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Food and Dining

Best of Santa Fe 2010

July 28, 2010, 12:00 am

Best New Restaurant

1 Jambo Café
2010 Cerrillos Road
Jambo Café is that tall, dark, handsome man no one has ever seen before who comes waltzing into some set-in-its-ways pool hall, looks the local billiards champ in the eye, laughs and proceeds to smoothly pocket every ball in quick succession. Except instead of a pool hall, it was The Food Depot’s January 2010 Souper Bowl competition and, instead of winning a game of pool, Jambo Café (led by Kenyan chef-owner Ahmed Obo) whipped up an island spice coconut chicken soup so mouthwateringly alchemistic that the newcomer waltzed away with the Best Soup award (which equals serious bragging rights in this food-obsessed town). Beyond heavenly soups, Jambo brings the flavors of Africa and the Caribbean to Santa Fe via criminally tender jerk chicken, ridiculously savory goat and lentil stew, and obscenely delicious spice-dusted fried plantains. One word to the wise on this hot spot: Get there early. By 5:30 pm, the line of hungry fans typically winds out the door. Our only suggestion to Obo, then, would be to get a space as big as his food is amazing, but we think that would probably be a double-decker gymnasium. (Charlotte Jusinski)
2. Flying Star Café, 500 Market St., Ste. 110, 216-3939
3. Restaurant Martín, 526 Galisteo St., 820-0919

Best Food Cart/Truck/Stand

1 Chicago Dog Express
600 Cerrillos Road
Those paltry little hot dogs from the Sabrett’s stands of urban lore are tasty and all but, when you’re jonesing for a hearty tube steak, they just don’t cut it. Enter Chicago Dog. The friendly, bright blue shack on the corner of Cerrillos Road and Paseo de Peralta serves dogs with serious street cred—and by street cred, we mean heaps of vegetables, meat chili, green chile, condiments and more. Not in the mood for a hot dog? Opt instead for a breakfast burrito or Frito pie. This fare is perfect if you’re on the go but, if you have time to sit, you should sit! The joint’s little concrete patio isn’t the most scenic in the world, but you can rest assured that anyone driving on Cerrillos or Paseo de Peralta will spy you and peg you as someone with fine taste in cuisine. (CJ)
2. TIE: Roque’s Carnitas, E. San Francisco Street and Old Santa Fe Trail
    California Pastrami & More, W. Alameda Street and St. Francis Drive, 316-6303
3. Nile Café and Catering Company, 559 W. Cordova Road, 501-0612

Best New Mexican Restaurant

1 The Shed
113 E. Palace Ave.
There are people who claim they don’t like New Mexican food. They’re rare, but they exist. If you happen to encounter one, make haste to this just-off-the-Plaza eatery. Distract your visitor by pointing out the 200-year-old trumpet vine winding its way around the restaurant’s beautiful patio, and quietly order gazpacho (or our favorite, the cold red raspberry soup), calabacitas and blue corn burritos with red chile. When the dishes arrive, tell your guest it’s not New Mexican food—no, not at all! (See that garlic bread on the side? It must be Italian.) And once they try it and love it and demand to know more, spill the beans. Ta-da! A fan of New Mexican food has been created before your very eyes. The Shed’s fare is truly life-changing: For 53 years, it’s been destroying false notions of what can be done with tortillas and going way beyond the (non-existent) limits of a New Mexican menu. (CJ)
2. Tomasita’s, 500 S. Guadalupe St., 983-5721
3. La Choza Restaurant, 905 Alarid St., 982-0909

Best Local Caterer

1 Cowgirl Catering
319 S. Guadalupe St.
Your sister is getting married. Your favorite uncle is turning 50. Oh and hey, your cousin just got paroled! When it’s time to order out food for a bunch of people, Cowgirl is your place. For 18 years, Cowgirl Catering has served as Santa Fe’s hookup for barbecue and beyond. Anyone familiar with Cowgirl’s menu knows the basics—barbecue chicken falling off the bone, catfish fillets as big as your head, giant steaming pans of butternut squash casserole—but the catering side of the coin offers more than just comfort food. Chef and restaurant partner Patrick Lambert whips up all the usual suspects, plus specialties like saffron risotto cakes with mushroom aioli and asparagus, chicken satay with Thai peanut sauce, hummus, pot stickers, even sushi. The variety is unbelievable and, because it’s Cowgirl, you know you’ll get your money’s worth. (CJ)
2. Walter Burke Catering Inc., 1209 Calle de Commercio, 473-9600
3. Josh’s Barbeque, 3486-A Zafarano Drive, 474-6466

