Santa Fe Favorites
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
As Santa Fe’s oldest brewery, the Santa Fe Brewing Company has been offering up tasty beers since 1988. Having won numerous honors—including a gold medal at the 2007 North American Beer Awards—their beers are available in most local liquor departments and stores all over the Southwest. But for the full experience, it’s always best to visit the source. In 2005, the brewery moved to its current location on the Turquoise Trail, where it soon became a popular venue for indoor and outdoor live music, as well as a staple destination for tummy-tempting pub fare. The brewery and tasting room are located across the parking lot from the restaurant/performance space, and it’s worth the short trek to dazzle your tastebuds with the various regular and seasonal offerings of brewmaster Ty Levis.
Nearly everyone in town who appreciates a good brewski has already developed a taste for the full-bodied Santa Fe Pale Ale, the brewery’s signature beer. For a little more flavor without being heavy, sample the smooth, mild Nut Brown Ale. Like something a little more robust? Try a hearty swig of the chocolatey State Pen Porter, Levis’ trademark beer. In colder months, belly up to a pint of Santa Fe Stout, described as a “generous Irish serving of roast malt that rolls off the tongue with a creamy bitterness reminiscent of the finest coffee” (available mid-February to mid-May). Other year-round staples include Santa Fe Wheat, Fiesta IPA, and the one-of-a-kind Chicken Killer Barley Wine.
Nothing goes better with beer than hearty pub fare, and the family-friendly SFBC Pub & Grill offers fresh and delicious variations on the theme. Dress up a juicy burger with add-ons like blue cheese or green chile; or opt for a buffalo burger, made from buffalo raised just down the street at the penitentiary. Not into red meat? Try a Greek wrap—a sundried tomato tortilla gently embracing a mouthwatering combination of grilled chicken, feta, kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, and mixed greens. Or flex your muscles with the Black Belt: seared Ahi tuna served on sourdough bread with Asian style salsa, mixed greens, and wasabi mayo. You might be hard pressed to decide on just one side item, always a toss-up between crunchy sweet potato fries and a generous portion of zingy Thai coleslaw. Finish off with Taos Cow ice cream (you can even buy a pint to take home). After you’re thoroughly sated, saddle up for a game of pool or dance the night away to live music. And you can even return the next morning for breakfast!
Santa Fe Brewing Company
35 Fire Place
Brewery: 505-424-3333; Pub & Grill: 505-424-9637
Tasting room hours: 10:30 am–9:00 pm Tues-Fri, 11:30 am–6:30 pm Sat. Guided tours every Saturday at noon.
Pub & Grill hours: 7 am–9 pm Sunday through Thursday; 7 am–10 pm Friday and Saturday
When I used to live near the Second Street Brewery, I stopped in regularly for my fix of sandwiches, fries, and beer. But I confess several years had passed since I last set foot there. So when I stopped in recently with a friend on a Friday evening, we were delighted to note the elbow-to-elbow crowd, bangin’ bluegrass, prompt service, mountainous nachos and, of course, delicious brews. In a town heavy on high-end restaurants and light on friendly, unpretentious venues, this neighborhood brewpub has definitely cemented its standing as one of Santa Fe’s favorite local hangouts.
Second Street’s beer tends toward the full-bodied and—as the website warns—is not for the faint of heart. The brewery, occupying its own building next door to the restaurant, offers up some reliable basics as well as many seasonal specialties. The Extra Special Bitter (ESB), a “robust beer with a caramel/nutty palette and fruity profile,” is always a solid choice. For India Pale Ale fans, the brewery’s award-winning “strong, malty, but dry finishing” IPA is a sure-fire hit. The pale Golden Ale will soothe and please nearly any palate, while the sweet “London-style” cream stout, winner of multiple awards, will satisfy even the deepest, darkest beer craving. The true excitement, however, lies in the extensive seasonal brew list—a northern European tour of beers such as Bavarian Hefeweisen, Belgian-American Pale Ale, Czech Bohemian Pilsner, English Bitter, and Scotch Ale. Prost!
