Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Santa Fe is a Great City for Foodies

Of course, you find excellent restaurants serving New Mexican food. But we have had wonderful Chinese (Wok and Yummy Café), great burgers (Bobcat Bite), gourmet salads (Vinaigrette), and above average pizza (Espiritu). But Mediterranean food?

We were pulling out of the CVS parking lot when I saw a store with the sign Pyramid Café. Could this be a restaurant serving Mediterranean food? Once at home, a quick Google showed that Pyramid Café is indeed a Mediterranean restaurant and one that got rather decent reviews.

“In the most glorious display of Mediterranean/North African/Greek fare this side of a CVS strip mall, Pyramid Café is the city’s outstanding champion of its food genre….don’t let the richer offerings deter the omnivore’s delight of bountiful little plates of baba ghanoush, hummus or the not-so-Mediterranean salata mishiya, a charred green chile salad. Pile it all high on ample cleaved pita segments. The roasted leg of lamb—either the entrée or the salad—features earthy bits of carnal wonder, flavorful and tender, thanks in part to the smoky harissa in which it’s marinated. That all the lamb (and beef) is 100 percent organic doesn’t hurt the alimento giusto. Nor does the brightly colored spectacle of produce and herbs for which Mediterranean cuisine is trumpeted” (

We arrived at about 1:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon and found a nearly empty restaurant. Frequent comments were made on-line about the café’s elegant atmosphere with its fabric draped ceiling (which I suspect also serves to minimize noise given that the café has many hard surfaces).
Multiple “Turkish” rugs hung on the walls and the arched doors to the kitchen gave the dining area an Arabian feel.
And along the side walls were hung small doored mirrors.

At 1:00 p.m. with sunlight streaming through the front windows, I found the space a little tacky looking. But I suspect that at night and with less brilliant light, the room could appear rather exotic.

Pyramid Café’s menu is very long, but we both soon honed in on our perennial favorites. Chuck selected the Gyro Sandwich Plate that came with sides of hummus and tabouleh. A warm and puffy pita was topped with strips of lamb and beef topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and tzaziki sauce. While he could have ordered the gyro with extra meat, the generous portion did not need augmentation. And the meat had a slightly charred—and delicious—taste that leads me to think that the strips had been grilled after being cut from the rotisserie.
The hummus was—as on-line reviewers had assured me—exemplary and was creamy with just the perfect balance of lemon, garlic, and sesame paste. And with his order—and mine as outlined below—came a full plate of warm and puffy pita wedges. At last. A restaurant that serves enough pita to accompany the hummus, et al.
I wanted to sample a number of tastes so, from the Create Your Own section of the appetizers list, chose a plate with tabouleh, baba ghanoush, and salata betenjene. Now I had never heard of this last item but had to try it. It was a chunky spread of grilled eggplant with roasted red peppers and sprinkled on top was feta cheese. The baba ghanoush (which you can’t really see in the upper right section of the plate) also tasted of grilled eggplant and, like Chuck’s hummus, was ultra creamy.

Tabouleh is a “salad traditionally made of bulgur, tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, onion, and garlic and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt, although there are various other variations” ( The café’s version included the bulgur wheat, which
is “a quick-cooking form of whole wheat that has been cleaned, parboiled, dried, ground into particles and sifted into distinct sizes” (, which I haven’t often found in Mediterranean restaurants. My only criticism is that the tomatoes and—especially—the onion could have been more finely chopped.

With the appetizer plate, I ordered a side of falafel. And here is where the Pyramid Café fell short. Rather than being made with soaked and ground chickpeas, the texture of this falafel leads me to think that they were made with cooked and mashed peas.

This was better Mediterranean food—with the exception of the falafel—than I expected in The Land of the Green Chile and deserves a 4.0 Addie rating.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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