This week, SFR put out our newly updated Annual Manual, a definitive guide to living in Santa Fe. If you haven't picked one up yet, they're wedged in this week's paper and can be found throughout the year near our paper racks or at SFR's offices. But lest you use this tome of hard work only as a reference guide, we're posting an article from it each weekend for your perusal. This week, Zane Fischer surveys Santa Fe's food-cart landscape.---
CartographyFive food carts we know you want to navigate to.
By Zane Fischer
Anyone who's been in Santa Fe long enough to work up an appetite has probably discovered some of our classic food carts. Roque's Carnitas (on the Plaza, seasonally) is an angel of munchable mercy for both hungry tourists and downtown-bound office workers. Chicago Dog Express (600 Cerrillos Road) is not only the best spot for a fully loaded frankfurter, but offers great breakfast burritos and Frito pies. California Pastrami and More (645 W Alameda St.) stays open late on weekend nights. Great Mexican food carts are scattered throughout the city, with increasing density the further south you go. But a few carts are tucked into strange corners; hidden locations are are just so good that we have to remind you to check them out.
Slurp gets a lot of attention for serving grub from a classic Airstream travel trailer converted to a mobile, commercial kitchen, but what you should pay attention to are the soups. Slurp makes three soups fresh each day, including meat, vegetarian and vegan options. The coffee drinks are exceptional, and the Spanish tortilla is a perfect solution to a speedy breakfast. Find Slurp at the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Galisteo Street (603-1800).
Unfortunately for downtown denizens, but fortunately for southsiders and Rodeo Road commuters, Nile Café has migrated form its previous perch at St. Francis Drive and Cordova Road to a spot just south of Richards Avenue on Rodeo Road (501-0612). But the same delicious fresh falafel, gyros and chipotle hummus await foraging foodies. The grass-fed kufta burger is a favorite among fans.
Occasionally found meandering around town and haunting flea markets, Callie’s Cajun is most-reliably discovered between “3ish and 8ish” pm on Old Las Vegas Highway, between the wood vendors’ lot and Tropic of Capricorn. There’s really no other option for a respectable jambalaya, étouffée or po’boy. And the bisque and red beans and rice are equally worth the trip. To order ahead of time (and to make sure it’s where you expect it to be), call 438-7012.
As the name suggests, the Polish sausage is worth a try at this shanty anchored to the parking lot of Big Jo True Value Hardware (1311 Siler Road). The thing hangs a good two inches off either side of a good-sized bun and is pre-sliced into cubes for easy bites even as its integrity is maintained by the casing. Juicy and cooked to perfection, the real secret is to slather the thing in fresh pico de gallo and ketchup. But Mr. Polish is also a tried and true taco and burrito stand, with the chorizo and carne asada consistently delicious. Even if you can find a telephone number, it won’t do you much good, but the stand is reliably open between about 7 am and 3 pm every day but Sunday.
Neither the best nor the most comfortable Mexican taco truck for jittery Anglos with shaky Spanish to approach with confidence, El Tapatio has the miracle of Mexico going for it. It feels exactly the same as pulling up to a dusty taco stand after a long day on the road in Mexico, a feeling abetted by the sparse dirt lot surrounded by chain-link fencing. The staff is exceptionally friendly—even to jittery Anglos—and the menu is a hit list of standards from various Mexican regions: tortas, tacos, cócteles, sincronizadas, etc. For breakfast, you can get the classic juevos al gusto con papas. For a quick snack on the go, try the campechanas—little bites of cheese and meat in fresh-made corn or flour tortillas—with an invigorating salsa. As is traditional, menudo is served on the weekend. Find El Tapatio at 1640 Hopewell St. at the intersection with Sixth St. (501-3421).