Tomasita’s–Santa Fe, NM

Tomasita’s
500 S. Guadalupe St.
Santa Fe, NM
(505) 983-5721
Tomasita's

Tomasita’s


Tomasita’s web site states that it has been a family run operation for over 40 years, which reveals at least two important facts. One is that it is family run, and this may be an explanation for the fact that (to my taste) it has such good food. I had recently visited El Bruno’s in Cuba, New Mexico (another popular family run restaurant), and I thought this and Tomasita’s had equally good food largely stemming from their nature of being local small scale restaurants. The only thing that really matters is that they have good recipes that are prepared well, but family owned restaurants tend to be particularly adept at this.

The fact that it has been operating for over 40 years is another important piece of information for me. This would mean that they opened sometime in the late 1970’s, and this would be the correct timeline for the memory I have of another restaurant which I believe was in the same building (an old railroad depot). It was actually the depot for the narrow gauge railroad which went north through northern New Mexico. The restaurant previous to Tomasita’s, though, had a name something along the order of Santa Fe Station, making me think that this was the old station for the Santa Fe Railroad (the real Santa Fe Railroad station was north of this location a couple of blocks, and is now the terminus for the commuter train from Albuquerque). The restaurant I remember was upscale and served steaks. I have tried to look it up on the Internet and I cannot find any information about the former restaurant. The real point to me, though, is that I think the conversion of the building from an upscale restaurant to a traditional New Mexican one is a sign of progress in a city where the real estate prices seem to dictate that it have more and more upscale restaurants, but fewer of the affordable ones.

My first visit to Tomasita’s was on a busy day, but it was the off-peak period of the afternoon. There was a wait for a table, and I imagine that the waiting time gets much worse during peak period. Otherwise things went smoothly, and I was pleased with the service as well as the food. The price was in a range that I once thought was high, but compared to similar restaurants (even in cities not as expensive as Santa Fe), the prices here seemed very reasonable.

The menu has a large number of choices (so many that I think some of them would not be considered traditional New Mexican cuisine). They also have daily specials but I did not check the prices on these, and they are not listed on their on-line menu. For me, though, my usual choice at restaurants serving northern New Mexican food for the first visit (as well as most subsequent visits) is blue corn enchiladas. Sometimes I try other things, with the stuffed sopapilla being at the top of the list. I do believe that if you have other dishes that are your favorite this will influence your list of favorite restaurants, but I do want to explain that my rating of this restaurant is based primarily on the enchiladas.

Chips and Salsa

Chips  and salsa

Chips and salsa

The Chips and Salsa were very good, but I did not think they were notably better than at other restaurants. I was happy that they had different colored chips (some blue and some red). The problem with these was that the waiter did not bring them out until I asked for them. This usually means that you have to pay extra for the chips, but in this case it was just that the waiter forgot (not a problem for me as long as they do not spring me with any surprises on the bill).

Enchiladas

Red enchiladas

Red enchiladas with blue corn tortillas

The Blue Corn Red Enchiladas had all the required elements that I think make them good: flavorful and traditional tasting red chile, a spice level that goes just to the perfect point without being overly spicy, high quality cheese, and the blue corn tortillas that are almost totally missing in southern New Mexico restaurants but which are almost universally available in the northern part of the state (usually for an extra charge, though, as they are here).

There are quite a few choices involved when ordering enchiladas, such as red or green (the green is almost always the spicier of the two), blue corn or regular (I think the blue gives it a better flavor), stacked or rolled (usually the northern NM restaurants make stacked their default), choice of meat (I go with the plain cheese version at least until I find out which others are especially good), and onions or no onions (normally I omit the onions but in northern NM I find that they put in less onion than in other areas and it has less of a strong onion taste, so here I go with the onions).

One thing I really liked about the dinner is that they brought out the Sopaipillas with the meal without me even asking for them so that I could eat them with the red chile which was spicy enough that I really appreciated a sopaipilla to help tone down the heat.

Another thing that toned down the heat was the serving of Pinto Beans that, along with the cheese that topped it, had an excellent flavor and was another reason I love northern New Mexican cuisine.

The green chile is said to be good here as well, but I did not try it on this particular visit.

The Dining Room

Tomasita's main dining room

Tomasita’s main dining room

The dining room is in a converted railroad station where much of the original architecture is on display, and the high ceiling and large windows perhaps make it appear more spacious than it actually is.

There is also an outdoor patio, and the web site says there is a private room that can accommodate parties of up to 20 people.

Other Notes
This was definitely among my best experiences with northern New Mexican cuisine in recent years, and I cannot think of past experiences where the enchiladas were really any better than here.

Some reviews say The Shed has better New Mexican food than Tomasita’s, but it was a very popular day with visitors and the parking situation made it so that going to The Shed was not feasible (The Shed is located just off of the Plaza so the traffic was for many destinations other than The Shed itself).

I have to say, though, that the food at Tomasita’s was as good I expected that The Shed would be, so I was not the least bit disappointed with coming here instead. I do not know if the food (especially the enchiladas) are actually better at The Shed, but I would probably not recommend going there on a Saturday during the summer tourist season as I tried to do.

