Santa Fe has more than its share of “joints” and “dives”. Most are New Mexican-centric, but I recently visited a pair of eclectic venues that sported a broader menu for those who may not want a steady diet of red or green chile sauce at every meal.
Tune-Up Cafe is near the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market, but definitely off the beaten path. It’s not the kind of place you stumble upon, but it’s worth getting out Google maps to find it. It’s a funky, college-town type place, offering three meals a day, with counter service for the first two. The fare at dinner is no more upscale, but table service makes the evening meal a bit more relaxing. At any time of day, it’s the kind of place where you could sit for hours and chill.
For those familiar with Santa Fe, Tune-Up is in the old Dave’s Not Here space. Dave was known for, among other specialties, the ubiquitous green chile cheeseburger. Though still served here, in beef, buffalo and vegetarian versions, the emphasis now is more focused on its owners’ Salvadoran roots. Pupusas, a meat or bean-filled masa cake, are on the menu, as is a banana leaf wrapped tamale. Cuban sandwiches, Greek salad and even a tuna melt are also available. Chicken mole enchiladas are a standout–sweeter and lighter in flavor and color than the more traditional mole poblano, but oh so good.
Harry’s Roadhouse is a local institution, a roadhouse in every sense of the word. Locals and tourists rub elbows and the menu features an equal mix of comfort food and New Mexican fare. Each room in the rambling house has a different personality, so check each one out before choosing where to sit to find a spot that fits your mood. (If you’re there during peak hours, you won’t have that option, of course. ) Specialties include blue corn turkey enchiladas, migas, lemon-ricotta pancakes, meatloaf and ribs.
The migas and pancakes had been featured on Jane and Michael Stern’s Roadfood.com and both lived up to their billing, especially the pancakes which were light and very lemony.
With more than 200 restaurants in Santa Fe, there are a wide array of upscale, continental choices. But it’s enchanting restaurants such as Tune Up Cafe, Harry’s Roadhouse and Tesuque Village Market that make Santa Fe the magnet it has become.