Must Try Food in Santa Fe New Mexico

The local cuisine in Santa Fe, NM is unique.  Locals will tell you adamantly that it is “New Mexican” and not Mexican food, and they are very right.

Vibrant, unique flavors and interesting textures permeated my meals while I was visiting Santa Fe.  Here are some ideas about food in Santa Fe , New Mexico that will please your palate!

La Choza Restaurant in Santa Fe, NM:

My first (and best!) meal during my short time in Sante Fe left me almost ready to head to the store to pick up some antacids, which I forgot to pack (you would think that after all of the spicy food that I ate in Thailand, it would have been no big deal, but being pregnant has given me a new respect for hot chiles and what they can do to my digestive system).

La Choza Reastaurant in Santa Fe, NM

I explained to the waitress as she refilled my water glass for the umteenth time that we just don’t have many foods this spicy in Minnesota (we are bunch of Swedish and Norwegian immigrants eating casserole, don’t cha know?)

My meal at La Choza was a perfect introduction to New Mexican cuisine.  It is the sister restaurant to the popular Shed, located in the plaza in the historic district of downtown Sante Fe.

My meal at La Choza, Blue Corn Enchiladas with green chile sauce, Pinto Beans, Carne Avovada and Posole

Unlike its older sister, this restaurant is laid back, easy going and has easy parking.  It was recommended to us by fellow travel bloggers at Santa Fe Travelers who are experts on this unique and historic city (check out their blog for advice on planning  trip to Santa Fe!).

So, lets cut right to the chase.  The food.

Pinto Beans: New Mexican cuisine has raised the humble pinto bean from something easily forgotten as one moves on to the main course to an experience to remember.

The pinto beans were not like the refried pinto beans that you have come to expect in a Mexican restaurant.  They were still whole, and cooked with some delightful spices that were just enough to give them some personality.  The texture was perfect – creamy without being mushy, melting in the mouth.

Posole: I had never had posole before.  Posole is a traditional Mexican stew that is made of hominy corn (field corn soaked in lime, a traditional food preparation technique of many indigenous cultures) cooked with meat (usually pork or chicken), chiles and other spices.  While it had its own unique flavor and personality, the earthy taste of the corn accented all of the other dishes on the plate perfectly.

Posole, a New Mexican favorite at La Choza Restaurant in Santa Fe, NM

Carne Avovada:  Bright red and fiery in both taste and appearance, the flavors of the Carne Avovada exploded like little fireworks on my tongue.

A stew made with pork or chicken cooked with a mixture of chiles and other spices until it is fall apart tender.  It can be served on its own, or as a filling for enchiladas, burritos or other new-mexican staples.

The pork on La Chosa’s Carne Avovada felt like it was melting on my tongue, giving a contrasting softness to the intense flavors of the chiles.

Carne Avovada, a New mexican favorite at La Choza restaurant

Chile Sauce: What would a meal be in Santa Fe without some chile sauce?  I opted for the green chile sauce, as the waiter had suggested that it was less spicy than the red.  It came ladled generously over my blue corn enchilada.

I think that the miraculous thing about chile sauce (and in my opinion, particularly green chile sauce) is its ability to meld and bring out the best flavors in any other food that you serve it with.  When combined with the blue corn of the enchilada and the mild cheese that filled it, it was like a food symphony on my plate, all parts in perfect harmony.

Chile sauce is served abundantly on most foods in Santa Fe.  It can be ordered red, green or Christmas (depending on the restaurant, the red or green chile sauce could be hotter).

Sopapillas: The perfect ending to this meal consisted of a little sweet to balance out the heat that was still lingering in my mouth – a sopapilla.  This is a fried bread that is typical New Mexican cuisine.  It can be unsweetened and filled with savory fillings, or dusted with sugar and cinnamon and drizzled with honey.  Mine was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Sopapillas at La Choza Restaurant in Santa Fe, NM

 

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About Shanna

Shanna is a travel professional in the airline and hotel industries. She lives in Lonsdale, MN and there enjoys cooking and gardening. Her favorite places to travel are Scotland and France. Shanna writes about travel in the Midwestern part of the United States at her blog A Midwest Travel Companion More About Shanna Google

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16 Responses to Must Try Food in Santa Fe New Mexico

  1. Juliann May 16, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Yum!My mouth is watering.

    Plus, I didn’t know you were pregnant. Congratulations!
    Juliann recently posted..It’s An Honor Just Being NominatedMy Profile

    • Shanna May 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

      Thanks! 9 months seemed like such a long time away in November…

  2. Andrea May 16, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    Mmmm – southwest food is so delish!
    Andrea recently posted..Beer In France: A Taste Of the CountryMy Profile

  3. Franca June 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    We both like spicy food (especially Dale), we’ve recently become vegetarians so the pinto beans will defo be on our plates, do you know which vegetarian options were available?

    The Sopapillas looks my kind of thing too, I always need something sweet to happily end my meal :)
    Franca recently posted..Weekend Photo Theme – UNESCO SitesMy Profile

  4. Esther June 12, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    Congratulations! He or she will become a small traveler :) for sure. Love the post. Sopapillas mmm looks good.
    Esther recently posted..Stars, Bucks and Coffee at Schiphol AirportMy Profile

    • Shanna June 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      I hope so! I am either hoping for a great little baby who lives travel, or at least that he will get used to it and it will just be a normal thing (I think travel is a lot more traumatic for babies who only fly once a year or so than for those that fly much more frequently). I love the idea of exposing him to different cultures, right from the beginning!
      Shanna recently posted..Must Try Food in Santa Fe New MexicoMy Profile

  5. Joe @ Cosmic Smudge July 1, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    We’re thinking about doing a western road trip this summer and food will be at the center of it, especially the spicy, Mexican-influenced cuisine you get in those southwestern states. Would love to do Santa Fe, Albuquerque, White Sands and Carlsbad and will definitely put La Choza on our list if we make it to Santa Fe.
    Joe @ Cosmic Smudge recently posted..An ode to America, barbecue and Oklahoma Joe’s burnt endsMy Profile

    • Shanna July 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      It was a great recommendation from my friends at Santa Fe Traveler blog…if you are heading to the area, check out their blog! It is packed with great info!

  6. City of Santa Fe July 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    Great article, we love La Choza and our Santa Fe cuisine! You’ll have to come back and try more of our great restaurants. For more Santa Fe restaurant information, visit http://santafe.org/Visiting_Santa_Fe/Dine/

    • Shanna August 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      I can’t wait to come back and spend more time! A weekend was definitely not enough!

  7. Go Click Travel December 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    I looooove the food in New Mexico! We stayed in Albuquerque for four days on our South West States road trip and did a day trip to Santa Fe. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant we ate at but it was amazing!
    Go Click Travel recently posted..Friday Link Round Up – 6 December 2013My Profile

    • Shanna December 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

      The food was great! I can’t wait to go back and visit some other parts of the state to sample more!

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