By the time chef Dakota Weiss’ parents moved the family to Santa Fe from California’s Antelope Valley, she was 13 or so—a terrible age to find oneself facing culture shock and potentially infiltrating long-standing friend groups as a newcomer.
“It was a really crappy time to move,” Weiss tells SFR. “At the time, I had blonde hair and blue eyes—I stuck out like a sore thumb, and I got my butt kicked several times.”
Her folks would open Genesis Spas & Pool Supply in the DeVargas Center (it’s still there, with different owners), yet Weiss struggled to find her place when she first turned up in town. She was also a picky eater—a mantle she still claims despite foodservice laurels from around the country, a degree from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona, not to mention a stint on season 9 of the ever-popular Bravo food show Top Chef. She loved to cook, too. But it wasn’t until she was in college that she started expanding her foodie horizons. That’s where she tried a steak for the first time and, she explains, “my tastebuds got woke.”
Today, Weiss is the executive chef at iconic Santa Fe fine dining institution Coyote Café, and, as of four weeks ago, she’s also opened Catch Poke (101 W Marcy St., (505) 303-3653), a glorious bastion of diced fish goodness served up with Asian and Latin influences across numerous proprietary bowls. This follows on the heels of Weiss’ California-based Sweetfin chain of poke joints (her stake in which she’s since sold) and represents much of the reason she returned to Santa Fe in 2021. Four weeks in is pretty early to say such things, but I’m comfortable calling it: Catch is excellent and fills a much-needed gap in our culinary landscape. May it live for a thousand years!
Of course, I’d heard of the excellence from numerous foodie types in recent weeks. If you do something well in Santa Fe, word gets around. Once I’d assembled a crack team to check it out, though, I learned Weiss’ creations are even better than the gossip said. Everything at Catch is $16 (unless you want beef, which clocks in at an extra $3) and well worth it; perusing the menu proved challenging, however, because each item sounded better than the last. Did I want the Hatch green chile shrimp bowl with red cabbage and macadamia nuts? The vegan imposter bowl with plant-based tuna? Everything at Catch is gluten-free, too, so that’s a score for the celiacs and the maniacs.
In the end, I landed on the leche de tigre salmon bowl with fresh fish, avocado, jicama, cilantro and pickled Fresno chile. Catch offers either bamboo rice (think sticky sushi style) or forbidden rice (a chewy and flavorful grain that not only adds complexity to the bowl, but a layered texture).
The champions get a little of both, I assumed, and so I did—though I might stick to the forbidden variety when next I visit as it proved a more notable flavor profile than the other. Otherwise, the bowl was a masterpiece with sustainably sourced salmon from Santa Fe-based seafood supplier, Above Sea Level. Served raw, the fish was clearly the star of the show and expertly prepared by Weiss. Later, she told me how she fell in love with butchery in culinary school, and that while quadrupeds receive most of the love in that regard, the idea can more or less be applied to fish. Served with a healthy splash of Weiss’ own leche de tigre—a tangy and complex sauce of Peruvian origin featuring nearly two dozen ingredients (aji amarillo peppers, citrus and fish juice among them) plus Weiss’ own Asian influence—I found a flavor combination I’d never quite tasted before. Brilliant.
My companions were pleased with their orders as well, including the spicy tuna bowl and the yozu kosho salmon bowl. A melange of avocado, togorashi mayo, cucumbers, seaweed and—no joke—hot Taki chips, the spicy tuna reportedly scratched the spice itch while cutting the heat with subtly sweet mango. Weiss, meanwhile, says sourcing tuna has become complicated and expensive, and to do it ethically, she uses food supplier Shamrock. Like the salmon, it’s sustainably caught.
The yuzu kosho salmon bowl was also scarfed in entirety, from the zesty and citrus-y yuzu-based sauce to the sake-braised lotus root, which added a gratifying crunch with an unexpectedly familiar yet novel taste. The companion who did said scarfing says he’s already eaten at Catch numerous times, and doesn’t see himself slowing down. Weiss, meanwhile, remains cautiously optimistic.
“I kind of like these high desert mountain towns because they aren’t inundated with poke places,” she notes, adding that her partner and so-called poke sommelier, Rich Becker, has made the whole thing possible. “Right now, it’s my baby. Opening a cold seafood restaurant in the dead of winter in a landlocked state is risky, but we’re doing well.” Let’s keep it going.