Spring Food Fare in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Gourmet Girl - April 29, 2015

It's spring but you might not know it, judging by the recent snow, sleet and hail. And yet the lilacs are blooming, patios are opening and a fresh crop of food events are readying to bloom.

Lunch at Mu'sTake Mu Du Noodles, for example, one of Santa Fe's longtime favorite restaurants. For the first time since opening  in 1997, Mu's will serve lunch, featuring fare that's not on the dinner menu. Owner and chef Mu Jing Lau says she plans to offer bahn mi sandwiches, salads and cold noodles, including a japcha, a Korean cold noodle dish. Also look for a deconstructed lettuce wrap made with rice noodles, satay and lettuce leaves. Even better, lunch will be served on the patio, which is now open when the weather cooperates.

Make Your Own Food Truck FareFood truck fare is a hot commodity. Across the country, you can find foods from around the world served from mobile kitchens by acclaimed chefs. Now, learn to make some of these moveable feasts in your own kitchen with chef Johnny Vee in hisAmerica's Food Truck Cookery Class at Las Cosas. The menu includes Korean pork tacos, French-Canadian poutine, shrimp po-boys with jalapeno mayo, sweet crab rolls, Buffalo sliders, truffle fries, churros with molten chocolate and more. The class takes place Friday, May 8, from 6 to 9 pm.

Santa Fe Bite's World-Famous Green Chile CheeseburgerAnother patio you may want to add to your dining list this season is over at Santa Fe Bite, the reincarnation of the beloved Bobcat Bite, where people lined up nightly for years just to taste the green chile cheeseburgers. The burger served has been selected as the Best Burger in New Mexico by Thrillist, a website “obsessed with everything that’s worth caring about in food, drink, and travel."

It took three months to choose a winner in New Mexico, and the Santa Fe Bite burger was chosen because the “chuck and sirloin beef mix complements the smoky heat of the chiles, and makes you wish more people from other states would start putting green chiles on everything.”

Thrillist's runner-up is Manny's Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio: “With apologies to the delicious burgers at Manny’s Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio,” Yahoo said, “we had to go with Santa Fe Bite’s green chile cheeseburger.”

Over the years, the burgers served at the restaurant founded in 1953 by Mitzi Panzerhave earned heaps of praise from Hamburger America's George Motz, Roadfood's Jane and Michael Stern, the Food Network, Bon Appétit  and other food giants. Last year, The Daily Meal website put Santa Fe Bite's green chile cheeseburgers on its list of the The Best 5 Burgers in America, impressed by the "10-ounce house-ground, boneless chuck patties cooked to temperature preference and blanketed with green chiles under white American cheese on huge, ciabatta-like buns."

Thrillist also included Santa Fe Bite's green chile cheeseburger on its list of the Best Burgers in the Country According to Chefs. Michael Kornick, the chef/owner at mk in Chicago had this say: "My favorite burger would have to be the original Hatch green chile cheeseburger at Santa Fe Grill...made with a giant hunk of amazing beef and green chile so perfect it renders any additional condiments superfluous.”

An Operatic Feast

If you love opera and food, then sign up now for one of the Santa Fe School of Cooking's popular cooking class series,Merging Tastes and Sounds with the Santa Fe Opera, which features the flavors of operas along with performances from the coming season's operas. This is a popular event, so consider signing up now. You'll learn to make a menu that includes cumin-spiced flat bread with hummus, carrot and cardamom puree; Salad Nicoise on a toasted baguette, dolmas stuffed with rice, raisins and almonds with tzatziki sauce; chicken breast stuffed with chicken and sun-dried tomato sausage in sage brown butter sauce on polenta with sautéed arugula; and apple pie ala mode.  Performers include soprano Ingela Onstad as well as Santa Fe Opera alumna. And Santa Fe Opera staff will be on hand for a lively conversation. The event takes place May 28, June 25, July 30 and August 15.

And in Other News...

Bert's Burger Bowl, a Santa Fe institution that opened in 1954, is closing today. And Mexican chef Fernando Olea, who has owned Santa Fe's only independent drive-in eatery for the last 25 years, is also closing Epazote, his restaurant in the Hillside Market that opened last year, Olea's food is famous with Hillside diners who've enjoyed his inspired take on New World cuisine— a blend of traditional Mexican fare and contemporary flair evident in such dishes as chile en nagoda and pork en mole seca. Bert's was equally famous for its green chile cheeseburger, Frito pie, burritos, chile dogs and more. And so, with heavy hearts, we bid farewell to two restaurants that served as testaments to New Mexico's rich culinary history and hope that Olea will soon find a new place to land.