Seasonal fare in Santa Fe restaurants
Fall arrives in full glory this Friday, though already the days are growing cooler and shorter. And that distinctive, alluring aroma of roasting green chile scenting the air is another sure sign that autumn is upon us. It's time to get out the sweaters, cover the tomato plants and perhaps close the windows at night (recent early morning temps have dipped into the mid-40s at my house). It's also time to feast on the bounty of the season, be it green chile mac'n'cheese, ratatouille ravioli or decadent cheese fondue with apples for dipping, Whatever your seasonal palate craves, you'll find plenty of creative, hearty fare in restaurants across the city.
Let's begin at Eloisa in the Drury Plaza Hotel, a sleek modernist space serving exceptional food inspired by regional fare. The Oaxacan pork chop entrée features grilled Kurobuta pork, the Waygu of the pork world. This meat is more tender and flavorful than that of the common American Landrace pigs consumed in the U.S. Eloisa's acclaimed chef John Sedlar combines it with sweet potato purée, smoked apricot mole and mezcal. Also on the menu, brisket enchiladas, an appealing autumnal dish of red chile-braised beef rolled in corn tortillas and topped with new potatoes, pearl onions and green chile and mustard seed sauces. For a seafood option, you can't go wrong with the wood-grilled Chaco Canyon Salmon accompanied by green chile mashed potatoes and oyster mushrooms. Top off your meal with Crema Catalana, a Spanish spin on French crème brulée, made here with coffee custard and candied fruit.
For great gastropub fare, Boxcar's your place. This popular sports and music bar also offers fine fare from chef Eder Amado featuring local, organic ingredients from area farms. The hearty Nebraskan Pan Handle Plate includes a 16-ounce, 45-day aged grass-fed ribeye with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Boxcar Mac'n'Cheese is the ultimate twist on this favorite comfort food, made with New Mexico Hatch green chile, Kyzer pork belly, crispy bacon, chicken breast, spinach and roasted red peppers, all smothered in Tucumcari cheddar and mozzarella. Or, indulge in the decadent Chicken & Waffle—fried chicken on a house-made Belgian waffle ladled with Guinness gravy, New Mexico red chile butter and syrup. It's the ideal combo of entrée and dessert, and you can enjoy it in the late-night hours, too, as Boxcar serves food until 1:30 am.
You can still dine on the covered patio at Bouche Bistro, festively outfitted with flowers and fairy lights, Chef Charles Dale's menu emphasizes Italian-French coastal cuisine and changes seasonally, so the ingredients this time of year often are plucked from his own garden. You might begin with the Heirloom Tomato Salad, a plateful of fresh burrata, pistachios, and basil, then move on to entrées such as Ratatouille Ravioli in Parmesan tomato broth and Braised Local Lamb Shank with vegetable orzo pilaf and pesto crumbs. For dessert, choose from seasonal sorbets or go all out for the famously French profiterole au chocolat.
Geronimo's front portal is the bet place for people-watching on Canyon Road, and this time of year the weather's perfect. Chef Sllin Cruz's Tellicherry Rubbed Elk Tenderloin is a classic in any season but it's well-suited for fall, served with roasted garlic fork-mashed potatoes, sugar snap peas, applewood-smoked bacon and brandied-mushroom sauce. Cooked Two-Way Organic Chicken also reflects the season, made with house-made artisan cheese tortellini, Italian sausage, chanterelle mushrooms and au jus. A delicious vegan option, the Garbanzo Bean and Eggplant Croquette features Italian squash ratatouille, crispy artichoke hearts and Romesco sauce. For dessert, the German Chocolate Flourless Cake with vanilla bean ice cream and smoked sea salt caramel sauce will send you out into the chilly night feeling full with warm goodness.
At Joseph's Culinary Pub, chef/owner Joseph Wrede is known for showcasing seasonal vegetables. Dishes such as Warm Charred Ratatouille spotlight fall ingredients including Swiss chard, kale, eggplant, smoked cherry tomatoes and zucchini, partnered with goat's milk ricotta gnudi and warm tomato vinaigrette. So does the Whole-grain Mustard and Crème Fraîche-Crusted Cauliflower, with tomato and olive-stewed white beans and ginger-garlic-lemon Brussels sprouts. Equally autumnal, the Vegetable Enchilada dish is made with acorn squash, corn sautée, local mushrooms, red chile, cotija cheese crumble, East Indian spinach purée and green rice. For dessert, the famous Cloud Cake is always in season, an Italian meringue cake drizzled with caramel sauce and punctuated with the flavors of fresh tarragon and grapefruit supreme. After that, you'll depart Joseph's walking on air...
Rio Chama is always a cozy place to dine, with intimate rooms in a rambling adobe warmed by fireplaces and soft lighting. Chef Tony Blankenship's menu includes Chama Chile, a hearty concoction of red chile-simmered beef and pinto beans topped with cheddar, sour cream and jalapeños. Is there a more romantic dish than fondue for two? Rio Chama's version melds six cheeses with white wine and amber ale, with Granny Smith apples, cauliflower, broccoli and bread cubes for dipping. Quinoa Relleno, a vegetarian option, features a roasted chile stuffed with quinoa, zucchini and corn with melted asadero cheese, charred jalapeno corn sauce, mushroom mole and black beans. Save room for the pecan-crusted pear almond tart served with vanilla crème Anglaise.