Tomasita’s has another location in Albuquerque which is said to be good as well. Personally I am glad I chose this location because of the higher elevation, crisper air, scenic landscape, and historic setting of Santa Fe. If you cannot make it to Santa Fe, though, I am sure the Albuquerque restaurant would be fine (not to say that Albuquerque does not have its share of crisp air, scenic landscape, etc.).


Tomasita’s Web Site


RATING: 26

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 10, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Blue Corn Red Enchiladas, Pinto Beans, Salsa, Sopaipilla

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchiladas (Blue Corn)
star 5 Pinto Beans
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa
star 5 Sopaipilla

Asian Cookery–Colorado Springs, CO

Asian Cookery
6760 N. Academy Blvd.
Colorado Springs, CO
(719) 465-2988
Asian Cookery

Asian Cookery


I have to give Asian Cookery credit for staying away from a fusion concept and doing only one thing, which is Malaysian food. I have found Malaysian cuisine to be one of the most delicious in Asia, and I also give them credit for opening this this type of restaurant in a relatively small city compared to the metropolitan areas where ethnic food is usually found. They seem to have found an appreciative customer base that has kept the restaurant going since 1989.

According to the restaurant’s web site Chef Peng Jones has formal culinary training in several Asian cuisines, although Malaysia is her native country. Her husband Ted greets customers, takes their orders, and makes the dishes understandable to customers. Of course one of his most important jobs is to offer a ten percent discount to all “first time customers.” I observed a crew of helpers in the kitchen who appeared to be family members, and who were busy preparing the food along with the head chef.

Ordering is a rather straightforward process. Between photos on the wall, the descriptions given of each dishe, and Ted’s explanation of the ones I wanted to explore further, I felt very comfortable in making a decision about my order.

The food here is Malaysian “street food,” and the menu is very streamlined compared to other Malaysian restaurants I have visited. There were about ten or twelve choices on the menu (you can also choose the type of meat you want for many of them). One thing street food has in common with other types of Malaysian cuisine I have tried, though, is that all of it is flavorful, healthy, and has an interesting combination of ingredients (many of them coming from tropical regions).

Nasi Lemak

Chicken rendang nasi lemak

Chicken rendang nasi lemak

It was explained to me that Nasi Lemak meant “rich rice,” and was considered to be the national dish of Malaysia. It consists of jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. The side dishes, including the hard boiled egg, are also traditional. The rice was very fresh, and I very much enjoyed the flavor combination of what was served here.

The Rendang is a Malay curry which in this case was served over chicken (the restaurant also offers beef). The restaurant explained to me that this is a “dry” curry, and I thought it was very flavorful with a good spiciness level but not over the top in this regard. There is a Sambal (hot, spicy sauce) which I added to bring the spice level more to the level which I prefer, and the flavor of the sauce was also good. A small container of Ikan Belis and Peanuts is also included (ikan belis are fried anchovies). In my usual fashion with all things Asian, I ate everything first and did research about what I was eating later.

I also have to mention the iced Malaysian Milk Tea which was similar to Thai tea, but which I think I prefer to most versions of Thai tea I have tried. This is probably because the Malaysian version was not as sweet and had a more balanced flavor, although I am not as good at analyzing things as I am about just knowing what I like.

Other Observations
The restaurant closes at 7:00 p.m., and is closed Sunday and Monday. The restaurant is small, you order at the counter, and payment is made up front. Food is served very quickly and the tables remind me of a fast food restaurant, but the difference with fast food restaurants is in the quality of the food and the fact that the emphasis is on serving healthy food.

The iced Malaysian milk tea was so good that I think this has equal weight with the food in making me say I would really like to return if I can.

One factor that seems to give them a large group of loyal customers is the friendliness of the owner Ted who greets every customer and makes sure they are able to understand the menu and get exactly what they want. This is also a feature that definitely sets it apart from the typical fast food restaurant.

I do not think there is MSG in any of the food here (but I did not specifically ask about it).

One thing that made the food stand out was the coconut rice, and this was a definite taste treat that I was not really expecting.


Asian Cookery Web Site


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Malaysian
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Tue.-Sat. 11 am to 7 pm
Accessible: Yes
Alcohol: N/A
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 9, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Chicken Rendang Nasi Lemak, Malaysian Milk Tea

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Milk Tea (cold), Green tea & ginger tea (hot)
MSG: N/A
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Chicken Rendang Nasi Lemak
star 5 Malaysian Milk Tea

Gabys–Lakewood, CO

Gabys German Eatery
245 S. Harlan St.
Lakewood, CO
(720) 329-8188
Gabys German Eatery

Gabys German Eatery


For years I have searched out German food on my travels, although I have yet to make it to Germany to see how it should really taste. I have it on good authority, though, that it would taste like the food at Gabys (from my friend who lived in Germany and accompanied me to the restaurant). I already figured this out from tasting the food, but it is good to know that my instincts are correct, and the best German food is also the most authentic.

