The pastrami Reuben sandwich at Arable is a local favorite. Photograph courtesy of Arable.
MY FRIEND LITERALLY GASPED—stunned that I was heading to Eldorado to get a sandwich. I live in the village of Tesuque, beyond the northern fringes of Santa Fe. There are at least 100 restaurants I could visit more easily than Arable, situated in an expansive subdivision southeast of the capital city. It’s about as far as one can go and still be considered Santa Fe–ish.
My quest was for a pastrami Reuben, a periodic Arable special. Owner Dave Readyhough cures locally raised grass-fed beef brisket in a brine perfumed with black pepper and coriander for two weeks. Once the salt-and-spice blend works its alchemy, the brisket goes into a Yoder offset-firebox smoker for seven hours of low-temperature barbecuing over Texas post oak, before a foil-wrapped finish in the oven cooks the meat through to tenderness. For all its popularity, gnarly brisket is one of the hardest meats to smoke properly, but Readyhough has it down.
As I savored the glistening thin-sliced pastrami slices with sauerkraut and molten Gruyère on marble rye from Albuquerque’s Fano bakery, I thought about how it distilled the restaurant’s philosophy into a few savory bites. Here was a classic American dish, kicked up in flavor, reinterpreted with mostly organic, local ingredients, and served with joy.
Green chile cheese tots are a must-try. Photograph courtesy of Arable.
While Readyhough works as the genial front-of-the-house guy, his partner in life and business, chef Renée Fox, drives Arable’s depth of quality dishes. Fox worked in some of Santa Fe’s finest kitchens but stepped out from behind the line to get her sommelier’s certification and, for a while, sell wine. The couple met when Fox stopped in at a restaurant Readyhough was managing with suggestions for upgrading his wine list. Her knowledgeable hand is evident in Arable’s wine and craft beer offerings.
Fox’s turf, though, is mostly the kitchen. Her shareable starters include chipotle-honey chicken wings and a brisket-stuffed egg roll. The item you can’t miss is the house-made tater tots, crisp from frying, then bathed in cheese fondue and dotted generously with hot green chile. I also recommend the local bison and grass-fed beef—perhaps the seared hanger steak piled high with flawless fries. Opt to have some of the fries traded out for the equally peerless “tobacco” onion strings.
While they were temporarily closed during the covid-19 pandemic, the couple opened a long-planned side business next door, Arable Prep & Provisions, offering grab-and-go lunches and well-selected specialty foods from their favorite area vendors.
A covered patio extends in front of both spaces for socially distanced dining. Each Arable has a comfortable dining area and bar counter for when we can once again dine in. The duo has made a shopping center oasis feel like the center of the Eldorado community.
Drive half an hour from Tesuque for this? The real surprise is that I don’t do it more often.
730 Avenida Vista Grande, Suite B-6, Eldorado, 505-303-3816. Tuesday–Saturday, 4–8 p.m., reservations recommended. Curbside pickup available. Arable Prep & Provisions open Tuesday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.