Summer means a lot of outdoor time here in Santa Fe. Most of us like to get out there for a hike, perhaps entertain visitors to town, or just soak in the sunshine. What many of us don't like is doing any of this on an empty stomach—or too full a stomach. Here are some of our favorite places for light bites to keep you powered up for the long days of summer.
Dumpling Tea & Dim Sum
66 E San Francisco St., 945-5000
This little spot in the back of the
Plaza Galeria mall serves up big flavor in small packages. An order of dumplings ($7.99-$8.99) is the perfect light bite for braving the crowds of summer around the Plaza. The offerings here are fresh, handmade and delicious: from soup dumplings to pan-fried potstickers, spicy dan dan noodles ($7.99) to the refreshing gold coin cucumber salad ($5.50). A summery mango or passionfruit smoothie is a choice accompaniment.
219 S Guadalupe St., 982-2565
One of the many things that makes the Cowgirl a local favorite is its giant menu. In particular, there are a couple of items perfect for noshing, even sharing, without getting too full—like the cabeza de ajo ($8), a plate of melted cheese paired with an entire head of roasted garlic and green chile. Piled on crusty bread, it's a tasty snack that will hold you over until dinner. Another is the fried cheese curds, little hunks of deep-fried cheese with a spicy tomato dipping sauce. Easy to share, though you may not want to!
TerraCotta Wine Bistro
304 Johnson St., 989-1166
TerraCotta's extensive wine menu is among Santa Fe's best. It's especially nice if you're just stopping in for a snack, as it offers wines by the glass as well as half-bottle, for those looking to keep things light. TerraCotta's bruschetta ($16) makes an ideal small item to carry you through the day: Choose four from a menu of eight creative options, ranging from seared ahi tuna with Sriracha louie sauce to brie with fig and port jam.
Hervé Wine Bar
139 W San Francisco St., 795-7075
For those looking to escape the sun for a bit while still enjoying the brightness of a Santa Fe summer day, Hervé Wine Bar is a great option. The airy space is beautifully designed with large skylights that filter in the sun and gives off a distinctive European vibe. Snackers can choose a tasting flight of New Mexico-made DH Lescombes and St. Clair wines to pair with a variety of pleasing light bites. These include everything from a shrimp and chorizo appetizer ($7) to salads, panini and the ever-popular bruschetta ($15); choose four from eight types, which include sweet and spicy pepper jam with Old Windmill goat cheese, or crispy salumi and roasted grapes with Old Windmill goat cheese and local lavender-infused honey.
Original: 72 W Marcy St., 982-3433
Taberna: 125 Lincoln Ave., 988-7102
La Boca is a tapas place, so ideal for a light bite. In summer, the small space expands with the opening of Taberna's courtyard. Eight-time James Beard award nominee chef James Campbell Caruso pleases snackers with a wide assortment of Spanish and Mediterranean-inspired bites. Favorites include the crispy-creamy patatas bravas ($9); mejillons (black mussels in salsa verde, parsley, garlic, spinach, lime, and jalapenos) ($14); and the alcachofas, grilled artichokes with Spanish goat cheese, orange zest and mint ($15).
Black Bird Saloon
28 Main St., Cerrillos, 438-1821
A trip outside the city is always made better when you know you've got a great place to stop for a snack, and the Black Bird Saloon in Cerrillos is definitely worth a detour. Enjoy a cold beer on the patio and snack on one of many delicious housemade options such as the grilled game sausage duel, venison and rabbit sausage with blueberry and dijon mustards ($12.50) and "The Smelter" grilled cheese, with smoked trout, Irish whiskey cheddar, mascarpone, apple and onion jam on rustic bread ($10.25). For those looking for a sweet treat, the Black Bird Saloon is one of the only places around town lucky enough to serve up homemade desserts by Momo & Company.
21 Ten Thousand Waves Way, 982-9304
If you've decided to head up the mountain to escape summer temperatures, Izanami at Ten Thousand Waves is a must-visit. Izanami serves Japanese izakaya (small plates for sharing) with stunning forest views; looking out its windows you'd have no idea you were in New Mexico. Prepare to share a variety of small plates to tide you over. Delicious options include smoked pork ribs in a sweet chile glaze with ginger pineapple red cabbage slaw and parsley peanut sauce ($14) and the decadent sake-braised shimeji and oyster mushrooms ($10) in tamari butter sauce with togarashi and bean sprouts.
235 N Guadalupe St., 982-8286
Few people aren't fans of the sandwich of the southwest—tacos. Taco Fundación is an easy stop to quell hunger pains without filling up too much. The variety of tacos here runs the gamut from traditional, al pastor ($3), to the more exotic such as the fried oyster taco ($3.75) and verduras 1 with sweet potato, garlic kale, pine nuts and cotija ($3). For a sweet snack, try the delicious soft serve ($3.50)—chocolate, vanilla or both!
451 W Alameda St., 982-6297
If you're feeling fancy, Santa Fe's got plenty of that. A great spot for something a little different, though, is Bouche Bistro. This French bistro offers light snacks including classic escargots a la bourguignonne ($13), duck wings a l'orange ($14) and chilled oysters with champagne mignonette ($21). The wine list is just as impressive, with a wide selection of both old- and new-world libations.
Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, 198 Hwy. 592, 946-5700
For those who like snacking with a view, the bar at this luxury hotel in Tesuque is a great spot to watch a stunning Santa Fe sunset while sharing an order of chicken wings with Buffalo green chile sauce and avocado ranch ($15). If you're not feeling the shares, try the short rib sliders, slow-cooked meat with a pretzel bun, manchego cheese, tempura jalapeño and coconut slaw ($16).
922 Shoofly St., 780-5796
For a moment of zen, tuck into Opuntia's exceptionally bright and refreshing space for some calming tea and a snack. Optunia's toasts make for lovely light bites and span the spectrum from savory sauteed mushrooms ($11) with Tuscan kale, roasted garlic, fontal and reggiano to sweet fruit and cheese toast ($9) piled high with blue cheese, apple, watercress, whipped ricotta, toasted almonds and local honey.