Best Red Chile

1 The Shed
113 E. Palace Ave.
Local Santa Feans are accustomed to the tourist warning on the menus of our favorite restaurants, and The Shed’s menu has it, too: “For those unaccustomed to eating chile, ours is spicy!” Well, of course it is! Why else would one make chile at all? Another thing those unaccustomed to eating chile need to know is this: Chile is not a sauce, a garnish or a condiment to be served along with a dish. It is the dish. So when you get a plate of The Shed’s famous huevos rancheros or enchiladas and you see bits of cheese, beans and rice swimming in a pool of red, it’s not that there’s a ton of chile on the food; it’s that there’s some food in the chile. Whether you’re walking the Plaza on a sunny afternoon and feel like getting just a little hotter, or if a winter night is just too chilly for your liking, The Shed has been warming up three generations of locals and visitors alike with plate after plate of toasty New Mexican goodness. (CJ)
2. La Choza Restaurant, 905 Alarid St., 982-0909
3. Tomasita’s, 500 S. Guadalupe St., 983-5721

Best Green Chile

1 Horseman’s Haven
4354 Cerrillos Road
Horseman’s Haven does not screw around. If you’re gonna eat there, you’d better be hungry and, if you’re gonna eat green chile there, you’d better have a damn high tolerance for capsaicin. In addition to serving trough-sized enchiladas and burgers as big as your face (the buns are large enough to hold a small dog), the Haven has been said to serve the hottest green chile in town. Diners must order by the level (one to five, five being hottest), just so you know precisely what it is you’re getting into. Level one is for casual eaters who have a layer of stomach lining to spare; level two is for people with a pathological addiction to pain; three is for the criminally insane; and we just don’t talk about four and five. In other words: Don’t bring your relatives from Topeka to this little adobe box by the gas station. (CJ)
2. Tomasita’s, 500 S. Guadalupe St., 983-5721
3. Tia Sophia’s, 210 W. San Francisco St., 983-9880

Best Breakfast Burrito

1 El Parasol
1833 Cerrillos Road, 995-8015
298 Dinosaur Trail, 995-8226
Restaurants competing for the designation of best breakfast burrito wouldn’t be too out of line to have a World Cup-style referee on hand to shout, “Burritooooo!” when the winner is announced. Yes, this competition is just that intense. The same small upper echelon of restaurants has been jockeying for the No. 1 spot for a long time now, and this year it’s El Parasol’s turn to claim the honors. The family-owned restaurant, started in 1958 as a taco stand on the side of the highway, now claims top honors as Santa Fe’s favorite Mexican restaurant, so it’s clear that these people know what they’re doing. Order yours without meat (just egg, potato, cheese and chile) or with the traditional bacon, chorizo, ham or sausage. Available seven mornings a week and ringing up at a decidedly un-whopping $3.50 to $4.50 a pop, these burritos make it worth your while to wake up. (CJ)
2. Tia Sophia’s, 210 W. San Francisco St., 983-9880
3. Santa Fe Baking Co., 504 W. Cordova Road, 988-4292

Best Place for Sunday Breakfast or Brunch

1 Harry’s Roadhouse
96 Old Las Vegas Hwy.
There’s something about Sunday that just makes you want to sit at home. Truth is, for those who head to Harry’s on Sunday, it pretty much is like staying at home, only better. The waitstaff is famous citywide for being the best around. The back patio has lush gardens, the likes of which you’ve been trying to grow for years. The rooms of the old house-turned-eatery are cozy—and you’ll probably know the people sitting across the aisle. As for the menu, there are always staples like scrapple (a Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast meat that’s hard to find outside Amish country—you’re welcome) and one hell of a fried potato, but leave it to Harry’s to have great specials for breakfasters on the more adventurous side. Top it all off with a strong cup of coffee and some crunchy sourdough toast, and you’ll soon be in a blissful food coma—but remember, this actually isn’t your house, so you might want to take your slippered feet off the table. (CJ)
2. The Pantry Restaurant, 1820 Cerrillos Road, 986-0022
3. Chocolate Maven Bakery & Café, 821-C W. San Mateo Road, 984-1980

