The spread of the novel coronavirus and the necessity of social distancing have dealt a heavy blow to the restaurant industry, leaving owners and employees in an incredibly tight spot. The National Restaurant Association estimates that the pandemic will result in a loss of $225 billion in sales and up to 7 million jobs. A recent article by Vince Dixon on the website Eater points to the already quantifiable impact of the pandemic: By March 17, the total number of hours worked for local businesses in the food and drink sector had dropped 40 percent, Dixon reported, while the number of hourly workers had already declined 45 percent. It’s hard to imagine what the restaurant industry will look like — both across the nation and in Santa Fe — when we emerge from protective isolation in the coming weeks and months.
Pasatiempo maintains a regularly updated list of restaurants in the area who are working hard to keep us all fed during this difficult, confusing time by offering takeout, curbside pick-up, and delivery. For Santa Feans who live on the outskirts of town — in Arroyo Hondo, Eldorado, Lamy, Galisteo, and beyond, takeout and curbside pick-up from places closer by may be more appealing and more expedient now than making the trek into town. Here’s a closer look at some of those options.
From 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, Arable (7 Avenida Vista Grande, Agora Shopping Center, 505-303-3816, arablesantafe.com) offers takeout and, if you call when you arrive, will bring your food to your car. Orders can be placed in advance via phone any time after 2 p.m. The restaurant is closed Mondays, and weekend brunch is temporarily suspended.
Highlights of the widely varied menu include the nutritionally loaded Eat Your Beets salad (baby greens topped with warm beets, spiced nuts, and local feta, $10); satisfyingly starchy and salty house-made potato tots given green-chile-cheese treatment ($7); that delicious southern classic, shrimp and grits ($16.50); a full, rich, beefy hanger steak ($25); and Arable’s strikingly sized, juicy, thick, and meaty bone-in Talus Wind Ranch pork chop ($23). The chop is served with roasted potatoes and the impressive house creamed spinach, which is filling, powerfully green, and also available à la carte as a side. I would happily order it on its own.
Café Fina (624 Old Las Vegas Hwy, 505-466-3886, cafefinasantafe.com), that beacon in the night on Old Las Vegas Highway, offers pick-up service through their drive-through window daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Brunch is served until 3 p.m. daily; pastries and beverages are available between 3 and 4 p.m. Dinner service, normally only offered Thursdays through Saturdays, has been extended and is now available Mondays through Saturdays.
Comfort food cravings are quelled by the familiar simplicity of Fina’s reliable burger, in adult- and kiddie-sized versions ($10.50 and $7.95), and of course, muffins, pastry, and pie. Take advantage of the freshness of the menu’s Caesar and apple-blue-cheese salads (each $8). Hankerings for New Mexican cuisine can be satisfied by enchiladas ($10.50) in a variety of iterations — filled with chicken, cheese, or veggies; topped with zesty red chile, mellow green, or Christmas; and accompanied by guacamole, sour cream, black beans, and green rice. Feed the hungriest in your household with a hefty serving of sauce-smothered chicken Parmesan ($17.50) or chicken given the Milanese treatment — breaded, fried, and served on a bed of arugula and fennel ($16.75). Seared coral-pink salmon ($18.95) is accompanied by shredded cabbage, bok choy, and rice noodles in a heady, tongue-tingling broth highly fragrant with lemongrass and ginger — a perfect immunity-boosting elixir. Based on coconut milk and curry, the Thai chicken noodle bowl ($16.75) is similarly soothing.
La Plancha (7 Caliente Road, 505-466-2060, laplanchadeeldorado.com) is open for takeout 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays with a somewhat abbreviated menu (call for details).
Pizza Centro (7 Avenida Vista Grande, the Agora shopping center, 505-466-3161, pizzacentronys.com) provides their same reliable takeout from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. My longtime go-to is a plain cheese pie scattered with fresh basil leaves ($14-$20) — a welcome reminder that even though we’re spending a good bit of time at home right now, the days are getting longer and warmer, and summer will be here soon. I’m generally a minimalist when it comes to New York-style pizza. But when I feel like loading up and indulging in a little meat, Centro’s Little Italy pie ($18-$27) fits the bill with a salty, sprightly combo that spans the flavor spectrum: prosciutto, roasted red pepper, tomato, fresh basil, parmesan, pesto, and fresh baby mozzarella.
Never has a former Subway been better repurposed than by relative newcomer Thai Bistro (7 Caliente Road, 505-466-6760). Between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, you can take advantage of their practically encyclopedic menu, which includes soups, salads, stir fries, spring rolls, potstickers, curries (served with white or brown rice), and dishes centering on rice and noodles. When it comes to protein, choose your own adventure from a list that includes shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, mixed seafood, and tofu. Thai Bistro can bring the heat, too, so be cautious unless you’re a chile fanatic or a glutton for punishment. You can hardly go wrong with the classic pad Thai ($11.99-$15.99) — noodles topped with bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, shredded carrot, and a bit of egg in sweet-and-sour sauce — or the velvety wide rice noodles of pad see ew ($11.99-$15.99), tossed with garlic, egg, and Chinese broccoli. The coconut-based green curry ($11.99-$15.99) has pleasant vegetal notes and a luxurious texture, the creaminess offering a soothing balance for any heat. Why not order an extra side of brothy stir-fried mixed veggies ($11.99) to amp up the nutritional profile?
From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, the Eldorado offshoot of downtown’s groovy Upper Crust Pizza (5 Colina Drive, 505-471-1111, uppercrustpizza.com) continues to serve up signature pizzas for pickup at the counter or the drive-through window. These pies are neither thin and flat nor thick and deep; the crust is mild, doughy, puffy, and sturdy, with a little chew and mild crunch; and toppings and sauce are applied liberally. Upper Crust’s veggie pizza ($13.75-$21.25) is a perennial favorite and one worth seeking out. The generous layer of cheese ( just shy of too much) is studded and topped with a rainbow of veggies — fresh tomato, mushrooms, bell pepper, green chile, black olives, and purple onion along with a unique hippie flourish — a dusting of sesame seeds, adding a toasty, nutty aroma.
If you are concerned about the effects of the coronavirus on food safety, please refer to the comprehensive guide compiled by J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats, available at seriouseats.com/2020/03/food-safety-and-coronavirus-a-comprehensive-guide.html. In general, it notes that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other health and safety organizations around the world, we currently have no evidence that CoViD-19 is spread through food or food packaging, but the article addresses numerous other questions and may soothe some of your fears.
If you are nonetheless leery of ordering takeout now but would like to support restaurant workers in a larger sense — here and across the country — you can donate to organizations like the James Beard Foundation’s JBF Relief Fund (jamesbeard.org/relief), the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (restaurantworkerscf.org), and others.
Keep in mind that local restaurants may be offering gift certificates. You can save these for better days to come, and in the meantime, they’ll help your favorite restaurants keeps the lights on. ◀