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Kirk's Traveling Kitchen News and Blog

Dispatches from Santa Fe


I recently returned from working a few events in the magical town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It has been several years since I've spent any considerable time in the Southwest, specifically Santa Fe, and aside from the obvious: a dry heat is better in August than a humid heat, I gained a newfound respect for the culinary scene there. From old stalwarts to new juggernauts, as always, there's a lot going on food-wise in this vibrant art community. Here are a few places not to be missed the next time you visit:

Joseph's Table Actually in Taos, about an hours drive North of Santa Fe, Joseph's Table is a restaurant I've wanted to visit for years. Located in the folksy Hotel la Fonda directly on Taos Plaza, Joseph's Table is the progeny of chef Joseph Wrede who also happens to be the grand puba of the local/artisanal movement in Northern New Mexico (the restaurant's motto: "The World is Our Country, Good Food Our Religion, Organic & Wild Our Mission"). Chef Wrede prints his small menu nightly and works with most of the areas more renowned farmers and ranchers to create his delicious Southwestern inflected New American cuisine. Highlights of my meal were the Sauteed Kale & Beet Greens in Tomato Vinaigrette and Soy Marinated Duck with Saffron Onions and Juniper Sauce.

Coyote Cafe When I first visited Santa Fe in the early nineties I ate at Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe, which had just opened, and experienced his interpretation of Southwestern cuisine. Widely considered the originator of a new way of cooking tacos and chiles, think Nuevo Southwestern, Miller had a impressive track record including a stint at Chez Panisse in the very early days. Almost twenty years later while your chances of seeing Miller behind the stove probably aren't good, among many other endeavors he's teaching courses at the University of New Mexico, the restaurant is as good as ever. And the best part about the Coyote Cafe experience is you have three different options to try their food: the formal Cafe, the casual rooftop Cantina and the lunch counter Cottonwoods.

Cafe San Estevan If you're looking for something eclectic and away from the main drag, visit Cafe San Estevan at the corner of the SanBusco shopping center. Café San Estevan also has an interesting story behind it: Estevan Garcia, owner and creator of the menu, is a monk with serious passion for food and flavors. His food combinations are quite unique, and the care with which the food is prepared is always evident. You can read more about Garcia’s story on the menu as you are deciding what to eat. The environment is a memorable melange of religious artifacts (surprise, surprise), burning candles and old wood; which makes for a completely romantic atmosphere.

Santa Fe Farmer's Market As much as I enjoyed eating in Santa Fe's restaurants and street stalls, which provided much of my green chile fix, probably my favorite food experience while there had to do with the community's incredible farmer's market. Every Saturday from 7am on, over 150 vendors sell everything from roasted green chiles (of course) to wild New Mexico pine nuts and artisanal sheep's milk cheeses. And as a farmer's market aficionado, having been to them on almost every continent, I must say it is one of the more exciting ones that I've been to in the United States. Maybe it was the morning I visited, but the energy level and variety was unparalleled when compared to other domestic markets I've visited recently. Also, the extensive prepared food offerings make it a great market to visit even if you're not interested in arugula or lamb shanks.