With the plethora of carb-heavy Mexican and Southwestern restaurants, eating healthy while dining out in Santa Fe can be a struggle. For a meal that’s good to both your body and palette, hit up these three eateries.
709 Don Cubero Alley, Santa Fe
(The nearest intersection is Cerrillos Road and Don Diego Avenue. The restaurant is slightly set back from Cerrillos Road.)
Vinaigrette is so healthy that there are even vegetables in the bathrooms. Admittedly, they are made from wood – a cucumber marks the door of the men’s and a half a head of cabbage signifies the women’s – but it demonstrates this salad bistro’s dedication to produce. The restaurant even has its own ten-acre farm, located twenty minutes from Santa Fe. During the peak growing season, the farm supplies about seventy percent of Vinaigrette’s produce – the epitome of the farm-to-table movement.
Freshness and innovation elevate Vinaigrette’s salads, making them craveable entrées, capable of satisfying the most meat-obsessed Midwesterner (independently-verified by highly unscientific methods). While the menu recommends specific pairings, you’re welcome to combine any of the four meat, seafood, and vegetarian options with your preferred salad.
Many of the dishes have fun names like The Nutty Pear-Fessor, All Kale Caesar!, and Eat Your Peas. Forget concealing peas under your knife in the hope that they will miraculously disappear. You’ll be chasing the last of these just-popped-from-the-pod babies around the bowl and wishing for more.
Another highlight of the menu is The Beet Goes On. Creamy goat cheese plays off the earthiness of roasted beets, pistachios add a hint of salt, and honey-balsamic vinaigrette ties all the elements together.
The Apple-Cheddar Chop is a Vinaigrette classic, in which tender, grilled pork slices adorn a bed of arugula, sharp cheddar, and pickled fennel. It features the ruby port vinaigrette – a standout on a menu packed with creative dressings.
Dressing can quickly inflate a salad’s calorie content, so for bonus health points ask for “light dressing.” I’ve tried both the regular and light versions and the latter had no notable impact on flavor.
Be aware that you need request water and a breadbasket. Both are free but, while the restaurant is simply trying to reduce waste, the lack of bread on the table helps to avoid mindless munching.
Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café
1620 St. Michael’s Drive, Santa Fe
Annapurna’s prepares meals according to the principles of Ayurveda, a holistic healing method from India that uses food to improve emotional and physical health. As a result, the restaurant serves organic, plant-based dishes that each incorporate six tastes: salty, bitter, sweet, sour, astringent, and pungent.
Kitchari provides a gentle introduction to Ayurvedic food. This detoxifying dish is one of the least spicy Indian offerings on the menu – the dominant flavor is curry – and it is both hearty and warming. Kitchari is a combination of vegetables, mung beans, basmati rice, and spices, which you can customize according to your dosha (body type).
Not in the mood for Indian? Try the quinoa and roasted vegetable salad, which draws maximum flavor out of the eggplants and artichokes. Given the portion size, you’ll have enough for two healthy meals.
Annapurna’s has an impressive selection of teas (Ayurvedic, herbal, green, black and white). The chai – heavy with cinnamon and cardamom – is not to be missed.
333 W. Cordova Road, Santa Fe (cross street Don Diego Avenue)
This café is part of a health complex that includes a yoga studio and spa. There are two dining spaces: the eco-friendly SOUL Room (which has table service) or the more casual café area. Order at the counter if you’re in a rush, because the servers tend to run on Zen time.
Body devotes an entire menu to beverages, which range from fruit-packed smoothies to fresh fruit and vegetables juices. The Alchemy allows you to play mixologist with any of ten ingredients without the hassle of cleaning the juicer. Fancy carrot, cabbage, kale, and parsley juice? Me neither. But it’s available!
Whatever else you order, be sure to try the refreshing, raw Thai soup, which evokes images of a grassy meadow on a summer’s day, after a recent rain. The texture is rich and creamy despite the absence of dairy, and the lemongrass and lime perk up even the most jaded taste buds.
The raw chips sampler is a great starting point for anyone intimidated by raw food. This dish takes veggie chips to the next level, with paprika and cashew-crusted onion rings, beet chips as delicate as flower petals, and a ginger dipping sauce.
Although vegan and veggie choices abound, many dishes let you add wild salmon or chicken – the ideal complement to the coconut lemongrass curry.