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The Fork

You Win Some, You Dim Sum

The ForkMonday, November 30, 2015 by Rob DeWalt

The Fork is a lot like that sandwich you order every week at your favorite restaurant: It's delicious, it brings you comfort and you can't get it anywhere else in town. This newsletter serves up local food events and trends, restaurant news, recipes and much more. This week, we have dim sum dreams on the brain. Do you have some Santa Fe- or New Mexico-related food or restaurant news? We’d love to hear it and share it with our readers. Please send detailed information to And please don't hesitate to invite your foodie friends to the party.

You Had Us at 'Dim Sum'

Santa Fe: Prepare yourselves, because your dining scene is about to get a brand-new restaurant, and it's unlike anything this town has seen before. Former Arroyo Vino restaurant chef Mark Connell has been busy getting ready to open State Capital Kitchen in the space formerly occupied by Infierno (and before that, Café Café) at 500 Sandoval St. Expect the unexpected when the restaurant opens (hopefully) in December. Chef Connell told The Fork that a few design changes are being made in the dining room, and that service will be a highlight of the dining experience. Based loosely on the concept of restaurants like Atlanta's The Gunshow, State Capital Kitchen will focus on cart-to-table service similar to that found in the dim sum houses of China and large metropolitan areas around the world. "The idea is to bring our selections by your table," Connell says, "and let you pick what you want." Nontraditional dim sum should be expected, and a classic menu will also be available. Even better news: The restaurant is determined to support local farmers, ranchers and foragers. While you wait in anticipation of the opening, you can track the progress of the restaurant by visiting its Facebook page.

Powder = Chow

Ski season wouldn't be complete without a little après ski nosh, and for those with a season pass or same-day lift ticket stub from any and all legit New Mexico ski destinations, Fire & Hops wants to reward you for shredding massive powder. Until ski season ends, season pass holders and same-day stub holders get 10 percent off their bill. Look out for new menu items such as red curry sweet potato soup, shoyu ramen and shrimp fritters. And don't worry: Classics like the fried mac 'n' cheese and the green chile poutine aren't going anywhere. Did we mention they also have a rotating stable of 11 craft beers on tap? Insiders tell me they'll even accept passes from Wolf Creek. Paying it forward, one beer and fritter at a time.

Mmm,, Where's the Beer?

Beer and cheese are made for each other. Sure, wine and cheese pairings may garner the most public attention, but Cheesemongers of Santa Fe wants you to know that beer has its rightful place at the cheese table. Enlisting the help of Matthew Zehnder, a manager at Susan's Fine Wine & Spirits and a home brewer on a mission, Cheesemongers of Santa Fe is holding a beer and cheese pairing class TODAY. From the class description on the website: "We'll discuss the basics of joining the two, and progressively taste through a selection of six pairings, elaborating on pairing concepts applicable beyond this tasting. Warning: This class has the potential (and angle) to get nerdy." Our nerd hearts swoon, bathed in brie.

Season for Giving

Kitchen Angels, a nonprofit organization in Santa Fe that provides free, nutritious meals to homebound residents, is inviting volunteers to help them assemble gift baskets on Saturday, Dec. 5, for their homebound clients as part of its Spirit of Giving campaign. You are also invited to donate gifts of all kinds for the baskets. "60 percent of our clients are female," the nonprofit stresses on its website, "and most are 50-plus years old. We also serve about a dozen children. So, we can use most every kind of gift." Contact Kitchen Angels to find out how you can help make the holidays a little bit brighter for some residents in need. Monetary donations are always welcome.

Egg Roll with It

Santa Fe is in the midst of a major Asian-food-delivery drought. Besides the fine crew over at Dashing Delivery, there isn't much hot lo-mein-to-door action going on here. JC's Express (4350 Airport Road, Ste. 15, 424-8889) says it doesn't have to be that way. Just click on the "order now" icon on their website, order your food and then fidget at your front door like a dog waiting for its human to come home. The menu is eclectic: Asian, classic American and New Mexican. Good news: They have a Chinese chef on board for the Asian goods. The business also sports a few sit-down tables and offers takeout.

