Sunday, February 7, 2010

Jalapeño's Mexican Grill

Last week we were in Santa Fe, NM. We go twice a year for Michael's board meeting at St. John's least that's the excuse. Truth is, it's one of our favorite places, for the mountains, the air, the plants, and not least of all, the food. We have a long list of favorite restaurants we hit every visit.

This year, when we arrived at the Cloud Cliff Bakery for breakfast on Thursday morning, we were surprised to find it closed, and not just for the day. Fortunately we weren't starving and crabby, and within a few blocks we came across an inviting alternative (more on the Tree House Cafe in a later post). As we sat enjoying our pupusas (ok, only I had pupusas but I liked the sound of that phrase), I proposed a radical idea to Michael: Let's only eat at new places on this trip!

He had to think about it. It's not easy to bypass the carne adobada at Horseman's Haven. In the end we opted for a culinary adventure: every place we ate was new to us, and we ate very well indeed.

Most unlikely and truly wonderful was Jalapeño's, in the Albertson's shopping plaza at the intersection of Zia and St. Francis (3005 St. Francis, Plaza Entrada, Santa Fe, NM, 505-983-8431). We were staying at the nearby Santa Fe Suites and found a menu for Jalapeño's in our kitchenette. If it hadn't been for our resolution, we probably wouldn't have ventured in. That would have been sad.

Yes, Jalapeño's serves a killer breakfast burrito. The red chile sauce is handmade and homemade by owner Raul from chile negro, chile catarino, tomatillos, and tomatoes: the result is complex and rich. Like the best moles, it warms from the inside out and leaves you wanting more. Rich and addictive, the taste haunts you all day long. Even something as simple as the pico de gallo (often a throw-away in less skilled hands) is so fresh and tasty that it demands you pay attention.

What makes Jalapeño's truly outstanding is the quality of the food combined with the depth of its menu. The choices are varied and appealing: barbacoa of slow cooked lamb, pork belly with housemade chorizo, and slow cooked beef brisket. I could happily commit to working my way methodically and hungrily through the entire menu, which could keep me busy for a long time, since Raul changes it up every 6 weeks. And of course, then I'd weigh 1,000 pounds.

There's a special menu for "the little amigos", free wifi, and the prices are reasonable. Hours are 8-8. Run, do not walk. Then tell your friends.


At February 8, 2010 at 7:08 AM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

Sounds yummy. And your new-places-only resolution sounds like a lot of fun!

At February 8, 2010 at 10:22 AM , Anonymous Mark said...

Must go NOW! I've been wanting to get back that way for years and you're inspiring me.

Oh, to escape Cincy's gray pall and to land in the desert with such delights in every direction. I am so very envious.

And I have some chipotle peppers at home ... hmm ...

At February 9, 2010 at 11:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sound's like y'all ate well indeed Ms. Ellen.

At February 10, 2010 at 4:51 AM , Blogger Marie said...

I loved the farmers' market in Santa Fe...first place I saw black raspberries. I used to like to Tecolote Cafe - not sure if it's still there. Mean eggs of a morning.

It IS brave to try all new. Sometimes my rooting tendency holds me down to good but old experiences.

At February 10, 2010 at 7:17 PM , Anonymous Dirty Girl Gardening said...

Santa Fe is incredible... and your post is making me hungry!

At February 15, 2010 at 4:31 PM , Blogger molly said...

i'm a 1,000 lbs just drooling over the plates of food. how i love mexican food.


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