Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen ‘s Global Comfort Food

Santafe.com - August 25, 2017

A devotion to sustainability and a commitment to the community

Walk through the doors of Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen and it's immediately clear that you're in a restaurant unlike any other. It's not just that the vibrant, colorful food is delicious—organic and locally sourced as much as possible, with lots of vegetarian, vegan gluten-free and even Paleo offerings—or that the bright, airy space has a warm and welcoming minimalist décor. There's something else at work here, a devotion to sustainability and a commitment to the community, that is evidenced in every bite of food and witnessed in the smiles of very contented diners.

At Sweetwater, co-owners Soma Franks and Fiona Wong have a stone mill for grinding the restaurant's own organic flours from buckwheat and whole-grain spelt. You can taste the freshness of these flours, ground daily, in the house-made crunchy buckwheat granola, with sprouted buckwheat, dried fruits, oats, coconut and maple syrup. The Buckwheat Banana Pancakes are made with the freshly milled buckwheat and the Lemon Ricotta Spelt Pancakes include the spelt flour that's milled on site.

Locally sourced ingredients and organic meats, produce and other ingredients show up in every dish as well as glass, as the restaurant serves house-made kombucha and raw coconut nectar, too. You'll also find organic and biodynamic wines, local beers and Japanese craft beers, imported artisanal sakes and sustainable wines on tap. Try the mead, made with New Mexico wildflower honey as well as yeast and fruit from Falcon Meadery in Santa Fe.

Sweetwater's nourishing fare is even more impressive when you consider that the restaurant serves three meals a day as well as afternoon bites and Sunday brunch—a feat that most restaurants find hard to pull off well. In addition to pancakes, the breakfast menu offers a Paleo burrito, a house-made spinach + egg “tortilla” wrapped around scrambled eggs, avocado and sweet potato, topped w/ red chile and bacon or sausage. The Southern-style shrimp and grits is a favorite here, served with green chile and bacon and topped with a fried egg. Or try huevos rancheros—two eggs over easy with black beans, Jack cheese and sour cream stacked on corn tortillas and topped with green, red or Christmas. The trio of breakfast tacos are stuffed with scrambled eggs, avocado and Jack cheese with sliced radish, lime and pico de hallo. You could make a meal of small plates with sweet potato hash, green chile grits, avocado toast with kimchi and other sides.

At lunch, the Bánh Mì Vietnamese-style chicken sandwich with pickled radishes and carrots on a multi-grain baguette is a big hit, but equally delectable is the Greek-style lamb burger with feta, tzatziki sauce and sliced red onion on a gluten-free bun with mixed spring greens. Or try Salmon Donburi, Japanese style Atlantic salmon over brown rice topped with peas and egg and garnished with pickled watermelon radish and scallion. The Rainbow Paleo Plate is also popular, featuring roasted beets, acorn squash, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower rice with arugula drizzled in lemon vinaigrette and topped with toasted walnuts.

For dinner, the Indonesian Chicken Curry is a signature dish, with organic bone-in chicken, Kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, turmeric, blue ginger, cauliflower, butternut squash and green cabbage, served with brown rice. But equally good is the Kogi BBQ local beef with pickled daikon and grilled peach, accompanied by seasonal Farmer’s Market vegetables.

Sunday brunch includes the Lemon Ricotta Spelt Pancakes and Buckwheat Banana Pancakes, but you'll also find Eggs Florentine, two poached eggs on an English muffin with spinach and hollandaise sauce. One of my favorites, huevos motulenos, has sunny side-up eggs as well as plantains, black beans, queso fresco and green peas, topped with tomatillo salsa and served over corn tortillas. If you love spice, try the Sriracha Shrimp Salad, with spiraled zucchini and carrot "noodles,” mixed spring greens and avocado drizzled with sesame-ginger dressing.

Sweetwater opened in 2012, and quickly established a loyal, local following. After Cafe Jambo stepped out of the annual SuperBowl Santa Fe event, having won multiple years in a row, Sweetwater stepped in to fill the void. They've now won Best Soup two years running, with no signs of slowing down.

Sweetwater also offers catering services, and you can order gluten-free cakes and pies as well. For afternoon bites, enjoy signature gluten-free treats made with almond flour blend and organic fruits, including fruit pies, cheesecakes, cookies and more. Keep an eye out for new dishes on the menu, pop-up events, classes and other events because whatever's going on at Sweetwater is guaranteed to be delicious, and 100% good for you.