Magic masa

Pasatiempo - - RESTAURANT REVIEW - Molly Boyle The New Mex­i­can

It’s a busy Thurs­day night at Posa’s El Meren­dero. On the ra­dio, El Show de Erazno y la Choko­lata is con­duct­ing a wacky Span­ish-lan­guage dat­ing game, in which the ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties call un­sus­pect­ing long-dis­tance lovers and test their fidelity. The am­bi­ence of Posa’s, a Santa Fe in­stithat tu­tion boasts a fam­ily history of tamale-making go­ing back to 1955, is brisk and ca­sual, and the ir­rev­er­ence of the blar­ing ra­dio pro­gram fits right in. You’re about to enjoy a clas­sic Norteño meal — why not kick back with your fam­ily and have your tamales with a side of chisme?

The cen­ter­piece of Posa’s no-frills Rodeo Road lo­caalso tion (it has an­other out­post on Za­farano Drive) is its tamale-making op­er­a­tion, which is on full dis­play via a large pic­ture win­dow in the mid­dle of the din­ing room. Dur­ing the day, it’s pos­si­ble to see this process play out over and over again, but at night, the ma­chines are dor­mant. You or­der at the counter from a mouth-wa­ter­ingly ex­ten­sive menu that in­cludes all the usual sus­pects: tamales, ta­cos, bur­ri­tos, en­chi­ladas, posole, menudo — and a few more re­mark­able op­tions, like the chile dog bur­rito or Frito pie bur­rito. Break­fast is also avail­able, with selections in­clud­ing a break­fast bur­rito or carne adovada and eggs.

Of course, the in-store ex­pe­ri­ence makes up only a frac­tion of Posa’s en­ter­prise, as the restau­rant does a huge vol­ume of ca­ter­ing and take-out or­ders. On two vis­its, we watched cus­tomers stag­ger­ing un­der the weight of huge boxes filled with tamales — ’tis the sea­son, to be sure, though Santa Fe’s ap­petite for Posa’s masa seems to be a year-round af­fair.

Now, about that masa: It’s the star of the show. Light, fluffy, del­i­cately sea­soned, the masa in th­ese tamales can trick you into think­ing you’re eat­ing some­thing al­most … healthy? We tried the pork and red chile (yum) and the chicken, cheese, and green chile (the chicken a lit­tle dry) ver­sions first, and then were wowed by the ve­gan (black beans, corn, squash, and green chile) and vege­tar­ian (cheese and green chile) va­ri­eties. Posa’s also of­fers hol­i­day tamales, stuffed with tur­key, chile, cal­abac­i­tas, and cheese, but they weren’t avail­able on my visit. I did take ad­van­tage of an­other sea­sonal sta­ple — a tra­di­tional mince­meat and piñon em­panada that was com­pletely de­li­cious, its sweet, min­gling fla­vors evok­ing all the history and mystery of a New Mex­ico Christ­mas.

The plates are gen­er­ous: My shred­ded beef ta­cos were over­stuffed, rich, and greasily sat­is­fy­ing. One of my com­pan­ions de­clared that the Span­ish rice was a cut above the rest in town, while an­other ad­mired the tasty util­ity of the fried tor­tilla bowl that cra­dled his beans. The vege­tar­ian cal­abac­i­tas bur­rito, filled with fresh-tast­ing squash, beans, chile, and cheese, was packed with fla­vor, again lulling one diner into the self-con­grat­u­la­tory sense that she was eat­ing a vir­tu­ous meal. The ex­cel­lent chicken flau­tas are worth in­dex­ing as a Santa Fe must-have. Don’t ac­ci­den­tally call them taquitos, though, or a coun­ter­per­son may cor­rect you. She was right to do so: Th­ese are much big­ger and much bet­ter than any taquito I’ve tack­led.

With cer­tain menu items, the food qual­ity can take a dive into greasy fast-food ter­ri­tory. The shrimp ta­cos sported a zippy mango salsa, but the tor­tillas were drenched in oil, over­pow­er­ing the nicely sautéed shrimp. The chile rel­leno’s bread­ing had be­come soggy un­der its blan­ket of chile. As with most peo­ple in this town, I have strong opin­ions about break­fast bur­ri­tos, and Posa’s version is just fine — not amaz­ing but also not dis­ap­point­ing.

How­ever, the Posa’s menu is so long, and so scrump­tious, that two vis­its were sim­ply not enough to en­cap­su­late its of­fer­ings. Like the rest of Santa Fe, I’m hooked on this fast and cheap cui­sine and grate­ful for Posa’s con­tin­u­ing legacy of masa magic. To bas­tardize Charles Dick­ens, there is noth­ing in the world so ir­re­sistibly con­ta­gious as laugh­ter, good hu­mor … and great tamales. God bless us, ev­ery one!

‘Tis the sea­son, to be sure, though Santa Fe’s ap­petite for Posa’s masa

seems to be a year-long af­fair.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.