Getting it to go
I’d revisit all of these places, but I’ll come back to M.A.M.A’s World Take-Out first, especially for the Bombay curry chicken sandwich with spicy curried chicken, mango chutney, cashews, and lettuce on a brioche bun.
Sometimes I’m a little harried when lunch hour rolls around, and the result can be rapid-onset hunger that has to be dealt with quickly. That’s when grab-and-go places — those non-fast-food eateries where you can get a sandwich, a wrap, a salad, or something hot with little or no wait time — are such a blessing. Recently, I hit the streets to revisit a few old favorites and look for new contenders. The findings were generally good. These days, Santa Fe has a diverse range of spots serving high-quality midday meals to go.
Eloisa, inside the Drury Hotel at the corner of East Palace Avenue and Paseo de Peralta, runs an enticing carryout operation during the day. As you enter from the hotel, you’ll see a refrigerated cabinet on your left that contains sandwiches and salads. The choices look good — salmon Niçoise salad, a chipotle chicken sandwich, and more — but some days there’s a supply issue — each of the three times I stopped in, the shelves had been ransacked. Plan B is to place a to-go order from a menu that offers things like Frito pie, croque jamón, and Caesar salad. There’s also a taco bar option, which is the path I took. For $9, I got two delicious carne asada tacos with red cabbage slaw, a couple of hot sauces, and purple potato salad.
The Beestro, downtown on Marcy Street, is an informal small-space operation where you point at what you want and they fix it up. I had an excellent sandwich called the Dutch Chicken — lime-marinated chicken breast, melted Havarti, apple butter, serrano chiles, and greens on a toasted baguette. As is the case with many graband-goes, the Beestro is a good place to discover unfamiliar brands of chips and sodas. For example, I’d never heard of Zuberfizz, made by a soft drink company in Durango, Colorado. Their “original cola” is great — it’s less sugary than Coca-Cola — and I’d go back to the Beestro just to have it again.
Farther out, on West Alameda Street, La Montañita Co-op has a bustling lunch area in the back that should satisfy anybody. You can assemble a salad from a bar offering some 40 items, grab takeaway sushi and cold prepared salads (turkey Waldorf, lemon-caper-tuna, etc.), try their soup of the day, or order a sandwich that they’ll assemble while you wait. I ordered one called the New Mexico Ham and Cheese. Nothing fancy here — light rye bread, thin deli ham, American cheese, green chile, and purple onion — but I enjoyed it, and the price, just over five bucks, was right.
Parking on lower Canyon Road can be a pain, but you shouldn’t let that keep you away from good old Café des Artistes. The menu is small and simple: roughly 20 sandwiches and salads, which you can order in advance by email. I tried a sandwich called the Bird and Berry — thinly sliced turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sprouts, and cream cheese on sourdough. It came with chips and was a bargain at $6.95. For two dollars more, they’ll make this and other sandwiches on a split croissant.
On Old Santa Fe Trail, near the state capitol, Kaune’s Neighborhood Market offers reasonably priced pre-made sandwiches — spicy jerk chicken, veggie and cheese — cold packaged spreads like tuna salad and egg salad, and an unusual salad bar called the Neighborhood Chop, which produces very substantial salad bowls that are often protein-heavy. The Carne features a bed of chopped lettuce, five vegetable toppings, and “a quarterpound protein punch — you choose the meat.” I tried the antipasto chop, which was so loaded with ham, salami, and cheese that it could have fed three people (and was a bargain for less than $9).
Verde, the Santa Fe-based company that specializes in healthy juices and nut blends, has two locations — one on East Marcy Street and another on West San Mateo Street — that offer to-go sandwiches and salad bowls. A couple of things I wanted were out of stock, including a pulled pork sandwich with cabbage-coconut-pineapple slaw, so I ordered a curry chicken and cauliflower wrap. The ingredients were healthy and fresh-tasting, though the wrap was a bit skimpy on the filling.
Both locations of Whole Foods could provide enough lunch food for a small army; I often go to the smaller one, at the corner of St. Francis Drive and Cordova Road, because it’s easier to get in and out of the parking lot. They have a salad bar, pizza by the slice, pre-made sandwiches, and wraps. The wrap I tried — turkey — was full and moist.
Finally, be sure to seek out M.A.M.A.’s World TakeOut. On Rufina Street near Meow Wolf, it’s a charming little place that serves some very good food. There’s a lot of variety here: sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, Asian treats like pad Thai and Singapore noodles, pupusas, and combos, including a Middle Eastern plate that comes with falafel, hummus, salad, and (for a little more money) chicken shawarma. I had the Bombay curry chicken sandwich and liked it a lot: spicy curried chicken, mango chutney, cashews, and lettuce on a brioche bun. I’d revisit all of these places, but I’ll come back to this one first.