Grab 'n' Go 2.0

Do you work downtown and can't think of where to get a quick meal? Legendary chef John Rivera Sedlar's Santa Fe restaurant Eloisa (located inside the Drury Plaza Hotel, 228 E Palace Ave., 424-2175) now offers a grab-and-go option. Serving fresh-baked pastries, sandwiches, salads and other goodies, Eloisa is making good use of its downtown location to lure in more walk-in business. SFR reviewed Eloisa in May and will be checking out the takeout experience here very soon. In the meantime, call the restaurant for the day's takeaway options.

Morning Word: Drunk Driver Kills Three

'He needs to pay for what he did,' family says

Morning WordMonday, November 30, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Drunk Driver Kills Three
Another holiday in New Mexico ends with yet another fatal drunk driving accident, despite free ride shares and reduced cab prices. Jacob Jaramillo, 23, was charged with three counts of vehicular homicide after running a red light in Albuquerque early Sunday morning.

Jail Costs
The New Mexico Association of Counties want state lawmakers to meet their legal obligations and financial responsibilities, as more counties around the state struggle to keep up with the cost of housing inmates headed to prison, parole violators and offenders who are jointly supervised by probation and parole officers.

Rethinking Bail
Thomas J Cole reports state judges could deny bail to defendants to protect the community if a proposed constitutional amendment is passed. The New Mexico Supreme Court also wants voters to consider allowing some nonviolent offenders to stay out of jail, even if they don’t have the money or resources to post very low bonds.

‘Sweetheart Deal’ Questioned
Former New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid and her husband, Mike Messina, are under the microscope in Vermont after brokering a deal between a private law practice and that state’s attorney general, who filed a groundwater contamination lawsuit against 29 oil and gas companies. Messina and Madrid deny their donations to Attorney General William H Sorrell resulted in a sweetheart deal.

Report Corruption
Paul J Gessing, the Rio Grande Foundation’s executive director, is encouraging government employees to speak up in favor of honest and ethical government and to expose corruption when they know about it. Gessing suggests:
Public employees at every level of an organization’s hierarchy have the right and the responsibility to ensure government is lawful and proper in its activities. If they see something, they should say something, without fear of retaliation. In that spirit, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed the Whistleblower Protection Act in 2010. 
Secrecy over Transparency
New Mexico In Depth Director Trip Jennings suggests New Mexico lawmakers and government officials appear to prefer secrecy over open government, especially when it comes to capital outlay funding, which isn’t always divvied up fairly, according to analysis by Sandra Fish.

Political accountability
Journalist Steve Terrell suggests politicians and elected leaders could use some good public relations strategies.

Real ID: Myth versus Fact
New Mexico isn’t the only state out of compliance with federal Real ID regulations. Some 28 other states face similar challenges.

Lobos Win
It looks like the Lobos may be headed to a bowl game after all. UNM ran past the Air Force Falcons, 47-35, on Saturday.

UNM Makeover
Lobo Louie will be on the sidelines rooting for the Lobos if they’re invited to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, but it looks like the university is going to be getting a complete marketing  makeover to attract new students.

Patriots Upset
Thanksgiving weekend ended well for Broncos’ fans. Denver topped the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, 30-24, last night in overtime.

Sunshine Daydream
After a cloudy holiday weekend, we’re going to have a lot of sunshine this week. Rain and snow don’t show up in the forecast until Saturday.

This Weekend

Better Black Friday Plans

Weekend PicksFriday, November 27, 2015 by SFR

Holiday Tree Lighting

Festivities start around 3 pm. Volunteers begin lighting 1,000 farolitos around 4:30, and lighting the tree is at 6.

More Info >>

Wise Fool presents Circus Luminous

The local circus troupe swings into action with another installment of its annual, Cirque du Soleil-ish Circus Luminous event.

More Info >>

Moby Dick

It's the Led Zepplin cover band, not that long-ass book no one ever finishes reading.

More Info >>

Nick Warren with Mayrant and Melanie Moore

Warren travels all the damn way from the UK to lay down house and techno tunes and local DJs Melanie Moore and Mayrant warm everyone up with similar jamzorz. Check out this week's music column for an interview with Warren.

More Info >>

Last Sundays with Jazz Explosion

Russel Scharf plays jazz on the last Sunday of the month, with special guests and a special bar menu.

More Info >>

9th Annual Gift Fair

Local artisans sell a wide range of jewelry, up-cycled gifts, books, photography, and more.

