Entering the Santa Fe Baking Company Café is like stumbling into a community gathering. You walk past a cluster of outdoor tables, being careful not to step on someone’s dog, and go through a tight entry into a big two-tiered room painted in yellow, burnt orange, and a dusty lavender. A juice-and-coffee bar sits like an island in the middle of the room. There’s a stand of menus on a counter near the entrance, and a ramp leads down past the pastry display to the register, where you place your order. A chalkboard is crowded with special offerings — green chile stew, migas, and sometimes grilled salmon sandwiches. From where you order, you can see to the griddle, where a mound of fried potatoes might wait. As you ponder the chalkboard’s selections, a line forms up the ramp behind you, and the cashier gives you friendly encouragement.
It’s not quite 9 a.m., and the room is already abuzz. Groups of men in ball caps sit and talk over coffee. Laptops are open everywhere, and isn’t that Mary-Charlotte Domandi in the corner doing her live KSFR-FM broadcast of Santa Fe Radio Café? On the lower level, a couple of guys are setting up a chessboard. If all the tables are taken, you can grab a place at one of the counters. Soon your name is called by a gentleman wielding what must be your breakfast burrito. You’ve already collected your silverware from the setup near the entry and filled your cup from one the coffee dispensers. You eat to the tune of lively background clatter.
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