At a battered table in Back Road Pizza (1807 2nd St. 1, 955-9055) a pair of lovers murmur sweet nothings over glorious slabs of pepperoni and cheese under the buzzing glow of the Blue Moon neon sign on the wall. Across the way, a team of women in linen pants and leather mules sip chamomile and plan a baby shower within the cozy, prim dining lobby of the Chocolate Maven (821 W San Mateo Road, 984-1980). Nondescript and industrial at first glance, the heart of the Triangle District is a miniature world of hidden diamond mines.
In a city so dominated by the fluctuating seasons of tourism, small businesses in the area bounded by Cerrillos Road, Second Street and St. Michael’s Drive have their work cut out for them to attract customers. Piper Kapin, owner of Back Road Pizza, points out that her restaurant has been home to regulars who have frequented the cozy dive for 12 years and more. “Little kids have grown up here,” she says. “Loyalty is our biggest foundation.”
The Triangle District has long been a breeding ground for contradictions. Alongside charming little art galleries, yoga studios and bakeries, subsidized housing and lower standards of living have made property damage crimes a considerable threat. Still, local business owners remain optimistic.
“Santa Fe needs to appeal to a lot of different kinds of people—cross-racial, cross-age, cross-gender. Somehow, this red-painted warehouse has achieved that. Seeing these people sitting together is our greatest success,” Kapin says. “We’re lucky to live in such a diverse place as Santa Fe.”
The restaurant has received recognition from the hit television series Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The beloved haunt boasts a billiards loft upstairs and a Pac-Man tabletop console in the corner. Red-and-black checkerboard floors installed after a flood and cleverly phrased signage set a perfect stage for visitors and local characters to sample the TV-honored cuisine.
Another diamond, Iconik Coffee Roasters (1600 Lena St., 428-0996), tucked off Lena Street in the lofts, blends a rich mixture of class and culture in both its cups and ambiance. An atmosphere permeated with the smells of roasting beans and fresh-baked pastries brings a new sense of style to the local java connoisseur.
For those with a more delicate palate, the Chocolate Maven brings mouthwatering sweets and prim, steaming cups of tea to the table. Although a bit pricey, nothing beats a slice of raspberry dark chocolate cake on a day that demands a bit of luxury.
Whether a lemon meringue pie or a meaty pizza, the Triangle District has much to offer to locals and tourists alike. “The more the merrier,” Kapin says. “That way everyone wins.”