Monday, May 25, 2009

Santa Fe: Cafe Pasqual's

Back in Santa Fe with our friends Rusty and JP, we had been foiled (by the 40 minute wait) in our attempt to have breakfast at Pasqual's, ending up at the French Pastry Cafe for the second day in a row. That evening's dinner was planned for La Choza, so you can imagine our horror when we found that La Choza was not open on Sundays! (I suppose we should have checked, but it did not occur to us until we drove up). Tomasita's, our second choice, was similarly closed, so we decided to take a flyer on Pasqual's.

To our great good fortune, there was only about a 10 minute wait and we were ushered to a table overlooking the room. Then the feast began.

JP and I split appetizers of pupusas and tacos barbacoa, while Michael enjoyed grilled asparagus wrapped in Parmesan and Rusty had a simple romaine salad. For the main courses, both Rusty and Michael opted for the "sampler platter": chile relleno, chicken mole enchilada, and taco do carnitas, to which Rusty added the optional barbacoa skewer. JP went for the straight chicken mole enchiladas while I had the pork and green chile carnitas.

Without attempting to describe every dish, let me just say that all of them were fantastic. The mole was deep, rich, and spicy. The pupusas (a new experience for all of us) were fascinating. I don't think I even got a taste of the chile relleno, Michael gobbled it up before I could grab a taste. Everything had wonderful flavor and was simply amazing. With all of that we washed it down with beers to start and a very pleasant bottle of rose to follow...we were all impressed that asked to recommend a rose from the three on the interesting list, our friendly and professional waiter recommended the least expensive one.

Toward the end of the meal, Michael and I agreed that we had found our new favorite restaurant in Santa Fe...hardly an undiscovered gem, to be sure, but a wonderful and festive meal. It was not cheap (about $220 for the 4 of us with one round of drinks and a bottle of wine) but in terms of the quality of flavors and enjoyment of the experience, it was certainly the most memorable meal we have had.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

More Santa Fe Dining

Rather than giving a full entry to each, in the interest of time I thought I would summarize some of our recent dining experiences in Santa Fe.

As always, the French Pastry Cafe was useful, friendly, and efficient. I had a cherry tart the first day that wasn't the best (a little dry and flaky). The cafe au lait was terrific. The chocolate croissants were the largest we have ever seen, and are good, not just big. The chorizo egg and cheese crepe is an excellent hangover treatment. We ended up here 3 of our 4 mornings.

Bobcat Bite. The burger is all it's cracked up to be, one of the best anywhere. The wait was not too long and the staff is remarkably friendly. We had a nice view of hummingbirds out the back window. Not too much to say for the decor, but the burgers were great.

Coyote Cantina. We ate here the first night; it was pleasant, friendly, and welcoming. The menu was interesting but the food fell a little bit flat, we thought. Not bad, just not memorable. Lively crowd and decent service. The charge for chips and guacamole seemed a little much.

Tune-up Cafe. Great breakfast/brunch our last day. Huevos rancheros were good, but left me a little hungry. The breakfast burritos could not be improved on. Friendly, funky atmosphere.

Aqua Santa. We had a very nice meal here which somehow, for us, did not reach the heights of our original meal. The room was crowded and hot (it was a pleasant, not overly warm evening outside) and the meal took a long time. Service was excellent. The food was good but not nearly as memorable as our meal at Cafe Pasqual the following evening. Much more romantic and elegant setting, though.

Bumblebees. As good as ever. Some odd anomalies there...the interior of a fast food joint, but cloth napkins. Serve yourself chip bar is a treat, but much of the salsa seemed a bit pallid (nothing really spicy). Tacos were good...the shrimp still is the best of the sampler platter. Next time I will skip the others and go straight for the shrimp. The mango soda was a little over the top for our taste.

Sadly, the tamale bar at the Whole Foods is no more. The guacamole bar is a poor substitute. It's still the best Whole Foods I've ever been in, however. We put together a meal for Rusty and JP (they were arriving late) which was terrific, and bountiful, but expensive...those items from the buffet really add up at $9 a pound.