It wouldn't be inaccurate to say I've been stalking the vegan breakfast burrito created somewhere on Aztec Street for some time now. Though long past my vegan phase (which, I'll admit, lasted less than a year), I still prefer my burritos without eggs, cheese or meat; the simple combination of vegetables, chile and tortilla somehow seems more pure.
For years, Aztec Café was my go-to spot for vegan stuff (like the weird-but-kind-of-great toasted bagel topped with avocado, hummus and green chile), despite the absurdly long waits, notably unfriendly service and dubious clientele. (I always felt like this one guy was trying to align my chakras just by staring at me.) But then it closed—and opened again (as Aztec Street Café), and closed again, and by the time I'd confronted the little "Sorry, we're closed!" sign on my third attempt in a row, I gave up. Vegan burritos, it turns out, really aren't that hard to make at home.
A few weeks ago, though, I learned that Aztec had reopened—this time as 317 Aztec. Initially, I was thrilled, but I quickly tempered my enthusiasm, warning myself that the hours would probably be odd and—who knows?—it might close again before I had the chance to go. I bided my time, then dragged the man-friend to Aztec one morning before work. Skeptically, he ordered the vegetarian burrito; I, of course, ordered the vegan one.
Before I reveal our results, allow me a quick digression: Man-Friend and I are on totally opposite ends of the health-food, vegetable spectrum. Me: "Let's have kale hash tonight!" Him: "We may as well be eating dirt." Me: "Meatless lasagna?" Him: (long sigh). His favorite foods are pizza, cheese, peanut butter and French fries; for him to say that anything is delicious, it generally must have a pronounced bacon flavor.
So when he described Aztec's vegetarian burrito—eggs, cheese, potatoes, beans, green chile smothered in a spicy, orange-colored sauce—as "pretty good," I took it as high praise. He went a step further, too, calling the cheese "fantastic."
I can only imagine. As he enjoyed his sizeable breakfast, I was chin-deep in my own version of heaven: a vegan burrito stuffed with potatoes, black beans, green chile and what must have been close to a whole avocado. The spicy orange sauce gave the meal a delightful kick, but without the afterburn of a chile overload at, say, the Horseman's Haven. What's more, our orders came quickly, were reasonably priced (two burritos, an Americano and a day-old brownie came to $16.11), and the service was positively friendly.
The new Aztec largely resembles the old, with the same community announcements board (Learn to play guitar! Get your chakras aligned—without some weird guy staring at you!), outdoor patio and cozy, comfortable furniture. With good coffee and free wi-fi, it's only a matter of time before all of Santa Fe starts camping out here
The breakfast and lunch menus offer an array of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, and while my long-awaited burrito was beyond delicious, possibly the best thing the new Aztec has to offer are the large chocolate truffles, handmade by Christianna Uehlein (christiannaschocolates.com). When I went, Uehlein recommended the rose-flavored truffle ($2.95), a decadent serving of dark chocolate with delicate floral overtones.
Clearly, I'll be back. And I wish this iteration of Aztec Café—the friendly, health-conscious yet still delicious version—the best of luck.
317 Aztec St.
Breakfast and lunch daily.