In the middle of what seems like nowhere (Penasco, NM) is Sugar Nymphs Cafe (situated in a former theater) run by Ki, pastry chef, owner and part time archival framer and Kai, a cook whose chops were weaned at the San Francisco Zen Center Restaurant Greens and whose spare time finds her teaching meditation and painting and sculpting.
It’s a cute, homey space that belies the workmanlike village it is a part of. If you are heading between Santa Fe and Taos this is a must stop, even if only for some of their much talked about desserts.
Chicken mole in a crispy masa potato boat topped with cheddar is the special so The Monster has no choice but to place an order. The soup is corn chowder so it appears to be The Monster’s day! To wash it all down, fresh blueberry lemonade.
Why does The Monster love this place even before he has tried the food? One, it has little business being situated where it is. Two, it supports the community art galleries (there are four). Three, the paper on which one can draw is the old Okidata printer paper with the ribboned and holed sides which brings The Monster back to his youth. Four, there is a wood burning oven in one corner. Five, the space doubles as a theater, dance academy and all around community center (yoga and zumba on offer!).
And The Monster is happy to report the food is fresh and delicious. The soup is packed with corn and potatoes with a whisp of sweetness in the aftertaste. The mole is paired well with the masa and is a unique interpretation on the classic Oaxacan dish.
For dessert The Monster can resist neither the carrot cake nor the pecan and walnut chocolate cake. The carrot cake is a nutty version, not too sweet. It is the pecan and walnut chocolate cake however that will have you stopping back when you swing by these parts again.
Salads, sandwiches and burgers round out the lunch menu for those looking to support a local place that is both charming and friendly.
Why go? The Gaucho Blue Gallery is where you procure all of your art.
Monster rating: 3½/5 Monsters
15046 State Road 75
Penasco, NM 87553