Vegan Foods

The Next Chapter of Root 66: Vegan Challah, Dog Treats and Beyond | Taste, Santa Fe’s food scene


It was first a food truck. Then, a cafe sailing on the endless tides of the pandemic. Now: a vegan cafe four days a week and a Jewish vegan bakery one day a week, with a range of simple, healthy dog ​​treats aside.

Santa Fe’s ever-evolving Root 66 has become perhaps its most creative incarnation to date.

The business started as a food truck originally located in the brake room of the Santa Fe Brewing Co. on Galisteo Street and serving hearty, vegan comfort food such as cheeseburgers, sausages, peppers and skins. of loaded potatoes. It reappeared as a cafe on Lena Street in May 2020, but COVID-19 forced the company to switch from vegan take-out meals to outdoor seating when the rules allowed. Finally, the cafe closed in February pending a new owner.

Enter Jack Egber, a vegan baker with a soft spot for challah, a Jewish braided bread traditionally made with eggs, water, flour, yeast and salt.

“Challah started it all,” said Egber, who came to New Mexico in the summer of 2019 after living in Los Angeles. He worked as a cook at the Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center in Rio Arriba County, where his vegan challah first developed a fan following. “The very last thing I ate before I went vegan was a piece of challah. I went vegan about 3 and a half years ago, and there were things that I couldn’t eat anymore, that I couldn’t buy anywhere.

Egber moved to Santa Fe in January 2020 and worked at Chocolate Maven before moving to his parents’ place in Maryland during the pandemic. He spent the time honing his vegan baking skills and selling his products on a small scale.

“This challah has been a part of my life for a little over two years now,” he said. “People associate with me now. “

Then the Santa Fe opportunity presented itself, and with it, a chance to expand its repertoire.

The new Root 66 opened in early October as a cafe Monday through Thursday, offering a simple, take-out charcuterie-style menu and some of Egber’s baked goods. But on Fridays, the cafe turns into Jack’s Magic Bakery – and the magical line of goodies sells out weekly, Egber said.

There’s the challah ($ 12), a beautifully soft and slightly sweet braided bun tinged with yellow with the clever addition of a little turmeric. There’s also the classic rugelach and babka, and Egber has added vegan biscochitos ($ 3 each or $ 15 for six) to the lineup. There are oatmeal cookies and peppermint patties – the oversized patties, whose deep chocolate flavor is balanced by the invigorating mint filling, are a steal at just $ 3 each or $ 15 for six. .

For anyone who’s never had one (myself included), the Jerusalem Bagels ($ 5) are a revelation. The bread, which comes from the Middle East, is not boiled; it’s shaped into an oblong ring and bathed in sweet and crunchy sesame seeds. The crunchy exterior and airy interior of the bread, paired with olive oil and a za’atar spice blend for dipping, are deliciously addicting. That would make a hearty lunch on its own – and it’s an important part of the cafe and bakery approach, Egber said.

“I wanted to make sure that everyone could find something to eat here, that you wanted to spend $ 4 to $ 15 and have a good meal,” he said.

The heart of the café’s menu is the “pit stop” program: a set of four salads served with a spoon, alone or in combination, with a challah bun ($ 4 for one, $ 7.50 for two, 10.50 $ for three or $ 13 for all) four). There’s a simple couscous rich in olive oil with currants, pine nuts and parsley, and a cranberry chickpea salad with celery, red onion and grated carrots which, to me, shared a vegetable kinship with chicken salad. The mixed berry salad enhances a generous serving of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries with a sweet and tangy dressing of lime juice, poppy seeds, mint and agave nectar.

Egber told me that his enchanted ‘egg’ salad, available by spoonful or sandwiched on a challah sub, had received rave reviews – “Where else can you get a vegan egg salad sandwich?” ? He asked – but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of tofu seasoned with black salt that could mimic the exact flavors and textures of a real egg salad. This is the dish that brought me back to the early days of Root 66 comforting vegan food.

“A lot of people come in and get a scoop with a mini bun on the side,” Egber said of the pit stop offers. “It’s a nice little meal at an affordable price.”

The cafe’s menu will also feature a hot entree each month – so far it has been white truffle mac and cheese followed by corn chowder served in a bowl of homemade bread. There’s also a selection of drinks, including Ohori-brewed coffee and a specialty house drink: an organic iced oat milk matcha tea ($ 6).

Oh – and you can also buy a bag ($ 7) or a cute glass jar ($ 12, and a nice holiday gift for a four-legged friend) of simple, organic, and vegan dog treats, which come in two varieties. with three ingredients under the name Jack’s Magic Barkery. All I can say is that we have been training our stubborn 7 month old Boston Terrier to sit for a few months now; after tasting a few of these treats, she saw me open the container and immediately sat down uninvited, pointedly staring at the cookie until I tossed it at her.

I understand. There is definitely a bit of magic in these cookies… and this challah… and the way Root 66 continues to find new ways to surprise and delight. I can’t wait to see what other new tricks his new owner has up his sleeve.

If you are going to What: Root Coffee 66 When: The café is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday; the bakery is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday Or: 1704 Lena Street, Santa Fe Info: Visit root66.com, call 505-780-8249 or follow them on Facebook or Instagram