Donna Cooks


Ski Trip Excursion 1 – Blue Corn Cafe in Santa Fe, NM
January 22, 2007, 1:48 pm
Filed under: Food Travelogues

Road trips are the perfect time to find good chow, especially if you plan your stops well.  But sometimes all the planning in the world will do you no good.  My road trip to ski in Angel Fire, NM was one of those trips.

We had set aside an entire day to drive to Angel Fire, 11 hours away under normal conditions.  We even left Dallas at 4:00am so we could get there in the afternoon to have time to settle in, rent our ski equipment a day ahead, and relax. 

But weather was not on our side.  The panhandle of Texas had received two days of sleet and snow, and the Weather Channel had a big red circle over that area with the label “Do not travel, roads impassable.”  We’re young, but we weren’t that stupid (so we thought), so we re-routed our path to go further south through Roswell, NM to avoid the icy roads of the panhandle.  It would be a little farther but worth the safety.

Oh but we were so wrong.  The storm had hit further south as well.  By the time we reached Post, Texas (southeast of Lubbock), we had slid off the road into side ditches twice and seen two 18-wheelers turned over.  The last two hours of driving through west Texas were spent going at 10 mph, praying for our lives.  Morale was low, so low that I agreed to eat at McDonald’s.  Turning around and going home wasn’t an option either, seeing as how the wintry weather was traveling toward Dallas.

We changed our path to go through Lubbock, TX and Clovis, NM.  Somehow we got lucky, the roads were slightly better and we were able to manage 40 mph.  And even though we hit some dense fog in New Mexico, we made it to Santa Fe by 8:00pm and decided to wait to head up the mountains the next morning.  We found vacancy at the clean and comfortable Comfort Suites.  We asked the front desk clerk for a good place nearby for New Mexican cuisine (I was in Santa Fe last year around the same time and loved every meal I had, apparently I’m a huge green chile fan).  He recommended the Blue Corn Cafe.

We were on the yuppified side of town, covered with business-oriented hotels like Fairfield Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, chain restaurants, and endless newly constructed strip malls.  I was a little doubtful about the authenticity and local flavor of Blue Corn Cafe with its location amidst all these suburban standards.  But I was pleasantly surprised (for the most part).  I wouldn’t call this a hidden gem, but between the live music, microbrewery offerings, and ski lodge-like furnishings, we had finally found some comfort at the end of a long, rough day.

We ordered salsa and chips and drinks once we sat down.  I’m used to complimentary salsa and chips, but am not completely unaccustomed to paying for them.  However, I was a little put off when informed that refills on the salsa and chips were also at an additional charge.  Having said all that, the salsa was excellent, fresh and just the right of amount of spicy.  The chips (including the blue corn ones) were greaseless, a nice change of pace from the almost transparent grease drenched chips you find at typical Tex-Mex places.

I didn’t have much of an appetite, having sat in the car for the last 15 hours, so I ordered the green chile stew, which is pork simmered with green chile, potatoes, and pozole, served with a flour tortilla.  The stew was excellent, perfect amount of seasoning with just a few chunks of tender pork (I don’t like a lot of meat in my soups/stews unless it’s chili).  The tortilla, on the other hand, tasted directly out of a package.

My companions mostly stuck with typical New Mexican entrees, enchiladas and tamales covered in green or red chile (everyone went for green chile).  My almost vegetarian (she tries to eat mostly vegetarian, but will eat meat) friend was disappointed that they were out of calabacitas (squash) as an option for filling and had to resort to chicken.

A couple of combo plates:

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I had a few bites off of these dishes.  In particular I remember the beans having a surprising but enjoyable mild smokey spiciness to them. 

The one friend who didn’t order a combo plate went for the tortilla burger covered in red chile, described on the menu as featured in Gourmet Magazine.  It was disappointing.  The burger was past well done even though he requested medium-well.  There’s just nothing too appealing about a chunk of super-done ground beef inside a store-bought tortilla covered in red chile and cheese.  In fact, the only thing that had any flavor on that burger was the red chile.

Tortilla burger:

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Drink-wise, we enjoyed Blue Corn Cafe’s home-brewed root beer and one of the microbrews (I believe it was the End of the Trail Brown Ale). 

Total for dinner for 5 (technically I had a soup), chips and salsa (with one refill), drinks, tax, and tip was about $75, which is pretty decent for Santa Fe, not exactly a bargain town.

Service was extremely friendly, especially considering we were in terrible moods when we first walked in.  With the exception of the burger being overcooked, there weren’t any major mishaps from the kitchen.

I think there are better restaurants in Santa Fe for New Mexican cuisine (I had a memorable meal at La Choza last January).  However, Blue Corn Cafe seems like a trusty option for a good time (microbrews and live music), especially for what seems like an otherwise generic, suburb-like part of Santa Fe.

Rating: 3 / 5

Blue Corn Cafe
4056 Cerrillos Rd
Santa Fe, NM 87507

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1 Comment so far
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Oh my goodness that looks divine. Those pictures are bringing up a real craving of mexican food to me.

Comment by cookingandrecipereviews




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