Summer officially kicks off this Sunday ushering in a new culinary season in Santa Fe. Patios are open, a fresh crop of foods are in at the farmers' market, and even a few new restaurants have sprung up in time for the city's busiest season of the year.
La Posada's New Haunt
Let's start with La Posada's new restaurant, Julia: A Spirited Restaurant & Bar, named after Julia Staab, the wife of Abraham Staab, a German merchant who built the 19th-century Victorian mansion that is now La Posada and whose ghost reportedly haunts the hotel.
The restaurant is helmed by Todd Hall, who served as a guest chef for the James Beard Foundation's Best Hotel Chef in America series and earned the first four-star rating for a Mexican restaurant while at Scottsdale's La Hacienda. Most recently, he led the kitchen at Aspen's Little Nell.
Courtesy of La Posada de Santa Fe
Hall's dinner menu highlights locally sourced ingredients, with starters such as Cornbread-Crusted Oysters with Hatch Chile Marmalade and Tuna & Lobster Claw Parfait with Indian fry bread. Signature entrees include Rock Hen Baked in Santa Fe Red Rock Clay with Green Chile Spoon Bread; Roast Colorado Lamb Rack with Local Honey, Stone-Ground Mustard and Pistachio; and Chorizo-Stuffed Quail with Fried Plantains. There's also an array of prime steaks, served with a choice of Béarnaise, Bordelaise or Anchovy Butter. And of course Julia has a namesake dish—Julia’s Roast Beet Salad, with Golden Beets, Simple Greens and a Hazelnut Oil Drizzle.
Starting July 1, Julia will offer Sunday breakfast as well as Sunday brunch.
The legions of fans of Bang Bite Filling Station food truck will be thrilled to learn that Enrique Guerrero plans to expand his cuisine when he moves into the Railyard this summer and opens not one, but two eateries ~ 500 Market Community Bistro in the old Flying Star space and Strike Bowl & Brew,a diner and bowling alley combo in the upstairs space that was supposed to have opened as a bowling alley years ago, when The Railyard opened.
The bistro will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring fresh food to break your fast with, as well as salads and sandwiches, all made with ingredients from the farmers' market. The eight-lane bowling alley—which also will contain pool tables, an old-style arcade and live music—will offer the 8 Lanes Burger, piled high with crispy pork belly and a fried egg, as well as fried chicken, mac'n'cheese pizza and pretzel “pillows” stuffed with green chile and cheese. Bowling fare has never sounded so good. The restaurants are slated to open soon. Watch here for details.
Dr. Field Goods Breaks Fresh Ground
In just a few years, Dr. Field Goods has grown from a food truck to one of Santa Fe's most popular brick and mortar eateries, offering local food that has knocked the socks off both locals and tourists, no matter where they're from.
Recently, the restaurant has branched into a new field, with the opening of Dr. Field Goods Butcher Shop and Bakery, which harkens back to bygone days when people did their shopping at specialty stores, from the butcher to the baker and the bread-maker. The shop is just a few doors away from the restaurant, but step inside and you'll instantly realize that you're in a place unlike any other in the city.
Photo courtesy Dr. Field Goods Butcher Shop and Bakery
Start with the shelves of fresh-baked bread, which lends new meaning to the term “wonder” bread. Baguettes and braids are beautiful, but so are the loaves and rounds, as well as the chocolate rolls and croissants, cinnamon buns and bear claws, each looking almost too good to eat. But then they'd go stale and what a waste that would be.
Photo courtesy Dr. Field Goods Burcher Shop and Bakery
The butcher shop is manned by Gabriel Archuleta, former sous chef at the restaurant. In these parts, he's a wanted man in these parts, as his handcut meats, pork, chicken, charcuterie and other products fly out the door almost as soon as he's prepped them.
Archuleta uses every part of the animal, be it pig, lamb,goat, chicken or cow, to make prime cuts, cold cuts, pastrami, pate, broth, marrow butter and housemade bacon that's cured for 10 days in brown sugar, salt and pepper. He also makes brined pork chops, pulled pork and smoked ham, He'll even get you a whole pig for your pig roast or barbecue. And don't forget the housemade gyro, pork chorizo and other sausages hot dogs, and even goat bratwurst. All of his beef is grass-fed and finished with a diet of barley and oats, meaning the animal never ate a grain in its life.
While you're waiting for Archuleta to fill your order to go, grab a seat at the counter and feast on “samwiches and righteous grinds” from the lamb gyro on house naann to chicken liver BLT on French bread, beef pastrami on rye, and pork rillet. Or, go for broke and order the poutine, made with pastrami and cheese curds piled on French fries and slathered with gravy.
Estevan at Hotel Chimayó
One of my favorite New Mexican dishes is the chile relleno, a perfect pairing of a poblano pepper stuffed with cheese and blanketed in a savory sauce of red, green or Christmas. In a town where the chile relleno is a staple on New Mexican restaurant menus, I have to say that the very best chile relleno I have tasted was at the now defunct Café San Estevan, prepared by chef Estevan Garcia, who moved on to the Hotel St. Francis' Tabla de los Santos after closing his namesake restaurant on the corner of Agua Fria and Montezuma streets.
Photo courtesy Hotel Chimayo
I haven't eaten at Tabla in a long while, and I somehow missed the news that Garcia had moved on. But just the other night, I stumbled upon Estevan, the newish restaurant at Hotel Chimayó and was thrilled to find the acclaimed chef there. Lucky for me, his chile relleno is on the menu there, along with his famous goat milk flan.
Estevan is a handsome restaurant that matches the Spanish Colonial décor of Hotel Chimayó, with wood floors, vigas and a wonderful balcony for dining. The menu features locally sourced ingredients from the farmers' market, like the Queso Blanco Salad, a lovely twist on the Caprese Salad, made with juicy heirloom tomatoes, queso blanco and basil, all drizzled with olive oil. Garcia focuses on organic fare and wild-caught fish, including a delicious Alaskan salmon, as well as lamb, chicken and beef, addressing American diners' growing concern about eating healthfully. The chef is on hand, consulting with diners about their choices, recommending wines he's hand-selected and checking throughout the meal that everything is satisfactory. And for us and other diners at Estevan that night, it was indeed, very satisfactory.
Garcia, a Santa Fe native and a former Franciscan monk, has long been passionate about native New Mexico foods. He has been credited with helping to pioneer modern Southwest cuisine when he partnered with chef John Sedlar, now at Hotel Drury's ELOISA to open the revered Saint Estèphe in Manhattan Beach. (Incidentally, the chile relleno with goat cheese was one of Saint Estèphe's most popular dishes.) It's good to know he's at Hotel Chimayó and that his chile relleno is still as good as I remember it to be.