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Shohko-5-JoG final

Food & Dining

Best of Santa Fe 2012

July 25, 2012, 12:00 am
By SFR
It’s been an exciting year for Santa Fe's food scene. Exciting isn’t always good, though. During the past year, SFR witnessed the closing of three of the best restaurants in town: Amavi, Max’s and Real Food Nation. But the departure of some of our favorites also makes way for newcomers. In Tomme, restaurateur Maria “Max” Renteria has transformed the space on the corner of West Alameda and Galisteo Streets into a haven of haute-comfort cuisine; Tanti Luce 221 promises to breathe similar life into Amavi’s old space. Santa Fe’s downtown food-cart scene is taking off, too—slowly, maybe, but surely—with the addition of chef Josh Gerwin’s eclectic and local Dr. Field Goods truck, and newly opened Five Star Burgers at the De Vargas Center brings a home-grown chain’s famous burgers to Santa Fe at last. So there’s plenty to be excited about—including the tried-and-true favorites that keep loyal Santa Feans and frequent visitors coming back, year after year. Bon appétit!

You’re from Santa Fe if…
By Chicken Joe

…you know what Christmas chile is
…you’ve worn flip-flops, snow boots and a rain jacket in the same day
…you’ve never seen a three-story building
…your color wheel consists of shades of brown
…entertainment for the youth consists of unused playgrounds
…the mean age around you is 65 at any given time

 
 Best New Cafe/Restaurant


1st: Swiss Bakery Pastries & Bistro
401 S Guadalupe St. 988-1111


While we’re not sure if it’s symbolic that two of the top three new restaurants in Santa Fe feature breakfast pastries, but we’re definitely happy about it. In addition to sinfully rich napoleons and buttery croissants, the Swiss Bakery is also bringing some luscious additions to Guadalupe Street’s brunch scene (and if it didn’t have a brunch scene, it does now)—a killer eggs benedict, savory crepes and an innovative Santa Fe Swiss Croissant, stuffed with ham, Swiss cheese, scrambled eggs and green chile ($7). There’s also a neat little story here: Chef/owner Philippe Müller worked at another Swiss bakery on Guadalupe Street back in the 1980s. Small wonder his croissant-crafting skills are second to none. (AS)

2nd: Whoo’s Donuts
851 Cerrillos Road, Ste. B, 629-1678

3rd: The Ranch House
2571 Cristos Road, 424-8900


 
 Best Food Cart/Truck/Stand


1st: Chicago Dog Express
600 Cerrillos Road 984-2798

Chicago Dog has been around since 1997, and consistency is its middle name. It sells only Vienna beef hotdogs and sausages. “They’re very expensive, but people catch on,” owner Ken Jennings says. Locals have indeed caught on, with some customers coming every day, and others several times a week, all sans advertising. Another dependable attribute is the personable employees who are unflaggingly friendly and polite. Jennings’ personal favorites are the eponymous Chicago Dog, followed closely by the Frito pie, for which he concocts the red and green chiles. Jennings acquired his chile recipe 30 years ago from an elderly New Mexican, which goes to show that while Chicago Dog may be reliable, it’s also full of pleasant surprises. (LH)

2nd: Baja Tacos
2621 Cerrillos Road, 471-8762

3rd: Le Pod
502 Old Santa Fe Trail, 501-0069


 
 Best New Mexican Restaurant

1st: La Choza
905 Alarid St. 982-0909


The sister restaurant to The Shed, that venerable eatery hidden behind a Plaza-side patio, La Choza is Spanish for “The Shack”—but that doesn’t do it justice. La Choza’s service is fast, efficient and extremely helpful, and its red chile—not unlike The Shed’s—is a continual favorite in SFR’s annual Best of Santa Fe poll. La Choza’s Railyard location makes it the perfect bikeable destination, and its shaded patio and strong, skillfully crafted margaritas can improve even the sourest spirits on a hot summer day. Add some deliciously hot salsa and a heaping, cheese-smothered carne adovada burrito, and you’ll be in the New Mexican version of heaven. (AS)

2nd: Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen
555 W Cordova Road, 983-7929

