Although brothers Abdel Malek and Zakaria Belghiti Alaoui solely opened their Moroccan restaurant tagine (333 Cordova Street, (505) 372-7885) 4 months in the past, it already serves up a standout expertise and is a must-dine possibility for vegetarians and followers of worldwide fare.
For Santa Fe’s measurement, we’re awfully spoiled with restaurant decisions (chalk that as much as a strong tourism scene, possibly?), however as any vegan or vegetarian will let you know, the choices grow to be fewer the longer one shirks meat (hope you want bread and cheese; good luck, vegans!). Irrespective of, although, as a result of even devoted carnivores will discover a lot to like on the Belghiti Alaouis’ spot, which is nestled deep inside wellness/clothes biz BODY of Santa Fe on Cordova Street; simply stroll on in and head to the again.
Tajine is so good, actually, I visited twice in every week—as soon as with a pair of companions with a penchant for worldwide meals, and once more with a longtime pal who typically leans towards meat, however who nonetheless beloved it. For now, Tajine is a minimal affair with a scant few tables and a spartan kitchen manned by a small workers. Nonetheless, the menu has rather a lot happening, from cheese boards ($14-$30) with all types of choices like figs, honeycomb and seasonal fruit, to smoothies, juices and teas ($8-$11) and extra. The merchandise that received away, because it had been, was a collard greens burrito served with pumpkin seeds and sunflower salsa, however I will take into account it a motive to return.
Or, to place it one other approach, I want everybody to patronize Tajine so it sticks round. In accordance with our server, Maddy—a supply of data and kindness—the homeowners, who certainly hail from Morocco, have their sights set on development. If the reception from the group so far is any indication, that appears probably. For now, although, even 4 months in, the brothers are contemplating the present run a semi-soft opening, and it is working. Likelihood is you’ve got had Abdel Malek’s meals earlier than, too, our server stated—he cooked at Mediterranean joint Pyramid Café simply throughout the road from his new enterprise for years. At Tajine, although, it appears he is feeling himself. The menu feels extra playful than at Pyramid, maybe even experimental. Right here, the brothers are free to incorporate no matter they need, and a part of the enjoyable in that’s instructing Santa Fe diners about new varieties of delicacies or, on the very least, dishes we have not usually seen on native menus.
In fact, for my first go to, I zeroed in on the falafel sandwich ($15), an air-fried quantity bursting with recent veggies, cornichon, hummus and tahini. In some spheres, falafel is tantamount to a burger in eating places that serve American fare—if a kitchen cannot nail it, what are we even doing there? The blended inexperienced facet salad was so recent, too, that it virtually fastened my bizarre Christmastime trash meals intestine. Throughout my second go to, I discovered from Abdel Malek that each single factor on the menu is natural, and that if an merchandise might be sourced regionally, it’s. On the primary go to, all I knew was that Tajine’s falafel offers the others on the town a run for his or her cash, each by way of its crispy exterior and it is flavorful inside that really comes alive when one catches brilliant notes from the cornichon and the richness of the tahini.
My companions on that first go to sampled the sluggish cooked tajine for 2 ($27), a compilation of veggies and garlic with saffron and recent herbs cooked inside the namesake tajine, an earthenware pot they carry to the desk and open earlier than your eyes. That little little bit of razzle dazzle is weirdly so enjoyable for being such a small factor, and the dish sizzles when opened whereas emmitting an intriguing array of aromas. Abdel Malek’s cheffing strategies show to be masterful relating to correctly cooking veggies, too: not too comfortable, not too exhausting (sung to the tune of Boyz II Males’s “Motownphilly”). For the facet, diners can select from rice, quinoa or pita. My buddies selected quinoa, which was heavenly, and the meal got here with a facet of harissa, a semi-spicy chili paste made with roasted crimson peppers and numerous herbs and spices. I would by no means had harissa earlier than, and now I need it on actually all the pieces savory I will ever eat.
Lower to some days later, and I merely needed to pattern Tajine’s tajine for myself—solely diners might be glad to know it is out there for one—and I additionally needed to strive the ras el hanout espresso, a fancy and flavorful deal with crafted with ginger , clove, anise, nutmeg and cinnamon.
For my primary course, I chosen the day by day particular, one in every of two rotating tajine dishes with a savory bent (the opposite skews sweeter and contains apricots and various different fruits) together with potatoes each candy and never, plus zucchini and expertly executed Brussels sprouts ($17 ). On our server’s recommendation, I additionally added a bit of pretend hen comprised of mushrooms ($6 further cost), a chic style and texture counterpoint to the tender greens. My companion’s falafel sandwich was reportedly glorious, too, each bit pretty much as good as the primary go to, possibly even higher.
Dessert is a should, too, and Tajine has three choices, together with the chocolate tam’ra, a medjool date lined in darkish chocolate with walnut, almond and pistachio ($8), in addition to the vegan bougatsa, a custard dish with philo, dates, cinnamon, orange blossom and rose water ($13). We finally settled on the coconut chia pudding with a little bit of maple syrup plus recent strawberries and blueberries. The chia seed added an intensely nice texture, whereas the refined sweetness of the syrup and fruit left us feeling sated however not over-sugared. As such, Tajine may need grow to be my favourite native restaurant. Do yourselves in favor and discover out why ASAP.