Once upon a time, you’d walk into a bakery; choose a pastry, a cookie, or a loaf of bread from a predictable lineup in the case; and be on your way. Unless, of course, you had celiac disease, in which case your gluten intolerance pretty much demanded that you steer clear of bakeries altogether. Those days of forced abstinence are long gone, though, thanks to the popularization and increasing availability of alternative flours and the advances made in creating not just passable but truly enticing gluten-free baked goods.
Seventeen new destinations were recently added to the Santa Fe Margarita Trail, which raises the count to nearly 50.
Over the last decade, Santa Fe has seen a handful of popular bakeries and cafés catering specifically to the gluten-averse. Two of the most popular, Revolution Bakery and Momo & Co, shuttered after years of success, so Pasatiempo took a look around to find out what venues have taken up the mantle and are making particularly tasty gluten-free goodies.
Though there’s no longer one bakery devoted exclusively to gluten-freedom, there is a truly impressive variety of restaurants and cafés providing wheat-free choices. Canyon Road’s The Teahouse (821 Canyon Road, 505-992-0972) offers a daily scone and muffin. On one recent visit, the latter was strawberry-buttermilk, which had a fruity sweetness, buttermilk’s trademark subtle tang, and a charming streusel topping. Their menu regularly features a gluten-free bread basket that satisfies in the most elemental way — slices of whole grain, sourdough, and cinnamon raisin bread are toasted and served with butter and jam. Dulce (1100 Don Diego Ave., 505-989-9966) sells a gluten-free muffin with rotating varieties, which we found to be perfectly fine — primarily exceptional for its outsize proportions.
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen (1512 Pacheco St., 505-795-7383) maintains a regular roster of gluten-free treats, including a carrot cake that’s dense in just the right way, and an assortment of sizeable chunky fingerprint cookies with jewel-like jams in the center. Check about the availability of their widely lauded seasonal pies (apricot is a favorite). Light Vessel’s Love Yourself Café (199-D Paseo de Peralta, 505-983-5683) in the DeVargas Center also regularly stocks gluten-free baked goods, and the Apothecary at Santa Fe Oxygen and Healing Bar (133 W. San Francisco St., 505-986-5037) keeps a gluten-free brownie and cookie on their menu at all times. The darling Dolina Bakery & Café (402 N. Guadalupe St., 505-982-9394), owned by the highly adept Annamaria O’Brien, makes a Hungarian makos dios cake, a gluten-free beauty made with ground poppy seeds, walnuts, and raspberry preserves. Chocolate Maven (821 W. San Mateo Road, 505-984-1980), a popular standby, sells a gluten-free chocolate torte for special occasions and stocks a shelf in the central retail area with a few gluten-free goodies — Mexican wedding cookies and biscochitos, for example — whose flavors are just as delicious as their wheaty cousins. Skip their ultra-dense cakelike sandwich bread sold by the loaf, though. Tune-Up Café (1115 Hickox St., 505-983-7060) is renowned among my gluten-averse buddies for its lemon-coconut cake, and Jambo Café’s (2010 Cerrillos Road, 505-473-1269) flourless chocolate cake is consistently labeled “decadent” by the wheat-free cognoscenti.
To my mind, the new hidden gem — whether gluten is your jam or not — is B&B Bakery (38 Burro Alley, 213-369-1604). Practically perfect macarons in a rainbow’s array suggesting jewels in a glass case, and slices of velvety chiffon cakes — made with rice flour and available in a half-dozen flavors — seem pulled from the pages of Pastry Arts digital magazine. You can carry home an artful slender white box filled with those macarons, available in zesty fruit flavors (like lemon, mango, and raspberry), satisfyingly sweet selections (such as chocolate, caramel, and red velvet), and intriguing offerings like Earl Grey and green tea. The case also contains some perfectly respectable chunky peanut-butter-chocolate and double-chocolate cookies, as well as muffins and classic madeleines.
One of Santa Fe’s other new all-stars is Drift & Porter (driftandporter.com), a duo that doesn’t have a storefront (yet) but sells its wares at the Artisan Market in the Railyard every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their extensive menu (available for perusal and ordering online) includes cookies, cakes, muffins, pies, scones, and tarts as well as brownies, popovers, cannoli, donuts, and whoopie pies. They also sell an impressive array of creatively decorated custom cakes — including vanilla, carrot, chocolate, coconut, guava, and hazelnut — gilded with a variety of frostings and fillings.
One other gem stood out among the many treats I sampled. Plaza Café Southside (3466 Zafarano Drive, 505-424-0755) — which, by the way, is one of many establishments in town offering gluten-free bread and buns for sandwiches and burgers — stocks a powerful peanut butter cookie so salty-sweet and nutty you won’t think twice about its gluten-free-ness.
Note: Just before press time, we noticed a post on Revolution Bakery’s Facebook page suggesting that it may be reopening. Keep an eye on social media for updates. ◀