Although Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been a good place to stop for a few nights on our way to or from somewhere else, we have determined that it is also a great destination. At 7000 feet elevation it has that mild, high-desert climate (think cool and dry) with sunny days and starry nights. We have also discovered that there are a lot of good choices when looking for something good to eat and, wouldn’t you know it, some of those places happen to brew beer. One such place is Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery. We discovered it when we were here last year and were anxious to return, remembering that both the chips & salsa and the oatmeal stout were very good. It was good to find out nothing had changed in that regard. The next day also had us returning to a previously discovered spot, the Tune Up Cafe. It was Labor Day and lunchtime so they were very busy but when our pupusas finally arrived we both agreed it was worth the wait. We need to come back and stay longer so we’ll have time to eat here again and again and try something else. With food in our stomachs it was time to visit another of Santa Fe’s five breweries so we headed over to Second Street Brewery, on Second Street. They have two locations and last year we went to the other one at The Railyard. We both had the amber ale which was good enough but one was enough (or in Karen’s case half was enough).
It was a couple of days later before we ventured out again and this trip took us downtown to the Plaza and the Marble Brewery Taproom. We really enjoyed sitting on their balcony overlooking the Plaza with Karen’s oatmeal stout and my red ale. It was enjoyable enough to have another round of oatmeal stouts but then it was time to try some place new. Karen’s online search found The Pantry Restaurant. It is a small place but highly rated. We were off to a great start with their chips & salsa – different than our favorite salsa at home but oh, so good! This day their special was the carnitas and that’s what I ordered. Although the taste was very good, I’m afraid the reason they were the “special” is because they were left over from lunch – very dry. However, the shredded brisket tacos that Karen had were extremely good. In fact, they were so good that I’m afraid this is going to be another one of those places we’ll have to go to again and again, every time we’re anywhere near Santa Fe.
One of the highlights from last year was the burger at Bobcat Bite and we were looking forward to doing it again. We were disappointed to find that it had been closed for a couple of months but our smiles returned when we learned that it had reopened as the Santa Fe Bite just a couple of weeks ago at a new, downtown location. After feeding the parking meter full of nickels and dimes we walked the few blocks to the restaurant and waited for our turn at a table which finally came after I returned to the car to add more dimes to the meter. The huge 10-ounce burger with bacon and cheese (and in Karen’s case, green chiles) was as big and as good and as filling as we remembered but there is no photo due to an uncooperative camera and an impatient photographer (me).
Our time here wasn’t only about revisiting favorite spots from last year. We also discovered new favorites, such as Duel Brewing, the newest brewery in Santa Fe. They’ve only been open for six weeks and they specialize in Belgian-style ales. When we arrived we were the only customers there but that gave us all the better opportunity to talk with Chris, the bartender. He let us know they were out of their Bad Amber ale and after a quick look at the beer menu and a sample taste, we both chose the Dark Ryder, a Belgian dark strong ale. We were admiring the bar tops, tables and all the art on the walls and Chris let us know that they were all done by Trent, the owner. Very impressive, as was the beer. Further scrutiny of the menu revealed another beer we had to try, the Grunewald – Brewer’s Special Release, a Belgian-style imperial porter. This is a really big beer so we decided to share a pint. All of the alcohol taste was up front and quickly gave way to the chocolate and dark fruity notes in this superb ale. It was a short time later that a reporter and a photographer from Local iQ magazine came in, apparently to do a feature in an upcoming issue. We had a good time interacting with them and watching them do their work. This also brought Trent out and gave us a chance to talk with him about his concept, his beer, his tap room and his art. We had a great time here and look forward to coming back and watching them grow.
After work on our last day in Santa Fe we did go back to The Pantry for another meal of brisket tacos, plus we got a quart jar filled with their salsa. As full as we both were we still needed to make a stop at the remaining brewery in town, Santa Fe Brewing Company. There were more than a few good choices from their current lineup but after a couple of tastes we both settled on their Java Stout. We asked who owned the VW bus that was parked outside and one of the guys working in the brewery was pointed out. In a little bit he came up front and we were able to talk buses for awhile. Their Java Stout was very good indeed and we contemplated having another but we were already too full and ready to go home and assume the position (think recliners).