Hearty Feasting Fare

Cafe Pasqual's

Santa Fe restaurants like Cafe Pasqual’s emphasize healthy dishes with local, organic ingredients.

For those of us living in the high desert, where the growing season is glorious but short, winter means we bid adieu to some of our favorite produce: We’ll have to wait until next year to enjoy fresh local lettuces, berries and summer vegetables. But the first hard frost and dusting of snow doesn’t mean the end of fresh food in Santa Fe. Local restaurant owners are committed to providing fresh and organic food year-round. Instead of spring onions, we enjoy local fennel. Grass-fed meat from ranches around New Mexico takes center stage on winter menus. Chefs and bakers make everything from pasta to fresh bread from scratch. Food integrity is a vital part of Santa Fe’s culinary scene year-round, and there’s something for every meal and budget, whether you’re looking to start your day with a light breakfast or sit down to dinner and wine with friends. Bon appétit! 

Breakfast on a winter morning

If you’re looking for a small bite to start the day with, a trip to Revolution Bakery, Santa Fe’s only 100-percent gluten-free bakery, is in order. Everything here is made from scratch daily, from cakes and pies to muffins, scones and bread. As a participant in the Albuquerque and Los Alamos farmers markets, Revolution bakery spends the summer and autumn months trading baked goods for local farmers’ fruits and vegetables. During the off-season you can still depend on Revolution for fresh, local food. Try their egg muffins made with local, organic eggs and Hatch green chile. Breakfast dough placed in a muffin pan is stuffed with egg and chile and baked in the oven. This is a dish I don’t mind waking up to! Also try Revolution’s homemade sticky buns, which are topped with pecans from Pecos Diamond Pecans in Artesia, New Mexico, or the French toast made with Revolution’s fresh-baked bread and local apples.

Pumpkin cinnamon roll (with icing) and egg and cheese muffin at Revolution Bakery

Pumpkin cinnamon roll at Revolution Bakery

If you’re looking for breakfast with a focus on local, make sure to pay Joe’s Dining a visit, a restaurant known for its passion for local and sustainable food. The list of local ingredients at Joe’s is impressive: Lamb, bison, chicken livers, chile, eggs, flour, feta cheese, fruits and even some of the wine and beers served at Joe’s are all from our state. The restaurant even makes its own mozzarella cheese! I love to visit Joe’s for a breakfast burrito made with organic eggs, local potatoes and, of course, local chile. Even the tortillas are from Albuquerque. It’s a classic, delicious and truly New Mexican dish. Also be sure to try the blue corn pancakes. Santa Fe Culinaria makes the blue corn pancake mix, and the fluffy cakes are served up with ham, bacon and local jam. 

If you happen to pop in for lunch, branch out and try the grass-fed liver and onions, with liver from Sweet Grass Cooperative in Colorado. This co-op is composed of ranchers who have a passion for the land and the animals, and many of the member ranches are certified organic. The liver and onions will be served with winter vegetables from the farmers market, like winter squash, pumpkin and beets.

A tour of healthy breakfasts in Santa Fe wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Café Pasqual’s, where chef and owner Katharine Kagel has been a vocal proponent of all things local and organic for the past 35 years. Pasqual’s purchases products from certified organic farmers and producers who don’t use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or GMOs. This tiny café embodies the concept of food integrity, and the time and energy Kagel spends sourcing food for Pasqual’s demonstrates her dedication. For example, the restaurant uses only Askinosie chocolate, a small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer located in Missouri that sources 100 percent of its beans directly from the farmers. Nearly everything at Pasqual’s, from beef and pork to sugar, flour and spices, is organic. Even the wine list offers only wines that are sustainable, organic or produced biodynamically. Are you vegan, vegetarian or gluten free? Not to worry, Pasqual’s will adjust many of their menu items for you.

