Our time in the American Southwest was much more than the extensive drives, more than the 3100 miles accumulated on the road. We were eager to sample the food, and specifically, the sustained burst of heat from red and green chiles famously represented in New Mexico. The following are some of our favourite flavours with visuals providing reasons why we were not disappointed and why we have to go back.
- Abiquiú, NM: Purple Adobe Lavender Farm.
- Albuquerque, NM : Mary & Tito’s Cafe.
- Flagstaff, AZ : Satchmo’s.
- Pie Town, NM : Pie-O-Neer Pies.
- Santa Fe, NM : Farmers Market, Posa’s El Merendero.
Abiquiú, NM : Purple Adobe Lavender Farm
We were scheduled for an early-afternoon guided tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s winter home and studio in the town of Abiquiú, 50 miles northwest of Santa Fe. After the tour, we drove 1 mile east from the O’Keeffe Welcome Center to the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm, set out on a beautiful 22-acre farm nestled against the Chama river. Mid-October meant the farm was about to close for the season, but we wouldn’t have known by the warm sunny afternoon. With the café open, we ate and drank some of their offerings with lavender. I can almost smell the lavender through the screen …
Albuquerque, NM : Mary & Tito’s Cafe
The name of the place suggested long-time proprietors, piquing my interest. And then I read about the carne adovada, slow-cooked pork bathed in New Mexico red chiles and simmered for hours. The juicy tender meat is stuffed into a sopapilla which is deep-fried until crispy and golden. With a generous slather of red and green chile (or both ‘Christmas-style’), the carne adovada sopapilla is presented simply on a plate with a little salad garnish. One sopapilla is satisfying, but a one time experience isn’t enough. On our return from Tucson to Santa Fe, we make the mandatory stop in Albuquerque; exit the Interstate and drive up 4th Street; see the sign for Mary and Tito’s Cafe; take our seats and immediately order without the menu; and grin when our order arrives: two unsweetened ice teas, and two carne adovada sopapillas, made fresh and served hot.
Flagstaff, AZ : Satchmo’s
Our hosts in Flagstaff recommended one of their favourites, presenting southern-style cooking in a tiny alcove of a restaurant which is nestled in a nondescript strip mall. Satchmo’s might be easy to miss, but that food should not be missed. Counter staff happily waves us in through the front door like benevolent sirens, and food cooked to New Orleans’ style and flavour is served in a relaxed atmosphere. I like shrimp as a main or entree, and I like tater tots as a side-dish, but here’s the thing: the red beans and rice is slow cooked with andouille. That means this stuff melts like gold with bite after every savoury bite. Obviously, we had to confirm the quality of food with a second visit.
Pie Town, NM : Pie-O-Neer Pies
The moment I discovered the existence of and read about “Pie Town” in north-central New Mexico is the moment I knew we were going to visit. We departed Tucson early in the morning and despite a few stops along the way, we arrived in Pie Town just in time. Even as final customers for the day, we were still warmly received by Stan and Kathy at Pie-O-Neer Pies;. We drank coffee; we ate delicious homemade pie. They were also very generous with their time and conversation, with Stan telling us some history about the town and the café and Kathy inviting us into the kitchen where we watched her prepping to make more pie. We won’t forget how far we drove to come here, but also, we won’t forget this place and their lovely owners.
Santa Fe Farmers Market
We can learn a lot about a city and her people by asking questions at a farmers’ market: what is the local seasonal produce, and what food products are being introduced and highly favoured by residents. At the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, the autumn bounty includes squash, a spectrum of peppers, apples, cucumbers, potatoes, and tomatoes. My friend finds a beautiful wreath made with red chile peppers and a big beefsteak tomato. We also get samplers of locally made organic fruit jam: my 3 little jars are raspberry, raspberry lavender, and red chile raspberry. We get for the road to Albuquerque two coffees, one plum tart, and one peach tart. I learn we haven’t spent enough time or money buying and eating food at the market.
Santa Fe, NM : Posa’s El Merendero
Santa Fe was both entrance and departure city, and from the moment of arrival, I wanted New Mexican and/or Mexican food. Posa’s El Merendero is recommended for their homemade tamales, but I’m easily distracted by things like soft tacos. And because my stomach takes care of all possible thinking, I order “tacos al pastor”. I forget to ask how the meat is marinated, but one bite of the seasoned pork tells me there be red chiles in a slowly simmering flavourful burn. And that’s why there are sides of beans and rice; their delicious homemade corn chips and spicy salsas are wonderful bonuses. It seemed obvious we had to confirm the quality of food with a second visit and an order of fish tacos.
- Albuquerque, NM : Range Cafe Coors – range grilled cheese sandwich, meat loaf sandwich.
- Flagstaff, AZ : Galaxy Diner – “black & brown” float, strawberry milkshake, zucchini sizzlers.
- Marble Canyon, AZ : Cliff Dwellers Restaurant – breakfast burrito, Cliff omelette.
- Taos, NM : Taos Diner II – their massive New Mexican breakfast burrito.
- Santa Fe Bite : closed for good, 2 weeks after our visit.
Santa Fe Bite was listed one highly recommended place for a green-chile cheeseburger in New Mexico. On our final evening in town, we arrived at the restaurant by 6pm, already full with customers and a queue out front beginning to form. We immediately ordered two green-chile cheeseburgers; for extra goodness, I got a strawberry milkshake and we split an extra side order of onion rings. The food was delicious: the burgers were done medium correctly and the green chile provided a great shot of heat; the shake was cool, creamy, and fruity; the onion rings had great crunch. The environment was cozy and welcoming, and the decor was a zany combination of dinosaurs (for the kids) and classic cars (for the kids). Unfortunately, two weeks after our visit, the restaurant closed for good on 26 October 2018. We’re lucky to have been around with good sense to sample their food in time.
I made all photos above with a Fujifilm X70 on 8, 9, 10, 11, 16, and 19 October 2018. The featured photo above is from inside (the former) Santa Fe Bite. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-chZ.