More Info >>

Get more information about how to spend your fun days when you sign up for the SFR Weekend newsletter, delivered to your inbox each Friday afternoon.

Questions, Folks?

Restaurant group to hold question-and-answer session to clear any confusion about alcohol consumption during holidays

Local NewsMonday, November 30, 2015 by Thomas Ragan

Tis the season for giving and drinking, and the latest to enter the fray in trying to curb drunken driving is the Greater Santa Fe Restaurant Association, which is inviting the public to a question-and-answer session on Tuesday afternoon.

Some of the state’s highest ranking officials will be present to field questions from the audience, from Gregory Fouratt, the cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, to Pete Kassetas, chief of the New Mexico State Police, and Mike Unthank, superintendent of the Regulations and Licensing Department for the state.

Diana Trujillo, the executive director of the Restaurant Association, says some of the questions could include, “Can I sell a bottle of wine to a single customer to take home?” and “If I’m stopped at a DWI checkpoint and I admit to drinking a cocktail or two, will I be asked to step out of the car to take a sobriety test?”

The session will start at 2:30 pm and end at 4:30 pm, at the Santa Fe Convention Center.

It’s just the latest measure underway to curb the consumption of too much alcohol in the region as Thanksgiving comes and goes and Christmas is upon us before we know it—with 80 proof alcohol to egg along the holiday cheer.

Santa Fe County last week took steps to encourage safe driving, letting residents know that they could dial a cab for a significantly reduced fares, and students in the Pojoaque Valley were out in full force with local cops, placings “sticker shock” labels on booze and wine, reminding adults that they shouldn’t buy for under-age drinkers.

The subsidized rides, courtesy of the New Mexico Liquor Excise Tax, were available on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and another round of reduced fares will be available during the Christmas season, according to county officials.

The county feels the Cab Ride Home Program is effective in lowering drunken driving crashes and fatalities in Santa Fe, along with a stepped-up presence of Santa Fe cops and county sheriff deputies.

“Take a moment to remember that ‘TwoTooMany’ means that you could lose your car to forfeiture if arrested on a second DWI charge,” according to the county press release.

But why run the risk and get charged with one DWI?

County Jail Blues

State shorts county jails money due in face of 100,000 bookings in 2015 fiscal year

Local NewsSaturday, November 28, 2015 by Thomas Ragan

Roughly 35 percent of inmates doing time in county jails are mentally ill—a sign that adult detention facilities in New Mexico have become a de facto form of housing in the absence of state mental facilities and just one of the problems with the cost of incarceration across the state. 

Consider this: There were 100,000 bookings at 27 local detention facilities in New Mexico for the fiscal year 2015, for an average daily population 7,305. That's nearly as many inmates serving in state-run prisons, which logged an average daily count of 7,000 for the same year.

At least a third of the inmates in county lockups spend only two weeks behind bars, says Grace Philips, the general counsel for the New Mexico Association of Counties. But plenty of inmates "languish inside" as they face state charges and transportation to state prisons. It's an amount of time that can last between one month and as long as one year, often leaving the county governments picking up the tab.

Exacerbating the problem is a third of the inmates incarcerated in county detention facilities require psychotropic drugs, claims Philips, who explains that the number was derived from a study last year of Bernalillo County's jail population, which served as a representative example of the entire jail population across New Mexico. 

Now comes the financial ramifications: One dollar in every $3 to house said inmates comes from the general operating fund of all 33 counties in the state. As such, the inmate population has become “a moving target,” Philips says, making the jail population unpredictable as it pertains to costs.

“What it means is that that we’re spending a whole lot of money to lock up a whole lot of people, and that detention facilities in the counties are expensive to run,” says Philips, who plans on releasing a report at a legislative hearing in the Roundhouse on Tuesday, Dec. 1, when the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee convenes. The committee meeting is scheduled to start Monday and end Wednesday.

There's no better gauge of what’s going on at the county level than listening to Philips and the association, which has been on a roll these days in its effort to hold the state accountable for its funding obligation, as it pertains to county detention facilities.

In recent weeks, the association has been convincing county commissions across New Mexico to pass resolutions asking the state to meet its financial promises. By law, the state was to set aside $5 million to help the counties house the excessive number of inmates, but last year’s funding was reduced to $2.9 million, and the year before, only $3.3 million was allocated.

