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:
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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).
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.
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.
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.
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.