3rd: The Shed

113 1/2 E Palace Ave., 982-9030



 
 Best Local Caterer

1st: Cowgirl

319 S Guadalupe St. 982-2565

Cowgirl is a good ol’ favorite; a place where hipsters and grandmothers can bond over a PBR, play billiards and listen to live music. But, wait! You’re not at the Cowgirl, you’re at an event, any random event, and your tummy is grumbling. Just in time, you find out that the Cowgirl is catering. The classic air-grab-gesture-of-victory while yelling, “Yesssssss!” is the most common reaction. You know you’re not going to starve and have to scrounge for little hors d’oeuvres for the rest of the night or ask for six olives in your drink. Life is good and your belly will be filled with Cowgirl deliciousness. (Tescia Schell)

2nd: Walter Burke

1209 Calle De Comercio, 473-9600

3rd: Jambo Café

2010 Cerrillos Road, 473-1269


 
 Best Red Chile


1st: The Shed
113 1/2 E Palace Ave., 982-9030


To the average tourist unfamiliar with New Mexican cuisine, knowing which type of chile to get on your entree can be a tough task. Josh Carswell, co-owner of The Shed, is a good source for newbies struggling with this issue. If you like your coffee black, you’ll probably like your chile red. Unlike green chile, red chile isn’t slow-roasted. “It has a more earthy, full flavor,” Carswell tells SFR. “Green chile is more on the sweet side.” The Shed has specialized in red chile for nearly 60 years now, and since the early 1980s, the restaurant has been importing it from a secret, Hatch-based farmer whom Carswell won’t name. “They grow it, dry it, and we grind it out in the back on a daily basis,” Carswell says. (JP)

2nd: La Choza
905 Alarid St., 982-0909

3rd: Tomasita’s
500 S Guadalupe St., 983-5721


 
 Best Green Chile


1st: Horseman’s Haven Café

4354 Cerrillos Road 471-5420

Tucked at the southern edge of town, past the Airport Road district and next door to a gas station, is some of the hottest green chile Santa Fe has to offer. You wouldn’t know it just from stepping inside Horseman’s Haven Café, which resembles a quaint, quiet Western family bar and grill. The magic of its Hatch-imported green chile, according to restaurant partner Kim Gonzales, is that it’s grown hybrid. “We use two seeds instead of one,” Gonzales tells SFR. “One gives it the meatiness, and one gives it the flavor.” Some of the restaurant’s best items for smothering this chile onto include half-pound cheesebugers, carne adovada and the 3D burrito, which includes beans, rice and potatoes. (JP)

2nd: Tomasita’s
500 S Guadalupe St., 983-5721

3rd: La Choza
905 Alarid St., 982-0909


 
 Best Breakfast Burrito


1st—TIE:
El Parasol

1833 Cerrillos Road 995-8015

Santa Fe Baking Co. and Café
504 W Cordova Road 988-4292

The Santa Fe breakfast burrito is to this region what the Philly cheesesteak is to the City of Brotherly Love. It’s hard to beat a breakfast burrito in Sante Fe—are you in the mood for a vegan burrito with vegetables or a greasy burrito with chorizo?—and the difference between the two venues readers chose for this category shows how diverse the meal truly is. With its hefty amounts of grease and meat, El Parasol is your best bet if you manage to wake up before 11 am with a Sunday morning hangover. If, however, you have time to sit down for a slightly more elegant meal in one of the city’s most popular and convivial locales, make it the Santa Fe Baking Co. (JP)

2nd: Tia Sophia’s
210 W San Francisco St., 983-9880

3rd: Blake’s Lotaburger
2004 St. Michael’s Drive, 471-8694
404 N Guadalupe St., 983-4915
3200 Cerrillos Road, 471-2433


 
 Best Place for Breakfast or Brunch


1st: Harry’s Roadhouse

96 Old Las Vegas Hwy. 989-4629

If you’re craving something more extravagant than eggs and bacon, it’s a given that Harry’s Roadhouse will have a unique breakfast special to choose from. It could be an entrée as feisty as jambalaya risotto cakes with Tabasco hollandaise and crab, or it could be something simpler, like eggs benedict with crispy polenta cakes instead of English muffins. “If we don’t change and evolve, I get bored and the staff gets bored,” Harry Shapiro, the restaurant’s owner, tells SFR. When SFR last caught up with Shapiro, he told us his cooks were looking for something fun to do with a huge rotisserie of grass-fed beef the restaurant had just gotten from locals in the little town of Mountainair. Perhaps it’s not too late to go find out right now. (JP)

