What to eat at the Santa Fe Farmers Market
There was a time when you could stroll through the Santa Fe Farmers Market on a Saturday morning and find little in the ready-to-eat-right-now department. A cup of coffee, a burrito, some pastry — none of it particularly exciting and all of it purveyed by the market pavilion café. Fortunately, as of late, the edible prêt-à-porter has increased in number, variety, and range of vendors offering breakfast and lunch options to hungry or curious shoppers. This is a survey of some of our favorites — and by way of full disclosure, for the past few years I’ve worked with the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute on its annual Fall Fiesta fundraising dinner.
The kimchi pancakes from Mi Young’s Farm bring a sampling of the traditional fermented foods of Korea to Santa Fe. More lacy crepes than doughy flapjacks, they are light, fresh, and flavorful on their own or with a variety of toppings — some of which are daily specials — vegan-friendly market mushrooms and greens, or Red Mesa bulgogi and greens for the carnivores, for example. The booth is currently open on all scheduled market days.
Maria and Thure Meyer sell egg rolls and fresh rolls under their Ligaialein Products banner. Filled with adzuki and mung beans, the vegetarian egg rolls are crunchy but a little bland — although a squirt of one of the half-dozen sauces perks them up considerably. The fresh rolls feature soft, sticky rice paper wrapped around a crisp combination of chopped raw cabbage, sprouts, cukes, bell peppers, and rice. They hold together beautifully and are easy to eat while wandering the market’s aisles. Both rolls are available on Saturdays and Wednesdays — Ligaialein is one of the few fresh-and-fast food vendors at the evening market.
Española-based Family Farms brought both a hibiscus cooler and a very refreshing, not-too-sweet cucumber and lime juice to a recent Wednesday market. It was the perfect thirst quencher for a long, hot summer’s day.
A regular on Saturdays and Tuesdays, Pollo Real also makes an appearance at the still sparsely attended Wednesday market. A new offering this season are heritage turkey brats on a stick. The easy-to-eat grilled sausages are delicious — crispy and perfectly seasoned with a custom blend from the Savory Spice Shop. Turkey wings and thighs are also available. A new “Gizmo” sausage is also featured at the booth — something nose-to-tail fans may want to try.
Many people think of Crumpacker’s Fresca Bakery as a purveyor of full-sized seasonal take-home fruit pies and quiches, but those wares are available in single-serving sizes that are perfectly enjoyable at room temperature. Two quiches — the poblano-leek with bacon and artichoke pesto and the corn-greenchile — are current favorites.
Southwest Chutney’s Lisa Fox also owns the glutenfree Willow Bakery, which makes an appearance on Saturdays. Her breakfast tarts are an excellent variation on a quiche, with crusts that are neither gummy nor gritty — the twin curses of many gluten-free baked goods. A recent tart blended blue cornmeal with fresh mashed potatoes in the crust, while white beans, yellow squash, sweet onions, and feta made for a creamy filling.
Roasted corn from Wagner’s Farm is sweet and tender, although it lacks the smokiness you might expect (roasting it in its husk is more akin to steaming than grilling). Butter and salt are available for those who want to gild the lily. Trujillo Family Farm and Orchard de Nambé, a three-generation operation, has added some ready-to-eat foods. In their Frito pie, beans, corn chips, chopped tomatoes, and onions are poured over a layer of cheese that melts as you dig in. The red-chile sauce that pulls the whole thing together is very mild.
The coffee, pastry, and burritos are still available in spades. The two cafés — one in the pavilion and Café Fresh in the shops area — offer locally roasted organic Aroma coffee. You can get a decent drip coffee in the market hall; the shop in the back offers a full range of well-made espresso drinks, including an affogato — a scoop of Taos Cow ice cream drowned in a shot of espresso — the perfect choice for those (like me) who believe in eating dessert first.
Sweets of every imaginable variety still rule both café counters, and all are sourced from local bakeries, including Chocolate Maven (whose apple-walnutcranberry strudel is a particular favorite), American Pie, and Whoo’s Donuts.
But if you really want to eat locally, try the burritos prepared by Mark Friedman of The Providers. All varieties feature market-sourced meats, cheeses, eggs, chiles, and veggies. Even the tortillas are custommade by Alicia’s Tortilleria from New Mexico-grown wheat. The board describing the day’s burritos also discloses the percentage of homegrown ingredients in each — usually about 80 percent. Another board lists the farms from which the ingredients were sourced.
The rice-heavy vegan burrito was a bit soggy; the vegetarian version was better but still on the bland side. We fell in love with the third variation, filled with bacon made from local pork and piquant roasted chiles. But of course, there’s nothing like bacon to up the flavor quotient in almost any dish.