We have some news you might not love: This is the final Fork of the year. That’s right, buds, we’re off for the next two weeks because of holidays or whatever, so this one is going to have to sustain you until 2024. So, in the spirit of our end-of-year double issue coming up on Dec. 20—the one where our writers celebrate their 25 favorite things about Santa Fe right now—we’re stealing the idea to highlight our favorite dishes in town right now. This is not an all-time list, nor is it meant to be anything other than food for thought. Don’t yell at us. WON’T YOU LET US LIVE?! WON’T YOU, PLEASE?!?
Let’s get into it (in no particular order and with the understanding that some dishes might be similar, so just chill out)!
1. Crunchy Carnitas Tacos @Fusion Tacos
We’ve ordered these a few too many times lately, but getting four tacos with perfectly tender pork carnitas is always a delightful treat. In your face, dishes with three tacos!
2. Veggie Tacos @El Parasol
Most places tend to serve some sad beans and cheese in their veggie tacos, but El Parasol’s proprietary blend of avocado, potatoes and carrots works so well in those crispy shells.
3. Citrus Salmon Bowl @Poki Tako
Though chef Randy Tapia left the CHOMP food hall and just does the truck thing now, if you come across Poki Tako and don’t order this zesty bowl full of fish and rice and veggies, you’re blowing it big time.
4. French dip @Capital Coal Neighborhood Eatery
After our boss wrote a million words about how Dakota Weiss and Rich Becker’s new multi-concept micro food hall rules, we had to try their French dip. The verdict? Might be the best we’ve ever had.
5. Cloud cakes @Café Fina
Restaurant pancakes can be dry, dense and weird, but Café Fina’s Murphey O’Brien’s are thin and moist and flavorful with just the right amount of crispiness at the edges.
6. Fileta crema chipotle @Puerto Peñasco
We don’t hate that most dishes come with fries at this Southside eatery, but the chipotle salsa cream sauce on whitefish haunts our dreams to this day.
7. Greek pie @Pizzeria Espiritu
Kalamata olives, feta, spinach, mozz and Espiritu’s pizza dough, the taste of which we’ve never found anyplace else? Uh, yeah, we’re gonna eat that. In fact, we DID just eat that the other day. It was the only time we’ve ever felt happy even a little bit at all.
8. Cubano sandwich @Dr. Field Goods
Chef Josh Gerwin has done a bang-up job of taking over the old Santa Fe Bar & Grill in the DeVargas Center, and his cubano with pork, ham, mustard and pickles and stuff might be the reigning champ.
9. Breakfast sandwich @Baked & Brew
Owner/bakers Kate Holland and Nicole Appels aren’t open on the weekends (which we super respect, actually), but should you stop by during the week to build your own brekkie sammie from various options, you’ll know why it’s on the list.
10. Umeboshi onigiri @Ozu
Jeff Ozawa and Jamie Lewis’ Lena Street Japanese joint rules all around with a restaurant and grocery options, but this little number with rice and pickled plum is a glorious pick-me-up kinda snack.
11. Sheesh tewook @Cleopatra
With locations both downtown and on the Southside, you can get this glorious marinated chicken dish so easily. Plus, you can make jokes like, “Sheesh tewook good, but not anymore,” or, “Sheesh tewook here, but she moved last summer.” Anyway, We’ve loved this one for decades and will shout that from the rooftops as long as we draw breath.
12. Literally anything @Bread Shop
A rotating sandwich menu means things are always fresh over at Jacob Brenner and Mayme Berman’s place. Get some bread or specialty groceries for home, too, while you’re there; and great coffee.
13. Chicken and waffles @Boxcar
There are fewer places than ever to get chicken and waffles in Santa Fe, so thank goodness for Boxcar’s—especially with the red chile butter on the side. Oooh, baby.
14. Pork belly carnitas @Zacatlán
Over on Aztec Street, you can get one of the finest pork belly dishes around thanks to chef Eduardo Rodriguez. It’s served with a freaking strawberry rhubarb tamal. Do you get how huge that is?!
15. Galbi jjim beef short ribs @Alkeme
The team-up of chefs Erica Tai and Hue-Chan Karels is no joke to begin with, but the slow-braised beef short ribs take six hours to make and about six seconds to eat because they’re so wildly delicious.
16. Frito Pie @Five & Dime
Last summer, SFR sent the intern to try as many Frito pies as he could stomach, and he came back to tell the tale of Five & Dime’s classic option being the best. That’s from a guy who knew nothing about Frito pies, too, so he had no reason to lie. We still love it to this day, too.
