You must try everything once before you're allowed to say you don't like it.

That's the food rule at the Soeiro household. I can relate. That was the rule at my house, too, and I don't intend for it to change for my kids. You can't really develop a true appreciation for food and flavor if you are timid and obstinate.

Nestled inside the back of Mirador Gallery—which currently exhibits Tibetan art and features a small jewelry boutique—sits Dish n' Spoon Café & Gifts, a recent transplant to the neighborhood. Many aspects of the small mom-and-pop eatery are uniquely Santa Fean: owners Sancho and Anna Soeiro (sometimes accompanied by their 8-year-old daughter, Rowan) greet you warmly; the space is small, but colorful and cozy; the plates and silverware are quirkily mismatched; the menu boasts fresh ingredients obtained from the local farmers market; and the adjoining patio offers space to bask in the perpetually shining New Mexico sun.

The menu at Dish n' Spoon is simple and probably considered fairly priced for Santa Fe, especially on Canyon Road. The menu offers several sub-$10 options and includes a variety of salads and sandwiches. Breakfast and brunch items—frittatas, oatmeal, smoothies—are available all day. More traditional café fare makes an appearance as well: coffee, tea and a variety of delicious baked goods to satisfy your sweet tooth.
I paid $15 for a chicken potpie served with a salad, which I believe was the priciest item on the ever-changing "specials" menu, which offers an eclectic mix of foods that demonstrate Sancho's passion for local, national and international flavors. The only constraint—though it doesn't necessarily interfere with diners' experience—is the offsite kitchen, where most of the food preparation actually happens during nonbusiness hours. The on-site kitchen consists of a modest convection oven that helps heat up orders and add finishing touches (like cooking the pie's crust).

Sancho's restaurant career started years ago, assisting backstage at an Ethiopian restaurant. (I was informed that Ethiopian food might eventually make an appearance on the specials menu!) He developed his rich culinary palate through childhood adventures that took him to all areas of the world. Because many of us are unable to travel to expand our senses, part of the beauty of food is its ability to capture a piece of something that would otherwise be totally inaccessible, totally foreign. Sancho genuinely wishes to communicate that beauty through his cooking, the product of which he describes as international comfort food.

Dish n' Spoon's hours of operation generally coincide with those of the neighboring galleries (10:30 am-3 pm), but it closes on weekends. The eatery also offers catering and may be open for dinner in the near future.

I respect hard-working people who make affordable eats in this expensive town. I particularly respect people who do it while supporting other local businesses and making really delicious chocolate chip cookies (really, you should try one!). As a local, I don't often venture in the direction of Canyon Road; I can't really afford most of what it has to offer. But tourists and hungry passersby, who need wallet-friendly and unfussy cuisine, stop in for some home-style eats. And if the specials menu features something out of your comfort zone, I'd advise that you try it—not because it's the Soeiro family rule, but because you might discover something worth experiencing.

Dish n’ Spoon Café & Gifts
Mirador Gallery
616 Canyon Road
Breakfast and lunch, Monday-Saturday