While you’re hanging out sucking down homebrews and listening to local musicians ply their craft, don’t forget to eat. On the healthy side, try the Poached Salmon Salad or the Tuna Walnut Niçoise Salad, both of which are generous, fresh, and include enough yummy veggies to fill you up without filling you out. For vegetarians, I highly recommend the Sweetheart Hummus: creamy garbanzo beans pureed with artichoke hearts, toasted sesame tahini, fresh lemon juice and garlic, served with deliciously thick pita bread, kalamata olives, pepperoncinis, cucumbers, and tomato wedges. If you want something between two pieces of bread, sandwich offerings include—in addition to standard beef and veggie burgers— a Reuben, a Caprese Stacked Sandwich, Grilled Ahi Tuna; and another of my favorites, the Grilled Chicken Pita, served on thick pita bread with cheese and jalapeños. Don’t forget the fresh-cut fries! Entrées tend toward traditional pub fare: fish and chips, Shepherd’s Pie, and roasted chicken, with the addition of New Mexican staples like chicken enchiladas, fish tacos, and chicken burritos. For those of you who want the full treatment, Second Street features a Brewmaster's Dinner, hosted by their "beer god", brewmaster Rod Tweet. A complete brewery tour is followed by a four course meal, prepared by chef Ned, with house brews complimenting each course. Whatever your pleasure, you’re sure to enjoy the Second Street Brewery’s easy style and great people watching. And you’ll probably see someone you know, so brush up on your neighborly small talk between gulps and bites.
Second Street Brewery
1814 Second Street
Open 11 am–10 pm Mon-Thurs, 11 am–11 pm Fri & Sat, noon–10 pm Sun
The Blue Corn Café and Brewery was one of the first places I visited when I moved to Santa Fe in 1997—and that alone says volumes. The fact that the restaurant’s two locations are still going strong 11 years later attests to their solid quality and popularity in a town where staying power is as elusive as water in the Santa Fe River. And why shouldn’t the Blue Corn be holding its own? You can’t go too far wrong with a tempting list of cold microbrews, accompanied by a solid selection of tried and true American and New Mexican dishes. Plus, you can choose your ambience: the cozy, low-ceilinged downtown location with its signature Santa Fe flair, or the spacious Southside restaurant reminiscent of some of the Colorado breweries I’ve visited.
First things first: Brewmaster Daniel Jaramillo offers a solid selection of microbrews for every palate, ranging from the clean, crisp, and lightly spiced Broken Spoke Honey Wheat Ale to the aptly named Sleeping Dog Stout, which won a gold medal in the 2007 Great American Beer Festival Awards. If you’re more of a pale ale fan, you’ll love the medium-bodied High Altitude Pale Ale (“altitude with an attitude!”). On the bitter side is my personal fave: Atomic Blonde Lager, whose pils-style sparkle pairs well with anything crunchy and salty. Rounding out the list are the dry, crisp Road Runner IPA and the English-style End of the Trail Brown Ale. Can’t decide? You can request samples of any beer for $1.25 per selection.
From picky to adventurous, the Blue Corn’s varied menu delivers something for every palate. For the lighter appetite, try the grilled corn and chipotle soup (I’ve heard raves!) or a Southwestern Cobb Salad. Sandwiches range from the hearty Black & Blue Burger, a red chile blackened half-pound burger topped with bacon and blue cheese, to the Honey Chipotle Chicken Sandwich, a grilled chicken breast basted with honey-chipotle barbeque sauce and topped with caramelized onions and jack cheese. Stick-to-your-rib pub specialties include fish & chips, cedar plank salmon, shepherd’s pie, mango chicken, and homemade meatloaf. The New Mexican menu offers a solid lineup of the usual suspects: fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, tacos, tamales, chile rellenos, stuffed sopaipillas, chimichangas, and, of course, several combination plates. Lunch specials, basically smaller portions of the regular menu, are available daily from 11:00–4:00. Of course, anytime is a good time to stop in for a beer and a Chips & Dips Sampler: flame roasted salsa, queso, and guacamole served with a never-ending basket of crisp blue and white tortilla chips.
Blue Corn Café & Brewery
Downtown: 133 E. Water St., 505-984-1800
Southside: 4056 Cerrillos Rd # G, 505-438-1800
Hours: 10 am–11 pm daily