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Santa Fe Restaurants: Round the World on Plates

In a town with 70,000 people, you wouldn’t expect to find such a diverse culinary scene. Santa Fe is a foodie haven, with a collection of restaurants from around the world. You can travel the globe on just a plate. (USA Today and Rand McNally agree, honoring Santa Fe with best small town for foodies.)

Jambo Café
2010 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe

Don’t be fooled by the strip mall location. The restaurant looks smaller than it is, and the interior is beautifully painted and filled with global artwork. The waitstaff is friendly and efficient.

Let’s jump right into dinner. The iced chai was spicy but not overwhelming. The beef skewers with red potatoes, caramelized onions, and greens was… so different than anything that I’ve ever had. It was sweet, had a reddish sauce (red onion and pomegranate) that tickled the tongue. I kept eating it, trying to dissect it further without success, but it was a delightful culinary adventure.

Then, we opted for the mango cobbler. It exceeded all of my expectations: the crumble was crisp and sweet and the mango fleshy. The creamy vanilla ice cream played off the mixed spices on top.

Perks: Limited bar. Plenty of parking.

North African, Santa Fe
Yummy Café 
1616 St. Michaels, Santa Fe

This joint, filled with locals and regulars, can be found on the edge of a strip mall. The service is relaxed, the décor feels authentic, and the menu is large. Best of all, it’s one of the few places in town where you can order Tsingtao beer.

We were first introduced to this super light beer in Beijing. It makes for a refreshing summer beer, and has been around since 1903. The head fizzes up with a grassy, herbal essence – a perfect compliment to thick, saucy foods.

Though we’ve been several times, I continue to return to the lemon sauce shrimp. Cleanse your palate with the provided orange slices, before venturing to the next dish. The sesame chicken is also packed with flavor.

Perks: ample parking, wine, beer and sake are available, and there’s an unhurried atmosphere. For the money, it’s an excellent value.

Asian, Santa Fe
Babaluu’s Cocina Cubana [Sadly, this place has closed.]
3810 Highway 14, Santa Fe County

This little adobe was once a home, and now offers dining and dancing. There’s plenty of parking, live music, themed dinners, a seasonal patio and rotating specials. Note: Most dishes have some kick to them.

The staff is super friendly and the interior, although technically adobe-style, has some Cuban flair with bright coloring and artwork. (You do what you can in Santa Fe with the adobe). There are beer and wine options, along with a few specialty drinks. I highly recommend the Iron Beer, a non-alcoholic, fruity version of Dr. Pepper, with hints of anise or licorice.

The black bean soup had a burst of refreshing cilantro, which was pleasant.

But it was the fish and chips that will draw me back. It came with a creole tartar sauce, which was nicely spiced and not over-powering. A creamy mustard coleslaw, unlike any style I’ve previously tried, accompanied the fish. And the pickles had a slight twist.

The only drawback is that you must be able to tolerate spice, to fully appreciate Babaluu’s. Juliet is allergic to chile peppers – ironic that we live in Santa Fe, isn’t it? – so she opted for the veggie burger. It was of the store bought variety.

Cuban, Santa Fe

Did we miss your Santa Fe favorite?

Lane & Juliet

The writing and photography team behind Southwest Compass, the travel blog for the American Southwest.


The Duo


The Duo

I’m addicted. Every time we go there, that’s what I order. Thanks for stopping by!

The Duo

Funny. I was just reading your Hamilton post. :o)

The Duo

For a smaller city, Santa Fe really packs a punch. :o)

The Wanderfull Traveler

Very cool. I live in a place with over 200,000 people including the surrounding area and we don’t have anything like this. It’s mostly local farm to table type restaurants with the occasional bad mexican restaurant and one cuban spot. Most ethic restaurants don’t last long unfortunately!
The Wanderfull Traveler recently posted..Winter Blues & Shades of GreyMy Profile

The Duo

Santa Fe continues to make “best of” lists for culture and cuisine. We feel very fortunate to live here. Thanks for stopping by!

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