17. Fajitas @La Fogata
Don’t be vexed by the sub-street level location of this fine eatery—the sizzling fajitas are some of the most expertly prepared around, and you can also get a drink served in a hollowed-out pineapple.
18. Chicken mole @La Plancha
Chef Juan Carlos Pineda’s mole tastes just like our bud’s grandma used to make, and his proprietary green rice with cilantro and other secret ingredients is to die for. Do note the restaurant moved from Eldorado to the Southside.
19. Green chile corn chowder @Soup Star
Folks will tell you to get the Hungarian mushroom soup at Soup Star, and they’re right, what with its connection to the old Backstreet Bistro, but the green chile corn chowder is a dream of textures and flavors. Thanks, owners Anita Salazar and Miqueas Celote!
20. Creprese burger @Crepas-Oh!
Ummm...a burger served with caprese accoutrements (mozz, tomato, pesto) and served in a crepe? Where the hell has this brilliant blend of sweet and savory been all our life?! God, it’s so good. They have locations in the Railyard and on the Southside (the Southside one is next door to Soup Star, too).
21. Poppyseed bagels @Ouroboros Bagels
You’ll need Instagram to keep up with bagel master Adam Stone’s goings-on, but with his long history of makin’ the hole-iest of bread, it’s worth it. The poppyseed is particularly glorious, but we hear the bialy is excellent, too.
22. Sous vide Kurobuta pork shoulder @La Mama
Our boss was over the moon for this one, so we had to try it, too, and we can safely say that chef Jordan Isaacson’s dish with flash-fried cotija and red chile is worth dying for. We are not kidding.
23. Grilled chicken and avocado sandwich @The Ranch House
Why is chef Josh Baum’s grilled chicken sandwich so good? Like, it’s a chicken sandwich with avocado served on sourdough, and yet it’s easily (EASILY) the best chicken sammie we’ve eaten anyplace. Wild.
24. Leo’s Smackdown burger @Horno
The burger with which chef David Sellers won the Edible Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown that one time. It might be in the bacon-onion patty, honestly, but the brioche bun is so tasty.
25. Three rolled tacos w/guacamole @Burrito Spot
If you want a quick bite that comes in beef, chicken or cheese varieties and you’re in a rush, these tasty little guys are insanely affordable and filling and delicious. That drive-thru action makes it quick, too, even when there’s a crazy line—which is often the case.
So there you have it. Our top dishes in town RIGHT NOW. Not all time, just right now. If you’d like to tell us yours without screaming about how we’re wrong, please do via email@example.com. Remember, too, this whole thing comes to you in no particular order. We only numbered them because we started to lose our place and then we were too lazy to go back and delete all the numbers. See you all in 2024!
-In November, SFR published a cover story about chef Dakota Weiss and her life/biz partner Rich Becker’s Capital Coal Neighborhood Eatery—a micro-concept food hall wherein one restaurant serves items from several concepts. We’re talking French dips, tater tots, spicy fried chicken, Korean BBQ fusion, salads and more. At the time, Weiss and Becker were tooling with the new restaurant, but now, just in time for the end of the year, they’ve announced they’re officially open for business 11 am-8 pm, Wednesday-Sunday. If you’d like to stay informed, follow the Capital Coal Instagram.
-If our bagel suggestion above isn’t enough for all y’all bagel lovers, have you heard about Brothers Bagels? The new biz operates out of Burro Alley’s Chainé, a cookie shop that RULES thanks to owner Chaine Peña. Extrapolating her rulingness, we can only assume Brothers Bagels rules, though we’ve not eaten them bagels just yet, so we don’t actually know. Anyone up for some research can learn more by clicking here.
-Santa Fe’s Beck & Bulow butchery has signed on with LA’s Erewhon grocery chain after some vice president from Erewhon (which we’d always read like “Nowhere” backward, but guess we were wrong, which sort of ruins our plan to make a joke about how that’s also the name of the prison where Nic Cage winds up in the 1997 John Woo masterpiece Face/Off when he’s actually supposed to be John Travolta with Nic Cage’s voice and...actually, just watch the movie, it’s amazing) popped by while visiting Santa Fe. Good on him for getting out of the Plaza area, and good for the B&B boys for makin’ it happen.
