Profile: Santa Fe Cafe, Toluca Lake

Profile: Santa Fe Cafe, Toluca Lake

The Bucket was CLOSED! Fuckall. I’m determined to hit it even after my three double-double day so I’m aiming for next sat to get that one and possibly some filipino market action. photos are following to your other acct.


My day started with the intention of:

  • getting the hell out of the valley heat for potentially worse heat
  • having some tasty grub to fill my gullet
  • providing a heart attack-inducing food review for those of you near Eaglerock

Two outta three ain’t bad….

We’ll save the third for a later time when said choice establishment is open. Crazy Christians and their day of rest. My roommate and I headed from Chinatown, after our brief Eaglerock (little Manila) stopover, to Toluca Lake. Jimmy wasn’t home but like wolves, we still turned a 30 minute drive into 10.

Santa Fe Cafe

Our stop was a longtime favorite of mine called Santa Fe Cafe. I haven’t had a ton off this menu as there is one menu item so delectable that it can and might (if it weren’t for the wall of fame?) take up most of my review. The item I speak of is the Taos Taco. No this is not a vaginal Georgia O’Keefe standard. This is a freakishly good taco. Why so good you ask? Ask away son…This is not only made with love, it is made with parmesan….yes, cheese. This taco is lovingly made by a partnership, formed by a trio of friends from New Mexico (and a couple of migrant latinos in the kitchen), albeit old mexican ancestry (names were declined as they had never heard of Gasp with me people, go ahead…was that your gasp?). These menu items are their own take on dishes they had grown up eating. I digress. The need to explain just how good these tacos are, is paramount. You look at them and they look ordinary. Steak, chicken or carnitas in a soft corn tortilla with freshly cut lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese. The main, yes main, ingredient is the ground parmesan lovingly stuck to the outside of the tortilla. Biting into one of these is damn close to a taco rapture. But wait, there’s more. Douse your tacos in the medium sauce that is hand made with fresh tomatoes and this is guaranteed to get you off your arse for more sauce. This sauce is not to hide the taste, this is to complement and compound the flavorgasm happening in your mouth. Heaven.

Santa Fe CafeAlso on the taste trial this roundabout, was my first foray into the land of New Mexican nachos. They were pretty good. It was kind of like sweet lovemaking and your mate finishes (after the tacos) first anticipating a post coital cuddle and having to sit patiently, wishing said slow finisher had himself, eaten the tacos. I must say though, this thought is premature in and of itself. The corn tortilla chips that these nachos are made from are spectacular. Hand made, not from some pathetic costco shelf. They are warm and flaky without being weak. They can hold their weight in copious amounts of godmade salsa. Perfectly salted for either the salt freak or the salt faint. They’re perfect. They really are, damn I want some now. (Get your food to go for a surprising standard of 4, count ’em, 4 personal sized bags of chips!!!). You won’t be disappointed. These nachos were covered in chicken, black beans, cheddar, sour cream and guac.’ If it weren’t for the chips and the salsa they’d be average.

My roommate had himself the Burrito Ranchero (con asada) [photo]. I let him know that this was a food review and I’d be taking notes and may have to trade him some nachos for a sizable (for the receptacle) chunk of ’rito. It was tasty. Nothing spectacular, no parm, no chips. But add salsa and it is well above par. I must say that if one is favoring the meatless option, the quesadilla is my second favorite item on the menu, as it is huge and sometimes meat filled and with salsa and chips is a perfect treat to take with you (to a Dodger game when headed from the Valley). It will fill you and a compadre if you add a taco or two for yourself and said companion. The ranch taco is a close third on with similar ingredients with substitutions of flour tortilla, ranch dressing and a tiny bit more size. They have all the other regular dishes some possibly made with love but I can’t forego them for my taos tacos.

There is a medley of indie iced teas in a fridge and a fabulous wall of fame. Due to Santa Fe’s close proximity to Warner Bros, Universal, Milt and Edies Cleaners and DIC (c’mon if I have to explain DIC, you didn’t watch cartoons in the 80’s) Santa Fe brings in it’s share of high profile celebrities. Seriously there were a couple (read: two). Along with the picture of Clint Eastwood and signed order ticket, there are those such as Alice Cooper, Freddie Prinze Jr., Dee Wallace, and a couple of cats (actual felines) in bikinis [photo] that cover their multiple nipples. We saw no such celebrity in person.

I asked my roommate after his devouring, officially and on the record:

Capt Tim: So, whadja think?

Oyie (pronounced like a punker, oye; also read deckhand, or swabby) : Very good.

Capt Tim:

Capt Tim: Thats not enough.

Oyie: You know it’s good if I’m sweating

(note-he was sweating, and the ac was better than decent and the sauce wasn’t that hot. might be a Filipino thing)

Watching him eyeball the rest of my chips, then pushing them over to him.

Capt Tim: You like those chips, huh?

Oyie : Very good.1st chips that I’ve ever finished eating (off of own plate and someone else’s).

It must be noted that we arrived in time for Champagne Brunch (Sat-Sun 10am-2pm) for an acceptable $10.95 but did not partake as they also served Mimosa and I thought “I couldn’t infringe upon Mel unless they had macaroni (my home recipe is the best by the way- hit me up MM and I’ll give you the 10-minute recipe that’ll curl your toes).” On another, “also must be noted” the chipotle sauce at Santa Fe tasted like someone scraped the grill and threw some other unremarkable salsa in it to cover the nasty flavor. The “hot” sauce left alot to be desired as well, and wasn’t hot at all, even with the addition of excess bottled salsa. The green passed the test but at that point I wondered why I wasted the paper cups on anything but the medium.

At the end of it all, nachos and two steak taos tacos with a refreshing WCP (Wild Cherry Pepsi) brought a price tag of $16.23. The Ranchero Burrito and another frosty beverage came to $10.47 bringing the grand to $26.70 to fill two extremely hungry individuals with large portions. Add this and the ambience of struggling writers and bit actors sitting around with their iBooks, with kickass salsa and chips, and you have yourself a superbly satisfying meal.

Santa Fe Cafe
In the VONS shopping center, around the corner and north of the Bob’s on Riverside
353 N Pass Ave
(818) 563-2233

Capt. Tim