Best Mexican Restaurant

1 El Parasol
1833 Cerrillos Road, 995-8015
298 Dinosaur Trail, 995-8226
As a regular winner in Best of Santa Fe, El Parasol’s two Santa Fe outposts (and its other locations in Los Alamos, Española and Pojoaque) always rank as a favorite with foodies and casual diners alike. In 1958, the restaurant started with the Atencio family selling tacos under an umbrella on the side of the road. Now in 2010, with five locations, the umbrella stand has become a force to be reckoned with in legit, delicious, authentic Mexican and New Mexican food. Admittedly, the line between the two cuisines can get blurry; this restaurant is totally home-grown in northern New Mexico, complete with biscochitos and Frito pies, but the Mexican flavors are undeniable and irresistible. Can’t get enough? Feel free to order in bulk and take home a few quarts of arroz con pollo. (CJ)
2. Mariscos “La Playa,” 537 W. Cordova Road, 982-2790
3. Los Potrillos, 1947 Cerrillos Road, 992-0550

Best Fish Tacos

1 Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill
301 Jefferson Ave., 820-2862
3777 Cerrillos Road, 988-3278
Order a fish taco—or fish burrito, for that matter—from Bumble Bee’s and, with every bite, experience precisely what God meant when He folded mahimahi in a tortilla for the first time. OK, well, maybe it wasn’t God Himself who came up with the slice of heaven on earth known as the fish taco, but it must have been someone else equally as important. Succulent grilled fish or shrimp mingles effortlessly with avocado, cabbage, pico de gallo and a mysterious, creamy yet dairy-free “secret sauce” that we’re surprised hasn’t yet gotten the chef interrogated. All together, the fresh ingredients make for a taste straight off a Mexican beach. If you’re still not satisfied, first you should seek help for the emotional disorder you probably have, then help yourself to Bumble Bee’s salsa bar (we think the citrusy tomatillo is particularly irresistible). (CJ)
2. Mariscos “La Playa,” 537 W. Cordova Road, 982-2790
3. Tune-Up Café, 1115 Hickox St., 983-7060

Best French Restaurant

1 Clafoutis
402 N. Guadalupe St.
Look outside. Isn’t that a sweet little stone cottage down in the grassy hollow? Oh, and look! A milkmaid is hanging ruffled floral curtains out to dry. What a fine day in the French countryside. Oh, just kidding—that’s a crumbling adobe shed down near the arroyo, and your neighbor whacking dust out of the doormats while blasting mariachi music. No matter! At Clafoutis, it’s OK to be a shameless Francophile. Some locals have made it a religion to dine on Clafoutis’ elegant fare and impossibly perfect pastries on a weekly (if not daily) basis, and tourists have been known to forego exploring Santa Fe’s breakfast options to eat at Clafoutis every day of their visits. Forget any preconceived notions of French restaurants—between the cozy interior, casual atmosphere and joyously simple (but never plain) dishes, the uptight fancy-pants French restaurants of yore are out the latticed window. (CJ)
2. Café Paris, 31 Burro Alley, 986-9162
3. French Pastry Shop, 100 E. San Francisco St., 983-6697

Best Italian Restaurant

1 Andiamo!
322 Garfield St.
There’s something to be said for over-the-top, extravagant dining—but that something won’t be said at Andiamo! At the modest 15-year-old restaurant, traditional Italian cuisine is served up simply, with close attention paid to local and all-natural ingredients, a menu crafted from seasonal ingredients’ availability, and some liberties taken with the old-country recipes. Order up the usual Italian fare like lasagna Bolognese, pizza or bruschetta, but save room for more special items like crispy duck legs with spinach, polenta and turnips, or pork tenderloin with capers and mustard. Because of its diverse menu, Andiamo! fills the role of both a place to grab some comfort food, as well as a special spot for celebration and indulgence. At Andiamo! enjoy good food, good company and the good life. (CJ)
2. Osteria D’Assisi, 58 S. Federal Place, 986-5858
3. Pranzo Italian Grill, 540 Montezuma Ave., 984-2645