-The fine folks at Tomasita’s (the only local restaurant at which we’ve ever eaten honey butter, which seems weirdly like something that should be all over the place around here) are fixin’ to feed the firefolk on Monday Dec. 18. What does that mean? It means Tomasita’s staffers are gonna drop by all nine of Santa Fe’s fire stations to drop off dope-ass lunch come Monday. Love it. We love it so much. We are also down with Tomasita’s and salute their very nice gesture. #FineFolksFixinToFeedTheFireFolk
-Back in April, SFR let all you yahoos know about Wolf & Mermaid Enchanted Roasters, a coffee concept run by the trio of Kate Kudynska and Scott and Johnny Baird. ‘Twould seem they’ve got a new outpost in the Santa Fe Airport these days, which is great news for travelers and great news for a small biz run by very nice people. Capitalism can go to hell, but when a married couple and their brother/brother-in-law just wanna make nice coffee, we’re like, “OK, yeah, we’ll drink that.” Wolf & Mermaid started in Los Alamos, now they’re there and here and over at that other one place (the airport). You can find ‘em inside the Bourbon Grill beside El Gancho just outside town, too!
-A reader reached out to let us know about Little Flower Foods, an adorable biz that offers up handmade tamales (including vegetarian and vegan ones). Throw these on the we-haven’t-tried-them-yet list, but also on the we’re-gonna-try-them list. We love a good tamale.
-Ooowwwwweeeeee, Plantita Vegan Bakery just announced it’ll take holiday pre-orders pretty much right now. That’s right, dweebs, owner/baker Thomas Kamholz is ready to party across a variety of vegan treats, including cherry pie, ginger apple pie, apple cider donuts and more. Check the website for more info and to place your orders—though know you’ll have to get ‘em in by Dec. 20 for pickup on Dec. 23 or 24. There are probably other bakeries doing things, it’s just that Kamholz always reaches out directly when he does this stuff, so that’s cool.
We love you, Welsh people! This is about the only X-mas song that doesn’t make us wish we’d ne’er been born.
-According to Business Insider-dot-com, it would seem that Ron Shaich, the founder of Panera—which is that chain that’s like Subway for assholes who think they’re too good for Subway—thinks workers aren’t motivated by the idea of making more money for the shareholders. Well excuse us, my good bitch, but nobody was ever motivated by that and you’re so out of touch you probably think Ayn Rand wrote fun little romps for cool people. This dude watches The Hudsucker Proxy and roots for Paul Newman. He thinks Scrooged is a horror movie about a reasonable fellow who learns the wrong lesson. Get outta here, bro.
-USA Today breaks down what wines are healthy or not in this-here piece. Now, we’re not a doctor, but we’d guess that despite some folks’ insisting their descending into the world of the wino is good for the heart, moderation is probably key. Spoiler, though? A dry white seems to be the least not-great for people. So...yeah.
-We’re starting to think marketing goobers are reading The Fork and coming up with dumb-ass product ideas just to vex us! This time, it’s a Doritos liquor that somehow smells and tastes like Doritos but, at least according to Food & Wine-dot-com, is not disgusting. Uhhh. Word.
-If you’re a vegan (as some of the more loudmouthed among you most definitely are), you might wanna peep this new guide from Eater-dot-com that breaks down vegan dining pretty much all over the freaking planet. Dang, that’s wild and probably really helpful since most places’ idea of vegan food is, like, the crackers they serve with the non-vegan soups.
-Lastly this week in not-local news (there would’ve been more, but that list up there is long as fuck), Los Angeles poultry processing firm The Exclusive Poultry is under fire recently for hiring kids as young as 14 to work as processors. That’s with “sharp knives,” according to reporting from CNBC-dot-com. Even worse? When investigators showed up to ask questions like, “Do you have 14-year-olds working in here with sharp knives?” higher-ups from the chicken biz hid them in closets and were like, “Naw, man, no kids working with sharp knives here.” We don’t know how many times we have to tell people not to hire literal children, sharp knives or no, but don’t hire literal children. Oh, also, in the wake of this kid-hiring, the firm is pretty much done-zo. Oh, drag, child labor jerks.
A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence
In this week’s print edition of SFR you shan’t find any food coverage, but you’ll be OK because The Fork will never leave you unless you behave badly and then we’ll bring The Knoife back and you can deal with his bullshit. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?!
Number of Letters Received
*People were concerned we’d turn to AI for realsies, and we never will. Of course, for all you know we totally are a robot, though, so...
Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader)
*Like...the old restaurant with that terrifying commercial with the guy in the chicken suit? We don’t know what to make of this exactly since this is the entirety of the email. We love it, though. We do.
Actually Helpful Tip(s)
We got two new recipes to try out and we’ll tell you more about them soon, but thanks to the readers who sent them!
Eat shit, 2023,
P.S. No, seriously, we’re not back until 2024, so we’ll see you then.