La Plazuela in Santa Fe, New Mexico

In Santa Fe’s city center lies the Santa Fe Plaza, a National Historic Landmark. La Plazuela Restaurant, meaning the little plaza in Spanish, is a gathering place for history buffs and foodies to enjoy authentic New Mexican cuisine.

Location: La Plazuela Restaurant located at La Fonda on the Plaza, 100 East San Francisco Street in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. Find the restaurant’s website here.

Menu: La Plazuela’s menu was a fresh interpretation of southwestern cuisine. We found an emphasis on fresh ingredients from New Mexico — squash, beans, and corn referred to as the three sisters of New Mexican cuisine. Adding to this foundation of local cuisine you’ll find indigenous ingredients like chiles, pinon, vanilla, and cocoa.

Thoughts: Yes, I could have eaten Hatch green chiles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I did. I had a breakfast burrito with Christmas chile sauce. Lunch featured a Hatch green chile bacon cheeseburger, and dinner included a bowl of sweet-corn chowder with green chiles. While green chiles are said to have healing properties, I ate them solely for the flavor. Chiles like grapes and wine have different flavor profiles depending on the year and the farm.

At the end of the meal, the mint-chocolate chip ice cream, flavored with specs of mint and mini chocolate chips throughout, was the perfect foil against the heat of all those green chiles.

The dining room evoked a southwestern style, to complement the southwest flavors it served. The restaurant dining room built in the 1920s sported wrought-iron light fixtures and heavy furniture in a typical local style. Ernest Martinez, a former artist-in-residence, hand painted over 400 glass windowpanes throughout the hotel. The restaurant made these windowpanes a feature in the décor. They added the traditional cheerful colors to the dining room.

Twinkle lights adorned full-size trees while natural light streamed through skylights giving the restaurant an outdoor patio atmosphere. A fountain in the center of the room added a calming trickle.

The servers wore black pants, with black and white button-down shirts and black half aprons tied at the waist. The checkered shirts gave a cowboy feel to their uniform, continuing the southwest theme.

Some of my favorite dishes included:

The roasted green chile-sweet corn chowder. It had a smoky flavor on the front end and a spicy depth of flavor from the Hatch green chiles on the back end. In addition to the roasted green chiles and roasted sweet corn, the pungent onions become sweet by sweating them in a skillet. The chef added diced potatoes and red bell peppers. The vegetables mixed into a creamy broth where the chiles subtly star. Strings of fried leeks topped the dish.

The breakfast burrito. Built with a flour tortilla as the foundation, they added scrambled eggs, grilled breakfast potatoes, chorizo sausage, smoky black beans, and asadero cheese. Your choice of New Mexico Hatch red or green chile sauce topped it all off. I couldn’t decide, so I took the Christmas approach and enjoyed both the red and green chile sauce.

The herbed butter slices contained parsley and garlic. Each slice came with a sprinkle of black lava salt, complementing the bread.

For dinner, it’s best to call ahead for reservations.

Price Range: Dinner entrees range from $21 for pork carnitas to $58 for a New Mexico Buffalo tenderloin. 

Amy Piper

Amy Piper is a freelance food and travel writer. She writes about food and multi-generational travel on her blog Follow the Piper. You can follow her on Twitter @amythepiper.

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