Sept. 21, 2017
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El Farol

808 Canyon Road
Santa Fe, NM, 87501
505-983-9912 | Website
Neighborhood: East Side

It’s true that Spanish tapas are the most romantic of foods. The Swiss may have their fondues to share, but when it comes to Spanish cuisine—hot or cold—these diminutive servings of fish, meat or vegetables, prepared by capable hands, can turn ordinary outings into extraordinary experiences.

And there’s no place in Santa Fe with the same combination of charm and cuisine as El Farol. The tapas, bocadillos (grilled sandwiches) and entrées, which include perhaps the best seafood paella in town, are somehow made more delicious by the mural-covered walls and creaky wood floors. The pinchos morunos, Moroccan-style pork skewers with harissa, and gambas al ajillo, sautéed garlic shrimp with lime and Madeira, are classics. But they must share the limelight with aguacate, one half of a fried avocado with salsa cruda and lime créma so tasty that it could cause your eyes to roll into the back of your head.

When you regain consciousness, perhaps a tapa fria will perk you up. Consider the escabeche (pickled carrots with garlic, oregano, orange and chile) or jamón Serrano (Spain’s monumentally good salt-cured ham) with mustard. And because we are talking about experiences, no Spanish meal would be complete without Cabrales, a northern Spanish blue cheese, here laced with a touch of honey and almonds, and perhaps a touch of dry sherry to complement the ancient flavors.

When the meal is complete, the helpful staff will happily lead you to the bar area—if you don’t happen to be sitting in it already—to enjoy a cocktail or two and dance off the calories to live music into the wee hours of the morning. (Gabe Gomez)

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