You can smell the passion in the air as you enter Santa Fe Flats, a “New Mexican” restaurant located on the northwest side of town. From the inviting music, to the lively decor, and the front patio area that highlights a children’s sand box, this place immediately evokes thoughts of family (and let’s not forget, fun). It is both casual and exciting at the same time and offers several options for your dining pleasure, including a main dining room, a large bar area, and a shaded patio area; all allowing you to enjoy an evening full of great food and fabulous margaritas. As Houston’s only “New Mexican” restaurant, Santa Fe Flats was created in the aim to bring true Southwestern cuisine to Houston and it does that quite nicely.
Not only did owner Tyler Torres want to bring his heritage to Houston, he also wanted to showcase a restaurant that could be everything to everyone. From an entertainment perspective, every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night, you will find live music on the patio that highlights local Houston artists. On the menu, Tyler does not venture too far away from his roots, and you will find that several of the recipes are based on those created by his grandmother (who was also an actress; very cool). Although he continues to hold firm to this rule, every now and then he will introduce a few Tex-Mex options on the New-Mex menu. He wants to make sure the entrees are well rounded and provide options for those that have grown to expect this on a Mexican style menu. Santa Fe Flats even throws in a few surprises like when they offered a month long salute to the New Mexico Hatch Chile and prepared items, like their Chile Relleños, swapping out their normal and using this flavorful chile instead.
During our visit we got to try many of the menu favorites, and a few of our own: Posole, Green Chile Stew, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, Chile Relleños, Tamales, Green Enchiladas, Red Enchiladas, Chicken Flautas, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, Sopaipillas, and let’s not forgot the Margaritas. Yes, we had a New Mexican feast and loved every minute of it! It was clear to us why country singer Lyle Lovett makes his way to this place whenever he’s in the city. Let’s face it, “People will travel for good food!” Want another tell-tell, beyond the fact that they’ve been producing amazing fares for more than eight years? Then get this…there are at least 5 other popular Mexican food restaurants in the area and they are just as busy, if not busier on certain nights, as any of them.
A few faves from the night included:
Posole – If you are a soup lover, you’ll want to add this flavorful and spicy soup to your repertoire. It is a traditional New Mexican soup made with spicy red chile, hominy & pork, served with fresh corn tortillas.
Chile Relleños – It was so DELICIOUS and easily one of the best tasting Chile Relleños offerings in the city.
Green Enchiladas – This is their signature dish; which includes spicy New-Mex green chile chicken & monterrey jack cheese topped with sour cream. You will never look at a plain chicken enchilada the same after taking a dive into one or two of these (consider yourself warned).
From a service perspective, Tyler trains and teaches on the philosophies of “Service That Sells”, a restaurant management program and book that focuses on the concept of developing and maintaining a successful establishment. The results of his teachings are evident in his staff. Even though we live in a Tex-Mex world around these parts, you should definitely make room in your schedule to check out Santa Fe Flats. SFF, as it is called, is the place to experience true New Mexican cuisine. Bring the kiddos, bring your girlfriends, or make it a choice for your date night. Either way, make a night of it. We are excited about SFF and are glad to call it Houston’s very own!
Santa Fe Flats’ address:
21542 Hwy 249, Suite 5
Houston, Texas 77070
Urban Swank did receive a complimentary tasting, but the opinions expressed are our own.