Restaurants in hidden locations aren’t always hideaways. Mucho Gusto is a good example. Located in a back corner of the Harvey Center parking lot off Paseo de Peralta, it’s tucked behind the building that houses Travel Bug and at the end of the building that is home to the invaluable Video Library. The restaurant’s modest entrance looks as if it might lead to an accountant’s office. As you walk up, it appears you might be the only one there. But inside, the labyrinthine space is often crowded at lunch and dinner with diners bent over tacos, chalupas, or platters of fajitas. There’s no hiding here. It’s hard to know if these diners are locals who’ve been visiting the place for most of its 11 years or tourists who’ve recently been steered to a good thing. Eavesdropping — the place is abuzz — reveals a bit of both.
Owner-chef Alex Castro’s menu is something of a novelty in Santa Fe, familiar but somehow different. It makes few nods to what’s considered New Mexican cooking — there are no posole, sopapillas, or calabacitas. Green chile makes an appearance with the carnitas and on top of burritos and enchiladas. But mostly the menu reads like one from any Americanized-Mexican restaurant found across the country, that is until you get to Castro’s house specialties. These are the dishes that make Mucho Gusto worth finding.
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