“It’s a legal obligation, not a budgetary one,” Philips says, referring the Detention Facilities Reimbursement Act, passed by the Legislature in 2007. The act created a special fund accessible by all counties to deal with three particular sets of inmates: parole violators, inmates who are sentenced to prison and are waiting to be transferred, and offenders who are jointly supervised by probation and parole officers.

Santa Fe County did its part a few weeks ago, passing the resolution unanimously, but resolutions are a dime a dozen, and its unknown whether the state will step up in the face of greater financial woes. Detention facilities may not be a high priority on the county's list, according to Philips.

In Farmington, San Juan County signed on to the same resolution, which outlined the association's four legislative priorities.

Yet a third of the inmate population in all counties are made up of this trio of individuals, who, Philips says, often languish in the system waiting for trial.

“Some of them sit inside for a long period of time,” she explains. “And they make up a good chunk of the population.”

Philips should know, because she filed a lawsuit against the state in 2006 on behalf of the counties after San Miguel County was having a hard time, financially speaking, housing its inmates, which led the New Mexico Court of Appeals to rule that the state was partially responsible for such detentions, because the state prison system was their ultimate destination.

As a result, though, the county has had to foot the bill, which often includes medical care while inmates sit inside the detention facilities, not to mention the cost of transporting them to and from the courts, all of which adds up, says Philips.

“In reality, the state should be increasing the funding, not reducing it,” says Philips, who has been with the association since 2006; prior to that, she worked for Santa Fe County, where she became a guru in legal matters as they pertain to inmate detention and civil rights.

Just how the Legislature will react during next year’s session, as it relates to the mentally ill jail population along with its financial obligations to the counties, remains to be seen, but the process begins this Tuesday morning in room 322, starting at 9:30 am.

Powder to the People

Santa Fe Ski Basin reporting most snow in two decades, thanks to ‘Godzilla El Nino’

Local NewsWednesday, November 25, 2015 by Thomas Ragan

Get ready to lock and load up on the Santa Fe ski basin. Either step right into the straps, without missing a beat, as you come off the lift, or do the dirty and fall to the ground and grunt as you snap into your snowboard, your stomach the only thing standing between you and the pull of gravity. 

Unless, of course, you gracefully slide off the chair on parallel skis.

The ski season is about begin on Thanksgiving, and basin operators are saying they haven't recorded as much early snow in two decades. As a result, 90 percent of the mountain and 76 of the 79 trails are scheduled to be open, courtesy of 58 inches of snowfall, Benny Abruzzo, president and general manager of Ski Santa Fe, tells SFR.

Abruzzo predicts a very powdery year and a well-attended holiday season to go along with what he says are heavy sales on pre-season passes, which exceed last year's by about 30 percent.

“The snow started out warm and dense and built its way up, so we’re super excited,”  says Abruzzo, who not only runs the basin at 12,000 feet but also gets to make a few of the test runs, one of the perks of the job. “We will have groomed all of the trails, and I anticipate fun powder in the trees. They predicted a Godzilla El Niño year, and so far it looks like the weather service has this one pegged.”

The Pajarito Mountain operators are equally hyped and plan to open the day after Thanksgiving, dubbing the big debut as "White Friday," in a press release issued early Wednesday morning. Just 16 inches of snow have fallen on the Los Alamos mountain, but that hasn't taken away from the excitement.

“This is a historical moment,” says James Coleman, managing partner of Pajarito Mountain. “It’s the first time Pajarito has been able to utilize a significant amount of water from the well system for snowmaking efforts and open earlier than in recent history.”

Located about 40 miles from Santa Fe, Pajarito typically opens on or around Dec. 20, conditions permitting.

At the Santa Fe ski basin, Abruzzo says a bad year sees between 75 to 100 inches of snow, while an average year gets up to 200 inches. The fact that the mountain is already at nearly 60 inches, he claims, is promising. 

"And the season hasn’t even begun," says Abruzzo. "We could be looking at a 300-inch year."

Meantime, where Mother Nature fails, snow-making machines always come to the rescue, picking up the slack. So far, according to Abruzzo, nearly 7 million gallons of water have been converted to snow, adding to the overall base in minuscule sums at the bottom of the mountain.

