Santa Fe Slang

Santa Fe Slang

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Santa Fe has a diverse population, with a heavy Hispanic influence. You'll hear English, Spanish, and a mixture of the two. Words of Spanish origin have become common in everyday Santa Fe slang. You'll also hear a lot of health- and wellness-related words, such as holistic healing, chakra balancing massage, botanicals, alternative therapies and the like. Spas and retreat centers are big business in Santa Fe. Local lingo also includes a number of food terms that may be unfamiliar to visitors. You may look at a menu and think to yourself, "What the heck is that?"

Here's a rundown of Santa Fe lingo, food edition:

1. Chile: (CHEE-lay)

This is the one key word you need to know before visiting Santa Fe. Chile (yes, with an 'e' at the end) is the fruit of the New Mexican chile plant, used to make the quintessential New Mexican foods: green chile and red chile. These are sauces, made from unripe (green) or ripe (red) chiles, that can and do cover just about every food. Green is spicier, often extremely spicy, so ask for a sample if you're unsure of your tolerance.

2. Christmas

The official New Mexico State Question is, "Red or Green?" Most people seem to have a preference, but if you can't decide, just say "Christmas." In New Mexican and Santa Fe lingo, that's half green and half red.

3. Ristra: (REEs-tra)

A string of dried red chiles, used for decoration, or as a handy place to grab a chile when you need to flavor something.

4. Green chile burger

Santa Fe local lingo for a hamburger with green chile on top. One of New Mexico's staple foods, the green chile burger has been popular for more than 50 years and is served everywhere. A burger is covered with cheese, then with green chile, and topped with a bun. Some places put the chile on first, then the cheese. Either way, it's a fantastic piece of food. In Santa Fe, try one at Bobcat Bite or Horseman's Haven.

Bobcat Bite
418 Old Las Vegas Highway
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Tue-Sat 11AM-7:50PM

Horseman's Haven Cafe
4354 Cerrillos Rd.
Santa Fe, NM, 87507
No website
Mon-Sat 8AM-8PM, Sun 8AM-2PM

5. Frijoles: (free-HOLE-ays)

Beans. Not refried beans, which are a common Mexican side dish. Frijoles are pinto beans, stewed with various seasonings and served with a little of the cooking broth.

6. Posole: (po-SOLE-ay)

Although this is essentially the same dish that's served in Mexico, the New Mexico version is spelled with an "s" instead of a "z." Posole is a sort of stewed corn, made with a special variety of field corn, or sometimes with canned hominy. The corn is cooked for hours with garlic, chiles, onions, herbs and spices, and chicken broth or pork. A very common side dish in Santa Fe.

7. Blue corn

Blue corn has a nuttier flavor than other corns and is ground into flour and used to make tortillas, bread and chips. It is not yellow or white corn with artificial color added. Blue corn enchiladas are a favorite here – in Santa Fe slang, an enchilada is a blue corn enchilada. Try them at The Shed.

The Shed
113 ½ E. Palace Ave.
Santa Fe, NM
Mon-Sat 11AM-2:30PM, 5:30PM-9PM

8. Sopaipillas: (SO-pie-PEE-ahs)

Sopaipillas are small pieces of fried bread. In New Mexico, they are always served with a meal, and with honey. Some restaurants serve them stuffed with meat or beans. Outside of New Mexico, sopaipillas are served as dessert.

9. Fry bread

Sometimes called Navajo fry bread. Similar to sopaipillas, only larger and round. Usually used as the "shell" part of a Navajo Taco, although sometimes served with honey.

10. Carne adovada

Pork cooked with red chile sauce. Tender and spicy, carne adovada is usually served as a main course with tortillas on the side.

11. Tamale

A tamale is made with masa dough (corn), and filled with meat, beans, vegetables or cheese. The masa is spread on corn husks, the filling is spread on the masa, and the corn husks are then rolled or wrapped around the contents and steamed. To eat, remove the corn husks, then dig in. Although most people associate tamales with Mexican cuisine, they have been made by Native Americans as well for at least a couple of hundred years. Of course, in Santa Fe lingo, it's not a tamale unless it's covered with red chile. Try some at El Merendero (Posa's) , or Johnnie's Cash Store.

El Merendero (Posa's)
Plaza Santa Fe
3538 Zafarano
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Mon-Sat 7AM-9PM, Sun 8AM-8PM
1514 Rodeo Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Mon-Sat 7AM-8PM, Sun 8AM-3PM

Johnnie's Cash Store
420Camino Don Miguel
Santa Fe, NM 87501
No website
Mon-Fri 8:15AM-5:30PM, Sat 9AM-5PM

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