Good, but not the Santa Fe Big Deal …
September 21, 2009
“The Maria’s tradition began in 1952 when Maria and Gilbert Lopez started a small take-out kitchen in the area that now houses the bar and fine kitchen. Maria’s traditional Northern new Mexico cooking soon became such a hit that Gilbert built a patio. But the rains were relentless that year, so Gilbert covered the patio with the very vigas and roof that are still in place today, in what we now call “The Cantina.” This was the beginning of a restaurant which has built a history unto itself and has become a Santa Fe landmark and showplace.
“In 1985, Laurie and Al Lucero bought Maria’s and have since tried to make the restaurant the same as it was when Al, a Santa Fe native, was growing up here int he late forties and early fifties. Since the Lucero takeover, Maria’s has re-established itself as one of Santa Fe’s premier restaurants, constantly receiving local, national and international praises for its ambiance, cuisine and hospitality. We hope we earn yours.
“The dinner menu contains over thirty items, including fajitas, steaks, soups and salads, and New Mexican dinners, with an average price of approximately $8.50.”
Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen is a good place with much to recommend it. My wife, visiting sister, and I went there last night with four Easterners in tow. They are New Mexican Food neophytes and didn’t have any preconceived ideas about this cuisine. They thought it was great. For them, it was, and I’m delighted that they went away happy.
The flip side: My wife, Jane, and I are seasoned NMFood aficionados, and visiting sister, while an Easterner, really knows her way around this cuisine. We thought the food to be somewhat above average, bur certainly not great, My Carne Adovada Enchiladas were good, butt the pork was not as tender as it should have been and was somewhat dry. The red was barely average and a tad sweet tasting. At least there was NO comino (hurray!). Jane’s Chicken Adovado (a tourist’s dish) was declared to be OK, and VS’s Chile Rellenos (beans, hold the rice) were just barely OK. She has had better at Chevy’s back East (a chain). The sides were pedestrian (tasteless rice and dry refritos.
The setting is charming and the service attentive, friendly, and very helpful. Helpful is a definite asset for the tourist business. And the tourists love the choice from a list of some 150 Margaritas.
So what we have here is a restaurant with multiple personalities: One persona for the visitors who treats them very well, and another who tells the natives to go somewhere else. Resolution? Take your guests here — they will love it. Take yourself to your favorite Mom and Pop. You already know yours. Mine is Mary and Tito’s on Fourth in Albuquerque or to El Bruno’s in Cuba or Albuquerque’s North Valley. Both are superb.
The Great Margarita Book– Second Edition is available at Maria’s in Santa Fe or at most any book store. This 154 page book contains:
- What to look for when buying tequila
- How tequila is made
- Who invented the margarita
- A source for all ingredients
- Full-color pictures of all tequilas used
- Recipes and full-color illustrations
- Great photos of Maria’s, making it a wonderful way to remember your visit to Maria’s in Santa Fe.
Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen