SANTA FE, N.M. — I appreciate the adventure of eating at a restaurant for the first time, especially when I like what I find there. Bravo and thanks to the Alameda Cafe, my newest discovery, for making my friends and me happy.
I admit that I’m late to the party. The cafe opened over the summer. Locally owned and operated, it offers a tasty, reasonable alternative for hungry Santa Fe residents, folks who work downtown and visitors.
Although the address says Don Gaspar, the cafe faces Alameda and the Santa Fe River. In addition to the store front, the restaurant offers additional seating in dining rooms inside Santa Fe Village shopping complex.
The small front dining room is brighter and more welcoming, but the additional space in the back allows the restaurant to accommodate more guests and to give diners a bit more privacy.
The menu is basic – choices for breakfast, three salads, three sandwiches, four New Mexican specials, plus some dishes for kids. The restaurant features organic veggies, cage-free eggs and house-made desserts. The management compensates for what’s lacking in variety with high-quality ingredients, fresh preparations and good service.
When my friends and I came for brunch, the waiter brought coffee almost as soon as we’d been seated. A welcome beginning.
After jokingly recalling her experience traveling in Mexico where, no matter how or where she ordered eggs, they always arrived cooked hard, my friend ordered the classic American breakfast – eggs, potatoes, toast and bacon ($7.95). The Alameda delivered her eggs soft, as requested, and the bacon extra crisp.
Her meal came with real potatoes – not a greasy patty or microwave hash browns – cut small, gently seasoned and served hot.
The huevos rancheros ($8.95) featured good chile sauce, eggs cooked as ordered on a fresh corn tortilla, a bit of cheese, garnish and a side of soft black beans. It wasn’t a mega breakfast, but it was plenty.
The Salvadoran breakfast ($9.95) was another winner. The two large scrambled eggs looked festive with the sprinkling of finely chopped scallions and tomatoes. The fried plantains, served with a side of thick cream, were crisp and subtly sweet. Black beans completed the dish.
We also tried something from the lunch side of the menu, the Carne Asada Torta ($8.95). This thick sandwich featured bite-sized bits of grilled steak, guacamole, and an abundance of chopped lettuce and tomatoes. The bread roll that held it all was sturdy enough not to fall apart on the first bite but still tender. The sandwich came with hot French fries and was well worth the price.
Because the desserts are made on the premises, we had to try a couple – the flan and the key lime pie. The pie, crafted with a crumb crust, had a nice tartness to it, light and satisfying.
The flan didn’t please me as much because of its ultra-firm texture rather than the creamy custard style served in some places ($4.95 each). But the coffee was fresh and hot, and, at brunch, that makes up for any small fault.