2nd: The Pantry
1820 Cerrillos Road, 986-0022

3rd: Chocolate Maven
821 W San Mateo Road, 984-1980


 
 Best Mexican Restaurant


1st: El Parasol

1833 Cerrillos Road 995-8015

An outdoor sign proclaims “award winning food since 1958” and inside, a wall-length menu encompasses everything from calabacita burritos to “the original Frito pie,” chilaquiles. Feeling adventurous, I ordered the latest addition to El Parasol’s roster, the sopapilla burger ($6.60). “Basically,” assistant manager Alex Tapia explains, “it’s pretty much a regular burger, but instead of a bun, it’s wrapped inside a sopapilla—which is made out of the same stuff as a tortilla, but deep-fried.” “Say no more,” I replied—tempted to hold my right index finger against his lips to further the sentiment—“you had me at deep-fried.” No dining-in option is available, so be ready to dine and drive. The reworked motto “if it doesn’t get all over your dashboard, it doesn’t belong in your face” comes to mind. (Enrique Limón)

2nd: Los Potrillos
1947 Cerrillos Road, 992-0550

3rd: Mariscos La Playa
537 W Cordova Road, 982-2790

 
 Best Fish Taco


1st: Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill

3777 Cerrillos Road 988-3278

Walking up to Bumble Bee’s, I was woeful due to its generic exterior (down to a trademark yellow-and-black awning), but one minute inside and all my worries flew out the double-paned window. A visual orgy of Montessori-approved primary color invaded my pupils, and a plethora of bee-shaped piñatas dangling from the ceiling made me feel right at home. I ordered a couple of the restaurant’s “world famous” fish tacos ($3.80 apiece) and, feeling like a regular Carlos Slim, I sprung the extra 50 cents to make it a “meal”—which includes rice and your choice of beans (black or pinto) on the side. According to manager Jorge Melara, Bumble Bee’s sells about 200 fish tacos a day, and it’s not hard to figure why: It takes two tortillas to hold the cabbage and tomato-laden mahi-mahi bad boys in place, as streams of cilantro and scallion-infused “secret” sauce run down your chin like a glorious Mexi-bukkake.  Somebody please get me a cigarro. (EL)

2nd: Mariscos La Playa
537 W Cordova Road, 982-2790

3rd: Coyote Cantina
132 W Water St., 983-1615


 
 Best French Restaurant


Salade de Chèvre Photo: Joy Godfrey
1st: Clafoutis

402 N Guadalupe St. 988-1809

Clafoutis is a perennial favorite for voters in SFR’s annual Best of Santa Fe survey—and in this case, the best French food is not, as one might believe, the most expensive. This lunchtime hotspot also offers affordable breakfast and brunch foods, with late-afternoon snacks (meringues, madeleines, éclairs and all the other sinful stuff) available too. The restaurant is lively and crowded at peak hours—just the atmosphere you’d expect in a bustling French café. While it’s possible to eat healthfully here—the Salade Nicoise ($11.50) is hearty but not heavy—it may be difficult to avoid Gallic specialties such as the bacony, cheesy Quiche Lorraine ($7.50) and Clafoutis’ inimitable Croque Madame ($6.90). (AS)

2nd: French Pastry Shop

La Fonda Hotel, 100 E San Francisco St., 983-6697

3rd: 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar

315 Old Santa Fe Trail, 986-9190


 
 Best Italian Restaurant


1st: Andiamo

322 Garfield St. 995-9595

“We opened as a restaurant for restaurant people in 1995,” owner Joan Gillcrist says, with the aim of delivering fine-dining quality at half the price. Andiamo achieves this lofty goal through efficiency and, frankly, by not making as much money as similar restaurants. Andiamo aims to serve as many people as it can, and this it certainly achieves. Over the years, the restaurant has consolidated all of the most sought-after menu items into a list of classics that includes chicken parmesan, penne with house-made sausage and crispy duck legs. Other keys to Andiamo’s success (have you noticed a trend of goal-orientation?) are a killer tomato sauce that isn’t overly acidic, and a great selection of wines at affordable prices. (LH)

