Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Time to Head Home

At Santa Fe Skies RV Park, Santa Fe, New Mexico...

The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler, so it will soon be time to head back to Texas. Our return will be a bit sooner than would be ideal for those like us who would normally hold out for a cooler clime in our glorious state. (It is not advisable to be in Texas in June through September.) However, SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) will not be deterred from attending a cousin's wedding there in mid-September. So, I will see if I can bring up Phannie's heat shield to protect us during our early re-entry. 

Having had a thorough review on an earlier trip of Santa Fe's historical treasures, such as the Basilica Santa Fe and the Loretto Chapel, etc., we are mostly just chilling, doing a little star-gazing and trying new restaurants. I have a few more upon which I'll give you a report, and I'm happy so say that some of these finally made the Favorites list:

The Ranch House - Recommended by one of my cherished blog readers, this has to be one of the fanciest barbecue joints ever constructed. I am so accustomed to ramshackle firetraps with sawdust on the floor (where some of the best barbecue can be found, honestly), that I almost didn't know how to act in this place. It had a beautifully landscaped and paved parking lot and a very tasteful exterior, and customers enter into an anteroom with a well-liveried and charming hostess. 

We were seated in an impeccably decorated and spotless dining room, and the waitress handed us menus that didn't even have fingerprints on them, much less the little globules of dried barbecue sauce to which I'm accustomed. Sandy and I had lunch specials; hers was a brisket sandwich, and mine was a rib plate, upon which the ribs, slaw and a piece of cornbread were strategically placed along with a little dish of butter. The plate was even clean! I looked around at the fancy surroundings, wondering if I should pick up the ribs with my fingers; then I decided that I couldn't think of another way to eat them. The very efficient and personable waitress served us promptly and cheerfully, leaving us with three types of barbecue sauce, all of which were tasty.

The ribs were cooked perfectly, and I found myself wishing there had been more of them on the plate. I compensated by stealing a bite of Sandy's sandwich and found it to be excellent, too. There were only three small things that detracted from the otherwise flawless experience: First, and most egregious, was the sweet cornbread. I'm sorry, but I'm from the South, and cornbread there is NOT sweet. Sweetness is for cakes and cookies--not cornbread. After a bite, I abandoned this abominable culinary travesty, looked heavenward in reverence to all of the great southern cooks in my family who have gone to their reward without committing this sin. Secondly, the chile slaw was bland and forgettable. Where I come from, if you're going to put chiles in slaw, it should make a statement--you know, like damaging the lining of your mouth. This stuff didn't, so I abandoned it, too. And the third flaw was that they served no slice of onion for Sandy's sandwich. However, she could have ordered one, I'm sure, but she chose not to. Even with these missteps, the Ranch House is going on my list of favorites. It was saved by the meat offerings and the elegant surroundings. It would be worth your visit for these things alone, not to mention that it wasn't terribly expensive.

Maria's - This is an iconic Mexican restaurant that has been around since 1950 and is the haunt of whatever glitterati visit Santa Fe, like politicians and movie stars. It is said to be a favorite of Robert Redford's. We ordered shrimp enchiladas to share and a bowl of green chile pork stew, both of which were wonderful. 

Maria's doesn't look like much from the outside.

Shrimp enchiladas at Maria's
And yes, Maria's goes on our list of favorites.

The Wok - This is a nondescript and slightly rundown Chinese restaurant in a shopping center on Cerrillos Road, into which we dropped because we were a little burned out on the New Mexican cuisine offered by perhaps a couple hundred restaurants here in Santa Fe. I don't know if we were just lucky in choosing a really good dish--the three-meat sizzling platter--but I would come back for this one alone. And in fact we did; The Wok is the only restaurant reviewed that we visited a second time. (I should disclose that Asian food is a huge favorite of ours.) Of course, the Wok goes on the favorites list.

