You are what you eat, and us Santa Feans (living in a top food hotspot and all) have the opportunity to eat some pretty sexy food on the regular. Now, on the topic of culinary snake oil, a TON of alleged aphrodisiacs abound.
Here's a mini guide to some good grub that might just lead to a rub:
Mariscos "La Playa"
537 W Cordova Road, 982-2790
Mexican seafood is amazing in general. And as far as aphrodisiacs go, oysters are a tried and true classic. Casanova, the infamous 18 th century lover, supposedly ate 50 of them every morning. Science, naturally, prioritized the "do oysters make you sexier?" controversy, and found that the high levels of zinc in the food have been shown to increase testosterone. A popular appetizer at "La Playa" is ostiones frescos en su 1/2 concha (fresh oysters on a half shell), and there are plenty of delicious main course options—some of which involve bacon.
Savory Spice Shop
225 Galisteo St., 819-5659
Lots of herbs have reputations for evoking romance. Some of the heavy hitters include cinnamon and saffron, the latter used by Cleopatra for its seductive effects. Bay leaves kept lovers faithful (I see your game now, every soup ever), and if you're going for a night of wild abandon, apparently it's all about the cardamom. "Nutmeg evokes a euphoric feeling," Savory's Kate Wheeler tells SFR.
Saffron, she says, is a natural anti-depressant and coco and cacao are known endorphin releasers (more on those bad boyslater.) Savory also sells over 25 varieties of chiles. It turns out our state’s trademark food is considered an aphrodisiac given its ability, like chocolate, to get the endorphin juices flowing. “Capsaicin in chiles is an endorphin releaser, which is why people get so addicted to chiles and become hotheads,” she says. And, unless you’re into the whole Twilight thing, another aphrodisiac might me at your pantry’s reach. “I have also read that garlic is also an aphrodisiac but you have to both eat it,” Wheeler jokes.
Kakawa Chocolate House
1050 Paseo de Peralta, 982-0388
Everyone I mentioned this article to asked "Are you going to write about Kakawa?" which is no surprise as chocolate is one of the undisputed kings of romantic food, and Kakawa doesn't mess around. It is serious amazing and seriously amazing. The drinking chocolates recreate historical recipes, some stretching back to Aztec and Mayan times, cultures that were the first known to eat chocolate. Plus, no one knew romance like the Mayans, because nothing says "I love you" like DISAPPEARING WITHOUT A TRACE. One great offering for the romantically inclined is Tonantzin: "it's a traditional Mexican wedding night drink," explains owner Tony Bennett. "The chocolate keeps you awake and the damiana is an aphrodisiac."
It is also made with vanilla, rose, and almond milk, all on the aphrodisiac list. I tried some and let me tell you, it tastes amazing and I felt crazy energized. They also offer boxes of chocolate for the more traditional, and you hand-pick what goes into them; "that way it's more personalized, but we have some pre-made boxes for guys who come in looking like a deer in headlights," Bennett points out with a smile.
434 W San Francisco St., 982-9966
One aspect of an aphrodisiac should really be the atmosphere it's served it—the aphro-sphere if you will—and Vanessie certainly has this down cold. With live piano music played by virtuoso Doug Montgomery, love is in the air. "The intimacy of just the piano and my voice and the room ambiance make for a memory-making evening," Montgomery says. "I even get the young people in their mid to late 20s whose parents conceived them in the '80s after listening to me during a trip to Santa Fe." Love is also in the food, as they offer some tasty truffled French fries, a creamy artichoke dip (artichoke was actually banned for women in the 16 th century because it was thought to be such a potent aphrodisiac) and lobster tail, which is not known to increase sex drive, but tell that to me while I'm eating it.
121 Don Gaspar Ave., 983-9340
If you're looking at this list and pouting a little because you're thinking, "Where's my traditional New Mexican food? I didn't move here in order to NOT be eating enchiladas right now!" Café Pasqual's will make for a nice compromise. Sure, they serve Southwestern comfort food— tamales, pupusas and tacos—but also provide exotic fare. The desserts in particular are loaded with aphrodisiac goodness. Dates, appropriately, are considered an aphrodisiac, especially when combined with milk. Et voilà! Pasqual's has a date milkshake with vanilla bean ice cream (oh yes, vanilla is also on the list). Plus, it's hard to go wrong on a Valentine's date at a place with a giant bouquet of flowers hanging from the ceiling.