A Santa Fe Dining Institution and the Sudden Loss of a Beloved Columnist
New Mexico is known for its traditional cuisine, encompassing enchiladas, chile rellenos, breakfast burritos, red and green chile and more. But where do you go when you have a hankering for a good, old-fashioned steak, whether it's prime rib, ribeye, New York strip or T-bone? The answer is easy...the Bull Ring.
When it comes to steak, Santa Fe's prime steakhouse Bull Ring has long been the go-to place. Not just with legislators, who have negotiated deals over meals since the restaurant opened more than 40 years ago, but with locals and visitors alike who crave thick, juicy, hand-cut, corn-fed, USDA beef like the popular El Matador, a specially aged U.S. prime sirloin strip charred to your liking and served with green chile, sauteed mushrooms and onion straws. Or the bone-in rib eye, “the classic cowboy cut,” according to the menu. Or combine any steak entree with an Australian cold-water lobster tail. Whichever cut you choose here, you can't go wrong.
When the Bull Ring opened 1971in a 150-year-old adobe located just a few doors from the Round House, it became a favorite with legislators who came to town for the New Mexico legislative sessions as well as with locals who gathered to talk about art, events, news and more over an eclectic menu that wasn't yet focused on beef.
Harry Georgeades bought the restaurant in 1980 and continued the fine dining tradition until 1995, when he made two big changes. First, he made a business decision to move the location from Old Santa Fe Trail to the other side of the Plaza, downtown on Washington Avenue. Then he revised the menu so it emphasized beef, wanting to offer fare that set the Bull Ring apart from the city's other upscale restaurants. Not just any beef, but USDA prime, (only 2 percent of beef produced the U.S. is certified USDA prim), corn-fed beef that is hand cut daily.
His decision worked. Today, the Bull Ring is famous for its prime rib and and filet mignon as well as its Porterhouse for Two, a massive 40-ounce steak that's suitable for two. Many a marriage proposal has been made over this dish. And the legislators and other politicos continue to make this their meeting place, negotiating deals and discussing news over steaks and the famous Bull Burger, a 1/2- pound of chopped steak broiled to order and served with french fries, lettuce, tomato and onion, on a sesame seed bun.
Last year, the Bull Ring was voted Best Place to Order a Steak in the Santa Fe Reporter's Best of 2015 awards and also Open Table Diners Choice Winner for Best Steak in Santa Fe based on Open Table reviews.
While the Bull Ring is known for its beef, the menu features plenty of other options, from soups and salads to seafood and chicken. The restaurant also offers BBQ baby back pork ribs, prime veal chops, center cut pork chops served with sweet and spicy apple slices and double-cut lamb chops with mint jelly. And there are daily specials for lunch, from meatloaf to catfish, as well as for dinner, including halibut with jalapeno hollandaise and crab cakes.
But beef takes center stage here, including a 12-ounce filet— “the thickest, tenderest steak cut of all” according to the menu— as well as the rich New York strip, the marbled rib-eye, the 24-ounce T-bone and prime rib au jus, a favorite with many diners. Pair your steak with an array of sides served family-style, from baked and mashed potatoes to French, shoestring and cottage fries, sweet potatoes and Lyonnaise potatoes to asparagus with hollandaise, broiled tomatoes and fresh steamed broccoli au gratin. If you have room for dessert, don't miss the house-made specialties, including chocolate torte, bread pudding, carrot cake or amaretto cheesecake.
To match the quality of steak served here, the Bull Ring offers an elegant ambiance, with white linen tablecloths and sparkling table settings. You can sit at a large, comfortable booth indoors, on the patio when the weather's nice or at the bar , open for late-night fare that includes coconut shrimp, escargot, mussels in garlic butter and green chile stew for lighter foods and steaks as well as fried chicken in a basket for heartier meals. Happy Hour from 3 to 6 pm Monday through Friday offers a special food menu and discounts on beer and wine.
So the next time you're craving a quality cut of beef, head over to the Bull Ring, where you'll never ask “where's the beef?”
A Sad Addendum
Yesterday, Santa Fe lost a bright light, a luminary who for years, contributed volumes to the city's food, art, and music scene. Rob DeWalt, aka The Fork, was not only a great chef but wrote regular food and music columns for the Santa Fe Reporter as well as the daily paper that championed emerging talent as well as established chefs, bands, musicians and others. Since 2014, he'd been the Reporter's food critic and also created the paper's food newsletter, The Fork. His personality infused every sentence, making his work not just fun to read, but full of insights based on his own experience as a professional chef and in life.
Rob was only 46, way too young to be taken from us, but he had long suffered health problems, despite his prolific writing and enthusiastic support for others. Details have not yet been released,but as news swirled around town yesterday, shocking everyone who heard it, people took to social media to express their grief. The outpouring was profoundly sad as people struggled to comprehend his sudden passing. His absence leave a gaping hole in Santa Fe, and he and his distinctive voice will be greatly missed.
A celebration of Rob's life is scheduled for next Wednesday, April 13at 5:30pm at Museum Hill Cafe.