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El Farol

October 26, 2004, 12:00 am
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In terms of both cuisine and atmosphere, El Farol is perhaps the most Santa Fe of establishments-bullet holes in the wall abut modern paintings of flamenco dancers, chatty Australian tourists perch atop barstools next to grizzled locals and the centuries-old adobe houses an atmosphere where both modern and old-school are welcome-especially when it comes to the art of tapas. Chef James Campbell Caruso devotes entrée-worthy enthusiasm to his bite-sized treats, and his creations run the gamut between the traditional and simple-Spanish anchovies, salt-cured olives, cured Spanish ham-and the more elaborate, with modern New Mexican touches-chipotle-grilled chicken breast, pork tenderloin with a figgy port sauce or any number of dishes with the best aioli this side of La Mancha. And then there are the ones that defy categorization, such as the slightly weird but tasty fried avocado. If tapas aren't your thing, try one of the big entrées-though El Farol's paella is well-known, we suggest the indulgent herb-y lamb chops, served up with a goat cheese crema. The service sometimes plods at the pace of a Spanish siesta, but you're there to enjoy a languid evening of old-fashioned charm anyway, no?

808 Canyon Road, 983-9912. Lunch and dinner daily. $$-$$$.

SFR Pick: Spanish cheese platter, crispy fried avocado.

 

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