In commemoration of our local culinary scene, every September, we compile a highlights reel spanning the interlude between Wine and Chile events. Yes, we know, it’s hard to believe anything happens in the time after—and before—our favorite event of the year… But boy has this been quite the year for the Santa Fe restaurant industry!
Talk-of-the-town State Capital Kitchen rolled into the Railyard area with its killer dim sum-like presentation of small plates, and regular entrée items, too. A must-order is the chocolate sphere dessert filled with ice cream and mousse. Trust us, it’s worth the calories for the fun presentation by Chef Mark Connell, formerly of Max’s and Arroyo Vino, and co-owner Arthur Martel (also formerly of Arroyo Vino).
On the sweet (and savory) side, Biadora Bakery in the Second Street Studios is the real deal, and the aromas wafting from the small shop are intoxicating. Owner Salvador Biadora makes everything from scratch, by himself, including crazy-good macaroons, croissants and other French pastries, muffins, cookies and more. Biadora studied at Le Cordon Bleu, apprenticed with an Italian pastry chef, and ran his own bakery in Manhattan for three years. Delish!
Set your Plaza GPS to 35° North, the latest option to feed and water Santa Fe from one of New Mexico’s most prolific restaurant companies. Santa Fe Dining, parent company of Rio Chama, Blue Corn Cafe and Maria’s, opened 35° North (which refers to Santa Fe’s latitude), a cozy spot for coffee and nibbles. They roast their beans on-site for brewed and pour-over coffees, with a small kitchen and a menu of soups, salads, quiches and baked goods. But if you’re Que-bound, they’ve also opened up shop in Duke City in the Country Club Plaza between Downtown and Old Town.
On Palace Avenue, La Casa Sena welcomes Chef José Rodriguez, who has over 20 years of culinary experience, and has worked alongside some of Santa Fe’s most renowned chefs. Chef Rodriguez says he “is looking forward to honoring La Casa Sena as a Santa Fe institution, while moving it forward with a more casually sophisticated dining experience.” His culinary skills are sure to leave guests wanting more.
Welcome back to Galisteo Bistro Chef/Owners Robert and Marge Chickering! They’re back at the helm after a year in New Orleans. Returning patrons will recognize staff members and menu items, including signature dishes like maple-braised lamb shanks with squash flan, eggplant parmesan, jambalaya, chicken braciole with house-made gnocchi, along with an extensive offering of seasonal tapas, salads and soups. Marge’s dessert creations are also back, and we are delighted.
We also welcomed Chef Edgar Beas to town this year. Chef joins Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, following his most recent position as a chef de cuisine at Madera, the Michelin-starred signature restaurant at Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park. He learned at the knee of Chef Martin Berasategui himself in Spain at Martin Berasategui Restaurant. Chef, Santa Fe is thrilled to have you here!
The Palace Restaurant and Saloon brought in a new executive chef, Evan Doughty, whose Santa Fe experience includes The Old House at the Eldorado Hotel and Quail Run. He’s a Culinary Institute of America grad who owned a restaurant with his wife Jennifer on the Oregon Coast before moving to New Mexico in 2012. Since May, he’s been wowing Palace diners with his original food, seasonal and locally focused menu and hospitality.
Radish & Rye earns congrats for being named No. 5 on USA/Travelers Choice for Top 10 new restaurants in the country last year. And to Cheesemongers of Santa Fe’s Lilith Spencer, who had a win at the Cheesemonger Invitational in San Francisco. Kudos all around!
Great work folks! Santa Fe represented once again in the James Beard Awards. Best chef in the Southwest nominees included Martín Rios of Restaurant Martín, and Andrew Cooper, late of Terra at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado. (Andrew’s now at the Waldorf Astoria in Palm Springs—we miss you, Chef!)
And big props to James Beard best-new-restaurant nominee Chef John Rivera Sedlar and Eloisa, which also happens to be the only New Mexico restaurant noted in the Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s annual America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurant list. This list reflects restaurants where wine, food, service and atmosphere are all integral to the overall experience––with an emphasis on discovery.
And bravo to the Santa Fe area restaurants that topped Wine Spectator’s list this year: The Compound Restaurant, Dinner for Two, Il Piatto Italian Farmhouse Kitchen, La Casa Sena, Pranzo Italian Grill, Red Sage Restaurant at Buffalo Thunder, Restaurant Martín, La Plazuela, and Osteria D’assisi Ristorante Italiano. All were recognized for their impressive wine lists. And rightly so!
Big congratulations to Jennifer Doughty, Chef at Inn on the Alameda’s Agoyo Lounge, on being awarded membership into the highly selective and coveted Chaîne des Rôtisseurs network. She’s one of the first female chefs in Santa Fe to receive the honor. Chaîne des Rôtisseurs membership is by personal invitation and awards membership to top chefs, internationally. At the Agoyo Lounge, Chef Jen prepares custom menus for groups, as well as seasonal specials, an extensive menu, including authentic New Mexican cuisine, based on locally grown regional cuisine, presented artistically, to assure a memorable and nurturing dining experience. Nice work, Chef!
