Opened in 1918, The Plaza is the oldest restaurant in Santa Fe, but it seems not to be impressed by itself as a piece of history or an example of classic counter culture. It is an easy-going kind of café, one of the last vestiges of the Santa Fe Plaza as a town gathering place. The menu is an appetizing combination of Americana (burgers, chicken-fried steak, hot turkey sandwich), Greek diner standards (lamb meat loaf, souvlaki, Greek salad) and New Mexico specialties including chiles relleños, posole with pork, menudo, and pure red chile or green chile stew. Every day starting at 11am, the Plaza kitchen turns out excellent sopaipillas. Fresh and hot and cloud-soft, these golden pillows of quick-fried bread are served with a squeeze bottle of honey to sweeten them, and they are simply wonderful to eat plain or on the side of red or green chile. The Plaza’s green chile is a viscous stew with chunky vegetables; red is thicker and hotter.
The Plaza Cafe is Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant and one of its best for consistent, beautifully prepared, traditional New Mexican dishes.
One of the “must eats” here is the carnitos Platon. This is slow-stewed pork which has been steeped in a citrus and beer marinade and topped with caramelized onions and green chile, served with two eggs and pinto beans. The pork is extremely tender, with just the right combination of sweet, sour and salt. This dish is unique to The Plaza and should probably be on your list of “100 Things You Must Eat Before You Die.”
There are many versions of chilaquiles (sometimes called the original Frito pie) in New Mexico, but the one offered at the Plaza is among the best I have ever had. Fried eggs are served with tortilla chips, sauteed greens, cheese, sweet guajillo salsa and Mexican sour cream. The crispy tortilla chips are just beginning to be softened by the bright, slightly sweet salsa. They are topped with perfectly melted cheese and a drizzle of Mexican sour cream (Mexican sour cream has a slightly tangy taste, more like creme fraiche than commercial sour cream). The collards are sauteed with just a splash of vinegar. The combination is a wonderful blend of crispy, creamy, sweet and sour.
Another breakfast delight is the blue corn pinon pancake. The blue cornmeal combined with the crunchy pinon nuts gives these pancakes a dense and slightly chewy texture. If this is your breakfast choice, you’re set for the day. Huevos rancheros are another New Mexican breakfast staple. Again, the Plaza’s rendition is one to be savored. Two eggs are served on blue corn tortillas, smothered with red chile and topped with jack cheese. The chile is smoky with just the right amount of heat and a deep, rich flavor.
By now you might be thinking that you can’t go wrong with anything you order at The Plaza and you would be right. Don’t miss this favorite spot of locals and tourists when you are next visiting Santa Fe.