Farm to Table at Vinaigrette

Lynn Cline - March 7, 2017

Serving some of the best salads in town

Tucked away in a rustic adobe beside an ancient acequia off Cerrillos Road, you'll find a bustling restaurant filled with regulars and out-of-towners savoring some of the best salads in town. Not that Vinaigrette only serves salads. There are delectable sandwiches, daily soups, seasonal specials and decadent desserts, too.

But the restaurant is known for its healthy, hearty salads, including classics like the Cobb and the Caesar as well as creative signatures such as the Apple-Cheddar Chop, with chopped grilled pork tenderloin , baby arugula, green apples, pickled fennel and sharp cheddar tossed in a ruby port vinaigrette. Or Arugula Duck, a rich blend of duck confit, baby arugula, creamy goat cheese, balsamic roasted pears and hibiscus vinaigrette.

If that's not enough to tempt a carnivore, consider the Cherry Tart, with dried cherries, feta, baby arugula, toasted pecans and champagne vinaigrette. Or La Pepita, a zesty blend of chopped green kale, shredded chicken, black beans, crumbled cojita, diced avocado, spicy crispy pepitas and lemon-cumin vinaigrette.

You can add inventive toppings to any of the salads. Try hibiscus-duck confit on the French Friséealad, a bistro classic with frisée greens, poached egg, bacon lardons and warm shallot vinaigrette.Or seared diver scallops on the Spinach-Mushroom, a blend of baby spinach, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, hardboiled egg, red onion slivers and honey balsamic vinaigrette. The grilled flank steak pairs well with the Nutty Pear-Fessor, featuring grilled Bosc pears, bacon crumbles, toasted pecans, Maytag blue cheese, tender greens and ruby port vinaigrette.

The Cajun gumbo is a big hit here, made with Andouille sausage, shrimp, chicken and rice. Other specialties include the Vinny Rib Sandwich—spicy beer-braised short rib piled on a toasted roll with carrot cabbage slaw, cilantro, jalapenos and sriracha. The Cubano Torta is feast of mustard-roasted pork shoulder and green chile ham griddled with red onions and Swiss cheese and served on a split roll with avocado, chipotle, mayo and sweet relish.

You can share starters and sides, including the bestselling fried kale with sriracha aioli or duck tacos, featuring duck confit, hoisin and hot sauce with peanuts, cabbage, scallions and carrots in crisp jicama shells. Or try the yam shoestring fries with blue cheese dressing.

The desserts here are famous, described by actor Gwyneth Paltrow as “dangerously delicious” in a recent issue of her weekly lifestyle publication, goop. The Rockstar Carrot Cake is delightfully dense and moist, topped with a whipped cream cheese frosting. Chocolate lovers go for the flourless chocolate torte but the lemon cheesecake topped with raspberry coulis is just as good.

Vinaigrette opened in Santa Fe in 2008 and has since expanded with satellite restaurants in Albuquerque and Austin, to great success. The influential Zagat survey, for instance, included the restaurant's peach, prosciutto and burrata salad special in its list of 12 Amazing Summer Salads Around Austin. And The Infatuation.com, a restaurant review site, raved about the Austin restaurant: “Vinaigrette actually makes you feel excited about eating a salad. A New Mexico import, this place is the best thing to happen to your lunch routine if you live or work anywhere nearby.”

What makes Vinaigrette stand out in the field is the fact that, during peak season, 70% of the restaurant's organic produce is sourced from owner Erin Wade’s 10-acre family farm, Los Portales, in nearby Nambé. And as the farm provides for the restaurant, so the restaurant gives back to the farm, with food waste for composting and to feed the resident pigs.

So the next time you're craving a salad made with organic locally grown, seasonal ingredients, head over to Vinaigrette, whether you're in Santa Fe, Albuquerque or Austin. You'll find plenty of farm-to-fork options that will leave you feeling healthy as well as happy.