The 2008-2009 Restaurant Guide is here. Destined, I hope, for a creased and crumpled fate, dog-eared and still relevant a year from now—smattered about coffee tables, stuffed in glove compartments, stashed between phone books or beneath gossip rags at the dentist’s office. Your mileage may vary, but either way: It’s here.
In recognition of the fact that the 40 Favorites are, in the end, a motley matter of taste, it makes sense to solicit and celebrate the opinions of others. Here, on the topic of their favorite local dishes, some of the area’s finest chefs and food authorities dish up, spill the beans and, sometimes, offer seconds.
Publisher Kate Manchester of Edible Santa Fe shares in an e-mail, “I LOVE the duck confit ($11) at the bar at Ristra (548 Agua Fria St., 505-982-8608); with a glass of red wine it’s delicious and satisfying on a cool night. It reminds me of Paris. Sarah Wilhelm [at Aztec Café] (317 Aztec St., 505-820-0025) is an amazing cook with a terrific palate. Her brownies ($2.75) are the best I’ve ever had and that’s not easy to say. I do KILLER brownies—then I had one of hers and hung up my hat.”
Pink Adobe manager and wine guru Matt McClinton waxes maniacally about El Parasol (1833 Cerrillos Road, 505-995-8015). “I have to say I am addicted to their chicken, cheese and green chile burritos ($5.40), Fuhgeddaboudit!”
The Teahouse’s Dionne Christian’s vote goes to Maria at Tree House (3095 Agua Fria St., 505-474-5543), who “makes the best cinnamon rolls ($3.95) on earth. I’ll special order a dozen just for me.”
Chef Mu Jing Lau of Mu Du Noodles is also a fan of Tree House for a wholesome vegetarian lunch. “I go out to lunch more than out to dinner,” she says. “Every restaurant has its particular charm, but I like the hamburger with bacon and grilled onions ($8.10) at Bobcat Bite (420 Old Las Vegas Hwy., 505-983-5319) and any of the sandwiches at Torino’s @ Home.(227 Don Gaspar Ave., inside Santa Fe Village Mall, 505-982-4545).”
Chefs Maxime and Daniela Bouneou of Torino’s @ Home favor the chicharron burritos ($6.48) at Posa’s (1514 Rodeo Road, 505-820-7672) and the lengua burritos ($4.50) at the El Chile Toreado cart (adjacent to Big O Tires on Cordova Road). “He stays open until he runs out of meat, so go early,” Maxime warns.
315 and Railyard Chef Louis Moskow delights in Vietnamese food, conceding, “I am a Saigon Café (501 W. Cordova Road, 505-988-4951) guy. They have great spring rolls ($4.50) and chicken salad ($6.95), but my favorite would have to be the egg noodle lo mein combo ($9.50), to which I like to add broccoli ($1).”
The Railyard’s Chris Beck admits, “If I am at 315 (315 Old Santa Fe Trail, 505-986-9190) I cannot turn down the Dutch chocolate pots de crème ($8). With it, I always insist on a tall glass of milk, even though I know it is unconventional.”
Restaurant critic Andrea Lin’s vices include the peanut butter ice cream sandwiches ($3.75) at Harry’s Roadhouse (96 Old Las Vegas Hwy., 505-989-4629), noting, “The cookie is the best part, like a fudge brownie in density and sugar rush.” She also loves the green chile at Horseman’s Haven ($7 per pint, 4354 Cerrillos Road, 505-471-5420).
Chef Lisa Tyrrell of Max’s writes, “I love the Tune-Up Breakfast with chile rellenos ($8.50) at Tune-Up Café (1115 Hickox St., 505-983-7060). It’s succulent and delicious, and it makes me want to lick my plate every time.”
Tune-Up’s Charlotte Rivera raves about Adelita’s (3297 Cerrillos Road, 505-474-4897) fried whole tilapia ($11.95) calling it a “mean…greasy slice of reality.”
Chef Johnny Vee asserts, “A dish Chef Joel Coleman has been doing at Mauka (544-B Agua Fria St., 505-984-1969) is my all-time favorite of the year: Alaskan halibut ceviche ($13)…ethereal level of flavor and texture. It’s all going on in that one dish—fantastic!”
Chef Kim Müller’s is also a fan of Mauka, particularly its Hawaiian poke spring roll ($15), but she also enjoys the The Compound’s (653 Canyon Road, 505-982-4353) classic buttermilk roasted chicken with creamed spinach and foie gras pan gravy ($26), the breakfast quesadillas ($8.95) at Pasqual’s (121 Don Gaspar Ave., 505-983-9340) and the posole ($8.95) at Plaza Southside Café (3011 Cerrillos Road, 505-424-0755).
Another fan of Plaza Southside is Chef Stacy Pearl of Walter Burke Catering. “The hummus platter ($6.95) and the fish tacos ($12.95) there are the best. I don’t know what they put in their hummus to make it so creamy and rich, but it’s fab! The petite filet ($31) at The Bullring (150 Washington Ave., No. 108, 505-983-3328) is a consistent hit with me. The meat is excellent and it’s cooked perfectly and presented on a hot plate. Damn I love hot food!”
As for me, my vote goes to whatever I happen to be eating at the moment.