A Higher, Happier Boxcar |
Santa Fe was as soon as a spot the place 20-somethings may hit downtown and have one hell of an evening of carousing and leisure. Certain, stalwart watering holes just like the Cowgirl, The Matador, Evangelo’s and different locations I’m in all probability forgetting are retaining it 100, however there’s no denying an older clientele now frequents many of those locales and fewer non-blues rock/cowl acts are showing. Losses together with Skylight, Corazón, Swig (or was it Stats?) and The Paramount/Bar B (sure, I’m relationship myself right here!) nonetheless sort of sting, not least of which as a result of a few of these locations hosted superb touring bands.
Hear ye, hear ye: It is a celebratory piece. I completely really feel like spending time downtown once more for the primary time in a very long time, and it has quite a bit to do with Boxcar (133 W Water St., (505) 988-7222). With its transfer from the Railyard to the second-story Water Road location that when housed Blue Corn Café, Boxcar is bringing again slightly little bit of the outdated late-night razzle-dazzle to the streets close to the Plaza, and house owners Tate Mruz and Sylwia Handzel had the chance to construct it the best way they needed from the bottom up. How’d that pan out, you ask? Fairly nicely.
The brand new house is an actual beaut. Its hub-like bar wraps round a lot of the central inside and quite a few rooms (or spokes, as Mruz refers to them) jut out from there into the huge enterprise, creating disparate experiences. Need to catch a present or sing some karaoke? Boxcar has a lineup together with DJs and performers a number of nights per week (shoutout to DJs Dmonic and Sol), plus common karaoke nights on Wednesdays and Sundays. Need to watch the large sport? There’s a room for that, too. Need to sit on the patio when the climate permits? Additionally doable.
Personally, the expertise I desired once I entered the opposite evening was strictly food-based. Folks have been stunned once I inform them I’ve discovered killer meals at Boxcar, however I’ve at all times quite appreciated it. Any disparaging remarks in all probability have one thing to do with its sports activities bar standing or the expectations that it’s all jalapeño poppers and wings. Sure, Boxcar does wings and fried issues whereas sports activities lovers shout at televisions, however it has at all times been a restaurant, too, with a extra expansive menu than most bars of its ilk can muster. That is no Buffalo Wild Wings, even when it comprises the bones of 1. Diners can order a dry-aged steak; a pot de creme; a shrimp Alfredo. Tempura avocado and tacos are on the menu (and, sure, they do specials for Taco Tuesday), too. In different phrases, it’s higher than you thought, so perhaps cease being a snob?
My companion required no convincing to tag alongside, as we each recall first rate meals on the outdated location. We discovered the meals on the new spot was of comparable high quality to Boxcar’s earlier incarnation. The service, nevertheless, has improved enormously. I beloved our server—she by no means hovered, however we by no means languished in obscurity, both. I are inclined to make dumb jokes at servers, and she or he dealt with that with grace as she dropped our starter of chips and guac. In Santa Fe, serving an excellent guac is virtually a should. When you don’t do it nicely, I’ll discover somebody who will. At Boxcar, they’ve obtained the products, each by way of the whisper of spicy inexperienced chile hidden inside to the nice and cozy and wafer-thin crisp of the chips—and it was solely $6. The portion was additionally excellent. Guac and chips is an amuse, dammit, and I don’t need to be full of corn by the point my principal dish arrives.
Amused we have been when the entrees appeared. My companion chosen the inexperienced chile cheeseburger ($16), a traditional and ever-reliable consolation meals. Looking for related succor, I instantly selected the rooster and waffles ($18), for lengthy have I bemoaned this city’s lack of a Waffle Home—and picture my dismay when Loyal Hound closed earlier this 12 months and eliminated my go-to possibility for this dish.
The burger acquired a wonderful report, particularly the bun, which remained intact all through the meal and added a little bit of sweetness in distinction to the chile. Plus, the candy potato fries on the aspect deftly sidestepped sogginess. The rooster and waffles, in the meantime, have been additionally a delight, particularly with the included actual maple syrup. The clincher, nevertheless, was the purple chile butter that I crammed into each final indentation of the waffles. I puzzled aloud the place this spicy little little bit of dairy heaven has been all my life, and why I’ve not seen it on some other menu on the town. It was regardless of, although, and I carpe’d that diem.
And there’s nonetheless a lot left we didn’t see. One room contained a case for grabbing fast bites and drinks to-go, and one other housed a gathering between board sport nerds. If Boxcar’s new spot signifies downtown’s return to kind with locals in thoughts, take into account me onboard. If nothing else, I’ll be composing poetry to that purple chile butter till I can get the rooster and waffles once more.