Monday July 8th, 2013
- Dayna and I slept in later than we had planned and got a late start up to Santa Fe. It was such a beautiful day and we saw lots of cool cloud formations on the hour-long drive. This one really reminds me of a dog crouching waiting for someone to throw a ball.
A short drive on Rte. 66 near Santa Fe and we made it! Many thanks to ChiTownDiner
for the parking lot suggestion and all of the wonderful food texts he had sent over the previous days that gave us some inspiration.
Our first stop was for lunch at Cafe Pasqual's
in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. There was a short wait for a table so we poked in a few stores and then upon coming back we had the option of sitting at the communal table in the center of the restaurant. I would highly recommend this option if you have the chance. Not everyone enjoys talking and sharing space with total strangers but it worked for us. We met a number of interesting people, each with their own story to tell. One woman was traveling from Texas up to her summer house in Jackson Hole, WY and always makes this cafe one of her stops along the way. The guy sitting next to Dayna was an actor from L.A. who decided to live in Santa Fe half of the year as the film industry was really picking up in New Mexico. A couple at the end of the table had just gotten married and they were spending part of their honeymoon here. Our server busted my chops when he saw my Boston Red Sox hat.
From the moment I walked in I had a good feeling about this place and the food was just as good as the conversation. It just felt really homey and lived in, like one of those neighborhood institutions that everyone knows about an loves.
The front of the menu.
I started out with some fresh squeezed lemonade.
Dayna ordered the Griddled Polenta with Sauteed Chorizo, Corn and Red Chile (from the menu: Green Chile-Flecked Fried Polenta on a Pool of Red Chile Sauce, topped with Our Chorizo, Roasted Corn Niblets and Two Eggs Your Way). This was very good but I think I'm more of a green chile kind of guy. That red chile was pretty intense!
I had the Smoked Trout Hash (from the menu: A Golden Gruyère Potato Cake with Two Poached Eggs, a Scatter of Smoked Trout and Tomatillo Salsa). I really enjoyed this dish and everything came together nicely.
The side of red chile bacon we ordered was a smoky, salty, spicy, sweet and chewy plate of porky goodness. Dayna is not a big fan of bacon but she really loved this!
We thought about getting the the $11 espresso milkshake for dessert but kept thinking of John Travolta in "Pulp Fiction" and just couldn't justify the cost. We settled on a pair of cookies we spied at the register. A Mexican wedding cookie, like a shortbread with almonds, I think and a chocolate-mint crackle cookie, both of which were excellent though I think the Mexican would be ideal with a cup of tea.
We walked through a small mall area and up to the plaza where we found the RF reviewed Five and Dime General Store
The Frito Pie looks and sounds so tempting but we were so full after lunch that we needed a break so we just walked around the store, picked up some postcards and strolled along the plaza for a while.
I did find these riffs on the party classic Red Solo Cup. Made me think of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKZqGJONH68
(Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup - NSFW)
After working off our lunch with some walking and window shopping we found Roque's Carnitas
cart on the plaza. Available for birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs, divorces, you name it!
And a nod to Roadfood as well!
What is a carnita, you ask?
And Roque himself was manning the grill today, proudly displaying my carnitas.
Dayna and I found a park bench and luckily I remembered the RF review and took plenty of napkins. This was sooooo good! The beef was really tender and had a nice char to it and that salsa was spicy and filled with chunky tomatoes. The peppers and onions were good but at first it reminded me of fajitas, of which I am not a fan, but these were tiny strips that had some good char on them as well. Much like the Chicago Italian Beef or the Philly Cheesesteak, this must be eaten while leaning forward as it is a wonderfully juicy mess and it WILL drip on the sidewalk.
A cool watermelon agua fresca to wash it down. Ahhh!!
It was turning into a pretty hot day and Dayna was starting to overheat a bit to we stopped into this Cathedral to cool off, sit and contemplate for a spell.
A very beautiful place but sorry, no pictures inside which I think is a good idea. Sometimes it's a good thing look upon and take in the environment before us with our own eyes.
It started to rain s we popped into a small mall that CTD had told us about and found Dream Cupcakes, which turned out to be quite good. I think we picked up a Key West and a Chocolate Lovers. We had a nice conversation with the owner who said that he and his wife would be packing up soon and moving the business to Hawaii. I wish them well.
On our way back to Albuquerque, we encountered the strangest thing: a rain storm followed by intense hail (in this pic) then clear skies for a few miles followed by the same intense weather agin for a few more miles. I've never seen anything like it before. The hail was so intense that it was almost impossible to see the lines on the road or the traffic in front of us. I'm usually pretty cool and collected when driving in most conditions but this totally stressed me out.
The one thing I knew I must try before leaving New Mexico was a green chile cheeseburger (GCC) and in a REALLY bad case of Travelin' Man Syndrome
, we arrived in New Mexico just after the RF reviewed Bobcat Bite
had closed at their old location and a few weeks before they would be opening up in their new location AND our dinner the first night was a just a few mile down the same road as the old location. Oh fates, how you tease me!! We had debated where to go for dinner tonight and after a few texts to Wanderingjew and Buffetbuster, we decided to check out the Owl Cafe
. How can you NOT fall in love with a cafe shaped like an owl?
And it's on the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail! Yippee!
Loving all the stools.
And lots of local specialties too.
My eyes honed in on the dessert case when we walked in and I knew a slice of pie was in our immediate future.
The only question remaining was do I get my very first GCC fully dressed (lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard) or naked? I texted my Roadfood spiritual guide, Buffetbuster, for his sage advice. He likes his naked and I was leaning that way too. If I came all the way out here to taste those green chiles I don't want to cover them up with all sorts of condiments. Bun, beef, chiles, cheese and top bun. That's all! This was a really good cheeseburger and those chiles have just the right amount of heat to make their presence known and the lips slightly tingle. I hope to try many, many more one day.
Dayna and I split a slice of apple pie, which was good but paled in comparison to the ones we had at Harry's Roadhouse just a few days before.
Just a bit more to come...