Sorry I didn't get a photo of our dish; we scarfed it down before I remembered the camera.
Cafe Castro - This is a New Mexican-style spot very popular with the locals. We weren't impressed; the red sauce on our enchiladas was very bitter, and the plate included a strange mess of bland white hominy that they were trying to pass off as posole. Well, properly crafted posole can be a thing of beauty, but this was merely a "thing," in my opinion. Another unforgivable sin was their three-dollar charge for salsa and chips. What is with these people? If they tried this in Texas, some good ole boys would probably shoot up the place.

Horseman's Haven Cafe - We thought this unassuming little place behind a gas station would be one that offered American cafe fare--you know, blue plate specials and the like. It wasn't. It's more of the same New Mexican fare and little else. Sandy had a hamburger that she had to assemble herself. (Another pet peeve of ours.) I left most of my pork ribs adovado, which had too much gristle. The place has good reviews on Yelp, but I don't know why. Don't bother with this one.

Dr. Field Goods - Now we're talking! This farm-to-table joint, oddly, is next door to the Wok! Imagine that--side by side restaurants that make it onto our favorites list. We had fish and chips, with a side of Mexican street corn and roasted brussels sprouts. This was, by far, the best food we've had in Santa Fe. I wish we had discovered it earlier. The only negative is that it's a bit pricey. Fortunately, we'll gladly pay a bit more for food this good. Here are some photos:

We had already started eating this corn when I remembered to take a photo. Slathered in butter, cheese, garlic and parsley, it was the best corn on the cob ever. 

The freshness and quality of these dishes could not be improved upon.
Upper Crust Pizza - This is a celebrated pizza place near old town that has good reviews and deserves them. We chose our own ingredients for our small pizza and asked for a light crust. I don't know how they make a hand-tossed pizza with such a light and crisp crust, but they did, and it was excellent. This one goes on the favorites list as well.

We spent about an hour at the Saturday farmer's market in the rail yard near old town, and enjoyed the large number of offerings there. We brought some wonderful street bread flavored with green chile and arugula along with some tomatoes, peaches and cantaloupes. I must tell you that the cantaloupe was probably the best we've ever had. I would highly recommend this market as a must-do for visitors.

Roasting chiles at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Smelled so good!
I couldn't resist an ear of roasted corn. So good!
We feel a bit sad that our wonderful summer in the mountains is over. We are so blessed to be able to enjoy this carefree lifestyle, moving around the country to seek out new adventures and leave behind harsh climates that don't suit us. We're headed back to be with family and friends in Texas, and we're both excited about that. 

Here's our last night's look at old Santa Fe in the form of the Basilica Santa Fe. What a beautiful old cathedral!

We also enjoyed one last sunset today, looking westward from our RV park. I snapped this photo of a lone dissipating thunderhead poking up over mountains a hundred miles away with the final light of the sun casting a pink glow on it. We will miss these scenes a lot:

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.


  1. You sure have done the rounds of eateries, all sounds very good. Not take your time getting back to Texas.

    1. I have to admit that cruising restaurants is entertainment for us...pretty expensive entertainment. We need to take up checkers or something.

  2. Thannks for the recommendations for food but you stopped me at shrimp enchiladas!! Oh man, I haven't had enchiladas of any kind for so long, my mouth watered. :) Safe travels in getting where you're going. No rush, right?

    1. We had so many enchiladas at Santa Fe, we thought we were turning into one! Thanks for the safe travel wishes. We have to be back by mid-September.

  3. Replies
    1. It does me, too...especially when the weather and surroundings were so spectacular where we were!

  4. I'm with Patty. I'm looking forward to some great enchiladas! We'll be in Colorado until beginning of October, then heading to Santa Fe. Thanks for the heads up on the great places to eat! Hope your re-entry is not too rough. Have fun at the wedding!

    1. Thanks, Debbie! I wish we were still there. I would love to see the Aspens turning their colors in the fall.

  5. We will have to try the corn and pizza next visit to Santa Fe.


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