“It helps to give us super coverage on most of the lower mountain and the main trails and the beginner hill,” he says.

Even as locals get ready to abandon dinner tables and hit the mountain, Texans and Oklahomans, always the first on the hill from now until Christmas, will be reaping the benefits as they snow-plow down the bunny run.

“I expect a great season,” Abruzzo says. “Thanksgiving is just the beginning.”

Morning Word: Independent Ethics Commission Proposed Again

Governor hasn’t decided whether to put it on her agenda for the 2016 Legislature

Morning WordWednesday, November 25, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Bold Ethics Proposal
Democratic lawmakers, according to Steve Terrell, plan to propose ethics and transparency legislation with the goal of “overhauling the state’s campaign finance and lobbyist reporting system, toughening the forfeiture law for corrupt officials and giving some of the secretary of state’s election duties to an independent ethics commission.” According to Deborah Baker, the legislators' ethics proposal will also target the pensions of corrupt officials.

Food Stamp Fraud
Dan Boyd reports Joseph Martin Padilla, a former analyst with the New Mexico Human Services Department, faces five years in prison after he pled guilty on Tuesday to illegally processing food stamp applications for 25 people, including himself. Padilla will also have to pay $181,398.76 in restitution.

Bishops Support Refugees
Syrian refugees headed to the US have the support of New Mexico's three Catholic bishops, who are encouraging residents to write to the president to ask him to expand the administration’s resettlement program.

Coal Divestiture
Peabody Energy, a publicly traded energy company, is shedding its investment in coal in New Mexico and Colorado.

Vote Halts Town’s Incorporation
An effort to incorporate Santa Teresa, on the border with Sunland Park, has hit a snag. Diana Alba Soular reports, “After two closed-door sessions and rounds of legal debates,” Doña Ana County Board commissioners have voted to halt the process. Proponents have wanted to annex their own boundaries and claim Sunland Park can’t provide the services they need.

Tribal Water Problems
It’s 2015, and there’s still not enough clean water on the Navajo Nation, according to a new report. According to Vice News: 
The problem with contaminated water can be traced back to uranium mining, decades ago. Many wells are contaminated and not safe for consumption, which means many residents must travel miles to get water for their homes. 
Rideshare Regulations Considered
If you plan to connect with an Uber driver to get to the airport, you’ll save the hassle and costs of parking, but some are still questioning if there’s enough oversight of the ridesharing company and how it should be regulated in the future.

Holiday Traffic Safety
New Mexico State Police officers are ramping up patrols ahead of Thanksgiving Day to prevent deadly collisions.

We hope you all have a safe and fun Thanksgiving. We’re taking the next four days off, so we’ll see you back here on Monday.

Wax On and On

Encaustic demonstration is continuation of old medium

PicksWednesday, November 25, 2015 by Cole Rehbein

Angel Wynn took her first encaustics workshop about 10 years ago, but the practice has been around for a bit longer than that. Egyptians experimented with the method of painting with melted beeswax in the fifth century BCE, the Greeks picked it up, and it eventually flourished into the medium of choice for Byzantine icons of Jesus, Mary and the saints before it diminished in popularity in medieval times.

With encaustic art once again on the rise, Wynn creates icons of a different sort. She moved to Santa Fe from Idaho four years ago, looking to continue her career in photography and experiment in encaustics. Given the plethora of photographers in the City Different, she wanted to do something more—something unique.

“I’m pushing myself as an artist,” Wynn says. “I’m making magic.”

For now, she’s transforming old stock photography into a sort of underdrawing for the encaustic wax. One of her favorite motifs is the American bison, which she portrays through thick coatings of pigmented beeswax on top of black-and-white photos. The wax gives a soft, translucent effect to the forms, like the shape of something remembered. For her, it’s an icon of the America she knows, a symbol of humble resiliency against all odds.

As Wynn leads SFR on a tour of the Encaustic Art Institute, a nonprofit that moved from the village of Madrid to a spot on Agua Fría in March, it’s clear that encaustics can take on all forms and styles—contemporary abstracts, collages of objects embedded in the wax and delicately detailed portraits hang alongside each other.

