It’s not an ideal morning for the art of brunch when Santa Fe gets our first downpour in weeks. Such a precious ritual is often reserved for blue skies, warm sunlight and patio dining. There’s virtue in that, and as Pride month comes to a close, it’s a stark reminder we need to take our brunch procedure seriously.
With that in mind, I violated said procedure by arriving outside of designated brunch hours far before 11 am. The world was awash in gray skies, but the pastel colors of the Dulce Capital (1100 Don Diego Ave., 989-9966) interior were a welcome hideaway. There wasn’t a need to rush, though people were trickling in at a consistent rate.
“It began as a fundraiser for Santa Fe High’s baseball team, a little while ago,” a staff member told us of the new brunch menu, “and it was this big success. We wanted to try it out to see what everyone else thought.”
Adding brunch is part of a push to increase options for customers while also trying to maintain consistency when it comes to Dulce Capital’s popular baked products. Longtime employee Molly Martinez and her husband Armando purchased the bakery in September 2020 from original co-owners Kirk Barnett and Dennis Adkins (who’d resumed ownership of the bakery after a less-than-stellar period under different management).
The menu remains limited for now with a build-your-own omelette option, classic huevos rancheros, smothered breakfast burritos, cheesy or sweet grits, and French toast formed from dough usually destined to become hand-crafted cinnamon rolls. Thank goodness that dough found other paths: We were some of the first people in, and as a result I have the title of first paying customer to try the new cinnamon roll French toast. I confess I’m a cinnamon roll skeptic—I’ve had one, maybe two in my entire life that I thought were wonderful—so a French toast made from would-be rolls? I was going in hot, but my fears were allayed. The presentation is adorable and the toast itself is topped with strawberries, blackberries and a light snowfall of powdered sugar. Home fries and bacon round out the plate, but I was surprised to find no syrup anyplace—and for the very dish we’re supposed to drown in maple syrup to a degree that would make nutritionists gasp?!
This is where the cinnamon roll idea kicks in. Sweetness from the strawberries and powdered sugar matched with the sweetness of the bread itself. Surprisingly, pleasantly, you don’t need syrup. This was actually well done with a fine crust on both sides, a soft interior and only a light touch of cinnamon mixed in that accented but didn’t dominate the flavor profiles. Given that French toast can often wind up being little more than flavorless, wet bread, this sparked a profound curiosity in me, even if I can’t call it an outright victory for cinnamon rolls.
The bacon was excellent with nary a burn anywhere, but crisp enough to crumble and keep a flexibility that amateur cooks (and even some pros) can’t seem to master. Something about bacon at mom-and-pop enterprises hits different, and though the home fries could’ve spent a handful more minutes cooking to soften up, their rich butter coating helped build a savory flavor that contrasted spectacularly with the sweeter French toast.
Call me basic all you want, but I had to try the breakfast burrito, too, because if a restaurant in Santa Fe cannot master a breakfast burrito, hope is lost for the rest of the menu. The first fears abated when we saw the dish: Like the French toast, its presentation was unexpectedly superb. The smothered red chile didn’t flood the dish to create a soupy mess, and the cheddar cheese didn’t dominate. Plus, the toasted tortilla held its own against the liquid forces until the very end. My dining partner remarked how so many places stuff their breakfast burritos with potatoes to just fill it out, but Dulce Capital doesn’t skimp on the scrambled eggs, offering a fluffy alternative with the proper ratio of toasted, cubed potatoes to give the burrito its fullness. The thin slices of bacon inside are reminders this is as classic as it gets, and though experimental breakfast burritos are cool every now and again, give the world a Tia Sophia’s-like presentation and setup, and you’ll win every time.
I’m also a big proponent of Dulce Capital having the greatest blueberry muffins in town. While the normal baked-goods shelf wasn’t present (so they could focus on the food, the staff told me), they did grace us with mini-muffin versions of that blueberry masterpiece. It feels like a requirement to have at least one pastry in place of a full array of baked wonders. Mini muffins neutralize the sting. And even beyond the food, I couldn’t help but be impressed with how smooth the rollout was. There was no scramble from the staff, nothing to note they weren’t wholly prepared.
Dulce Capital’s new brunch menu isn’t anything fancy, nor is it trying to be. For a first-time brunch program, this is solid stuff. Whether the menu lasts into the future or merely remains a pop-up program is yet to be seen, but if your next Sunday is dreary and grey (figuratively or literally), give Dulce’s new brunch options a try.
Brunch: 9 am-1 pm Sundays.
Regular hours: 7:30 am-3 pm Monday-Saturday