Monday, December 14, 2009

authentic New Mexican food at Santa Fe Café

Santa Fe Café at 1500 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn is a locally owned restaurant serving reasonably priced New Mexican food in a casual, homey dining space.  I've had Santa Fe's chicken Quesadillas ($8.95, a starter that could make a light meal) and the Blue-Corn Chicken Enchiladas ($12.75).  Both are excellent.

Last week I found on the Santa Fe menu pork chops with chocolate mole.  I've had chocolate bars for dinner before, but never chocolate with pork chops.  Mole, a type of sauce, is in fact the national dish of Mexico.  Moreover, it has impressively cosmopolitan roots reaching back to Islamic cuisine that still contributes to the taste of Indian curries.  The dish came with mashed sweet potatoes and a nicely seasoned vegetable mix (onions, peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms).   One of the Ode Street Tribune's expert food consultants described the sauce as tasty, but the pork chops a bit dry.  I would rate the dish as worth a try, but not one of my favorites.  Maybe I've just got low-brow burrito tastes.

I like that Santa Fe Café is a business with a big heart.  The restaurant opened in 1988, and four out of five of the original employees are still working there. That says a lot about the way the business is run.  Owner Kip Laramee actively supports the Arlington Street People's Assistance Network, both with donations of food and his personal participation in neighborhood events.   This past September Santa Fe Café participated in "Farm to Table" Month, which involved preparing dishes with locally grown ingredients.  So if you need an extra excuse to walk over to Santa Fe Café and enjoy a great Mexican dinner, know that by eating there you're supporting a vibrant, caring neighborhood.

Santa Fe Café is opens at 7am on weekdays, and serves breakfast and lunch. Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday up to 9 pm (10 pm on Friday and Saturday). The restaurant is closed on Sundays. Location: 1500 Wilson Blvd, Arlington VA 22009.  Phone: (703) 276-0361. All items are available for carry-out and can be delivered through

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