Great Historic Santa Fe Funky….
Latest visit: May 6, 2013
First visit: April 26, 2007
Before we moved to New Mexico, we spent lots of time with a Santa Fe Realtor, Mary Joy Ford, searching for a place to live. She and her gentle husband Bob Sivinski treated us to a wonderful breakfast at the Plaza Cafe before embarking on our quest. The Plaza was then, and still is, a special joy to us.
The Plaza Café, Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant, has been serving highly acclaimed, authentic traditional dishes since 1918. Located on the historic Santa Fe Plaza, you won’t find a better view or atmosphere while you enjoy an authentic New Mexican experience. A favorite among locals and movie stars alike, everyone finds what they’re looking for at the Plaza Café.
We have eaten there dozens of times. The Plaza is like a magnet—it keeps drawing us back. We have brought many friends here. It is the place where I ate on my final trip from Maryland to New Mexico to take up residence (in Corrales. Sorry, Mary Joy.).
The food ranges from very good to sensational. Posole and Menudo are very good. Chicken Mole Enchiladas are sensational, with a rich and complex sauce that is probably better that what your Abuelita made. Try the Pumpkin Posole in the late fall–is is a real taste treat. Get the Menudo very spicy.
This is not a fancy place. Formica and chrome. Neon beer signs. Yeah, it’s ’50s funky. I love funky diners. The service is spot-on. One grandmotherly server looked at me and told me what I needed. She was right (Pumpkin Posole and hot Mexican Chocolate).
I have eaten in many fine places in Santa Fe. I keep returning to the Plaza. I feel like driving up there right now, but I no longer see well enough to drive.Anybody want to chaufer?
Thanks for the introduction, Mary Joy.
“The Plaza Café, Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant, has been serving highly acclaimed, authentic traditional dishes since 1918. In 1947, Dionysi Razatos, a Greek immigrant with an American dream, took over the Plaza Café and his family has been feeding Santa Fe ever since. Danny (his Americanized name) married a local girl named Beneranda and together they ran the Plaza and raised six children. As their children grew they all worked at the Plaza and helped to create what the restaurant is today.
“The Razatos family kept the traditional cooking methods and flavor combinations of New Mexico and added some recipes from Greece, all the while keeping with the classic American diner experience. This is why you’ll find everything from blue corn green chile carne asada enchiladas with a warm pillowy sopaipilla to chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and moussaka with a Greek salad on the side.
“In addition to producing food that is hand crafted and made only of the freshest ingredients, Andy Razatos (the youngest of the Razatos family and current Chef) has created a menu with modern interpretations of traditional diner food such as crispy calamari, fresh halibut ceviche and quinoa fritters. Andy is also responsible for the Plaza’s award winning desserts such as Apple Cajeta Pie, Red Velvet Cake and Coconut Cream Pie.
“Located on the historic Santa Fe Plaza you won’t find a better view or atmosphere while you enjoy an authentic New Mexican experience. A favorite among locals and movie stars alike, everyone finds what they’re looking for at the Plaza Café! While you’re there don’t hesitate to ask for Andy. He’s back in the kitchen but enjoys meeting his customers and getting their feedback. “
Reopening after the fire
There was a tragic fire that destroyed most of the interior of this historic place. Now that it has reopened, I wanted to take some of my children to this place, which has been one of my favorites ever since I first walked in the door back in 2007 with Mary Joy and Bob.
There are some minor changes. It still looks much like it did, but the neon light strips ate gone from the area above the counter. There is now gleaming stainless steel service counter visible to all. The tables and booths are the same. I felt right at home here.
Chicken Mole Enchiladas
Chicken enchiladas topped with our savory mole sauce and sour cream. Served with beans and rice.
One of my favorite Mexican dishes is chicken mole. The mole enchilada dish at the Plaza is also among my favorites. I have had it nearly a dozen times. The mole is very rich and complex, and the chicken is tender and still juicy. This is a winner.
A traditional flour tortilla filled with your choice of calabacitas, chicken, pork, chopped steak, or fresh sliced prime rib and smothered with red or green chile and cheese.
Mt son Christopher Robin had this excellent burrito. Very good beans and rice on the side. The red chile is excellent, and slightly higher than medium on my piquancy scale. Can’t go wrong with this for lunch or dinner.
Authentic corn tortillas rolled (when ordering yellow and flat if ordering blue), filled with your choice of calabacitas, chicken, pork or chopped steak. Then smothered with red or green chile and cheese; served with pinto beans and Spanish rice.
Another son, David Lawrence, had these enchiladas for his lunch. He had then smothered with red and green (Christmas). He liked the red a bit more, but allowed that both were excellent. Can’t get this stuff in Atlanta, he said. This is true.
Two fried eggs on a yellow or blue corn tortilla. Smothered with your choice of red or green chile and topped with jack cheese. Served with beans, hash browns and a flour tortilla.
David’s wife, Shelly, had there and allowed that she has never had anything Mexican or New Mexican quite this good. Certainly not in Atlanta.
Green Chile Cheeseburger
Seems like every place in New Mexico prepares their own version of the GCCB, and Plaza is no exception. This competition-style piece of deliciousness is hand ground, hand formed, and cooked to perfection exactly as I requested. Juicy medium rare, it dripped down my cheeks. Very tasty. The green was medium piquant (maybe 5-6 out of 10), but it lacked that crucial smokiness. Good, but not perfect.
The fries are forgettable. Mealy on the inside and slightly oily on the outside. The should be double cooked.
The Green Chile Grilled Cheese sandwich is exemplary. Perfect texture on heavy wheat bread. The slaw is very good, and certainly a better choice than the fries. This is Diner Food par excellence.
A sopaipilla is traditionally made from leavened wheat dough (or a mixture of wheat flour and masa harina) to which some shortening or butter is added. After being allowed to rise, the dough is rolled into a sheet that is then cut into circular, square or triangular shapes. The shapes are 8-10 cm in size for the longest dimension (if intended for a dessert) or 15-20 cm (if intended to be stuffed for a main course). The shapes are then deep-fried in oil, sometimes after allowing them to rise further before frying: the frying causes the shapes to puff up, ideally forming a hollow pocket in the center.
Common throughout the American Southwest, it is generally served as a dessert with honey poured between its two layers. New Mexican cuisine typically serves them in place of bread, or filled with ingredients common to tacos and enchiladas. Carne adovada stuffed sopaipillas are among my favorite New Mexican dish.
The sapas at the Plaza are in a virtual tie with those at Rancho de Chimayó Restauranté and at Marlene’s New Mexican Restaurant (in ABQ, sadly closed). Puffy, flaky, and just slightly sweet.
The Plaza still looks the same from the outside. This will always remain as one of my all-time favorite places to visit.
Glad to have you back. Still mt first choice for real food in Santa Fe.
Plaza Café Downtown
Ranked #2 on my New Mexico Top Ten List
54 Lincoln Ave
Santa Fe, NM 87501
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