This was indeed probably the best German food I have ever had, although I do want to leave it open for other experiences I have had in the past which might resurface in my memory of some special dishes. One thing about Gabys is that it is not trying to prepare over-the-top special occasion dishes, but I would call it everyday food that becomes very special because of the flavor and the way it is prepared.

I assume it was Gaby who served us, although she was a little busy and I did not get to chat with her very much. I did learn that the restaurant had been open for a couple of years, and that they have daily specials which make the menu a little more interesting if you are a frequent visitor. In the short time it has been open Gabys has become probably the highest rated German restaurant in Denver on Yelp, leading me to think that the on-line reviews of Denver restaurants are some of the more trustworthy ones. I honestly would not have found this place without the help of Yelp.

Restaurant and auto repair shop

Restaurant and auto repair shop

There is an auto repair shop in the same building which initially made me think the two were connected, but this was not the case. The restaurant itself is a little larger than it looks from the outside, but it is a small place with perhaps twelve tables and apparently with Gaby doing all of the cooking. Actually my favorite ethnic restaurants are usually ones where there is only one cook, or at least that you know the food will be the same every time you go. I cannot guarantee that Gabys is this way, but if the Yelp reviews are to be believed then I have every confidence that it is.

Schnitzel

Schnitzel

Schnitzel with potato salad and mushroom gravy on the side

Every German restaurant seems to have Schnitzel, but they are not all equal. I do think, though, that almost every restaurant I have tried does a good job with the schnitzel, and usually it is difficult to say that one is really better than the other. This is the reason I was surprised to find that at Gabys, I really can say that I think think this is a better schnitzel than others I have tried. The only way I can describe it is that in addition to having top quality meat, the flavor and freshness make it stand out so that this really becomes the standard by which to judge the others.

The difference in flavor seems to be mainly because of the breading. Gabys serves the schnitzel the traditional way with a lemon, but there is a serving of mushroom gravy on the side so that if you wish you can make Jagerschnitzel out of it. Normally I would jump at the chance to add the gravy, and I thought it was excellent, but I really enjoyed being able to eat this schnitzel both ways and enjoying both of them.

This was a very interesting Potato Salad because it was made with blue potatoes. It did not seem as if the blue potatoes had a flavor that was very different from regular potatoes, except that it had a flavor (I would describe most white potatoes as being without much flavor, making it almost a requirement to add butter and salt). I believe the potato salad had all the seasoning that any other good version would have, but it just seemed as if the potatoes were exceptionally good (and of course I have to say that the seasoning was very good as well).

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut

I ordered Sauerkraut on the side because it did not come on the plate, and I wanted to try it. The plate really had a sufficient amount of food, and I would have been satisfied with that alone. The sauerkraut had a very good flavor, but the potato salad was so exceptional that I think Gaby made a good choice by offering this as the side dish on the plate.

Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten

For the Sauerbraten I tried a sample but I got a very good idea of its flavor. This is a marinated pot roast with very moist and flavorful meat. I have had sauerbraten before in other restaurants but this one stood out because of the flavor. It is not often that I find food that I consider to be fine dining at prices that are as affordable as at Gabys, and this is definitely a dish that I would consider for it (although there were other dishes on the menu that seemed to be equally upscale).

Another consideration for trying the sauerbraten is that it is not served at many German restaurants in the United States, and therefore is a special treat at Gabys (although the way the schnitzel was prepared made it a special treat for me as well).

This Red Cabbage was a special treat as well because of the fact that I think Gaby is more skillful than most in the wine/vinegar component of it, so that it still has a good flavor but the vinegar flavor is not as strong.

Dessert

Black forest

Half of an order of black forest cake

There are several dessert choices including Black Forest, which had all the elements I expected in this pastry. The flavor was excellent, but in addition the freshness was at a higher level than I typically find at restaurants.

Other Comments
The restaurant is small but there were several empty tables when I went for lunch on a weekday. I imagine there are times when there is a waiting time for a table, but the way the food is prepared means that any meal is likely to involve a wait that is longer than at most restaurants. I believe they take reservations for large parties, though, which may speed things up for some people.

I did not see that they serve beer or alcohol but I did not inquire about this. Perhaps this will come in the future but right now I think the emphasis is on serving food that in itself is not only very good but is one of the more memorable experiences I have had in a restaurant.

My bill was very high because as far as I knew I was only going to make one visit and I wanted to try as many items as possible (sauerkraut, black forest, etc.). I do not regret ordering these, but I did think that if you just order one of the plates on the menu and skip some of the extras, you will have a very satisfying meal at a price that would be comparable with many “ordinary” restaurants. (To me Gabys is a place which I consider “extraordinary” with the accompanying temptation to keep ordering extra items, but I did want to make this one point about the size and the quality of the servings).


Gabys Web Site


RATING: 27

Cuisine: German
Cost: $$$
Hours: Wed.-Sun. 11:30 am to 2:00 pm; 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 9, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Schnitzel, Sauerbraten, Potato Salad, Red Cabbage, Black Forest

Special Ratings
star 5 Schnitzel
star 5 Sauerbraten
star 5 Potato Salad
star 5 Red Cabbage
star 5 Sauerkraut
star 5 Mushroom Gravy
star 5 Black Forest