This winter, try the eggs benedict with bacon from Red Mesa Meats, available at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. “It’s some of the best bacon I’ve ever had by far,” Kagel says, adding that the hollandaise for the dish is homemade using organic butter, lemons and eggs. I can’t think of a better breakfast for a cold desert morning.

Quinoa burger at Cafe Pasqual's

Quinoa burger at Cafe Pasqual’s

Local lunch

Izanami, the new, beautiful, izakaya-style Japanese restaurant at Ten Thousand Waves, boasts 90-percent organic produce, as well as non-GMO organic soy and locally raised chicken, beef and pork. The restaurant introduced a new chef in September, David Padberg, who worked the past 12 years in Portland, Oregon, and brings with him a strong knowledge of sourcing locally. This winter season, he’ll be serving up Lone Mountain Wagyu beef from Golden, New Mexico. Raw slices of the premium Wagyu New York strip are presented tableside along with a hot stone, which guests use to sear the beef themselves. Served alongside the beef is an array of sauces including freshly grated wasabi root, soy sauce and momiji oroshi, a mix of grated daikon radish and red chile peppers. 

Harry’s Roadhouse is an old favorite offering fresh, organic ingredients this winter. The restaurant uses organic eggs and squeezes its own fresh juices, as well as offering organic oatmeal and homemade granola during breakfast. For lunch at Harry’s, try the buffalo burger, which uses locally raised buffalo. For an extra boost, have it with the organic New Mexico gala apple salad, made with blue cheese, walnuts, celery and a sweet-and-sour poppy-seed dressing. Be sure to check out the daily specials, which emphasize local and homemade ingredients and change according to what’s available.

Although relatively new, Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen has been an amazing addition to the Santa Fe culinary scene with its focus on high-quality, nourishing food. Owners Soma Franks and Fiona Wong are proponents of local and organic ingredients. They participate in Santa Fe’s Farm to Table restaurant program and use the restaurant as a drop point for a local community-supported farm. A grow bed on the back patio provides fresh herbs and edible flowers. They also make some items entirely from scratch, like their delicious 100-percent organic gRAWnola, which is made using sprouted live-food granola and buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, goji berries and coconut topped with sugar-free almond milk. The pair also mills their own flour each day, which they use in pasta dishes and fluffy pancakes. 

Turkey tortilla soup with green godess salad at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen

Turkey tortilla soup with a green godess salad at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen

This winter, try Sweetwater’s spicy lamb burger, made with local lamb from Talus Wind Ranch Heritage Meats. Have it with soup or salad, both of which are made using any available local ingredients. It’s a lunch that will leave your stomach, and soul, feeling nurtured.

Dinner by the fire

Another new spot and an instant favorite is Fire & Hops, the gastropub recently opened by Josh Johns, formerly of Second Street Brewery, and Joel Coleman, back in town from a stint in San Francisco. Coleman is committed to using local ingredients for his menu, and Johns is equally enthusiastic about local tap beers, offering an IPA from La Cumbre, varied selections from Bosque Brewing Company and local ciders. All the lamb for Fire & Hops comes from Shepherd’s Lamb, located 100 miles from Santa Fe at the foot of the San Juan Mountains. It’s organic and, Coleman says, some of the best lamb available in New Mexico. The restaurant uses fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers market, depending on what’s in season.

Green papaya salad with red onion, dried shrimp, peanuts and toasted rice at Fire & Hops

Green papaya salad with red onion, dried shrimp, peanuts and toasted rice at Fire & Hops

Make sure to try the burger — with a tall glass of beer, of course! Burgers here are made with beef from a co-op of New Mexico ranchers, so you can be sure your burger is completely local. It’s topped with caramelized onions and a bun from Sage Bakehouse, itself a great spot for high-quality baked goods — all the bread is naturally leavened, hand-formed, free of additives, slowly fermented and baked directly on the hearth. This burger is simple, delicious and is quickly becoming one of my favorites in Santa Fe! 