“This is the center of the universe for encaustic art,” Wynn says, gesturing broadly across the gallery. She’s one of the 250 members of the institute, which continues to grow­—doubling, in fact, since the move.

Wynn has offered demonstrations and workshops for three and a half years now to further expose the public to the broad world of this ancient artform, while continuing to paint. “People have a lot of positive interest,” she says. “You want to do more.”

Using Photos with Encaustic Wax
1-3 pm Saturday, Nov. 28. Free.
Encaustic Art Institute,
632 Agua Fría St.

Know Your DJs International Edition 2: Back in the Habit

DJ from the UK is sure to slay

Music FeaturesWednesday, November 25, 2015 by Alex De Vore

UK-based house DJ Nick Warren is about the strongest contender for most realistic DJ I’ve ever interviewed. I mean, this dude has international acclaim, a staggering eight releases in the celebrated and ever-expanding compilation album project Global Underground—which has also featured DJ Dave Seaman, who I interviewed awhile back here—and perhaps most importantly he’s, like, super-good looking but still has a sense of humor about the vast world of electronic music and himself. Thank the Lord, then, that he’s coming to Skylight to perform alongside DJs Mayrant and Melanie Moore and that he likes interviews.

I read you’re especially looking forward to playing smaller markets, and you named Santa Fe specifically. Why is that, and do you plan to focus on these smaller towns in the future?
It’s not so much about the size but about the fact there are several places on this tour that I don’t usually get to visit. Everyone has very good things to say about Santa Fe, [and] I am a big fan of New Mexico: the people, food, etc.

How would you describe what you do in one sentence?
I play melodic house and techno with emotion and energy.

You came up in an era when it was necessary to utilize actual, physical equipment. How has the growth of technology affected your job and your creative process?
I did use my laptop for DJing and found it quite a dull experience that lacked energy for me. With the Pioneer CDJs, you can use a USB stick but still mix in a physical way, just as we did on record players, so I find that fun and much more interesting. On the plus side, it’s so much easier to make music on the road or at home on the laptop, which I love to do.

Electronic music can seem confusing, what with endless means of discovery and consumption. How does one make a name for oneself in today’s DJ landscape?
Let’s face it, a chimpanzee could be taught how to DJ (Author’s note: This is meant to be tongue-in-cheek). The skill is in the selection and striving to be original. Always play the music you love and admire. If you follow others or just play music you think will be popular, then you will probably have a very short career. Be true to yourself, and if you are good enough, you will be noticed. Also, producing your own music is a very important part of being a DJ these days.

How would one win over people who are primarily interested in instrument-based music?
There are incredible electronic artists…John Hopkins, Nils Frahm and Four Tet, to name just three. And also incredible, deep and emotional electronic compositions from every corner of the globe. As in all styles of music, you need to delve a little deeper to find the treasures, but it’s well worth the time.

Any advice for fledgling fans who are maybe feeling overwhelmed?
There is a confusing amount of electronic music out there, with a huge selection of genres. My advice is to use the Internet to your advantage. Radio stations such as Proton and Frisky give a good range of styles and genres. Use websites in the same way we would use a record store. Look at artwork and see what grabs your attention and then listen to artists online. is one of my favorite sites to find new sounds.

In a recent Vice piece titled “I Fooled the World into Thinking I Was a Successful EDM DJ for an Art Project,” writer/musician Nadja Brenneisen shed light on how marketing is almost more important than content. She stated that in the beginning of her “career,” she rarely, if ever, played original tracks. Do you think authentic creation matters as much as it once did?
I think it’s silly to underestimate people and their hunger for inventive, forward-thinking music. Of course, you can pretend to be a DJ, as you could pretend to be an actor or writer (Author’s note: He’s on to me!), but Nadja’s experiment was about her and the commercial side of music. EDM is like the fast food of the scene—a Big Mac rather than an organic grass-fed steak. In my music scene, it is very different. If I started playing the style of music that she did, I would soon lose my entire fanbase.

Is there a question you always wish an interviewer would ask?
“Would you like to know every cool place to eat in my city?” would be a great one. Ha ha!

Nick Warren with
Mayrant and Melanie Moore

9 pm Saturday, Nov. 28. $10 presale/$15 door.
139 W San Francisco St.

