I stopped by Joe’s, my favorite neighborhood restaurant, earlier this week. The fact I was nowhere close to my own neighborhood was not lost on me. In fact, Joe’s is about as far away from my home as any place in Santa Fe. I often end up here, though, when I crave good home cooking, friendly service, and gentle prices. Hassle-free parking is appealing too. I’m also enthusiastic about supporting an independent restaurant that spends more than $100,000 annually on produce from the local growers at our Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.
IT STARTS FROM THE TOP
There’s really no Joe. The name is meant to signify an “every guy or gal” mentality. Frequently though, you’ll see genial owner Roland Richter out and about meeting guests, old and new. He always manages to attract a cheerful cadre of wait staff. Roland knows his way around the kitchen but has a skilled crew in the back of the house, baking scratch biscuits, slinging pizzas, and whisking up the justly famous Hollandaise sauce.
LOCAL SUSTAINABLE HOME COOKING
Roland and his wife Sheila believe passionately in supporting local farmers as an essential ingredient in a sustainable food supply. They want to help protect our land as well as keep their customers healthy. Whenever possible, the restaurant’s ingredients are certified organic.
When I first met Roland in 1995, he had recently relocated from Toronto. After working in a few Santa Fe restaurant kitchens, he had purchased Pizza Etc at DeVargas Center. In that era, it was truly flabbergasting to discover someone running a mall pizza joint emphasizing the use of fresh, local ingredients. His late summer margherita pizza, topped with Monte Vista Organic Farm’s heirloom tomatoes, easily became the city’s most celebrated pie. In 2002, the opportunity to open Joe’s in the then-new Rodeo Plaza, on the burgeoning south side, led Roland to sell Pizza Etc.
The Joe’s Dining Menu
At Joe’s, his menu could range much more broadly to what encompass what he calls European-influenced American comfort food. Pizzas came along, that margherita included, and were joined by burgers from Shepherd’s Lamb and Mesa Meats beef. The menu also features classic sandwiches such as BLTs and tuna salad, New Mexican specialties, and mixed vegetable salads. You’ll find more exotic offerings like mussels on Provençal fettucine and scallops with bok choi and eggplant. There’s even roast goose around the winter holidays.
Every day offers a different special — and I do mean special. For years, I’ve shown up on Fridays to enjoy the crispy fish and chips. This week, I opted for a Tuesday, to try the fried chicken: three pieces of buttermilk-brined Mary’s organic chicken, fried to a golden crunch. It came surrounded with roasted garlic mashed Yukon golds, and a sauté of cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and green beans. A fluffy biscuit, served with butter and honey, capped it off.
With the emphasis on a cornucopia of produce throughout the year, Joe’s is a good choice for vegetarians and vegans.
CHEERS to cocktails at joe’s
One of the newest motivations to go to Joe’s is the cocktails. A recent change in state liquor law has made it affordable for smaller restaurants to serve New Mexico-made hard liquor and mixed drinks. Given Roland’s commitment to buying local, nothing could have been a better fit. He immediately added classic cocktails to the beer and wine selections. His bloody Mary is made with Expedition Vodka, crafted by artisan distiller Santa Fe Spirits. The margarita blends lime with Five Ducks Silver Agave Spirit. The liquor can’t be called tequila because it’s not made in Jalisco, Mexico. However, Little Toad Creek, down in the southwest corner of New Mexico, distills it from 100 percent Jalisco blue agave. Tumbleroot’s Straight Bourbon makes a fine an old-fashioned, topped with a twist of orange peel.
THREE more REASONS TO visit joe’s dining SOON
Through this Friday, April 15, 2022, Joe’s offers its annual “Take a Bite Out of Taxes” burger promotion. For the week ahead of the day we all love to hate, the full burger menu is deeply discounted. Whether you want the comfort of a green chile cheeseburger, a salmon burger, or perhaps the Burgundy, on a croissant with sauteed wild mushrooms and a red wine butter sauce, there’s a choice for every mood, taste, and level of tax pain.
Next up is Easter brunch, this Sunday, April 17, 2022. The options include what is likely Santa Fe’s most extensive list of Benedicts. My personal favorite is the Joe’s, with potato latkes filling in for English muffins, house-cured and -smoked salmon
as the protein, and local eggs poached to pillowy softness. The blanket of Hollandaise is world-class, made in small silken batches.
Speaking of pillows, some places serve pancakes that offer the lightness and flavor of foam couch cushions. At Joe’s, the pancakes have both taste and a light texture, and are made from New Mexican flour. Hop on reservations immediately, if you’re interested. If you miss out, though, check these dishes out another Sunday.
And finally, Joe’s gives back to the Santa Fe community. The latest example is the restaurant’s participation in Kitchen Angels’ Angel Dine Out on Thursday, April 21, 2022. A whopping 25 percent of the proceeds from breakfast will go to this local nonprofit. To find out more about this event, see last week’s Heating It Up story.
What are you waiting for? Go to Joe’s!
2801 Rodeo Road in Rodeo Plaza near Zia Road and Camino Carlos Rey
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Reservations strongly suggested for Easter brunch, April 17, and Kitchen Angels’ Angels Night Out breakfast, April 21
Story and photos by Cheryl Alters Jamison.
Four-time James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison is the host of Heating It Up on KTRC and is now the “queen of culinary content” for SantaFe.com. Find new stories about the Santa Fe food scene each week on SantaFe.com.