The Fork

The Fork: Caesar salads from hither and thither

Hail Caesar(s)!

Sad news, Forkarinos (TM)—we’re going through a bit of chile crisis. Green chile is right out for us just now thanks to some incredibly un-fun stomach feels that seem to crop up anytime we’re eating anything with the stuff. Red feels less terrible, but terrible still, and this is kind of a serious problem for a chile-lovin’ fool such as ourselves. We burn, we pine, we perish, chile gods, if we achieve not this modest chile. Counsel us, chile gods, for we know thou canst. Assist us, chile gods, for we know thou wilt.

Anyway, the point is this: We’re eating a lot of salads right now and downing probiotics and apples and really hoping that some combination of less spicy/gut biome-forward foods and supplements might aid us, and we’ve got some Caesar salad thoughts from a number of versions we’ve recently consumed.

First off, some history! According to the University of Colorado’s UC Health-dot-org site , there is some question as to who invented the Caesar salad, though most seem to attribute it to this Italian immigrant guy named Cesare Cardini who, on the Fourth of July in 1924, threw together whole romaine leaves with raw egg yolk, olive oil, grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, Worcestershire sauce and a bit of lime juice to create the iconic insalata. Down the road, so many others put their own spin on it (chicken, for example, and anchovies and croutons) that it’s kind of hard to give the gold medal to any one party.

Our favorite? Dressing on the side (because restaurants tend to slather, in our experience); grilled or smoked chicken; light cheese; croutons made from croissants (some places in the world have this, we promise); and a light sprinkling of lemon juice instead of lime.

And so, chile-less and miserable, we tried three local Caesars last week in a quest to crown one our local favorite. We’re aware there are more than three available in Santa Fe; we’re just saying that it’s a start.

Counter Culture ($12; add $4 for chicken)

We know Counter Culture is wildly popular and are the first to admit that if we’re looking for a cinnamon roll, it tops our list. The Caesar salad ain’t it, though, buds. While the dressing is a borderline perfect marriage of tangy and not-quite-sweet, the extra charge for thin-sliced cold chicken feels like a drag. At best, the chicken addition is akin to day-old grocery store rotisserie action, and it just plain isn’t worth it.

Second Street Brewery ($7.50-$10.50; add $4.50 for chicken)

Our current fave Caesar in town right now because it’s simple yet tasty, and the smaller version is the exact right amount of food to curb hunger without leaving one feeling over-stuffed. On the downside, Second Street’s kitchens in the Railyard and on Rufina Street tend to churn out Caesars with a bit too much dressing (it should augment, not dominate, a salad), but the grilled chicken breast is served hot and delicious and seasoned so right. As an aside, and we know we mentioned this last week , you’ll sometimes find a Caesar wrap as a daily special, and that one comes with crispy chicken and avocado; plus you just can’t beat a side of sweet potato waffle fries.

The Ranch House ($5-$8; $5-$11 for chicken, brisket, BBQ glazed shrimp, salmon or top sirloin)

We’ve only tried this particular Caesar once—because usually if we’re going to The Ranch House we’re gonsta (yes, we said “gonsta”) get BBQ something—but it’s a serious contender for one of the city’s best, thanks to its robust add-on options. When we visited for Caesar purposes, we chose the smoked chicken option and discovered a generous bit o’ bird amongst the very fresh romaine and unique cornbread croutons. We’d have to put this one and Second Street’s to the test on the same day to crown a for-sure king.

So where do you go for a Caesar, dear readers? And can anyone give us any other salad recs? Bonus if it’s not Vinaigrette, because everyone already know that place rules the land.

The song that plays in our head when we want a killer salad.


