If You Go
Piccolino Italian Restaurant
When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday Where: 2890 Agua Fría St., Santa Fe More info: Visit piccolinosantafe.com or call 505-471-1480
When: 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday Where: 1833 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe (additional location at 298 Dinosaur Trail) More info: Visit elparasol.com or call 505-995-8015
Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill
When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily Where: 301 Jefferson St., Santa Fe More info Visit bumblebeesbajagrill.com or call 505-820-2862
I promise to keep this quick. There’s no time to waste!
We’re prepping for the holidays, scrambling for last-minute gifts, picking up sweets for neighbors and kids’ classroom parties. We’re running through travel packing lists and waiting in winding post office lines with arms full of boxes. We’re sprinting toward pre-Christmas work deadlines, cleaning ahead of houseguests and house parties, working all the while to dodge COVID-19 and colds and flu so we can celebrate together when the big moments finally arrive.
This is the time of year when every little life hack helps. Enter: the drive-thru.
Fast-food restaurants aside, there are a surprising number of restaurants in Santa Fe that offer a pickup window where you never have to leave your car to get your meal. This hack is simple: Call ahead and place your order (or at some spots, order online), pull up when they tell you to, grab your order and go.
I took advantage of three drive-thrus recently for three kinds of meals. Here’s how it went:
Popular Italian restaurant Piccolino surprised a lot of folks by announcing in late August it would be closed on weekends. It didn’t take long, though, before the owners amended that decision, reopening on Saturdays for those wishing to order from the restaurant’s vast menu of pastas, soups, salads and much more.
We’ve always been a fan of the pizza — something about the flavorful cheese and chewy crust. And there are seemingly endless topping combinations, though we kept it simple with a large pie ($13.99-$19.99 for 16 inches, depending on toppings) black olives with half pepperoni and half green peppers. Piccolino gives you an order number over the phone; if there’s a line when you arrive, you can text that number to let them know you’re there to further expedite the process.
We also love the ease of pickup at El Parasol on Cerrillos Road, an unassuming spot that serves those crave-worthy chicken tacos with guacamole along with burritos, burgers, Frito pies and tons of other options. We fed our family of four for under $60, no small feat these days, with a combination of burritos, tacos, chips and salsa. (And here’s an extra time-saving hack: Go ahead and pre-order those Christmas tamales; El Parasol’s are among the best in town.)
Finally, we tried something new at locals’ favorite Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill: the $26 chicken dinner. The chicken was fall-apart tender, served with choice of pinto or black beans, rice, pick of corn or flour tortillas, and a small cup of cilantro. It was made to be paired with the bright, mild, lime-forward guacamole, which we ordered with chips.
We ordered a big bowl of the often-recommended green chile stew, too, but had to save it for the next day along with chicken leftovers — it was fantastically spicy with huge chunks of tender pork (you can also get it with chicken, tofu or lamb). All of it came in at around $50 and made for more than one hearty, soul-satisfying meal.
So go ahead and add one more stop to your pre-holiday checklist; you don’t even have to leave your car. Remember: Great food, even when it’s gotten quick, is something worth slowing down to enjoy.