We recently had a beautiful lunch at Santacafe that surpassed everything we’d heard about their elegant, seasonal reputation. Half way through the meal I was asking Mr.D, “How in the name of Pasqual (patron saint of cooks) have we not been here until now???”
(Pictured is the Daffodil Cake … I’ll get to this lemony lusciousness in a sec.)
Through the corridor and into this charming, quiet courtyard with warm tan adobe walls and clean white painted woodwork. Centered is the original well.
Seated under shade trees.
Dining in an intimate, historic courtyard like this on a gorgeous seventy-five degree Santa Fe day … everything instantly feels like a special occasion. A cool breeze sauntered through, the sun sparkled on us through the trees. We agreed there was no other place in the world we needed to be than right there.
Here we have the Chipotle Margarita … a perfectly balanced cocktail to start … with citrusy and chile layered flavors and just enough heat to touch the back of your throat. Owners Bobby Morean and Judy Ebbinghaus were kind enough to share the recipe:
Salt and Lime zest the rim
1 1/2 oz. Silver Tequila
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
Splash Pineapple Juice
2 oz. fresh Lemon/Lime juice mixed
Chipotle Puree (per your desired heat)
Garnish with Chile Flakes
Amuse bouche of fresh green goddess lobster salad with arugula on homemade tortilla crisp. Chilled, briny sweet chunks of lobster, with a crunch. Divine. There is also a Maine Lobster Salad On Baby Iceberg Lettuce Wedge on the menu.
The famed crispy calamari … lightly fried and tender. Not greasy at all …
… served with their signature 4 Chile Lime Dipping Sauce. A delicate blend including spearmint and chiles. This sauce and Judy’s house made catsup are so often requested that they bottled them both and are available on the merchandise page.
All of the breads and crackers are fresh baked in house. This is the red chile cracker with hint of basil.
We looked over the menu for fifteen minutes and just couldn’t make up our minds, so I asked our server Allison to recommend something decadent. Without missing a beat she suggested the Blue Corn Chicken Confit Enchiladas with Red and Green Chile, Asadero Cheese and Calabacitas.
… with tender chicken breast and julienned zucchini, peppers with fresh corn. And creamy melted cheese. I found it best to revolve the plate around like a carousel to create perfect bites. (Allison, you were so right … lush mouthwatering delicious!)
What could make this day even more perfect? A Green Chile Cheeseburger … the New Mexico welcome we’ve come to love. With thick sharp melted cheddar on house brioche bun, perfectly buttered and toasted. Mr.D said that the chiles were a delicious medium heat, and Judy’s Catsup with guava, apricot and molasses really sent it over the top …
… with a side of Rosemary Potato Chips.
Just when I thought I’d made up my mind about the “Pie or Cake?” question, this sent me back over to the cake side. Ready for this? It’s a marbled angel food and chiffon cake with lemon mousse, creme Chantilly and fresh berries. Think you’re too full for dessert? … this will change your mind. Light and moist with vanilla, then lemon, then tangy lemon sauce and bite of sweet ripe berry… far and away the best Daffodil Cake I’ve ever tasted.
More dining rooms inside the house. A clean, minimalist design.
We asked about the history of the place and learned that we were in the Padre Gallegos House, built between 1852 and 1862. Original owner Jose Manuel Gallegos was a ‘colorful and controversial character’ who was a priest, defrocked, then became a politician. The property has two wells. The one in the courtyard and this one that was built inside the home ‘to ensure safety of the water supply.’ Located in the bar area, it is forty feet deep.
We stayed after the lunch seating to take photos and avoid disturbing people. Looking around earlier to other tables, they were filled with business lunches with clients, locals, tourists, and families celebrating graduations. And Santacafe fan Governor Richardson was also dining in the courtyard.
Located just two blocks from the main historic plaza, hidden down an unassuming corridor … all of your worries go away in this place, where once discovered becomes a favorite on the “Santa Fe Highlights” must-do list.
Chosen as New Mexico’s Most Romanic Restaurant in Every State, GMA’s Most Memorable Food Moments, featured on Food Network’s Giada’s Weekend Getaway, and recipient of numerous awards. I’d Order That again. And again!
Many thanks to Bobby, Judy, the chefs, kitchen and wait staff … for a perfectly lovely experience.
Note: Menus are seasonal, dishes will change throughout the year. (Please God that the Daffodil Cake stays forever.)