It’s a well-known fact that Santa Fe is a mecca for foodies. Its culinary cornucopia is bountiful, and its penchant for innovative cuisine is the stuff of legend. In addition to carne adovada and green chile cheeseburgers, Santa Fe keeps in step with lifestyle and food trends that lean toward the vegetarian-friendly diet. Chefs here in town are magicians in satisfying those with gluten-sensitivity issues.
If you are looking to expand your edible horizons, or simply want to maintain your commitment to a healthier way of eating, Santa Fe will dazzle you with delectable, wholesome options. Restaurants in town also offer many choices for you to eat with a companion who has dietary aversions or allergies. How about swapping that chorizo for chard, queso for kale, or a side of beef for pickled beets? Prepare to have your taste buds tantalized and treated.
Body Cafe Is a Whole-Nutrition Temple
I recharge my nutritional batteries by dining in the always Zen, always inspiring, Body Cafe. This place is a wellness empire. Located inside Body (which offers amazing yoga and exercise classes, soulful healing and spa sessions, and a super groovy eco boutique), the cafe succeeds in serving up some of the most inventive and healthful raw, vegan, and veggie dishes that your palette will ever experience. If you've hit your cheesy enchilada quotient for the week, I highly recommend the raw vegan enchiladas made with green cabbage, red bell pepper, corn, red onion, chile colorado sauce (i.e. red chile), and nut sour cream. Not only is this a beautiful dish, but the flavors are divine, and you will leave energized and light on your toes, not looking for the closest place to take a nap. Try the raw Thai soup for a cool, refreshing twist on a classic.
My other advice: take friends! The garden fresh salads, soups, wraps, fresh juices, and awesome desserts are worth sharing. It is hard not to want one of everything. For those who want extra protein, there is always an option to add organic chicken, wild salmon, cod, tofu, or tempeh to your dish.
Going for the Green at Vinaigrette
If you crave salads, there is nowhere more enticing than Vinaigrette. Just walking in the door will let you know that you are about to do something wonderful for your body. This sweet, whimsical little green bistro is tucked away into an alley, but packs a flavor punch into each of the more than 20 copious and gorgeous salads. You can feel even better knowing that the produce is locally sourced, mainly from the owner's farm just a few miles from town.
It is a challenge to choose just one of these masterpieces, but I adore the colorful and nutrient-packed Omega, made with leafy greens, sweet corn, diced bell pepper, tomato, avocado, red onion, cilantro, and toasted pine nuts all tossed in a fantastic blue cheese vinaigrette. My goat cheese obsession is more than satisfied with The Beet Goes On: fresh baby greens and arugula tossed with tangy goat cheese, chopped pistachios, balsamic roasted beets, and honey-balsamic vinaigrette. There are delish soups (try the miso based mushroom stew) and a nice selection of yummy sandwiches on the menu, too. You can also add a variety of meats and seafood to any salad, so the carnivore in your group will be elated. Whatever you do, don't skip the luscious homemade desserts.
Sweet and Savory Salvation
A bit off the beaten path, but very close to town, you will find Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, a testament to simplicity through the use of wholesome, nourishing ingredients. There is a feeling of balance, both in the unpretentious and meditative interior, and in the combinations of inventive flavors in the food. Breakfast is served until 11, and it wouldn't feel right not to have the lemon ricotta spelt pancakes. The ricotta gives the perfect amount of moisture and sweetness, and the subtle citrus of the lemon is sublime. There are also wonderful egg dishes, oatmeal, and a breakfast burrito to choose from.
Indonesian curry, veggie burgers, and Vietnamese style sandwiches are all wonderful lunch choices I can personally recommend, as Sweetwater has all of the bases covered. The shrimp and grits with green chile are outstanding. Dinner is no less dazzling, and the prix fixe menu is a great way to sample the tasty offerings such as duck, house-made pastas, Pacific cod, beef tacos, and the surprisingly flavorful vegan kale, apple, and cashew tamales. All of these dishes are paired with an inspired soup and salad that will leave both serious carnivores and hardcore vegans satiated and happy. Be sure to check out the sustainable wine selection served on tap, as well as a handful of craft beers and mead.
Southwest Meets East Perfectly
You may not associate Santa Fe with Indian cuisine, but Raaga brings it. This charming and serene restaurant has a fantastic array of inventive vegetarian and vegan dishes, and the chef is more than willing to accommodate special dietary requests. For an appetizer, be sure to try the vegetable samosas, filled with a yummy blend of curried peas and potatoes. I love that they offer half portions on most entrees, meaning that you can try two dishes that you may be curious about. My favorite combo is the Aloo Gobhi (a healthful and spicy cauliflower, potato, pea, onion, and red pepper mix with a tangy gingery sauce), and the sinfully creamy Paneer Palak made with puréed spinach and farmer’s cheese and mild, fragrant spices. In addition to other traditional dishes like tandoori and curries, Raaga offers lamb, chicken, and seafood options. as well. Have a glass of wine or an Indian beer and enjoy your Raaga experience.
Viva la Gluten-Free Revolution
I've lost track of how many of my favorite dining companions have fallen prey to gluten (wheat) intolerance. The research is mounting on the very real health issues that can be caused by consuming the stuff, and luckily Revolution Bakery is paying attention. This always-bustling establishment is committed to a 100% gluten free environment with absolutely no compromise on flavors and textures. For breakfast, they serve local eggs and scrumptious pancakes. During lunch you can choose from savory items, such as soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as heavenly pizzas (the pesto pizza topped with kalamata olives, feta, and roasted red peppers is to die for). The selection of breads and baked confections will beckon you, I can assure you. Lemon squares, chocolate brownies, fruit and oat bars, cookies, and cupcakes are all made fresh with organic ingredients when possible. Even the most impassioned white flour devotee will be hard pressed to find a difference in consistency and flavor here.
Eat Your Veggies at Every Meal in Santa Fe
The options for vegetarian dining are endless in Santa Fe, and going meatless hardly means boring. Whether you are a seasoned vegan or a carnivore looking to shake up your options, you will be giddy with the variety of delicious dishes from some of the city's most ingenious chefs. There is something for everyone at your table here, and eating your vegetables has never been so rewarding.