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.)
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.
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.
Babaluu’s Cocina Cubana
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.
Did we miss your Santa Fe favorite?