Five patron saints preside over the dining room at Santo, Hosea Rosenberg’s latest Boulder restaurant. The New Mexican eatery opens Saturday at the corner of Broadway and Alpine Avenue in a shopping plaza, and these hand-carved “santo” sculptures, along with bunches of dehydrated chile peppers (also a neon entrance sign) set the tone for the casual new spot. Brought to Boulder by the owner of Blackbelly Market and Butcher, Santo will be a more approachable dinner option for fans of the former Top Chef winner. Rosenberg says he is giving traditional dishes from his native state a refined touch.
“The flavors should make you think of New Mexico, remind you of a time and place,” Rosenberg says, explaining that his food isn’t meant to be an exact replicant of its inspiration. “We’re not straying too far, though,” he adds.
In Taos and Santa Fe, restaurants offer their signature takes on a classic dish, from posole to green chile, tostadas, and enchiladas. Rosenberg includes those staples here as well and also doesn’t shy away from heat in plates such as the green chile pork and potato stew. Then he adds little modernizations that pop in a huitlacoche corn soup, for example, and a wedge salad with pickled onions, poblano pepper “rajas,” and creamed corn vinaigrette. The Navajo fry bread is a crispy pillow topped with refried beans, slaw, crema, and wild boar. Many menu items can be made vegetarian — perhaps not so Santa Fe.
But who’s to argue about tradition when a newcomer creates such a fresh take? From succulents to splashes of color across the booths, and a sunburst chandelier, Wheelhouse Design Studio (River and Woods, Cart-Driver) has created a little strip mall haven inside Santo. The hand-carved saints by Taos “Santero” Leonardo Salazar add to the mix, along with framed portraits and photographs by Stephen Collector.
Booths and tables line the perimeter of the space, but the bar is front and center with 360-degree seating and a draft, can, wine, and cocktail list that will make happy hour here formidable. Seasonal cocktails, such as an El Dorado 8-year rum with Contratto bianco, cranberry, apple, and Earl Grey, feel distinctly Southwest.
Rosenberg has brought many of his Blackbelly employees over to start Santo, including chef de cuisine Arun Moghe and director of operations Ian Reusch. Under their watch (as well as that of the five patron saints), the new restaurant will perfect its daily dinner service before tackling lunch and brunch.
Status: Santo officially opens at 4 p.m. Saturday, November 18. Find it at 1265 Alpine Avenue in the Ideal Broadway Shops.