Best Sushi

1 Shohko Café
321 Johnson St.
Up on the Mount Olympus of tender meats, there’s filet mignon, there are ribs falling off the bone, there’s poached quail. But then, hovering in the clouds, there are graceful little pieces of sashimi and perfectly round hand rolls ruling over them all. Shohko Café is a little piece of the Japanese seashore tucked away in the quiet side streets of downtown Santa Fe. The extensive menu is unique where it needs to be (a Santa Fe roll with green chile tempura or any variety of izayaka Japanese tapas), but sticks to tradition enough for those who judge a sushi restaurant simply by its shrimp nigiri or cucumber-avocado roll. Those who are dining on a budget would be advised to seek sustenance elsewhere, but those who want quality sushi alluringly presented in one of the classiest atmospheres in town need look no further. (CJ)
2. Kohnami, 313 S. Guadalupe St., 984-2002
3. Osaka, 3501 Zafarano Drive, 471-6698

Best Ethnic Restaurant

1 Jambo Café
2010 Cerrillos Road
Educated eaters know that defining Caribbean cuisine is like nailing Jell-O to a tree, so defining Jambo Café’s food as that of any one ethnicity is no easy task. Chef Ahmed Obo of Kenya (who, for the last decade, headed up the kitchen at Zia Diner) brings a concentration on the region’s African influence, but the tastes don’t end there. Curries, coconut sauces, jerk spices, stews and rice pilaf run rampant on the diverse savory menu, which makes fantastic use of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg that are more commonly found in sweet dishes. Much of Kenyan cuisine is also influenced by Indian food, so also look for flatbreads and samosas here, in addition to the myriad other flavors of the Caribbean and beyond (how’d that phillo dough get in there? Or the cucumber with mint sauce?). No one people can claim fried plantains, but we’re tempted to say that Obo has got them down pat. The worldwide influence Obo infuses into each of his dishes makes Jambo Café the perfect choice for Best Ethnic Restaurant because, if you pick any ethnicity, it’s probably represented here. (CJ)
2. Mu Du Noodles, 1494 Cerrillos Road, 983-1411
3. Jinja Bar & Bistro, 510-P N. Guadalupe St., 982-4321

Best Restaurant for Vegetarians

1 Annapurna
905 W. Alameda St.
Whether due to dietary choice or allergic necessity, Santa Fe is full of people who don’t eat certain things. In other cities (we’re looking at you, Deep South), appeasing an herbivore might present a challenge—but here in Santa Fe, vegetarians are downright easy to deal with. It’s the macrobiotic, gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, raw vegan, ayurvedic-obsessed fruitarians with whom we have to contend. Thank Gaia that, for any and all eating habits, we can always turn to Annapurna. Whether serving daily specials, such as vegetable-coconut soup or a tofu, cashew and mushroom quiche, or offering menu staples like heavenly lassi or dependable steamed veggies, this vegetarian chai house is healthy, wholesome and virtually guilt-free. Sadly, the Santa Fe location was nearly destroyed by fire in April 2010. The restaurant hopes to open again in October 2010. Until the Santa Fe location is on its feet again, visit Annapurna’s two Albuquerque locations (2201 Silver Ave. SE, 505-262-2424; 7520 Fourth St. NW, 505-254-2424). The folks at Annapurna have racked up plenty of good karma, so we raise our glasses of dairy-free smoothie to a smooth rehabilitation. (CJ)
2. Mu Du Noodles, 1494 Cerrillos Road, 983-1411
3. BODY of Santa Fe, 333 W. Cordova Road, 986-0362

