The always packed Cafe Pasqual’s is at the heart of Santa Fe dining. The small space squeezes as many patrons inside as (in)humanly possible with more spilling out on the sidewalk eagerly waiting for a table for the renowned Northern New Mexican cuisine.
The room itself is a claustrophobic look at the culture of this region with every wall covered in tile, paintings or tchotchkes. Depending on your mood, being this close to your neighbor either means you’re in for great conversation or a long game of shut the fuck up. The Monster normally goes for the latter.
At Cafe Pasqual you’re coming for items like the grilled talus wild ranch lamb tacos with cilantro rice, black beans, salsa rostizado and queso cotija or the griddled polenta with sautéed chorizo, corn and red chile with roasted corn niblets and two eggs your way.
The Monster decides to try two different enchiladas, the blue lady with jack cheese on two corn tortillas green chile, black beans and cilantro rice and grilled onion and zucchini. Additionally, the two mole enchiladas with Rosie’s organic chicken, spinach and zucchini wrapped in yellow corn tortillas with mole sauce with a toss of cotija, served with cilantro rice, sliced jicama and orange.
The Monster starts off with a kale salad to pretend like he cares about vegetables, it’s a bit overdressed and not wonderfully original (oh look, pomegranate seeds!) but it does the trick.
The mole enchiladas are good, nice heat in the mole and the rice does good work playing off the sauce. Still, the mole isn’t terribly complex (nor sturdy enough) to truly dazzle.
The blue lady however blows the mole out of the water. Tangy green chile and perfectly charred vegetables. Lovely.
Dessert to end the meal does nothing for this Monster. On your way out you can pick up a Cafe Pasqual cookbook (no, The Monster did not) if you’re so inclined (you shouldn’t be).
Why go? You talk to everyone. In tight elevators! On planes! Park benches! You just luv people!!!!
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
121 Don Gaspar Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501