Take This Giblet and Shove It

Making the case for dining out on Thanksgiving

Food WritingWednesday, November 25, 2015 by Rob DeWalt

One of my most memorable Thanksgivings was spent with a friend in Seattle, eating turkey on bagels while roaming the empty streets of the University District. We hadn’t made reservations anywhere, and we were broke, to boot. And once, when I was a teenager, my mother and stepfather took my brother and me to a fancy-schmancy hotel-resort in Phoenix for the annual feast.

It was then that I developed a taste for the finer things in dining-out Turkey Day life, although most years, for my family and a handful of friends, it’s traditionally a stay-at-home affair. As the only chef in in the brood, there are, of course, high expectations—but I don’t mind it a bit. There are times, however, when I would rather leave the apron at home, ditch the giblet-fiddling and spend Thanksgiving at a real restaurant. Hell, I’d even do the turkey bagel, if I thought I could get away with it.

"There’s this lingering myth in Santa Fe that Thanksgiving dinners at restaurants here are too expensive."

There’s this lingering myth in Santa Fe that Thanksgiving dinners at restaurants here are too expensive, and I think it stems from the heft of wine dinners offered year-round—many of which can launch your meal well into the triple digits. Sure, there may be some restaurants serving super-expensive dinners on Nov. 26, but when it comes to dining out on Thanksgiving here, don’t believe the myth.

The American Farm Bureau released a new report this month placing the median cost of a traditional at-home Thanksgiving dinner at $50.11. per person. Add even more scratch if you’re into heritage turkey, gluten-free bread, catered desserts and organic produce.

I couldn’t weasel my way out of the at-home holiday this year, but as a service to SFR readers, I scoured the local landscape to find a few restaurants serving Thanksgiving grub at or lower than $50 per person. Tax, gratuity and beverages aren’t included here, but just think of that added expense as a replacement for rotting leftovers, having to sit at the kid’s table (which I do every year by choice) and washing all those dishes.

Posa’s El Merendero
3538 Zafarano Drive, 473-3454 and 1514 Rodeo Road, 820-7672

OK, so it’s not a full Thanksgiving meal, but each year around this time, Posa’s rolls out one of its many secret weapons: the turkey tamale. Stuffed with turkey, calabacitas, chile and cheese, these little envelopes of seasonal love may make you swear off a big holiday meal for life…or at least a year. You can’t precisely duplicate my bagel experience in the Emerald City here, because the tamales are only sold by the dozen ($22.69) and half-dozen ($14.02). Is it worth it? You bet your sad-looking, burnt pumpkin pie it is.

Camel Rock Casino
17486A Hwy. 84/285, 984-8414

I know, I know. You’re thinking, Who wants to eat a Thanksgiving feast at a casino? Well, for starters: gamblers, travelers, people on a tight budget, state and Pueblo cops on break and my people-watching-addict lazy ass. Promising all the fixings, the price clocks in at $9.95 per person. And no, it’s not a buffet. The meal will be served in the Pueblo Artist Café as a sit-down affair from 11 am to 7 pm.

Osteria d’Assisi
58 S Federal Place, 986-5858

Leave it to owner Lino Pertusini and his chefs to go the Italian route this year, from vegetable antipasti to Piedmont-style turkey, roasted lamb shank, roasted NY strip with mushrooms, breaded eggplant, soup or salad and a selection of desserts served with vanilla gelato and whipped cream. It’s a steal at $48 per person.

Estevan Restauranté
125 Washington Ave., 930-5363

The newest venture by longtime local culinary legend and former Franciscan monk, chef Estevan Garcia’s eponymous restaurant is situated in the upper floor of Hotel Chimayó de Santa Fe. Free-range organic turkey, rib eye steak with Santa Fe Farmers Market butternut squash soup and red chile demi-glace, atole with New Mexico blue cornmeal, tres leches cake with strawberry-cream icing…damn, check the website for the full prix-fixe menu that costs an even $50.


229 Galisteo St., 989-1919

L’Olivier just oozes that welcoming vibe, which you will hear about more soon, and for Thanksgiving, they’ve cooked up something special. You can get the traditional turkey plate with stuffing, gravy, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, green beans and acorn squash ($27), or hit the “Turduckey” ($30), a generous slice of turkey stuffed with duck, served with duck meat on the side and the same sides mentioned above.

The Fork

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