If you’re feeling fancy, you’ll find another upscale dining option in downtown Santa Fe at Sassella, serving fine Italian food in the heart of New Mexico. With numerous awards under his belt, executive chef Cristian Pontiggia brings his culinary artistry to new-world cuisine, marrying traditional Italian cooking with a new-age flair. His creations are just as much a delight to the eye as they are on the palette, creating thought-provoking illusions amidst symphonies of flavors. Start with the composizione di pere, move on to the lobster risotto and end with the tiramisu duo for a meal you won’t soon forget.
For something a bit more casual...
Try The Shed or Tia Sophia’s for a no-frills lunch full of flavor. Like the New Mexican version of an east coast diner, Tia Sophia’s offers timeless classics in hearty portions. Locals love the green chile stew or breakfast burrito smothered in “Christmas” (more on that later), but no matter your main, an order of sopapilla for the table is a must. This puffed, fried dough is a New Mexican staple, best served piping hot and drizzled in honey—and it’s to die for.
Now, back to Christmas. New Mexicans take their chile preferences very seriously (“red or green?” is the unofficial state question, after all), so if you want to blend in with the locals, you need to know how to order it. According to local lore, the term Christmas, a combination of both red and green chile, was first coined at none other than Tia Sophia’s when a former waitress encouraged undecided diners to get a little bit of both. Though both options actually come from the same pepper, characterized only by ripeness, the differences in flavor are there and many people in the Southwest have strong opinions.
If you’re hoping to eat like a local, go for Christmas (and while you’re at it, pick up some biscochitos for the plane ride home).
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