  • Speaking of The Ranch House , did you hear the one about how it and its sister restaurant Rustica (both owned by Josh Baum and Ann Gordon) were temporarily shut down—and during the big-earning Father’s Day, no less—after parties unknown yanked the copper wire from the restaurants’ transformers? Baum made the announcement via Facebook some days ago, though last we checked both spots are back up and running, but it’s still a pretty big hit for a locally owned pair of restaurants. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican , the thieves only made off with 2 feet of copper wiring from The Ranch House’s transformer, but stole roughly 50 feet from Rustica’s.
  • Though many meat-lovers were sad to learn chef Kathleen Crook’s Market Steer Steakhouse would briefly shutting down while moving from its longtime locale at the Hotel St. Francis to the former El Mesón space on Washington Ave., all y’all can rest easy knowing that new fine dining/steak-ish steak house Wolf and Roadrunner opened inside the ol’ St. Francis this week. It’s too early, of course, to cast any sort of goods or bads at the new spot yet, but rest assured we or someone like us will eat there as soon as is reasonable and let you know if it’s good or what.
  • The New Mexico Restaurant Association , which we can only assume is an association for restaurants, opened nominations for its annual Hospitality Industry Awards. In short, the HIAs are meant to celebrate the people who make restaurants so cool. If you know someone who deserves a nom, you can do that through this link .
  • At $250 a pop, tickets for the upcoming Aug. 10 Cultivating Community Luncheon from the Santa Fe School of Cooking might be a little steep for normies, but given that it both comes with an experience at the Farmers’ Market with a local chef, a meal from chef MaryDawn Wright and an emphasis on honoring the late farmer and author Stan Crawford , it might just be worth it. Find tickets here .
  • Hunger is on the rise in New Mexico, according to the Roadrunner Foodbank, whose Director of Communications Sonya Warwick recently told New Mexico Political Report that the lines are dire, as is the ongoing affordability of food for New Mexicans. If you’re reading this in Santa Fe and you’re hungry, check out The Food Depot . Additionally, the Santa Fe Indigenous Center offers regular food distribution for Indigenous folks in the area.
  • Albuquerque chef and The Shop Breakfast & Lunch owner Israel Rivera is headed to the Food Network’s Chopped , one of those shows where chefs make stuff and everyone is mean to everyone else. Rivera’s episode is set to air on June 25 on ye olde Food Network. Know who else did Chopped Fernando Ruiz of Santas Fe’s Escondido. # SantaFeChefsDoItToo ! Anyway, Rivera previously appeared on Food Network Shows like Supermarket Stakeout and Beat Bobby Flay , which we humorously initially read as Beat Off Bobby Flay . If you didn’t know, celebrity chef Flay also appeared on the HBO show Entourage , so you might say he’s kind of gross. In summation, the show is absolutely not called Beat Off Bobby Flay .
  • Say hello to new chef de cuisine Oliver Cortez next time you dine at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi . Cortez has worked for the company since 2011 and will now oversee the hotel’s food, uh, stuff, including at the Anasazi Restaurant, the Anasazi Bar & Lounge and The Patio. We’re here to tell you that you can and should totally eat in hotel restaurants if you have the scratch. SFR’s food writer likes Ortiz at the Hilton as much as we do, and he also says Agave at the ol’ Eldorado Hotel & Spa rules.
  • Despite what Google wants to tell you when you look up The Bonsai Asian Tacos food truck, the mobile and ever-popular eatery is back, baby! You’ll find it at the corner of W Alameda St. and St. Francis Drive. Huzzah!

It’s officially summer as of June 20. Go nuts.

More Tidbits

  • We’re curious about your takes, dear readers, in the case of the Missouri restaurant that doesn’t allow its male customers to be under 35 or its women customers to be under 30. Bliss in Florissant, Missouri, reportedly enforces this rule by carding would-be customers. So tell us what you think about that, huh?
  • A recipe for a watermelon salad with habanero-pickled onions and lime salt? Yes, please. Over at Saveur-dot-com, they’ve got just the thing —that thing we just said. Given the rising temps and the excellence of watermelon, we’re double-down.
  • Lastly in non-local news, NBC News released a harrowing mini-doc this week about food scarcity in Gaza. In the video, NBC follows two families through their daily challenges in finding even one meal a day in war-torn Rafah.

A totally scientific breakdown of The Fork’s correspondence

In this week’s print edition of SFR, the staff spoke to 50 notable locals about the future of Santa Fe as the paper itself turns 50. As such, there’s no regular food coverage, but before we get to the letters, let us just say that we’re thrilled to be part of a paper with 50 years of history.

Number of Letters Received: 27

*Everyone loves Soup Star and recommended it verily. Seriously, so many of you brought it up that we were kind of like, “Dang, we gotta get over there soon.”

Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader):

“Make a sandwich.”

*A rec from reader Jon R. in regards to our call for lunch recommendations, though this really raises a question for us rather than helping us find a cool lunch in Santa Fe: How are we supposed to even do that, Jon?! WITH OUR HANDS?!?

Actually Helpful Tip(s):

“Yes, you should. Family affair. Made at the counter on premises—by hand. Don’t know the all-important milk fat content (they’ve been too busy for me to ask), but it is thick, dense and very tasty. Limited flavors and only cones or cups, but that’s OK.”

*We asked our readers if we should check out the ice cream shop Hello Sweet Cream in Eldorado, and Frank L. has us convinced.

Hail us,

The Fork

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

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