A moment of silence for the closure of the Zia Diner after nearly 30 years. Owner Beth Koch and her wonderful crew were at the very heart of Santa Fe, and the place holds a heaping mouthful of memories for locals. The space however is buzzing with excitement and a new restaurant will be opening soon!
A poignant farewell, too, to Mu Du Noodles, which closed after 21 years in July. Owner Mu Jing Lau thanked patrons for their support and the opportunity to have served them for two decades. We wish you all the best, Mu, and will miss your amazing food.
And it’s the end of an era on Canyon Road, as well, as Santa Fe’s historic El Farol, “Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant and Cantina,” is on the market. We wish owner David Salazar all the best in his next endeavor, but until then, it’s business as usual at the place for flamenco, live music and delicious tapas.
Marcy Street has seen a shuffle of establishments: Ecco Espresso and Gelato moved next to the aforementioned Cheesemongers. Verde Juice took over the old Ecco space, and now offers even more food options. If you miss picking up your Verde juices at Collected Works bookstore, this new, bigger downtown space will fill the void.
La Fonda on the Plaza’s La Fiesta Lounge has undergone a physical and menu makeover this year. La Fiesta is friendly, flavorful and inviting, epitomizing the unique brand of hospitality for which Santa Fe and La Fonda are famous. The sophisticated and welcoming spot features a new coffee bar, new signature cocktails and new food options like salsa and chips flights, deconstructed nachos, and crispy dessert churros with Mexican chocolate dipping sauce. Mmmm, chocolate.
Vinaigrette’s owner Erin Wade has now brought her organic, fresh-from-the-farm salad concept to the heart of Texas. Austinites can now enjoy her gourmet entree salads there! Erin’s going strong with her Santa Fe and Albuquerque locations, with Vinaigrette and sister store Modern General announcing a brand-new catering menu, and the new Vinaigrette salad bar, which features artisanal cocktails!
At the bottom of Canyon Road, Caffe Greco, known for amazing breakfasts and lunches, now offers dinner. The New Mexican-inspired menu, full of family recipes from Chef Cindy Barreras features locally sourced ingredients, fabulous beverages and a funky, only-in-Santa Fe art vibe.
The Santa Fe School of Cooking launched a new culinary walking experience, The Maverick Cookbook Tour, featuring museums, historical restaurants and hotels, and other downtown sites connected to the mavericks in the acclaimed new cookbook. Lynn Cline, author of The Maverick Cookbook: Iconic Recipes and Tales from New Mexico, lead guests back through time, revealing the fascinating stories of 12 iconic figures, from Doña Tules, Billy the Kid and Fred Harvey to Gustave Baumann, Georgia O’Keeffe and more. Check back for future tour dates!
Beloved La Boca Chef James Campbell Caruso is back in the kitchen at sister restaurant Taberna, and continues to feature wine, sherry, beer and ports paired with Taberna’s delicious tapas. The patio’s open with local bands and flamenco nights, too. The restaurant launched a new premier Flight Club for wine enthusiasts, and members receive discounts and premier seating at special events.
David Gaspar de Alba is no longer at Radish and Rye––Kiko Rodriguez left Taberna and is now at Izanami. A long good-bye smooch to Marc Quiñones, who is leaving Luminaria at the Inn & Spa at Loretto for Albuquerque’s El Pinto Restaurant. His last day is Sept. 4, but for much of August he’ll be in Texas doing cooking demos. But of course, our loss is El Pinto’s gain, and we wish Marc all the best!
Award-winning, fine-dining restaurant Geronimo promoted Chef Sllin Cruz to executive chef. After almost two years running the Geronimo kitchen as chef de cuisine, Sllin takes over for acclaimed Chef Eric DiStefano, who unexpectedly passed away in February. Chef Sllin has an impressive pedigree working with the top chefs and restaurants in Santa Fe, including The Compound, Bouche Bistro and Las Campanas. Geronimo has expanded the patio, too, so there’s even more reason to drop in.
The Chef Pages
Kudos to Deborah Madison—already a member of the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America—on winning the coveted James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame award for her body of work that has had a significant and enduring impact on the way we cook and understand food. The Santa Fean’s evocative writing, exacting scholarship and generosity of wisdom has made her several cookbooks true kitchen guides. Madison has published 11 books and has at least two more in the works, many of which have earned individual awards, including three James Beard Book Awards for Vegetable Literacy, Local Flavors, and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
Speaking of cookbooks, Paddy Rawal, chef/owner of Raaga/Modern Indian Cuisine, has released Curry, Korma & Kebab, A Culinary Journey of India. His second cookbook celebrates the best in Indian cooking, featuring recipes beyond the restaurant’s fare. These delicacies, though exotic, are easy to make and a veritable homecook’s delight.
And Jambo Café chef/owner Ahmed Obo has a new cookbook out, too, part of the proceeds from which benefit his Jambo Kids Foundation. The Jambo Café Cookbook, Recipes and Remembrances of my Journey from Africa to America is part memoir and part cookbook. Chef Ahmed shares 70 recipes, including traditional Swahili fare, Jambo Café favorites and completely new creations.
by Kelly Koepke