Coyote Cafe is essentially two restaurants; one that features upscale Southwestern and a $56 cowboy cut ribeye, and a rooftop cantina, which is more of a chips and margaritas type of gathering place.
I prefer the Cantina; it’s one of the best spots to eat outside in Santa Fe. I’ve eaten there in April with my fleece on and in June in a sleeveless shirt and sandals and always have a great time. Perhaps it’s the company, but there’s just a great vibe. Looking around the packed second floor deck, everyone looks like they are happy campers.
Maybe they’ve tried some of the high octane drinks, including the Norteno Margarita, a traditional margarita with hatch green chile infused tequila. I liked the idea of it, but not the taste particularly. It just wasn’t refreshing on a hot day. I switched to beer, which complemented our food better.
We started with the nachos, and could have stopped there in terms of filling up our stomachs. Piled high with spicy braised pork, red chile sauce, avocado sauce, whiskey cheddar cheese, serrano chiles and black beans, we made quick work of the impressive mound.
Having had burritos and enchiladas morning, noon and night for five days running, the tacos on the menu called our names. Ordering two platters for the table, we split tenderloin of beef tacos with caramelized onions and horseradish slaw, and tacos al pastor topped with the traditional grilled pineapple and tomatillo salsa.
This is not a place for quiet or serious conversation. Music blares and tables are close together, but that’s part of its charm. The quality of the food may vary from year to year, but the Cantina will always have a place on my dance card whenever I visit Santa Fe…I’m compiling a great array of memories there.