A great place to have dinner, especially when there’s snow on the ground, is Terra Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado. Although it’s only 15 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, Terra feels like a world away from the buzz and hum of downtown. The elegant dining room with its cozy fireplace and long rows of windows overlooking the mountains is the perfect spot to warm up on a cold night. Likewise, chef Andrew Cooper’s menu is the perfect addition to our list of restaurants that focus on fresh, local ingredients — not to mention his food is delicious! Cooper is an adamant proponent of local ingredients, and you can find him at the farmers market in Santa Fe twice a week year-round, searching for all things local to incorporate into his menu.

Look for the lamb with Parmesan polenta and wild mushrooms, with lamb from Naturally New Mexico Food Products in Rio Arriba County. Mushrooms are from Freshies of New Mexico, a certified organic farm and participant in the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Cooper uses winter vegetables he can find at the market to round out this dish.

Also worth mentioning is the chicken with spiced pumpkin and bacon bread pudding, winter vegetables and bourbon sauce. The chicken comes from Pollo Real, the first certified organic poultry farm in the United States. The pumpkin is from Gemini Farm in Las Trampas and Cooper uses vegetables that are on offer at the market. Even the bourbon is local, from either KGB spirits or Santa Fe Spirits. Dinner at Terra is heaven for any locavore. 

Handmade papardelle, rabbit confit, wild mushrooms, pearl onions, parmigiano Reggiano at Arroyo Vino

Handmade papardelle with rabbit confit, wild mushrooms, pearl onions and parmigiano Reggiano at Arroyo Vino

Another fun spot to check out for dinner is Arroyo Vino, located just outside Las Campanas. Chef Mark Connell is making some of the most innovative and delicious food in Santa Fe right now. Make sure to check out any of his pasta dishes — all the pasta from Connell’s kitchen is homemade fresh each day. He uses “00” flour (better known as doppio zero in Italian), a finely ground flour commonly used in Italy for making fresh pasta. Eggs for the pasta are local, and if you’re vegan, Connell can make vegan pasta fresh on the spot. Try his rabbit confit with pappardelle — savory, full of flavor and great for a winter evening.

The last bite

Also don’t overlook spots like Vinaigrette, where owner Erin Wade grows produce year-round in the 1,200-square-foot greenhouse at her Los Portales farm in Nambé. Try the spinach-mushroom salad with sautéed mushrooms, bacon, red onion and hardboiled eggs — chickens from Wade’s farm provide the restaurant with fresh eggs daily.

Be sure to check out Dr. Field Goods Kitchen, where chef Josh Gerwin uses farmers market ingredients and local meats. The enchiladas are to die for, made with local free-range chicken or buffalo, New Mexico red or green chile and local cheese. 

Need a meal on the run? Bang Bite Filling Station Food Truck is a great stop for lunch. Salsas are homemade, with ingredients roasted on site. Try a bowl of black bean and turkey chili, with beans from the farmers market and turkey from Los Lunas, New Mexico.

A selection of classic cheeses at Cheesemongers of Santa Fe

A selection of classic cheeses at Cheesemongers of Santa Fe

If you feel like staying in on an especially cold night, Santa Fe is host to two new markets for high-quality meats and cheeses, The Real Butcher Shop and Cheesemongers of Santa Fe. The Real Butcher Shop features grass-finished, organic and heritage meats and charcuterie and is Santa Fe’s first whole-carcass, farm-direct, producer-owned butcher shop. Cheesemongers of Santa Fe is a specialized grocery store offering more than 100 cheeses, many of which are domestic. Small-scale and farmstead goods are emphasized, and the shop works closely with local and regional producers to stock local products ranging from mustards and chutneys to honey and pickles.

It’s winter. The trees may be bare, the ground hard as stone and the skies a bit grayer, but there’s no shortage of fresh, healthy food in Santa Fe, a food lover’s paradise all year long. 

More Information

Originally published in the Santa Fe, New Mexican’s Winterlife Magazine, November 2014

One thought on “Hearty Feasting Fare

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s