Chile is King
By ISF November 8, 2015 no comments
The Santa Fe dining experience is known in the farthest locations of the globe, for, like our art and culture, it is unique. There are more than 200 restaurants in Santa Fe, ranging from corner cafés to elegant four-star establishments. Our restaurants are known for their award-winning chefs who use fresh, locally grown ingredients to create artistically presented innovative cuisine.
What draws the best chef talent to Santa Fe is a centuries-old indigenous cuisine that lends itself wonderfully to innovation and interpretation. The “three sisters”—corn, beans and squash—nourished American Indians. Still, the food must have been a bit bland until the Spanish brought chile in 1598. Today, New Mexico is the number one chile-producing state in the country. Note that the spelling of chile in New Mexico is with an “e,” which is the traditional Spanish spelling.
Northern New Mexican cuisine has an important ingredient, the chile pepper, which is the official New Mexico state vegetable. New Mexicans love their chile. Why? It’s packed full of flavor, not just heat. Chile is SPICY in Santa Fe. If your palate can’t handle heat very well, you might want to taste it first before it’s smothered over your food. Dishes slathered in chile, like enchiladas and burritos, are traditional to Northern New Mexico.
Chile, you see, is like wine. Its complex flavors and degrees of hotness are subtly influenced by weather, soil and altitude. Aficionados prefer their chile from one particular region, just like cabernet. Red and green chile come from the same plant. Fresh chile is green, dried is red. There is no exact formula as to which is hotter, so, when ordering, it’s wise to ask the waitperson. “Christmas,” a term which exists nowhere else, means half green chile, half red.
However, Santa Fe chefs have taken the spicy pepper to new heights. Chile is important in many cuisines—Asian, Indian, Indonesian and Latin American, just to name a few. Many chefs like to use a pinch in their sauces to add some heat to the flavor as an accent. And, chile comes in many shapes and varieties, including serrano, poblano, habanero and jalapeño, each guaranteed to infuse a bit of intrigue into your meal. Who can resist dishes like black Mediterranean mussels with chipotle, mint and aromatics or grilled tenderloin with Socorro green chile, blue cheese and wild mushrooms? Or, try a local favorite, a green chile cheeseburger. Clever chefs work magic with these influences and local ingredients, many of which are grown on boutique farms located within a few miles of the city.
International Dining Scene
Travel the world in Santa Fe’s restaurants. There’s a thriving international dining scene in Santa Fe. Whether you crave pasta from Northern Italy, incredibly fresh Japanese sushi or mouthwatering tapas as delicious as if you were dining in Spain, you will find it in Santa Fe restaurants. And, if you love seafood, you’re in luck. Many chefs fly in their own supply each day, so it’s as fresh as on Fisherman’s Wharf.
Whatever your choice, you’ll certainly be delighted. Our restaurants rival those of any city in the world. Where should you eat? Browse our website’s Restaurant selections under Dining, which represent Santa Fe’s very best.