Best Place to Order a Steak

1 Steaksmith at El Gancho
104-B Old Las Vegas Hwy.
Any restaurant that offers lobster tail on the children’s menu must think very highly of its customers—and judging from how Steaksmith at El Gancho is voted best steakhouse year after year, it’s clear that its customers feel the same way right back. The restaurant does double-duty as a go-to family restaurant (if you can afford lobster tails for your third-grader, of course) and a fine-dining hot spot. While the cuisine is haute, you don’t have to be fancy to fit in here. Going out with old friends? Sure, order a $28 plate of king crab and sirloin, but then order another half-bottle from the hefty wine list and laugh a little too loud at stories across the table. No, scratch that—there’s no such thing as laughing too loud or eating too much. At least not at Steaksmith. (CJ)
2. The Bull Ring, 150 Washington Ave., 983-3328
3. Rio Chama, 414 Old Santa Fe Trail, 955-0765

Best Seafood

1 Mariscos “La Playa”
537 W. Cordova Road
If you’ve ever been to the Mexican seaside, you know that fantastic seafood restaurants line the streets in tourist towns, ready to show those of us from Los Estados the meaning of fresh fish. If you’ve never been to the Mexican seaside, get a taste of what it’s like at Mariscos “La Playa.” From staples like ceviche and tilapia to big old hunks of tiburón swimming—er, drowning—um, served in broth, Mariscos serves it up cold, hot, savory and spicy. Those who know what’s good for them will get adventurous here; do not fear the “special sauce,” and feel free to indulge in all the animals you find creepiest when they’re alive (octopus, shark, what-have-you). It’s all served on a plate piled so high you’re bound to have rice fall overboard—but no matter, you’ll be submerged in deliciousness. (CJ)
2. Steaksmith at El Gancho, 104-B Old Las Vegas Hwy., 988-3333
3. Geronimo, 724 Canyon Road, 982-1500

Best Local Pizza

1 Upper Crust Pizza
329 Old Santa Fe Trail
For the 15th year running, Upper Crust has claimed the top spot for pizza in Santa Fe. Whether you order a pie to bring home to your casa or choose to dine in the cozy adobe rooms of the Oldest Pizzeria (OK, it’s not the oldest pizzeria—but it’s right next to the Oldest House and the Oldest Church) in super-prime downtown real estate country, you’re bound to be treated to the best of the best. Wholesome ingredients start with the basics. The fluffy crust is available either regular or whole wheat, and the sauce is spiced just right. The cheese is just stringy enough to hold everything together, but not so stringy that it makes eating it a circus act. And finally, of course, there are the toppings. Purists can have their pepperoni, extra cheese, vegetables and the like—and lovers of gourmet pizza can dine on pine nuts, sesame seeds, shrimp, salmon, feta cheese and more. Pizza night is no longer the boring night on the family menu. (CJ)
2. Il Vicino, 321 W. San Francisco St., 986-8700
3. TIE:     Back Road Pizza, 1807 Second St., Bldg. 1, 955-9055; 5 Bisbee Court, 474-8188
Rooftop Pizzeria, 60 E. San Francisco St., 984-0008

Best Local Affordable Dining

1 Del Charro Saloon

101 W. Alameda St.
A covered patio crawling with vines, rich leather chairs placed in front of a roaring fireplace, corner booths perfect for intimate conversations and shared plates of nachos—wait, nachos? Yeah, we’re in no high-dollar eatery here; it’s Del Charro Saloon, the restaurant attached to the Inn of the Governors. The saloon serves Santa Fe with burgers, stuffed poblano chiles, big glasses of white sangria and decadent ice cream sundaes—and most of the menu’s items are in the $6-$7 range. While other fancy restaurants charge a small fortune for a paltry serving, Del Charro invites its diners to revel in its comfy dining room or on the stone patio (which features a fire in a fantastic kiva on cooler nights), serves big portions and charges mere peanuts for the experience. Of course, the more drinks you order (no, really—try that white sangria), the higher the bill gets; but for all the money you saved on dinner, you can afford a few more cocktails. (CJ)
2. Harry’s Roadhouse, 96-B Old Las Vegas Hwy., 989-4629
3. Tune-Up Café, 1115 Hickox St., 983-7060

