Ever since the first fiesta-goers gathered on the Santa Fe Plaza in 1712, it’s safe to bet that the aroma of a food stand was not far behind. Some 300 years later, Santa Fe has evolved into a small but delicious food booth mecca, offering everything from unassuming walk-up fajita carts and burrito stands to fully tricked out trailers and walk-up diners.
While larger like cities like Austin and Los Angeles still set the standard for pop-up food culture, Santa Fe offers no shortage of delicious and interesting places to grab a quick and high-quality bite by foot.
“We are lucky because even though we don’t have a lot, we have a variety – from barbecue to burgers to Mexican food and Philly cheesesteaks,” said Lynn Cline, author of the Santa Fe-based Gourmet Girl blog.
El Chile Toreado stand located inconspicuously behind Whole Foods on Cordova and Bambini’s Steaks and Hoagies on St. Francis are among Santa Fe’s hidden gems, said Cline.
Chef Enrique Guerrero is owner of Bang Bite Filling Station, a popular food truck on the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta that has earned rave reviews and a ravenous local following, particularly for its mouth-watering eight-dollar burgers and french fries.
Guerrero started his business in 2013 after exiting the world of fine dining, a business he described as time consuming and high stress “I do what I want. I make my own schedule,” Guerrero said while parked on a picnic table outside of his truck. “In a restaurant I was tied to 70-80 hours a week. Here, if I work 40 hours, I’m working too much. It’s been very fun because by 3 o’clock I’m done.”
He added that he prefers a truck over a brick and mortar establishment “because in the restaurant business, there is a lot of overhead, big rent – especially here Santa Fe.”
For the gastronomically adventurous, mobile dining in Santa Fe goes beyond food trucks and trailers. With its 1960s beach shack vibe, the Shake Foundation on 631 Cerrillos Road is a popular walk-up restaurant specializing in burgers, shakes and a highly-praised fried oyster sandwich.
“Walking up to these stands is fast, usually cheaper than dining in a restaurant and there’s something fun and different about it,” said Cline.
Fans of food trucks say they are attracted to smaller, more specialized menu options and often the people surrounding them. “I like being able to take my food to the Plaza and people watch,” said food stand enthusiast Jaime Ortiz, standing next to El Molero Fajitas cart on the Plaza, fajita in hand.
Food stands can be elusive to the uninitiated diner and despite the fact that seemingly dozens of vendors line Cerrillos, Airport and adjacent roads, many locals are hard-pressed to name and locate more than just a few. To help you navigate Santa Fe’s pop-up food scene, here is a small list of our favorite local food trucks, trailers and stands.
What did we leave out? Share your favorite food destinations in the comment section, below.
1. El Molero FajitasE San Francisco St and Lincoln Ave.
Mon – Sun 10 - 3 p.m.
Fajitas made to order
2. Bang Bite
502 Old Santa Fe Trail
Mon – Fri 11 - 5 p.m., Sat: 11:30 – 3 p.m.
1st in The Reporter’s Best of Santa Fe 2014
Burgers, grilled cheese and the crunchiest fried food
4. Chicago Dog
600 Cerrillos Rd
Mon – Fri 8 - 4 p.m. Sat 10:30 - 4 p.m., Closed Sunday
Hot dogs and frito pies
5. Shake Foundation
631 Cerrillos Rd
Daily 11 – 6 p.m.
Shakes, burgers and fried oyster sandwiches
6. Bambini’s Steaks and Hoagies
905 S. Saint Francis Dr.
Mon – Sun 11 - 3 pm
Philly cheesesteak and cannoli
7. El Chile Toreado
950 Cordova Rd.
Mon – Fri 8 - 3 p.m. Sat 8 - 2 p.m.
Tacos al pastor and breakfast burritos
8. Jarochos Taqueria
2820 Cerrillos Rd.
Mon – Sat 9 - 6 p.m.
Classic taco stand
9. La Taqueria del Pueblo
3668 Cerrillos Rd.
Usually 11 – 8 p.m. – Cash Only
A Fire engine red truck serving tacos al pastor