There aren’t many opportunities to eat in a building that dates to 1692, but that’s just what the Carswell family offers to tourists and locals in central Santa Fe. The Shed originally occupied an old wood shed on Burro Alley in 1953, housing just 22 seats. The family moved to a more historic (and spacious) setting at Prince Plaza in 1960. Over the years the Carswells embraced a deeper commitment to New Mexican cuisine.
The Taste of Santa Fe publicist invited us to dine at the restaurant, which is now owned by the next generation. Courtney Carswell and his wife Linnea oversee operations, and their children Josh and Sarah are key contributors.
The space features low doors (people were shorter in 1692), thick walls (people were louder?) and an inviting courtyard patio that was just a wee bit too warm for a crew of fragile food bloggers. The Carswell family’s personal paintings line the wall and ristras (strings) of dried red chilies hang from the ceiling. The Shed offers plenty of color on and off the plate.
House Guacamole, Shed Salsa & White and Blue Corn Tortilla Chips ($7.25) tells most of the story, but not all of it. The salsa has become a Shed signature. The vibrant sauce is crafted from red sandia chilies, which aren’t as spicy as the greenies, and worked well on the crunchy house-made tortilla chips. We’re spoiled with guacamole in California, but The Shed’s chunky guac worked pretty well.
My goal on the road is to try as many local libations as possible, and when it comes to craft beer, Santa Fe Brewing Company Pale Ale seems to set the local standard. My golden-hued, somewhat hoppy pale ale (10 oz for $3.25) was refreshing on a hot summer day. The Shed also carries the brewery’s brown ale, pilsner and hef.
My Carne Adovada Plate ($10.50) consisted of fork tender chunks of pork slow-roasted in a rich red chile, garlic and oregano sauce. Courtney Carswell said he prefers the sandia chile, a long Anaheim hybrid from Hatch, the chile capital of New Mexico. Green chilies are harvested earlier in the season, before they develop red color. Red are sweeter, smokier. The plate came with a side salad, pinto beans, a chile-slathered cheddar enchilada and a clever “dry” posole with hominy kernels stewed with pulled pork, garlic, oregano and MORE red chile.
A funny element that carried over from Burro Alley is The Shed’s famous garlic bread, which harkens back to the restaurant’s more global days. Without knowing the history, the bread would no doubt seem incongruous, but it actually worked well when dunked in red chile sauce.
Eating lunch at The Shed was like taking a trip back in time, complete with a colorful setting and hearty food that compared favorably to other northern New Mexico classics we encountered on our food fueled trip.