Best Desserts

1 Chocolate Maven Bakery & Café

821-C W. San Mateo Road
No, you’re not going to eat at the vacuum repair place; look just down the road and you’ll find this Santa Fe gem tucked into a truly unassuming industrial building. Once you’re inside, the outside falls away and you’re in the land of succulent grilled chicken sandwiches, plate-sized burritos and—most importantly—more desserts than you could try in a lifetime. The Maven has always been open for breakfast, lunch and brunch and, while it recently opened for dinner as well, some diners believe that the great food is just a gateway to the unbelievable desserts. Pumpkin tarts, margarita cheesecake with tequila whipped cream, tiramisu, orange truffle brownies…The list goes on and on, and each item just sounds more delicious than the one before. In case you were looking for a raise, now you know just the place to get the cake for your boss’ birthday party. We don’t make promises, but we think it would help to pick up a berry Chantilly cake. (CJ)
2. Flying Star Café, 500 Market St., Ste. 110, 216-3939
3. Harry’s Roadhouse, 96-B Old Las Vegas Hwy., 989-4629

Best Grocery Store (Specialty Food or General)

1 Trader Joe’s

530 W. Cordova Road
Trader Joe’s, that nationwide beacon of reliably delicious and cheap food, can be counted on to make it easy to look like you know what you’re doing. Want to impress your guests with a fancy salad? Grab a pre-made salad kit, which comes with greens, dressing and little baggies of nuts or dried fruit or cheese or whatever else the food gods have decided would be good. Celebrating a special occasion? Besides the famed Two Buck Chuck, pick up a bottle of sparkling cider or Italian soda. Had a long day at work and feel like a home-cooked meal? Start with a tray of caramelized onions and cheese on puff pastry or pop a pre-assembled filet of salmon stuffed with crab meat and dill into the oven. Best of all, it’s all crazy inexpensive and easy to prepare (most of it is just heat-and-eat). From produce to cereal, dairy to desserts, TJ’s has it all—just don’t try to shop when you’re hungry. (CJ)
2. Whole Foods Market, 753 Cerrillos Road, 992-1700
3. TIE:     La Montañita Co-op, 913 W. Alameda St., 984-2852
    Sunflower Farmers Market, 199 Paseo de Peralta, 988-1140; 3201 Zafarano Drive, 424-1900

Best Wine List

1 Rio Chama
414 Old Santa Fe Trail
With a 31-page wine list, it would be absurd if Rio Chama didn’t win best wine list. Whether you like to sip on a $16-per-half-bottle Gruet, or a $1,000 shiraz from Australia is more your style, you can drink on the cheap (well, “cheap” is a relative term) or wipe out the bank account, all in one sensually lit room. The award-winning bar staff is on hand to help you figure out which bottle will go best with your meal (and the meal is just as fabulous as the wine), just in case you’re not one of those people who can tell the vintner’s dog’s name simply by sniffing a glass. Rio Chama is also the destination of choice for many high-powered politicians in New Mexico (perhaps due to its proximity to the Capitol complex, perhaps because its adobe rooms full of mood-lighting provide for privacy when necessary), so if you’d like some VIP-watching along with your steak, this is the place. (CJ)
2. La Casa Sena, 125 E. Palace Ave., 988-9232
3. 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar, 315 Old Santa Fe Trail, 986-9190

Best Margaritas

1 Maria’s
555 W. Cordova Road
At Maria’s, margaritas are all about quantity and quality. More than 100 different margaritas are available for the discerning palate (there’s the quantity), and Maria’s uses nothing but real tequila from Mexico (there’s the quality). Any tequila-like liquid must be made in Mexico and must contain at least 51 percent extract from the blue agave plant—if not, the Mexican government has the ability to take legal action, so we don’t want to mess with that. Nor does Maria’s. At Maria’s, you will find nothing but pure, delicious Mexican tequila, premium triple-sec and fresh-squeezed lemon juice (instead of lime). The product of all this careful choosing of ingredients is one powerful, potent and downright perfect margarita. Plus, did you know that, in 2008, scientists figured out how to make actual diamonds from tequila? No, really! Diamonds! All the more reason to down another glass. (CJ)
2. Tomasita’s, 500 S. Guadalupe St., 983-5721
3. Del Charro Saloon, 101 W. Alameda St., 982-4333