2nd: Il Piatto
95 W Marcy St., 984-1091

3rd: Piccolino

2890 Agua Fria St., 471-1480


 
 Best Sushi


Lobster, yellowfin tuna, Japanese red snapper, big eye tuna, salmon and needlefish black clam Photo: Joy Godfrey
1st: Shohko Café

321 Johnson St. 982-9708

If you’re one of those cautious types who “doesn’t trust” sushi served in New Mexico, it’s time to get over it. For decades, Shohko Café—which owes its name to co-owner Shohko Fukuda, who, with her husband Hiro, started the café as a health-food joint in 1975—has been doing sushi better than most high-end coastal sushi bars. Inside, Shohko offers a lesson in understated elegance, even before the melt-in-your-mouth green chile tempura ($5) and tightly curled caterpillar rolls ($12) are deposited, with effortless understatement, on your handmade wooden table. Ever conscious of the food-challenged and foodie alike, Shohko offers a host of vegetarian and vegan options in a peaceful, historic adobe setting. Not convinced? Trust us. (AS)

2nd: Kohnami
313 S Guadalupe St., 984-2002

3rd: Izmi
105 E Marcy St., 424-1311


 
 Best Ethnic Food


1st: Jambo Café   

2010 Cerrillos Road 473-1269

If you’ve lived in Santa Fe for more than a year—and especially if you moved here from a bigger town—you’ve probably had at least a moment of wanderlust. Santa Fe is lovely, of course, but sometimes you just yearn for something bigger, farther, stranger (no, really!). If international traveling is your game—and even if it’s not—Jambo Café offers the perfect night of adventurous eating in a low-key, vibrant setting with the power to transport you directly to the tropics. Chef/owner Ahmed Obo fuses the exotic flavors of his native Kenya with Caribbean staples such as Jamaican jerk chicken ($9.95) and American favorites like sweet potato fries ($3.95)—and if you’ve never tasted goat stew ($10.95), it’s a must-have item on Jambo’s extensive menu. As multipurpose as the Swahili greeting itself, Jambo’s plates will expand, delight and refine your sense of ethnic eating. (AS)

2nd: Cleopatra Café
418 Cerrillos Road, 820-7381
3482 Zafarano Drive, 474-5644

3rd: Mu Du Noodles

1494 Cerrillos Road, 983-1411

 
 Best Restaurant for Vegetarians


1st: Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café

1620 St. Michael’s Drive 988-9688

Annapurna makes one thing crystal clear: It’s not about fake meat. No beef-flavored textured soy protein is on the menu (the shepherd’s pie, for example, is made entirely with grains and veggies). Rather, the cooks apply the principals of Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu healing system, to prepare dishes that are 100 percent organic and help treat and prevent illnesses. These assets—combined with the plentiful vegan and gluten-free options, smells of Indian spices and the laid-back atmosphere—are enough to attract the alternative hordes. As if that weren’t enough, owner Yashoda Naidoo assures SFR that Annapurna is a committed green business, and not just in terms of the food. Try the popular quinoa vegetable salad or one of the Indian sampler plates. And don’t forget the homemade spicy chai! (LH)

2nd: Body Café

333 W Cordova Road, 986-0362

3rd: Mu Du Noodles
1494 Cerrillos Road, 983-1411

 
 Best Steak


1st: Steaksmith
104 Old Las Vegas Hwy., Ste. B 988-3333

What does it take to make a superior steak? Co-owner Roey Valim sums it up: “We age our beef 6-8 weeks, which I don’t believe anyone else in town does. Our grill cooks have worked for us for 15-plus years each. They are perfectionists. Also, we butcher our own meats.” In addition, all of the steak is certified Angus beef. “The filet is my favorite,” she adds. “It’s the most tender of all the steaks.” Co-owner Mario Girard also pipes up: “We don’t do anything tricky or fancy; we just serve an honest, good, high-quality steak.” So, without tricks and fanciness, what’s the point of eating out? Perhaps, even in the City Different, some folks crave the tried and true. (LH)

