Before leaving the San Fran Bay area for a trip to Santa Fe I did a loving check of previous Chowhounds recs, and was able to follow quite a few. Thanks to Desert Rat and the others who had made recommendations in the past. Here is a bit of what I was able to consume with great pleasure.
Our hosts picked us up at the Albuq airport and took us right to Tomasita's which was the perfect intro to SFe. Our table quickly emptied a pitcher of good margaritas and we all chose carne adovada which made the lost luggage we experienced all worth it.
Next night we had reservations at Geronimo, due to the frequent mentions on this list. Everything was excellent and I was amazed at the portions of food and drink given my companions who elected the tasting menu and accompanying wine tastings. The wine list itself was disappointing both in limited choice and markups ranging from the expected but high to the outrageous. I don't know what they charge for corkage, but it would be worth it to bring my own if there was to be a next time Anyway, the tasting menu became a bargain simply on the basis of the generaous servings. I followed Chowhounds recs and went for the elk. I was not disappointed--a perfectly, slightly gamey medium rare with lovely morels along side. However, nice as it all was, I felt that I could get food of an equivalent enjoyability quotient for a less money and a finer meal for the same outlay here in my home area. However....read on
Next day, after a bit of culture (fantastic exhibit of Zia pottery at the Wheelwright) we had a really enjoyable lunch at Harry's Roadhouse, good salads and good foccacia bread sandwiches, before more art and then drinks at Coyote Cantina, (which offered excellent margaritas, but an annoying server who kept trying to urge us to spend more on a better choice of tequilla--if there is anything I can do on my own it is have a drink).
The two greatest culinary highlights of the trip were not sources I had found in my Chowhounds scanning, however. The first was found at the Saturday morning Farmer's Market. We enjoyed the early season greens, since our spring was long past, including some great arugula and fine Chinese leeks so tiny they were more like fabulous chives, and then some local lamb which was a real find. We got a boned leg of lamb which our host rotisseried with some appropriate local dried chili rub. It was tender and juicy and really tasted of lamb, unlike some of our local Sonoma lamb which is spoon-tender but has lost a lot of its essential lambness in the refined raising it gets. Locals: go for this stuff, you are fortunate to have the resource. Support your local growers!
The other find, which I may have missed if it has been mentioned here, was in a mall and was Mexican as opposed to New Mexican. It is called Herb's La Taqueria and I loved it. Of all the places we ate, this is the one which I would like to have close to me. I would be there regularly. It has the strip mall ambiance, but forget that. The food seemed Vera Cruzan to my uneducated Mexican palate, but whatever it was it was perfectly done. There were five salsas, each different, each delicious, each needed to be refilled for us. The set menu is primarily tacos, but what tacos. I had the barbacoa, which was simply the best lamb stew I had ever had. (I know it seems like a heavily lamb week, but that was the circumstance.) Another of us had the shrimp tacos and was generous enough to share, and that was an even greater treat. We had each decided against the tuna, since it is so easy to find this fish over-cooked to dryness. Then we looked at the table next to us and saw someone with a plateful of perfectly cooked red-in-the-middle tuna steaks and right then I knew I would have to return to Santa Fe as soon as the museum exhibits change and the airline finds my luggage.
Thanks again Santa Fe Chowhounds.
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