Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

We first went to the Blue Corn Cafe in downtown Santa Fe in 1997 (not long after they first opened), only about 6 months after Mrs. RJG and I were first married. And we've been regular visitors ever since. Regular in the sense of when we visit Santa Fe of course. Though in recent years we moved to the south location off of Cerrillos near the Santa Fe Place Mall. It remains one of our favorite places to eat when we go to Santa Fe, which lately has been an annual event (but that's not always been the case).

Food: Blue Corn is at first a New Mexican restaurant, followed by traditional brewpub fare (burgers, sandwiches) and Mexican (fajitas, etc...). Of course, we come for the New Mexican food, and while Blue Corn's reputation isn't the highest in Santa Fe (regarding their food that is), we've always thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, it's one of the RJG's favorite restaurants ever. From 1997 to 2014, I dutifully ordered the Carne Adovada, which was heavily marinated in a wonderfully seasoned and spicy red chile sauce, with tender cubes of pork. This came with rice and beans and was one of my all-time favorite dishes. In fact, Blue Corn gets credit for introducing the wonderful dish to the RJG all those years ago. But the knuckleheads took it off the menu! I guess the chef (new? not sure) swears it tastes better as a shank (bone-in) with potatoes, etc... No it doesn't! LOL. OK, I didn't try it, because that's not what I wanted. So maybe this was the excuse I needed to try other items on the menu (though I have had the Blue Corn ground beef tacos and they are excellent as well). Anyway - guys put Carne Adovada on the menu again. And don't argue with me! So what did I try this time? Ah yes, the RJG staple of the smothered burrito. And of course, it had to be Christmas (red and green chile). The chile for both was more spicy than most (a plus), and the red was velvety in texture. I was very pleased. On the flip, the chicken is shredded and lacks distinction. I'm not a fan of refried beans in burritos, and my request for whole beans was denied. As predicted, it was too gooey, and the tortilla was too heavy for the dish. So I had to leave some of the mush behind, but not a drop of chile! So I can't recommend this dish - and of course the next time we come back they'll have the Carne Adovada back, so it won't matter right? RIGHT? Mrs. RJG went fancy with the "Blue Corn Crusted Wild Alaskan Salmon" which she devoured with much happiness. I tried a bite, and it was indeed excellent. For starters (I like to work backwards apparently) we ordered the chips and salsa. For Texans, ordering chips and salsa can be an offensive topic altogether, but it's more common in New Mexico. But doggone if we didn't get our money's worth! These are some of the best chips I've ever had. Homemade blue and yellow corn chips, that I could eat all day without any salsa. But the fresh roasted chile salsa is also quite good, thickly textured and heavily spiced (garlic being one obvious ingredient - similar to Del's that we just wrote about).

Drink: I think they have other things to drink, but why anyone would come here and not at least try their handcrafted beers is anyone's guess (or at least try the homemade root beer if not wanting alcohol). Like most brewpubs, crowd-sourced web sites like Ratebeer have little good to say about their beers, but honestly that's the downside of "group think". It also shows a weakness in rating systems when dealing with the general public who do not necessarily have the same standards as others. Whatever the case, over the course of 18 years that we've been going here, I've tried all their year-round beers, and many of the seasonals. They seem to get only better, and I've always thought their beer to be great. On this visit, I went with the HALT! Bier, which is their version of an Alt, a German style not often seen. I find it very refreshing myself and exceptionally tasty. And of course I had to try their new IPA - Alpha Reaper 2.0, which follows the trend of more grapefruit tasting IPA's. Mrs. RJG had the same beers (in reverse order) and loved them both as well.

Location: You'll find Blue Corn right across the street from the Santa Fe Place Mall, on the NE corner of Cerrillos and Rodeo. It's a spacious building with a full bar that gets quite raucous during football season. A very comfortable place to eat and drink.

Notes: There are two Blue Corn locations. The other is downtown in the Plaza area, and where we visited originally.

Rating: 5.0 (they get to keep the 5 contingent on them returning the Carne Adovada dish....)

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Hours: 11a - 10p everyday

Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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