2nd: The Bull Ring
150 Washington Ave., Ste. 108, 983-3328

3rd: Rio Chama
414 Old Santa Fe Trail, 955-0765

 
 Best Seafood


1st: Mariscos la Playa
537 W Cordova Road 982-2790

Manager Angelina Cuna’s favorite dish is the oven-baked trout stuffed with octopus, scallops and shrimp with cheese on top. Sound exotic and a bit sinful? That’s because Mariscos la Playa strives to give people the feeling that they’re vacationing on some palm tree-laden beach in the middle of nowhere that happens to have exquisite cuisine. Needless to say, this sort of fantasy attracts devoted customers. They come for the combination of seafood and enchiladas, which turns out to be highly addictive. The friendly atmosphere is also a draw, and Mariscos is a great place to practice your Spanish in preparation for your next trip to Latin America. But beware, you may find it difficult to leave this high-desert seafood haven. (LH)

2nd—Three-way tie: Geronimo: 724 Canyon Road, 982-1500
Mariscos Costa Azul: 2875 Cerrillos Road, 473-4594
Steaksmith: 104 Old Las Vegas Hwy., Ste. B, 988-3333

3rd: Restaurant Martín
526 Galisteo St., 820-0919


 
 Best Local Pizza


1st—TIE:
Backroad Pizza

1807 Second St., Ste. 1 955-9055

Il Vicino
321 W San Francisco St. 986-8700

It’s no surprise readers picked these two joints for Santa Fe’s best Italian pie. Backroad Pizza and Il Vicino both use unconventional baking processes, and the results are profoundly tasteful pizzas. Backroad hand-rolls its dough in cornmeal instead of flour, says owner Piper Kapin, who stresses that she also sources her ingredients locally. The restaurant even has a tomato and basil garden outside. A 1940s Blodgett Deck oven brings out the taste from these ingredients, sealing flavor in the bottom of the dough. The handmade process is similar at Il Vicino, where cooks swirl on the sauce and go easy on the cheese (but heavy on the toppings) before throwing the pizza into a wood-fired convection oven. Il Vicino opts for oak as the oven’s fuel, says server Dallas Aringdale. After all, he notes, “Who wants a pizza that tastes like piñon?” (Justin Horwath)

2nd: Upper Crust Pizza
329 Old Santa Fe Trail, 982-0000

3rd: Rooftop Pizzeria
60 E San Francisco St., 984-0008


 
 Best Local Affordable Dining


1st: Del Charro Saloon
101 W Alameda St.  954-0320

Santa Fe isn’t known for affordable dining, particularly around the Plaza. Perhaps that’s why readers choose Del Charro for this category, as opposed to any of the cut-rate joints outside downtown Santa Fe. If your wallet is nearly empty after a Santa Fe night, you need not spend much more on a nightcap at Del Charro, and you’ll get a lot in return. A $6 margarita will earn you a glass and shaker-ful of booze. A $7 dollar tortilla club is somehow challenging to finish. This all makes sense given its name; “charros” were Mexican horsemen, or cowboys, back in the days when a hardy meal really mattered. It’s one of the few restaurants in the vicinity where utility—get full, get buzzed, save money—is more important than opulence. (JH)

2nd: Harry’s Roadhouse
96 Old Las Vegas Hwy., 989-4629

3rd: Tune-Up Café
1115 Hickox St., 983-7060


 
 Best Local Place for Desserts

 

1st: Chocolate Maven

821 W San Mateo Road 984-1980

For a place that consistently finds itself in the winner’s circle of SFR’s Best Of, Chocolate Maven isn’t easy to find. Located off Second Street next to an automotive garage, from the outside, this restaurant/bakery doesn’t look like much. But one glance at the pastry case and suddenly it seems as though any effort lost on the outside went tenfold into their desserts. Not only are these delectable treats insanely tasty, but their visual appeal is unmatched in the city. The cupcakes are so adorned with culinary artistry that one actually may feel guilty taking a bite—that is, until the flavor spreads across one’s tongue in a wave of ecstasy often described in the same terms as an illicit drug. (RHD)

