Best Place to Max Out on Minis

Total Wine
3529 Zafarano Drive, 428-4262

Have those people who fought against Total Wine even been in there?

The latest Big Box to hit the Southside is aisles and aisles of adult beverages, and it's so much more than wine. What we find impressive are not the fancy glass cases full of four-figure scotch and the like, but the vast options for minis. You can make any kind of cocktail at a tailgate party, make a gift basket with a few favorite, or just fill your purse with emergency supplies.

The City Council once passed an ordinance intended to ban the sale of these tiny bottles on the basis that they generate litter, but three years ago a state judge struck down that plan. So maybe just don't throw 'em out the window, OK?

There's also good reason here to shout out to another new market that's thriving despite puritanical protest. The new Kelly Liquors (Solana Center, 915 W Alameda St., 954-1399) didn't actually turn the north side into a den of iniquity. The narrow space has lots of local choices to go with that organic meal you just bought the fixings for at the co-op next door. (Julie Ann Grimm)

Best You Can’t Believe It’s Not a Burger

The Impossible Burger

A few years ago, rumors started floating in vegan and vegetarian circles of the existence of a veggie burger that could achieve the plant-based alchemy of tasting like meat, looking like meat, even "bleeding" like meat.

The rumors were true.

The Impossible Burger is the brainchild of a company that isolated an iron molecule present in red meat and figured out a way to grow it in someplace that isn't a cow. Then they … oh, who knows. They did a bunch of science and now this thing looks and acts and, yes, even tastes like a burger.

Santa Fe has two of New Mexico's three locations where you can get one: Midtown's Rowley Farmhouse Ales (1405 Maclovia St., 428-0719) for $14 and down at the Plaza Café Southside (3466 Zafarano Drive, 424-0755) for $12.49. They're worth the trip, even for meat-eaters. Rowley defeats the veganism immediately by serving it up with local cheddar cheese and adds a caramelized onion marmalade, which is delicious, but kind of makes it hard to pin down the taste of the burger itself. The Southside offering is as you'd normally order a burger, and you can build it to your own taste.

Speaking of, three of us on staff have tried it, and it really does taste like almost no other veggie burger out there. It's still not a cowburger, but it's a whole lot better for your psyche … and the cow's. (Matt Grubs)

Best bagel to transport you ALMOST back to the Northeast (like, maybe 68 percent of the way there)

Boultawn's Bakery
105 E Marcy St., 983-9006

Just because mid-Atlantic expats choose to live in Santa Fe doesn't mean that we don't miss the comfort foods of home. I've mostly turned in my chruscik for sopaipillas, but I will never reject a good New Jersey-style staple if I can find it. I assign kind of arbitrary accuracy percentage scores to foods, and turns out the bagel at Boultawn's clocks in at a respectable 68 percent. Chef and co-owner Tawn Dix isn't from New Jersey, but he could have fooled me. Those missing 32 percentage points can mostly be attributed to altitude, which, at 7,000 feet, provides at least a 25-point handicap.

A bagel needs to be chewy, but not uniformly so. The outside should pose some resistance to the bite but never require tearing. The inside should be moist and a little spongy; it should be solid enough that you don't need to eat for at least five hours. Also loyal to New Jersey style, Boultawn's puts on enough cream cheese that you have to scrape some off. They even cut it in half again and give you two sandwiched semi-circles rather than just two stacked discs. It's mid-Atlantic perfection.

The only thing always missing from bagels out here is the salt on an everything bagel. Say it with me now: Salt. Goes. On. An. Everything. Bagel. Salt is part of everything. Put it on there, dammit! (Charlotte Jusinski)

Best salads that resemble works of art

Paper Dosa
551 W Cordova Road, 930-5521

There's a steady stream of diners at Paper Dosa on a Thursday night, and yes, many of them are getting trademark pancakes rolled into large cones that hang off the plate. They're also noshing on what our readers picked as the winner in the Best Curry category.

Yet some of the most lovely plates are in the form of splendid salads. We devoured the peach and avocado version ($9.50) on a recent visits, celebrating the simple art of thinly sliced watermelon radishes exploding around the edge. Each item seemed carefully placed, from the mouthwatering fruit to its pumpkin seed companions. Symmetry and balance are obviously important in how it looks and tastes. (JAG)

Best fucking fries I’ve ever had in my life

Cleopatra Café
418 Cerrillos Road, 820-7381

My brother and I used to visit Cleopatra Café in the Design Center for the sheesh tewook chicken dish. More than anything it was about making killer puns such as, "Oh, Sandra? Sheesh tewook here, but not anymore." But as time went on and I gave up meat, I had to suss out the best in vegetarian options from local eateries.

Generally, like all veggie noobs, one winds up eating pizza and so much New Mexican food it's nuts. But Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare really expand the options, and the food usually feels and tastes so fresh you deserve a treat.

Enter Cleopatra—and we're not even talking about the fantastic falafel, because today? Today it's all about the fries ($3.50). Thick and crispy and seasoned just right with who-even-knows-what, they're practically impossible to beat around here and an unexpected item on a Middle Eastern menu that is, let's face it, basically flawless. (Alex De Vore)