Listen, I need a favor.
I need you to help sell out the Paloma supper. Every weekend. Because as long as I can manage to snag one, I’m never going to get around to trying any other takeout options in town.
For the past six weeks or so, Paloma has quietly been serving one of the most creative takeout restaurant meals in Santa Fe — and one of the best deals, period. Supper is three courses for $35, and it’s completely different every weekend, which makes it almost impossible to resist.
Paloma, like many restaurants, has experimented with its offerings as the rules surrounding dining and takeout have changed since March. But while some higher-end restaurants have closed altogether to wait out the winter months, Paloma and others have found ways to innovate.
Enter the supper concept. The special meals are available by preorder for pickup Friday and Saturday evenings (but always check the website, palomasantafe.com, for the latest, Paloma owner Marja Martin said).
Paloma’s supper offering was inspired by Martin, a longtime Santa Fe caterer, but the execution is all chef Nathan Mayes, who has had a chance to apply his knowledge and creativity to inventing the weekly three-course menu, including his own desserts. The menus are focused on local ingredients and draw inspiration from regional Mexican cuisine.
“The suppers are more of an adventure,” Martin said. “It’s an opportunity for the chef to be creative and use highly seasonal things.”
Paloma is also offering a range of add-on items to the supper, including tortilla chips and blue corn tortillas, a salsa sampler, guacamole and green chile queso, sauces and sides, and even a couple of cocktail mixers. You can also pick up a tray of $16 take-and-bake chicken, cheese or beef enchiladas — a great choice for the kids in your family while the adults enjoy the prix fixe option, Martin noted.
Order online, pull up on Guadalupe at the predetermined time, and call the restaurant with your name and your vehicle’s make and model. Staff will bring the carefully packaged meal right to you.
After lusting over the menus for several weeks, I finally decided to give it a try two weekends ago. The menu that night: oxtail posole, chicken enmoladas and tres leches cake. I added on the salsa sampler ($10) — three salsas and a bright and tangy pico — as well as small cups of guac and queso ($3 each).
Then I ate like a queen for two nights straight.
The posole: mild but deeply flavorful, rich with hearty braised New Mexico beef in guajillo chile broth. It came with portions of thinly sliced local radish, shredded cabbage, onion, cilantro and lime. Even with my elementary plating skills, once assembled in a bowl, it became a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
The mole poblano lent complex warmth with a touch of sweet earthiness to the tender, shredded organic chicken inside the rolled enmoladas. And the generous piece of tres leches cake had just the right balance of dense, creamy sweetness.
That’s when I knew I’d have to write about this supper — even if getting the word out means more competition for snagging a place at the (to-go) table.
The next weekend, I enjoyed a completely different experience, starting with a simple sopa de frijol with diced avocado, asadero and tortilla crisps that gave bulk and depth to the creamy black bean soup. Then came the pollo asado: a hearty and fragrant half-chicken on a bed of rice with spicy roasted vegetables and a cup of pepita salsa. Finally, a smooth, decadent flan napolitano balanced by the tang of orange caramel and the slightly bitter sweetness of charred grapefruit.
Not surprisingly, I’m not the only repeat diner: Martin said many of Paloma’s supper customers order weekly. And the meals have inspired a surprising passion in their clientele.
Customers, Martin said, have written them thank-you notes, saying the meals have provided a way to bring date night home — and simply something to look forward to in dark times.
“People are trying hard to support their restaurants, and I feel so grateful and uplifted by that,” Martin said. “The support for the suppers has been really moving to me.”
Count me among the members of this ad hoc supper club. Unless, of course, you beat me to it.
MORE CREATIVE TWISTS
Here are some other innovative ways higher-end Santa Fe restaurants are adapting to COVID-19 restrictions:
315 Restaurant & Wine Bar (315 Old Santa Fe Trail, 315santafe.com) is serving a variety of artful dinners for two, such as a branzino en papillote served with a pint of lobster bisque and two creme brulees for $60. Other main dishes in these prix fixe dinners include spare ribs, cassoulet and a whole duck a l’orange.
Arroyo Vino (218 Camino La Tierra, arroyovino.com) has perfected the art of the take-home meal, with a weekly movie-themed prix fixe option ($85 for two, with wine), a regular menu, heat-at-home options and an array of high-end provisions (everything from cheese and sardines to housemade granola and salted caramels) available for purchase.
Joseph’s Culinary Pub (428 Agua Fría St., josephsofsantafe.com) has an array of perfect at-home options on its robust menu, including a six-pack of tamales in the husk for reheating at home, refillable glass jars of their soups, stews and broths, and pantry items such as housemade ketchup and chutneys.
Restaurant Martín, as I spotlighted last week, has completely converted to a terrific pop-up enterprise, Santa Fe Build-A-Bowl (santafebuildabowl.square.site). Right now it’s only meant to last 90 days, but I hope they consider keeping it alive!