asadero and Alfredo sauce on a blue-corn crust. Or splurge with #10, a feast of lobster, shrimp, applewood smoked bacon, mushrooms, green onions, truffle oil and four cheese with Alfredo sauce, also on a blue-corn crust.

For healthier fare, pick up a couple of delectable sandwiches at 35˚ North, including grilled tomato and cheese and B.S.T.A—an upscale B.L.T. with applewood smoked bacon, spinach, avocado, tomato and organic mayo, piled on nine-grain bread. A tartine would be great, too, with scrambled egg, spinach, white cheddar and avocado on nine-grain toast or with bacon instead of spinach.

The Santa Fe Fiesta is considered the oldest continuous community celebration in the country, and despite the controversies over the years, it brings people together to celebrate the history of our city. Sharing food with family and friends is a big part of the festivities, whether you dig into roasted corn, green chile cheeseburgers, chicharrón burritos and other fare sold by vendors on the Plaza or dine out in a restaurant known for traditional New Mexican cuisine. However you choose to feast, ¡Que Viva La Fiesta!

Step out of the crowds on the Plaza and step back in time at La Fonda, a former Harvey House that's been restored to its old-time splendor. In the lovely La Plazuela, you can savor traditional New Mexican cuisine such as carne asada, Enchiladas del Norte, Rellenos de La Fonda, and tacos filled with grilled red snapper, pork carnitas or grilled vegetables. Or sink your teeth into the iconic green chile cheeseburger with roasted Hatch green chile, applewood smoked bacon and cheese on a brioche bun. If the Fiesta activities have built up your appetite, order the combo plate and feast on a chile relleno, red chile pork tamale and a cheese enchilada.

Journey back even further in time with a visit to La Casa Sena, part of a 33-room hacienda built in the 1860s for Major Jose Sena and his wife, Dona Isabel Cabeza de Baca, who lived here with their 11 children. The family famously entertained many dignitaries, including frontiersman Kit Carson. They held lavish parties with dancing in the second-story ballroom and were widely known for their feasts of buffalo, venison, rabbit, native chile and other prized ingredients.

That reputation for gourmet elegance continues today, with signature dishes such as poblano soup, traditional enchiladas and a Chimayo red chile bowl of shredded pork, pinto beans and cheddar cheese. You'll find a green chile cheeseburger here, too, made with grass-fed New Mexican beef, Hatch green chile and extra sharp cheddar.

In search of some Labor Day fun? Well, this may not be a beach, but perched on high, the rooftop Bar Alto comes close to a beach club atmosphere, with blue skies all around you, instead of water and waves. Enjoy some of the best views in town along with the friendly ambiance. The extensive drink and food menus are creative and delicious, with items such as crawfish nachos, Drunken Caiman—skewers of grilled marinated alligator tail meat with a spicy jalapeno dip—and the Aleman, German beer-marinated brats on buns with craft grain mustard, house-made sauerkraut. Sip on the Palmoa Lavanda, a heady concoction of mezcal, lavender, lime and grapefruit soda. If you're there at sunset, raise a glass of the Sangre de Cristo, a blend of Reposado tequila, orange liqueur, cinnamon and orange soda.