In 2015, the Food Network came through Santa Fe with its Great American Food Truck Race. For one weekend, Santa Fe had the chance to jump on social media and find where these visitors were selling their foods. I say “for one weekend” not because Santa Fe doesn’t have food trucks, but because there is little need to find them on any media; our food trucks mostly stay in one spot; many might as well not have wheels.
A lot of this has to do with licensing laws. A quick glance at the law and it seems rational, but then you notice that trucks are not allowed to be downtown unless they're on private property with permission or they park in three specific spots adjacent to the Plaza. Suddenly the appeal of owning one vanishes. This odd provision removes the one element that trucks need to survive: visibility.
Despite what we like to think, Santa Fe isn't really a walking city. Outside of the small footprint of downtown, things quickly become car-centric. This is antithetical to the mission of the food truck. The idea is that you find them on social media and head over quickly before the lines get too long. I'm not about to pretend that you can't drive to a truck on Airport, but there are a lot of restaurant choices before you'd get there.
So, Santa Fe's food trucks find a spot and stay put unless there is a special event to attend. This is also true of our latest entry into the booming food truck culture, Palate (2601 Cerrillos Road, 386-6343), complete with a crafty logo of a sugar skull with artists' palettes in its eyes. The truck's already got a permanent home, it seems, there in Artisan's parking lot. This isn't a dig at them—they are doing the sensible thing in picking a spot and going all in to maximize return customers.
Palate sources much of its menu from local providers such as the Farmers Market and the Old Windmill Dairy. It's something that has become so much of a norm that I am shocked when restaurants don't do it. It's open 7:30 am-3 pm Monday-Friday and 11 am-1 pm Saturday (and you can place a call-in order by phone). They serve breakfast and then switch over to a lunch menu at 11 am. Both menus are an interesting blend of New Mexican and Louisianan flavors; po' boys hanging out with tacos, biscochitos and sautéed shrimp. It's eclectic but doesn't feel haphazard.
The bright orange truck is owned by Chase and Angelica Reed, who chose to quit their corporate lives, open a food truck and have fun again. I love this. I love that their 2-year-old daughter Layla was the first person I saw at the window when I walked up. It felt like they are people living for happiness and that sets a wonderful tone in any context.
They were out of the intriguing eggs Benedict burrito, so I went with the artisan ($8), a fairly basic breakfast burrito with eggs, sausage, hash browns and green chile. What made it a bit different was the addition of goat cheese. The cheese added this wonderful creaminess that I hadn't even realized I needed in a breakfast burrito. The sausage was spicy and seasoned just right and the whole-wheat tortilla added a nice "healthy" vibe. My one complaint is that I wanted it to be a little bigger. But this is true of nearly any hand-held burrito.
I met my friend Lefty there. He went with the breakfast po' boy ($7). This featured fried eggs, bacon, and cheddar on a roll with black pepper aioli. The bread on this was soft and fluffy. The aioli was the highlight. Peppery but not overpowering, it was a nice variation on this overused condiment. The sandwich also carries a ton of bacon, which is always a good thing.
- This is a simple place. In the best way possible.
- The small seating area is just enough, and there are kid’s toys in the corner.
- Artisan is oddly busy at 10 am on a Wednesday.
Palate is worth checking out. I'm already planning on going back to get that Benedict burrito and their lunch menu includes fried chicken po' boys and flash-fried avocado tacos—if the breakfast was any indication, they will be more than worth the trek down Cerrillos. They also have baked goods and homemade lemonade that add to the homey feeling.
I just wish that all the trucks here moved around more. Maybe I'd prefer the trucks in town appear on a big lot that's more like a food truck food court—or perhaps we just need to rethink our laws and let them go where the people are. Palate, meanwhile, is open now, though they will host an all-day grand opening celebration on Aug. 11.
Palate Grand Opening
11 am-7:30 pm Friday Aug. 11. Free.
Artisan parking lot,
2601 Cerrillos Road,