The New New Mexican
Santa Fe distinguishes itself from the enchilada places with a fusion menu that takes a left at Albuquerque and makes a bold step in a much-needed direction.
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Another night, a waiter outright dissed our beer order to the tune of, “I don’t usually drink that watery stuff, ’cause, ya know, I brew my own at home.” He then disappeared for the second half of our meal, leaving us to settle our tab with the bartender.
And I was underwhelmed slightly by a chicken and beef stew, especially after witnessing its super-cool vessel, a sizzling mortar made from lava rock with the visage of a pig carved into its front. Santa Fe’s molcajete, named for the mortar, had all the trappings of a signature dish, but not enough of the flavor. The bubbling guajillo pepper sauce didn’t do enough to enhance the chicken or beef in any way.
Still, the dish and its ilk are a bold step in the right direction for a city that sorely needs more restaurants like Santa Fe. Along with fusion-forward comrades such as Kooma and Mikimotos, Santa Fe offers nightlife, including ladies’ nights, DJ nights, and so forth. During happy hour, the bar’s excellent freshly squeezed margaritas and mojitos drop from $7 to $5 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Anyone inclined to merengue the night away would be wise to fuel with dinner at Santa Fe, then cap it with a plate of “skinny tortillas,” ice cream-filled crepes drizzled with sinful caramel-tequila sauce. Still, it would be fun to see this kitchen ditch the burritos, bring in some huitlacoche, and make its mark as Wilmington’s pre-eminent place for upscale Latin food.