The Hyatt Tamaya Resort is nestled in the quiet, high desert of the Santa Ana reservation. 30 miles from the Albuquerque Sunport and 50 miles from the train station by Tomasitas in Santa Fe. It might as well be in a different world.
The Sandia Mountains brood like an Indian medicine man to the east of the resort and loom over the Bosque that has sprung up on the flanks of the Rio Grande. The views through the rarified air are spectacular and the air is redolent with sage and mesquite.
The resort is built on the site of the Tamaya (say taw-ma-YAH) Indian village that the resort points to for inspiration in its cuisine and decor. A championship golf course and an onsite spa add to the luxury of the environment.
My Mom and I went to the resort on a sleepy, Sunday afternoon to walk through the Bosque and have lunch at the Santa Ana Cafe.
The setting was a warm, welcoming patio on the edge of the of one of the multiple pool areas at the resort. The food is a blend of native American and Mexican and the ambiance is accented by an Indian flute player. There are two large traditional ovens where they are making Indian bread in the traditional fashion with sweet and savory butters to go with the bread. The outdoor ovens give the bread a beautiful crusty outside but a soft, yeasty middle that is a wonderful contrast.
After a lot of dithering we settled on the fish tacos and the chicken sopes. They brought our food quickly and it arrived at a perfect temperature. The fish tacos were in pillowy flour tortillas with perfectly grilled Mahi Mahi and a solid slice of ripe avocado crowning crisp white cabbage. The sides were a subtle slaw and brown rice with a touch of corn and black beans.
The tacos were good, but the sopes were divine. Think of sort of a deconstructed tamale, with a disk soft corn masa covered with shredded chicken, chile and sour cream and avacado. Since we are indecisive, we ordered them “Christmas” so one red and one green. If you have not experienced the spicy subtlety of great New Mexico cooking than my description will leave you a bit confused. Trust me, the subtle layering of deep, complex flavors and slowly building heat in this dish left me full and satisfied, but yearning for one more bite. I know no better compliment.