Best Cocktails

1 Coyote Café and Cantina
132 W. Water St.
Cocktails are all well and good, but ambiance can make or break even the best watering hole. Who wants to go to happy hour in a sad place? That’s why we have Coyote Café. The restaurant and bar’s renowned rooftop patio over Water Street is the perfect spot to feel high and mighty. As one of the most scenic spots in town, it’s hard to pass up people-watching and a view of the sunset glowing on the cathedral as you down a few after work (or after not working or before working—though we don’t recommend that last one). Drinkers will also be relieved to know that the rooftop Cantina is more affordable when it comes to appetizers and casual dinner. As for the cocktails themselves, there’s a reason they inspire loyalty. The drinks here range from classic and old school (remember when martinis were still made with gin?) to alarming quasi-Caribbean concoctions slow saturated with vanilla bean and other exotic ingredients. Rest assured, from the mundane to the metropolitan to the mysterious, you can find a cocktail with the perfect twist. (CJ)
2. Rio Chama, 414 Old Santa Fe Trail, 955-0765
3. Del Charro Saloon, 101 W. Alameda St., 982-4333

Best Locally Brewed Beer

1 Santa Fe Brewing Company
35 Fire Place
From the New Mexico State Fair to the World Beer Cup to SFR’s Best of Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Brewing Company just keeps taking home the honors. That’s because our town’s favorite brewery just keeps sending out the hits, like the rich State Pen Porter (which took home a bronze metal at the 2010 World Beer Cup) or the robust Santa Fe Pale Ale (Best in Show, 2000 New Mexico State Fair)—not to mention a slew of seasonal beers. But don’t let all those awards make your decision for you; head down to the Brewing Company’s tasting room or, better yet, to the Pub & Grill at Santa Fe Brewing Company, where you can not only get a damn fine
dinner and a pint of suds, but can also take in some great music. (CJ)
2. Second Street Brewery, 1814 Second St., 982-3030
Second Street Brewery at the Railyard, 1601 Paseo de Peralta, 989-3278
3. Marble Brewery Taproom, 60 E. San Francisco St., 989-3565

Best Local Independent Coffee/Tea House

1 Java Joe’s
2801 Rodeo Road, 474-5282
604 N. Guadalupe St., 795-7775
We’re not sure what it is—the altitude, the remnants of Wild West attitude or just another small-town habit—but much of Santa Fe brews its coffee like mud. Marvelously caffeinated mud, but mud nonetheless. Not so at Java Joe’s. JJ’s coffee is supremely drinkable and ultimately delectable, with not a hint of the burned, gritty tastes you may find elsewhere in these mountains. Even if you don’t drink coffee (uh, what’s wrong with you?), the selection of pastries and other drinks, not to mention the free Wi-Fi and great mix of patrons, make Java Joe’s a place for everyone. If you can’t sit down and hang out, hit up the drive-through at the Rodeo Road location; if you have time to chill, bring your laptop and stay a while. No mud-boots required. (CJ)
2. The Teahouse, 821 Canyon Road, 992-0972
3. Ohori’s Coffee, Tea & Chocolate, 507 Old Santa Fe Trail, 988-7026; 1098 S. St. Francis Drive, 982-9692

Best Local Food Event in Santa Fe

1 Santa Fe Farmers Market
1607 Paseo de Peralta
From Manhattan to the Santa Fe Railyard, the surge of farmers markets across the country speaks to a reassuring trend toward local, sustainable farming. If you’ve ever been to the Santa Fe Farmers Market, you’d think the whole town has joined a boisterous, overjoyed, welcoming locavore cult. The best thing about the farmers market—besides the loads of fresh produce and homemade pastries and condiments—is that, if you have a question, typically the farmer is right there in front of you to answer. Why are those cucumbers shaped so funny? Because they’re English cucumbers, and they have much thinner skin than their conventional counterparts, making them much tastier. What’s the best way to serve these pinto beans? Get your pencil ready because you’re likely to get a few recipes rattled off in quick succession. In addition to the bustling markets (downtown in the LEED-certified farmers market pavilion in the Railyard or on the Southside at San Isidro Plaza on Zafarano Drive), the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute also arranges movie nights, chef demonstrations and other events to shed light on the locavore cause.  (CJ)
2. Santa Fe Wine & Chile Festival, Sept. 22-26,
3. New Mexico Restaurant Week, Feb. 28-March 6,


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