2nd: Harry’s Roadhouse
96 Old Las Vegas Highway, 989-4629

3rd: Clafoutis

402 N Guadalupe St., 988-1809


 
 Best Gelato/Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt


1st: Ecco Espresso and Gelato
105 E Marcy St. 986-9778

Is it the energetic staff? The convenient downtown location with relatively easy parking? Perhaps it’s the atmosphere, secret recipes or simply the product itself: gelato crafted by a man who first came into his own by studying the craft in this treat’s native home of Italy. Whatever it is, for five years running Santa Feans have agreed that Ecco Gelato is THE best gelato place in the city. Satisfied customers peruse laptops and flip through books, or laze outdoors, clutching cups of everything from plum- to strawberry-habañero-flavored gelato. For the health-conscious or (unfortunately) lactose-intolerant, Ecco also offers a range of coffee drinks, slushes and Italian sodas. (KF)

2nd: Ellie’s Yoberri Park   
325 W San Francisco St., 995-1191

3rd: Frogurt Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt
2801 Rodeo Road, 474-6336


 
 Best Grocery Store


1st: Trader Joe’s
530 W Cordova Road 995-8145

And here we deviate a bit. Though Santa Fe does have several places one may shop for “local” groceries, in these times of economic uncertainty, affordability rules supreme. And in that regard, no one offers quality at price better than Trader Joe’s. Consistently, I am floored by the taste and range of products from this grocery chain and am flat-out dumbstruck each time the cashier gives me my total. But it’s not just the eats and price that make TJ’s a Santa Fe favorite. The shopping experience itself is always punctuated by smiling and helpful employees who drop whatever task is currently occupying their time to check on the status of any item you can’t find on the shelf. And that liquor and beer section? Don’t get me started. (RHD)

2nd: Whole Foods Market
753 Cerrillos Road, 992-1700
1090 St. Francis Drive, 983-5333

3rd: Sunflower Farmer’s Market
199 Paseo de Peralta, 988-1140
3201 Zafarano Drive, 424-1900


 
 Best Restaurant Wine List


1st: La Casa Sena

125 E Palace Ave. 988-9232

A longtime favorite for its romantic patio, extensive and expertly curated wine list and diverse cuisine, La Casa Sena just underwent a physical remodel and culinary reinvention. “It was just time,” chef Patrick Gharrity tells SFR. “The ambience in the interior dining room—it’s like night and day.” The new menu features an “early dinner” from 3 pm until closing—code for delicious but still affordable, by all appearances. “I’m really proud of that menu,” he says. As a must-try item, Gharrity recommends the Aztec-Dusted Salmon ($27), served with yellow mole and quinoa-radicchio salad. Add a glass of cold, buttery Chardonnay, and you’ve discovered the secret to summertime indulgence. (AS)

2nd: La Boca
72 W Marcy St., 982-3433

3rd­—TIE: Pranzo: 540 Montezuma Ave., 984-2645
Rio Chama: 414 Old Santa Fe Trail, 955-0765


 
 Best Margaritas


1st: Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen
555 W Cordova Road 983-7929

We might get tired of writing about Maria’s—might, that is, if there weren’t upwards of 200 margaritas to try. There’s “the most awesome cocktail in the world,” La Margarita de Paradiso, a blend of El Tesoro’s best añejo tequilas paired with 150th anniversary Grand Marnier and lemon (yes, lemon) juice for when you feel like spending $48 on a drink (or on someone else’s drink). There’s the much-lower-brow, but still delicious, Centennial Margarita—Camarena reposado, triple sec and citrus served in a free pint glass for just $8 to celebrate New Mexico’s statehood—and the assertive Margarita de la Patrona (“Boss-Lady”), with Patrón silver and Cointreau ($16.75). Drink enough of them, and you may get one named after you. Is that a good thing? The jury’s still out. (AS)

