Vegetarian Santa Fe
True confessions: I am not so mindful as to have given up animal protein, but I do enjoy my healthful veggies along with those who are working their admirable way towards a higher consciousness. This kind way of eating is right in sync with the Santa Fe aesthetic, so it’s a pleasure to report that our little town has some big options for those who forego the way of the flesh.
Definitely on the list for its ability to satisfy vegetarians and vegans alike, Body is located at 333 West Cordova Road. Not just a cafe, but also a spa and purveyor of soft and clingy clothing, Body boasts a completely organic menu that both tastes good and is good for you. And if you are a raw food purist, this is the place, with seven raw entrees on the menu! Everything we’ve tried so far at the Cafe has been appetizing in appearance, preparation and portion, and meat eaters can add chicken or fish to pump up a dish to their taste. You wouldn’t imagine that a collard green burrito would be on your list of things that are must-try, but for vegans, it’s a great choice, the collards tender and not bitter and the nut cheese creamy and dotted with cashews. The ambiance is soothing, with warm earth-tones and large picture windows that frame the outdoor greenery. Service is friendly but relaxed, with no pressure to hustle you on out when your plate has been collected. And once your plate has been collected, make sure you don’t ease out the door without dessert. This is chocolate that should be consumed without guilt, rich, dark, creamy and, in the case of the chocolate ganache with raspberry sauce, vegan! If you share a piece of this deeply delicious dessert, you can feel more virtuous when you admire the clothing on your way out, since the fit is one that makes sure you’ve been paying attention to your sweet calories!
Another new gem that still seems to be largely undiscovered so far is Louie’s Corner Cafe, perched right on the NE corner of West Alameda and Galisteo Streets, a location that was just waiting for the perfect food fit. Named for a beloved pooch, this spot is unlikely to see a doggie bag, as everybody seems to clean their plates with gusto. The vegetarians in my family love the “fakin bacon” in the BLT, and the non-vegetarian was well contented with a juicy grilled Reuben sandwich with a refreshing cucumber salad on the side. For those who like breakfast at dinner, try the migas (cheesy eggs scrambled with tortilla strips), which are divine; there was no question of what to order when I saw the look on the friendly server’s face after asking whether it should be the omelet or the migas! Speaking of omelets, however, there are a number of choices, including both Johnny-Be-Good and Johnny-Be-Bad versions, a nod and a wink to the clever entree titles scattered throughout the menu. Although a bit more for vegetarian palates than those of vegans, there is a vegan breakfast burrito, as well as several salads and sandwiches, along with a build-your-own sandwich option. Their strawberry tea is a refreshing treat to enjoy out on the patio while you’re watching the world stroll by, and a beer and wine license is now in place.
If you are hankering for fresh Oriental flavors, you can’t do better than Shohko at 321 Johnson Street! Continuously in business in Santa Fe for 34 years, this place does it right. Vegetable tempura is light and crisp and includes a chunk of green chile, and the bento box lunch gets veg-friendly when you order tofu instead of chicken or salmon. Vegans and vegetarians both do fine with the seaweed spinach salad and a few selections from the vegetarian sushi menu, and you can even order a sake flight if you know what you’re doing. Add in the serene atmosphere and Shohko’s presence in the kitchen, satisfaction guaranteed!
Of course, you ARE in Santa Fe so you have to try some sizzling green chile at some point, whether it’s coating a burrito or pooling on a plate of cheesy enchiladas. As much as we love several well-known downtown spots for local cuisine, crowds at the doorway can be a deterrent, so find your way over the the innocuous DeVargas Mall (Paseo de Peralta at Guadalupe Street) to settle in at Atrisco. The location makes getting a table easier, and including many locally grown foods is part of their mission. Vegetarians who love cheese are naturals for New Mexican cuisine, and vegans will enjoy the Veggie Especial, which has three incarnations, an enchilada plate, burrito or stuffed sopaipilla, with veggie chalupas on the menu for lighter appetites.
Finally, if you want to get out of the city and take a short drive to delicious, head for Real Food Nation, on the Old Las Vegas Highway at the junction with I-25 North (exit 292). Mostly organic, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices like roasted beet salad or creamy tomato soup, and gluten-free pizza by the slice, this spot is popular with the locals who live tucked in against the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos. You can check out the Meal of the Day postings on their website, then eat in or take it to go for a picnic in the mountains. You have to give kudos to a restaurant that has its lettuce garden in full glory outside the front door, along with five acres of on-site produce – now that’s farm to table!
Between these options and the Inn’s breakfast, with organic cereals, dairy and coffee, you can put your vegetarian palate at ease. You’ll eat as well as the others do, no sacrifices needed!