It's amazing how a building as big and beautiful as the Monte Vista Fire Station can stay so hidden. The only Pueblo Revival-style fire station in, well, anywhere was built just before World War II and put up for sale in 1972, when it was no longer big enough for a new breed of fire trucks. Hoses used to hang from the roof of the tower all the way to the garage, which is now the dining room of the Monte Vista Fire Station bar and restaurant.
We associate growers’ markets with summer, and for good reason. That’s normally when stuff grows. Thanks to a combination of old-fashioned tactics and newfangled technology, however, farmers have figured out ways of extending the season. And if you’re out to absorb some social cheer as winter sets in, stock up on staples, and wolf down a breakfast burrito and a coffee, there’s no finer place than the Santa Fe Farmers Market—the state’s largest, oldest and arguably best.
Flying Star Café has become an old friend to many. It’s the kind of friend you hang out with all the time, even though you sometimes complain about him. The red stuff is too expensive, but you drink it anyway because it’s that good. The watery beans in the breakfast burrito may not be what gets you up in the morning. But just thinking about a tofu scramble with brown rice feels like a warm hug.
Ahmed Obo, the owner/chef at Jambo Café in Santa Fe, was born on the island of Lamu off the coast of Kenya. There, he grew up among the culinary traditions of Africa, Arabia and India. The food at Jambo reflects the Lamu style of culinary fusion. It’s designed to be interesting and different but doesn’t attempt to force anyone too far from their comfort zone. The ingredients, including a host of local meats and veggies, is priced unusually low for a restaurant dealing in clean, local food.
Café Lush is like a daydream of the way things might be in some future hybrid of Europe and Albuquerque. It’s an urban café on a quiet street corner, with a small menu of simple yet well-crafted dishes and a pledge to use local, seasonal and organic ingredients whenever possible. But unlike in Europe, the red and green chile won’t disappoint—unless you’re a member of the New Mexico anticumin coalition.
When I started getting fussy about which meats I’d eat in the line of duty, I knew it might limit the pool of restaurants I could choose from. But I also hoped my quest for clean meat would draw places out of the woodwork that I otherwise would have missed. Ariana Halal Market and Café is one such place.
Vegan food has a reputation for being bland and boring. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course, but the cuisine and the people who cook it have inherited this stigma. For proof that vegan food can be comforting and filling, we have Mint Tulip, which opened this spring where 20 Carrots used to be.
When I first heard about Body, I wondered how it was spelled. Given it’s in Santa Fe, I figured maybe it was “Bodhi,” or “Baughty,” or some other inscrutable spelling. But Body? Too obvious. It was the last thing I thought of. That’s the name of a gym.
When I want to store large amounts of basil, I don't make pesto. Instead, I prepare a bare-bones mixture of pureed basil, olive oil and salt, which I freeze in jars. If I want to make pesto at a later date I can always add pine nuts, cheese and garlic. But I can't remove those things from pesto if, in the middle of winter, I decide I want homegrown basil in my Thai coconut green curry.
After 12 years of feeding students at Escuela del Sol montessori, Robin Day and her husband Tom Day began selling her cooking to the public. The initial idea, she told me, was to take advantage of a semi-captive audience: parental units that are obligated to drop by the building twice a day, having been briefed by their kids on how good the food is.
Growers’ markets have an oasis-like feeling to them. They’re sanctuaries of foliage, magnets for cool people and hives of activity. That effect is heightened in Socorro, where the surrounding landscape is sculpted by hot wind and sunshine. In the town’s charming plaza, cool green grass is shaded by immense cottonwood trees. On Saturdays, when the market is in full swing, it feels like a festival—or a barter fair.