2nd: Tomasita’s
500 S Guadalupe St., 988-3614

3rd: Del Charro Saloon
101 W Alameda St., 954-0320

 
 Best Cocktails


1st: Coyote Café & Cantina
132 W Water St. 983-1615

In the summer, Coyote Cantina’s rooftop bar has only one flaw: If you’re just drinking, you can’t always get one of the tables reserved for diners. However, this means you’ll likely be able to conduct some serious people-watching near the edge—always an entertaining pursuit, as you’re in the Plaza area’s tourist-thick stomping grounds—or else, why not, indulge in some surprisingly fancy chips and salsa. The lava lamps— frozen margaritas suspended in Mexican beer—are famous here, and pair nicely with a fat chimichanga. Inside, Coyote Café offers a (literal) book’s worth of Santa Fe’s most inventive cocktails, from the City Different ($12)—a fresher, better Cosmo—to the fascinating Edible Gin Martini ($15, and we refuse to give any more details). It’s a lovely place to warm up in the winter, chill out in the summer or anything in between. (AS)

2nd: Jinja
510 N Guadalupe St., 982-4321

3rd: Rio Chama
414 Old Santa Fe Trail, 955-0765


 
 Best Locally Brewed Beer


1st: Santa Fe Brewing Co.

35 Fire Place 424-3333   

Bursts of bitter hops, malty aroma and smoky flavor characterize just a few of the matchless flavors at the Santa Fe Brewing Co. Headed by beer guru Ty Levis, the Santa Fe Brewing Co. has been around since 1988 and functions as a bar as well as a traditional brewery. Locals and tourists alike gather daily at the brewery’s bar or lounge outside at patio tables. The brewery’s products are featured in restaurants and bars all over the city, as well as in six other western states. For the not-faint of stomach or liver, there’s the Chicken Kickin’ Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine and Imperial Java Stout, but this brewery is best known for the rich, smoky Happy Camper IPA, which accounts for almost half of its beer sales. (KF)

2nd: Second Street Brewery   
1814 Second St., 982-3030
1607 Paseo de Peralta, 989-3278

3rd: Marble Brewing and Tap Room

60 E San Francisco St., Ste. 313, 989-3565

 
 Best Local, Independent Coffee/Tea House


1st: Ohori’s Coffee
1098 1/2 S St. Francis Drive
507 Old Santa Fe Trail 982-9262

A staple of Santa Fe since 1984, Ohori’s makes a damn fine cup o’ joe, and it’s all thanks to the ownership’s seriously high standards. “Our philosophy is to buy the best beans on the market from around the world and to keep consistent from year to year,” manager/co-owner Tai Ayers says. “The coffee that you’re buying in our stores is all micro-roasted right here in town, so it’s never more than a couple days old at most.” Ayers points out that it’s harder to make a great cup at such a high altitude, but that doesn’t stop this beloved local haunt from serving it up right each and every time. An upcoming move for the Old Santa Fe Trail location into the currently-in-development Luna Project (that’s that thing being built at the intersection of Cerrillos Road and Manhattan Street) means that Ohori’s is strengthening its already sturdy roots, and that those of us who like it downtown won’t have far to go when we need our shot-in-the-dark. (ADV)

2nd: The Teahouse
821 Canyon Road, 992-0972

3rd: Java Joe’s
2801 Rodeo Road and 604 N Guadalupe St., 474-5282


 
 Best Local Barista


1st: Bill Deutsch at Holy Spirit Espresso

225 W San Francisco St. 920-3664

It might be the smallest coffee house around, but the physical confines of the former elevator waiting room are overshadowed by owner Bill Deutsch’s larger-than-life personality, which on any given day effectively transforms the 52-square-foot space into the Happiest Place in Santa Fe. By his own estimate, he’s served over a quarter million espressos to both faithful locals and a strong international clientele that bypasses Starbucks—or, as he likes to call the caffeine super-chain, “the whore down the street”—and once gone keep in touch with him by sending postcards that he proudly displays by the establishment’s tiny counter. “That’s 14 years of fan mail,” he boasts, as I await my eight-ounce espresso with the joy of a kid waiting for Disneyland (or in this case, Euro Disney) to open. (EL)

2nd: Crystal Richards at Counter Culture
930 Baca St., Ste. 1, 995-1105

3rd: Jim Trudell at Java Joe’s

2801 Rodeo Road, 474-5282

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