Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Get up for Sunrise Family Restaurant

SANTA FE, N.M. — For a couple of months now, the Good Doctor has been urging me to check out the Sunrise Family Restaurant. Where is it, I’d ask, and he would say, vaguely, on St. Michael’s along there, near 5th.

The Sunrise Family Restaurant’s trademark architectural feature is an old satellite dish converted into a representation of a frying pan. (T.M. Collins/For Journal North)

Well, there’s a lot going on visually in that neck of the woods and in the clutter of fast food joints, auto lots and what all, I spotted Sunrise. Ah, why didn’t he say so?! The old Green Onion Bar, one of the best local dive bars for years, and now, and for the past eight years and four months, according to owner Rafael Aldana, the Sunrise Family Restaurant.

And it must be said, immediately, that Sunrise Family Restaurant boasts some of the best hand-painted signage and murals this side of Española, and the greatest work of public art between Espa and ‘Burque – the brilliantly rendered egg, sunnyside up, and two strips of bacon in a satellite dish. You can’t miss it.

Nor should you. The old Green Onion never looked funkier or was friendlier than Sunrise today, as the Good Doctor and I convened for lunch.

Two large rooms, walls covered in faux stamped tin, booth-lined, far wall mirrored reflecting outside light and doubling the room size in the classic Parisian brasserie tradition, otherwise good harsh third-world overhead lighting.

The ambience is perfect, timeless, cafe-style, the clientele is la gente and totally local, the eavesdropping opportunities are immense and rewarding, and the quality of cuisine and the value is … well, it’s why the Good Doctor and I are sitting here.

My colleague is a menudo aficionado and that’s why he’s here again, and that’s his call, a bowl of Menudo ($8.25) arriving with three slices of Texas toast on the side, a plate of limes, chopped onions and oregano. The GD’s appraisal is that “it might need a little salt (and that’s a good thing; we all need to cut down) and its soul-soothing, chili flavor, rich yet mild, simple as it should be and a great protein high.”

In a word, the Good Doctor loves the menudo at the Sunrise. Check that box.

I almost opted for the $6.75 (!) changeable daily breakfast special; today it’s pancakes, two eggs any style, toast and bacon … for $6.75? Amazing. If you find a better deal anywhere, let me know. However, a cup of green chile stew will do ($4.75), tender pork, big potato chunks, lots of scallions (too much?), savory green chile with a tortilla. Absolutely top-drawer (again, a bit of salt-to-taste required; a good thing) and the only criticism could be that it might be served in a larger cup. Same portion; larger cup, as mine was spilling all over the place. Just a thought.

And as long as we are kvetching, why charge $3.99 for chips and salsa? Yes, it says “hand-made daily,” and they are good, and the salsa was thick and tangy, but chips and salsa should be gratis in every restaurant in New Mexico. We’re introducing legislation soon.

It is nice to have free refills, though, on coffee, Coke, tea, Arnold Palmers (had to get that in as his tournament is being held this weekend), Jarritos, etc. ($2.25), and sometimes a Coke is just what you need. The real thing, as it were.

Let us now praise great, local, family-owned and operated, traditional Tex-Mex-New Mex restaurants with great plates and specials at fantastic values. Santa Fe and environs is blessed to have a good many, and Sunrise Family Restaurant is a superb example.

P.S.: A couple of days later, I stepped in for the $6.75 breakfast special. This day, it was 2 eggs any style, a red chile pork tamale smothered in cheese, red or green chile (I went Christmas, and the green was hot, the red, dark and musky), country-style potatoes AND TOAST! It was more than I could eat and such a deal.

Journal North restaurant reviews are on a scale up to four stars.